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Friday, October 31, 2014

Fantastic Friday

Fall Leaves by Loretta Holland, illustrated by Elly MacKay is a delicious seasonal book with incredible art.  With a short description of what is happening like fall arrives, rain falls, leaves twist on one page accompanied by a stunning piece of art on the next page, this book takes place from the end of Summer to the beginning of Winter.  
The illustrations are made with ink, Yupo paper, light, and photography.  You can find out more from Elly's website, here. But in short, she paints with watercolors and ink on Yupo paper, which is plastic and then she cuts out the images and sets them up in her theater and photographs them to get the illustrations.  She does a marvelous job.  I've not seen anything quite like what she does.  I've used Yupo and it's fun, but I haven't done anything this elaborate.
I love her art.  I would like to see more diverse people, children in her artwork, because it is very important for children to see themselves in books, art, in everything all around them.  Children love dioramas and her art is fancy dioramas, so I know they'll love it too.  I'll recommend this Fall book to parents, teachers, and children.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Thoughtful Thursday

Quest by Aaron Becker is the second book in the Journey trilogy.  And, if possible, it's even more fascinating than the first.  Or it's just drawing you farther and farther into the story, like a master storyteller does.  
The illustrations were done in watercolors, pen and ink.  I love pouring over the pages again and again to find more connection to the kingdom. I wanted to go back to the first book and read it again then read the second to find the different ways they relate and found that our copy was gone, so I have to buy another copy.  But I'll do my comparison later.  I recommend Journey and Quest to everyone, parents, kids, and teachers.  These books are just for everyone. This title is one of the best examples of a jE book. j for juvenile, and E for everyone. 
I admire how Aaron manages to know just how much detail to put in and when to leave it out. When he draws on a child's imagination with the unexpected and when he pulls it together with something so familiar, but still unforeseen.  I can't wait for #3.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Wonderful Wednesday

Mr. Ferris and His Wheel written by Kathryn Gibbs Davis, illustrated by Gilbert Ford is a biography about George Washington Gale Ferris Jr.  But it's an amazing picture book, also. This story is about how Ferris was able to get his Wheel constructed for the World's Fair in Chicago and it's also scattered with other facts about structures, building, and quotes.  There's a bibliography with additional quote sources and websites.
The illustrations are digital mixed media with ink and watercolor. The artwork is tremendously captivating.  At first I thought it seemed like a nod to the past, but the more I looked through it, again and again, it is in an old-fashioned stylized manner, but it is not old looking.  It is fresh, uses brilliant dark blues and purples with a shining yellow and orange coming through with copious amount of pinks.  The structures, buildings, and cityscapes are breathtaking.
This title will be well used in third to sixth grades to encourage engineering projects, discussion and plans on building and ways to improve.  Any classroom that wants to include STEM or STEAM needs to use this book.  I'll tell children, parents and teachers about it.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Terrific Tuesday

Sleepover with Beatrice and Bear by Monica Carnesi is such a lovely book about friends.  Bear and Beatrice becomes friends when Beatrice, a bunny, finds Bear sitting on her carrots.  He makes it up to her and they are the best of friends.  When winter comes, Beatrice doesn't understand hibernation.  And when she gets it, she thinks she can hibernate too.  Her solution of getting through winter while Bear is sleeping is such a good, dear friend thing to do.  
The art was rendered in brush and Winsor and Newton black india ink with Sennelier and Winsor and Newton artist watercolors and Prismacolor pencils on Fabriano Artistico extra white 140 lb. hot pressed paper. I love it when an artist tells exactly what they use for their art.  Her artwork has a nice variety of panels, open spreads, vibrant color, background white and shading.
Monica builds the characters in the story so well.  Bear is a little, uhm, dense, but when he realizes he has damaged Beatrice's carrots he fixes it.  I admire how Beatrice, a little rabbit tries to move the big bear off her carrots.  She's no wilting flower.  She has made me intrigued by these characters and I hope there are more stories for Bear and Beatrice.  
I'll use this with my Preschool Storytime and with students up to third grade.  I think it would be so fun to have a discussion with second or third graders about how Beatrice tries to figure out what hibernate means. This could lead to some lively ideas on how to figure out new vocabulary and how to learn about anything new.
Teachers, a guide to use with Sleepover with Beatrice and Bear is here.  The guide is by Marcie Colleen.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Marvelous Monday

Very Little Red Riding Hood by Teresa Heapy, illustrated by Sue Heap is the toddler version of "Red Riding Hood."  Very Little Red Riding Hood talks in toddler speak and the unique twist on this variant is quite two-year old like.  She totally exhausts 'Foxie' and Grandma.  
The illustrations are done in watercolor and ink.  They have great expression and detail.  I was delighted with the map end papers that lists many 'very little' fairytale people.  I hope this means there are more stories coming.
I'll use this story in Preschool Storytime and with outreach to daycares and schools.  It will be a strong addition to the "Red Riding Hood" tales. I'd say for me, I'll use this with four to five-year olds to second graders.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Down on the Farm

Picture from: http://www.willhillenbrand.com/book_59.html
Down by the Barn by Will Hillenbrand is so merry.  It piggybacks on the tune: "Down by the Station" and used baby farm animals.  The farmer and scarecrow go around pulling wagons rounding up the baby farm animals for a fun time with visiting children.  The story has a sneaky fox, a lively tune, and sensational mixed media art.  I simply adore Will's art, style, and endearing stories.  
I've been using Down by the Barn with my outreach this week.  I start with this title and intro it with telling the children that the farmer and scarecrow go around pulling wagons rounding up the baby farm animals.  Each time they add a new baby animal, we add a sound.  Watch out for the fox! We need to keep an eye on that wily guy.
And we begin.  I start singing the song, stop to point out where the fox is, using a descriptive word like behind the bush, between the grass, etc. I encourage the children to say the "puff, puff, click, clank, off we go," together. I also ask them what animal is coming next.  Depending on the age of children, how large the group, and how their attention is doing, I sometimes point out the name of each baby animal, where the fox is, what the animal sound is, and so on.  
Sometimes I ask where the fox is on one page, then on the next page, tell them the baby's name, like gosling is a baby goose.  If I have a group of 1 - 3's I just sing through the book and we do each sound, but don't point out too many other details.  If it's 2 - 4's add one more detail, if it's 3 - 4's or 4 - 5's add another detail and so on.  
I even used this with a Kindergarten class and I wouldn't let them say out loud where the fox was yet, they had to wait, using a quiet thumb's up, thinking the answer, but not saying it yet, and then when I was done singing that page, they had to raise their hands and describe with a word where the fox was, no pointing.  For example - is he behind the red wagon or in front of the blue tractor? If they need help focusing and putting the answer into words, then of course, I help them with that.
This book was amazing to use with kids.  How I use it with groups of 5 to 25 is getting the children to focus on the story, to become a teller of the story, so if there's a little chatter back and forth that's OK.  Sharing a great book together does not have to be always a total quiet affair.
I also used Find the Piglet by Phil Roxbee Cox, illustrated by Stephen Cartwright; Old MacDonald Had a Farm by David A. Carter; and Are You My Mommy? by Carla Dijs.

Update

Dear Friends, if you read this blog, I've been slowing down to pay attention to some health issues.  I'll blog as I can.
Thank you,
Dianna Burt