Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Picture Book Month Day 30


And so we reach the end of Picture Book Month but of course it is not the end because I have plenty of other picture books to share with you over the coming weeks and months.  Hopefully you are not confused but just in case you missed this - I am not able to talk (at the moment) and new Australian children's Picture Books because I am a judge for this category in our CBCA (Children's Book Council of Australia) Awards.  BUT I can talk about any other Australian Picture books of course!

Picture books help to build young readers one glossy page at a time, and a good picture book is a work of art combining just the right illustrations with just the right words and placing them all together for an enjoyable reading experience. There is nothing simple about the benefits of reading picture books with young (and not so young) children. Picture books cultivate an appreciation for art while strengthening a child's visual skills. Before a child can read the words they learn to read the pictures to understand the story. Picture books help children learn about the structure of a story while building their vocabulary and comprehension. Picture books can tell simple and familiar stories or very complex and serious stories, and children are exposed to the big world around them. The most important aspect of picture books is how they are shared. They are meant to be a shared experience between a child, or a group of children, and a trusted adult. Reading books together builds a bond that is very special and unique. Contra Costa County Library, CA, USA

Now I need to think about which book to share today. Australian; or a book from another country; or translated into English; or a wordless book (IBBY call these Silent Books); or a picture book for an older reader; or something just for fun; or a very new book you may not know: or an older classic?  There are 928 picture books discussed on this blog and 96 picture books for older students. Should the book be in print and available or is it okay to suggest an out of print title which might be in a library?

I can't decide so I am going to list thirty more picture book favourites with links to my post about each:

Monday, November 29, 2021

Picture Book Month Day 29


We are coming to end of Picture Book Month - November - but of course I have so many more books I could share but remember I am have limited this to books from my own shelves. Imagine if I could choose from a library! My book today comes from a post I did in 2013 of my 450th book.  I now have 2350 posts and am on the way to my goal of 4000 by the end of 2024.

I enjoy Picture Books of all kinds but I especially enjoy Picture Books which explore:

  • relationships
  • emotions
  • community

Herman and Rosie by Gus Gordon contains all three of these.  Herman is lonely. Rosie is lonely. The whole story could be they meet, perhaps fall in love, the end - but that's NOT a story. We need tension, we need a setting, we need reasons, we need to know more about Herman and more about Rosie, we need to care and these are the things Gus Gordon provided in his beautifully crafted book.

There are some lovely design features you will see in Herman and Rosie - the way the cover looks like an LP record, the New York map end papers, the collage touches in the illustrations, and the tiny touches of humour that come from close study of each page. 

I saw a recent discussion about gifts to teachers on an internet forum.  Teachers are sometimes given gifts at Christmas. In the school library I was given fewer gifts but the ones that I treasure were the gifts given from the heart - a jar of honey from bees in their own backyard; a cookie jar decorated with my library motto 'Read only on the days you eat'; and a limited edition print from Herman and Rosie!

I read a quote in Children's Picturebooks: The art of visual storytelling by Martin Salisbury and Morag Styles this week which comes from Maurice Sendak. I cannot find the original source but the quote says:

The relationship between word and image in a picture book is described by Sendak as

"like a composer thinking in music when reading poetry."

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Picture Book Month Day 28


The issue of rhyme in picture books has been on my mind. I can't go into any details here but this will be a topic I return to in 2023! Rhyme can be done well but it can also be done very badly. So it was timely that a friend shared this brilliant blog post with me from Picture Book Den.  Here are a few quotes that resonated with me.

How to write rhyme - it takes heaps of practice:

  • You pick every word with consideration. You edit your own work ruthlessly and tirelessly. If there even might be a better alternative, you chuck out your favourite line and try a new one.
  • You keep all of the following in mind at every stage: plot, character, sense and logic, age appropriateness, commercial appeal, rhythm, timing, accent and pronunciation, syllables, stresses, emotional arcs, story beats, universality, originality, overall word count, word count per page, page turns, potential changes of scene in the illustrations.
  • A skilled writer will not let the rhyme lead them. They will not remain so wedded to a line that they sacrifice sense, rhythm, logic — and the rest.
  • A skilled writer will grab the reins and force the story to work, and work flawlessly, so that the rhymes are so neat, so carefully chosen and constructed that you barely even notice they’re there. 

All of this leads me to my Picture Book for today (Day 28) - Where's the baby? by Pat Hutchins. Take a look at the Pat Hutchins web site - it is delightful.

The rhyme in this book is perfect.  Here are a few examples:

"The mixture for the chocolate cake, that Ma was just about to bake, was tipped on the table and spilled on the floor. There were sticky fingerprints on the door."

"The scarf Ma was knitting for Uncle Fred had been unravelled all over the bed. Wool wiggled and curved across the floor, and they followed the wiggles out of the door."

Other masters, a small sample, of authors who produce perfect rhymes in their picture books include Julia Donaldson; Bill Martin Jr; Dr Seuss (of course); Alan Ahlberg; Lynley Dodd; Kes Gray; and Pamela Allen.

Reasons to include rhyming in picture books - the best ones - into your reading routine with your young child or class.  One serious reason and one important reason (FUN):

Rhyming is important to learning. The ability to recognise rhyme is important to phonemic awareness – that is the ability to identify and to change the sounds within words, in both spoken and written language.

Exposure to rhyme also helps children to develop listening and thinking skills, and vocabulary and comprehension skills, and despite all of that learning potential, rhyming picture books are often just GREAT fun to read – with silly story lines and fun with language. 

Try to find some of these. Just a tiny sample set:

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Picture Book Month Day 27


I'm sharing another old and sadly out of print book today - Little Big Feet by Ingrid and Dieter Schubert. This book was first published in 1986.

Ingrid and Dieter Schubert are a husband and wife team. They are the creators of many award-winning picture books for children. The Schuberts were both born and raised in Germany before moving to the Netherlands. Their first effort, There’s a Crocodile Under my Bed! in 1980 was an immediate success and was published in 14 countries. Today their many books for children are available in 22 languages.

The Dutch title of Little Big Feet is Platvoetje and the German title is Irma hat so große Füße.

Here are the opening lines:

"Halfway between earth and sky the witches live. Usually they spend their time quietly practising spells and feeding their cats, but today there was pandemonium. The littlest witch of all had disappeared."

If I was reading this book to a child or to a group of children I would stop at this point. It would be fun to ask all of the children to stand up and make heaps of noise - pandemonium!  Then, after we all calm down, it's time to predict what might have happened to the littlest witch.  Perhaps the from cover can give some clues? And what about the title? Could this link to her reason for running away? 

There is a terrific story idea here when we read that the little witch needs to use a toothbrush as her broomstick. 

There are such gentle messages in this book about accepting ourselves and our differences. Little Big Feet has been teased for her big feet and Maggie has been told she has big ears.

I am going to spoil the ending and show you the rebus letter the little witch sends back to her new friend Maggie (or Irma as she is called in Germany). I love the way the illustration includes all the fold lines.

Here is another book by Ingrid and Dieter Schubert.  Janis Ian wrote a children's song about a tiny mouse and the Schuberts turned it into a picture book:

Friday, November 26, 2021

SLAV Conference School Libraries Powering Literacy


This online conference will engage with the school library’s important role in literacy development specifically in the area of reading. We will hear from researchers, key commentators, practitioners, and creators, showcasing inspirational ideas and examples of best practice.

Today I spoke at the SLAV Annual Conference on the topic International Picture Books.

Sharing picture books with children leads to amazing conversations. In the best picture books there is a gap between the pictures and the words, a gap that is filled by the child's imagination. Anthony Browne

Bringing illustrations from different cultures into our … classrooms, is important. Children need to see different interpretations of reality, as well as experience a variety of styles and techniques.

Here are the twenty-one books I shared today along with links to my previous blog posts (click the blue link).