Showing posts from September, 2015

The Paper Bag Princess

Munsch, R., & Martchenko, M. (1980). The paper bag princess. Buffalo, NY: Annick Press.
Robert Munsch's story is about how a princess's eyes are opened after all her material belongings are burned by a fiery dragon.  There’s nothing like a riches-to-rags-to-true-riches story to break the mold and the outcome of this damsel in distress.  Princess Elizabeth learns to value herself by outsmarting the dragon and saving her prince, but none of these come to fruition until she’s stripped of all she values and can only rely on a paper bag for cover. Martchenko's illustrations compliment the story and use lines to convey the dirty, dusty, grimy, and fiery scenes throughout the story and Elizabeth's transformation.  It makes her change tangible and her victory over the dragon sweeter. In the end, Elizabeth learns something valuable about appearances and true beauty.
Children, especially little girls, can learn a few things about the values of beauty and intelligence. This ca…

It's A Book

Smith, L. (2010). It's a book. New York, NY: Roaring Book Press.
Growing up in the twenty-first century can be technologically overwhelming as a kid. It’s often difficult for even adults to appreciate the feeling of a solid, hard back, the crisp pages, and the scent of paper. It’s A Bookbrings it home for children and adults. In this diatribe between what technology can do and how a book doesn’t do any of it, Lane Smith brings the simple characters alive through the use of lines in her illustrations. The Jackass constantly inquired about a book’s technological capabilities and the Monkey appeases his inquiries. The latter’s frustration is evident through the use of lines in the illustrations in the subtleties of facial expression and body composition. This important theme of appreciating the simplicity of books and where a book can take you is an important thing for little ones to know.
Parents, this is a great book to introduce to your child if you want to encourage them to read. …

My Teacher Is A Monster

Brown, P. (2014). My teacher is a monster (A. Ling, Ed.). New York, NY: Hachette Book Group.

Every child has a teacher who is eventually demonized and made into a monster.  And every teacher has a student who drives him or her insane.  It’s the classic misunderstanding in educational culture. This story enlightens both student and teacher about the power of communication and bonds. The relationship between Bobby and Mrs. Kirby is portrayed by how Bobby sees his teacher.  Author and illustrator Peter Brown gives us a peek into Bobby’s perspective with the shapes he uses when he draws the setting, children, and especially Ms. Kirby, who is a monster indeed. By creating a story about having a good experience with a monstrous teacher, and having her morph from a monster to a normal person through communicating and bonding, Brown opens up a new concept for children – and teachers.

This Is Not My Hat

Klassen, J. (2013). This is no my hat. Somerset, MA: Candlewick Press.
It seems like the oldest no-no in history – taking someone, or something, else’s things.  This is the premise of This Is Not My Hat.  Created for the youngest of readers, this story simply, but carefully, follows a little fish after he’s taken something that doesn’t belong to him and to learning a valuable lesson in life. Author and illustrator Jon Klassen uses color to delicately create an ominous feeling about what is to befall the little creature due to his actions. The fish’s story ends with the truth exposing itself. Life’s truths, or themes, are sometimes difficult for children to grasp, but this story makes it so simple to do.
Teachers, this simple story can be used to teach what life lessons are.  It may be the first time a child can become familiar with the word “theme”.
Parents, this is a great tool to reinforce what happens when children do the wrong thing.  This story is sure to make a child think about h…

The Three Pigs

Wiesner, D. (2001). The three pigs. New York, NY: Clarion Books. If you’ve ever read the traditional story of The Three Little Pigs, you will completely “flip your lid” when you feast your eyes on this creative rendition of the tale.  David Weisner takes the characters and provides an interesting twist to what would happen if the little pigs, or if any character in any tale, had the power to just get up and leave the story. Yes! You heard correctly. And Weisner does it all through texture. The pigs feel different when they’re out of their element. It will completely revolutionize your initial impression of the classic and its memorable characters.
Parents, this is an opportunity for you to explore how art and technique can help a young reader know when the pigs are in their original story or outside of it.  You can also ask your child to describe how the change in where the story takes place, or setting, can influence a story.
Teachers, use this story to discuss point-of-view and what h…

Martina The Beautiful Cockroach

Deedy, C. A., & Austin, M. (2007). Martina the beautiful cockroach: a cuban folktale. Atlanta, GA: Peachtree.
The colorful images and texture-filled illustrations bring this charming tale about a little beautiful cockroach from the page and into our hearts. Martina Josefina Cucaracha is the sweetest, most lady-like cockroach to every walk the earth. She’s pressured by her Abuela to spill coffee on the feet of each of her suitors to reveal their true character. And boy, do these illustrations do just that! The images come to life and fill the page completely. Author Carmen Agra Deedy and illustrator Michael Austin work seamlessly well to let the illustrations tell this beautiful tale by using the artistic element of texture to enliven the characters in this story.
As a Hispanic female, I could completely relate to the process of choosing the right mate and having to heed my grandmother’s advice. But this type of family dynamic isn’t particular to Hispanic culture. It’s applicable to…

The Legend Of The Bluebonnet: An Old Tale of Texas

dePaola, T. (1996). The legend of the bluebonnet: an old tale of Texas. New York, NY: Penguin Putnam books for Young Readers.
The storybook that every wild flower lover, every admirer of history, every native or modern Texan must read.  That isThe Legend of the Bluebonnet.  This folktale is the retold Comanche legend of how bluebonnets came to Texas.  It begins with She-Who-Is-Alone, a little girl who’s lost much, is destitute, and looking for a place to belong within her people.  Author dePaola includes reverent artwork and carefully preserves the respectful, somber feeling through the use of lines in her drawings.  From the strong profiles, to the details in the hair and dresses, dePaola lets the art depict how serious things are for She-Who-Is-Alone.  In addition, the setting of the book is a character of its own.  She-Who-Is-Alone must take what she values most and decide whether she will sacrifice this one thing to belong to a tribe who holds no members of her family.  She’s the …


Falconer, I. (2000). Olivia. New York, NY: Atheneum Books for Young Readers.
Olivia, Olivia, Olivia… This is a unique peek into the world of a rambunctious little pig that is full of life and adventure.  Peter Brown uses his clever choice of drawings, where he positions these sketch-like illustrations on the page, and the use of one color to give our little Olivia joie de vivre – the color of passion – red. Olivia’s curiosity leads her to wear her parents, and herself, out. She’s always up for a new adventure and dreams of excitement and discovery. 
Parents read this book with your little one and explore this world with Olivia. Peter Brown makes Olivia’s thirst for life unappeasable.
Olivia can also make some breakthroughs in the classroom.  Students can analyze how Peter Brown’s use of one color throughout the whole story brings Olivia to life.  What would happen if there would be more color on the page? Would Olivia’s life be as bright?

Enjoy the book with anyone.  Olivia’s action-pack…

Where The Wild Things Are

Sendak, M. (1963). Where the wild things are. New York, NY: Harper & Row.
This lovely story will live on for ages.  This classic is known for its vibrant artwork, captivating scenes, and memorable storyline.  The artwork’s composition, which is all of the art elements working together, help to bring Max into our children’s lives and live on.  Sendak creates an amazing story about a boy’s magical journey to a land of, well… wild things! Max’s story about rebellion, and his way back form it, is terrifically portrayed through the amazing drawings and characters.  The art combines many techniques and helps young children, as well as adults, appreciate Max’s story into this wild world of children’s dreams and back. Sendak does a great job of making his artwork compliment the story.
In the classroom, students can describe the ideas of cause and effect, why Sendak uses different words, and the different parts of a short story, which make up the plot.
Parents and children can talk about exp…

Mirror Mirror

Singer, M. & Masse, J. (2010). Mirror Mirror: a book of reverso poems. New York, NY: Dutton Children's Books. Mirror Mirrorcombines the talent of poetry with reading it with a twist. Singer and Masse work together as author and illustrator to convey both sides of famous fairy tales with poetry... read in reverse! The artwork visually stimulates the reader's interest by telling a story of its own.  It's a great way to visualize and truly appreciate both sides of every conflict in the poems.  In addition, Singer's clever way of writing these poems so that you can read them "from down up" engages the older reader and entertains even adults! 
Parents, you can use this to discuss points-of-view with your child.  Awaken their inquisitive side by posing questions about character development, character motivations, and character traits. No question is too simple or insignificant.  You can also expand and explore how these poems compare to the fairy tales themselve…