Monday, February 14, 2011

Picture Book Favorites I "Heart"

Week of February 13—From Beginning to End
Monday, February 14—New Picture Book Favorites I "Heart"

Happy Valentine’s Day! Ah, the day of love. Forget roses and chocolates. No, I have something better for you. I’m sending you a bouquet of fragrant . . . a box filled with delicious . . . picture book favorites!



A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead and Erin E. Stead, is the winner of the 2011 Caldecott Medal. This wonderful tale of friendship defies the odds. It is a quiet story, soft and gentle. The illustrations are muted and calm. But the premise is hilarious. When the zoo keeper, Amos McGee, has the sniffles and can’t go to the zoo, the animals make their way to him. The friends spend their day doing the things they love—playing chess, reading books, and playing games. This is a book that is sure to become a classic. You need to read it. You need to buy a copy for to study and devour.

Besides being a lovely read, you will fall in love with the story of the husband-wife team who created this book and the fact that Erin E. Stead won the Caldecott for her first illustrated picture book.

Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave by Laban Carrick Hill and Bryan Collier, is an artistic masterpiece and a writing master class. The book is a 2011 Caldecott Honor Book. The non-fiction story is about a slave named Dave who carved poetry into the pots in made. The realistic illustrations are filled with details. Each word of the text is carefully chosen and placed precisely. Here’ss a brief excerpt to show you what I mean:
            His chapped thumbs
            pinched into the center,
            squeezed the inside
            against his fingers outside.

            As the wheel spun
round and round,
the walls of the jar
rose up like a robin’s
puffed breast—
but only so far
before its immense weight
threatened to collapse.

A Non-Fiction Book with Heart and Humor

During two sessions at SCBWI, NYC, I heard speakers reference Lincoln Tells a Joke: How Laugher Saved the President (and the Country) by Kathleen Krull, Paul Brewere, and Stacy Innerst. One editor spoke of the book as a perfect example of how to take a quirky, little known piece of history and weave it into a non-fiction book and during the humor panel it was mentioned to demonstrate the value of humor. The book weaves the well-known story of Lincoln’s life with bits of his writing that exhibit his humorous (sometimes irreverent) approach to life and the presidency. The book makes non-fiction writing seem more approachable to me and maybe it will do the same for you.

Who Doesn’t Love a Good Laugh?

The Boss Baby by Marla Frazee demonstrates the power of the author-illustrator. The normal scenes of everyday-life-with-baby (with the addition of a suit and tie on the little fella who is the main character) are given a totally different meaning with the clever, brief text Frazee uses. The economy of words in this book make the read fun and lively and the text pulls the reader from page to page. The book is a perfect example of escalating tension, black moment, a heart-warming climax, and surprise ending.

Goldie and the Three Hares by Margie Palatini and Jack E. Davis is a witty wonder, but what else would we expect from Margie Palatini? I thought every fairytale had been told in every possible way, but nope—and this book proves it. By combining a familiar tale (Goldie Locks and the Three Bears), an unexpected accident (Goldie’s fall into the rabbit hole), and a common problem (a house guest that won’t leave), Palatini has created a new knee-slapper. By the way, get ready for an unexpected ending that will leave you wondering what happens next!

Ok, my picture-book Valentine, go buy yourself a book, take it home, pour a glass of our favorite beverage, and enjoy the perfect date!

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