Archive for August, 2011
Tuesday, August 30th, 2011
Before There Was Mozart: The Story of Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-George by Lesa Cline-Ransome, illustrated by James E. Ransome (Schwartz & Wade, 2011)
This picture book biography celebrates a boy who, born of a mother who was a slave and a father who was a wealthy plantation owner in the West Indies, sailed to France, where he won the hearts as a musician, orchestra conductor, and composer. Many pictures in this book shine. There’s a lot of gold and yellow, beginning with a sunrise over the sea, and ending with Joseph taking a bow before royalty. James E. Ransome shows the beauty of fields and harbors in Gaudeloupe, where Joseph first becomes enchanted with music, as well as Paris, where his father takes him when he’s nine to begin classes with the sons of dukes and marquises. Joseph’s privileged life isn’t without pain and prejudice. His mother has her own apartment in a less glamorous part of Paris, and their lives become more separate.
At age twenty-one, Joseph devotes himself to music, and before long captivates audiences with the way he could “make a violin weep as if its heart had been broken.” He composes operas, quartets, and concertos, and played at many venues, including one in which Mozart is in the audience. At last he’s invited to Versailles to play for King Louis the Sixteenth and Queen Marie Antoinette. As they and their elaborately dressed guest applaud, so do we, with the pleasure in the music of the word and light dancing in the pictures.
Monday, August 29th, 2011
It’s almost September and we’re in full back-to-school swing at The Carle. Can you name each picture book based on the illustration of its teacher or classroom? Put your guesses in the comments below and I’ll be back on Friday with the answers!
Friday, August 26th, 2011
Perfect for blustery fall days, let me share with you a favorite new picture book. The Umbrella is by Dutch husband-and-wife team Ingrid and Dieter Schubert. You may remember seeing their art in our galleries during our Dutch Treats exhibition in 2006. Their newest book (which actually released last year in Europe and recently published by Lemniscaat in the US) may very well be their best work to date.
This wordless masterpiece begins before even the title page. The endpapers show a small dog discovering a red umbrella on a windy autumn day. The gusts of wind blow the reader to the right, toward turning the page, and straight across the title page. We see the dog being lifted by this wind-swept umbrella above the houses and trees and through a gorgeous worldwide watercolor adventure. We follow this dog as he is blown through various landscapes, from the Savannah to the ocean, from the jungle to the Arctic. Along the way this little red umbrella is many things to the dog; a parachute, a shield, a boat, a swing and even a sled. Each double-page spread bleeds off the pages, absorbing the reader into each landscape, imagining the untold story the lives with each scene. The Schuberts keep the momentum of the wind and the dog’s journey constantly heading right, urging the reader toward each page turn, until the exhausted dog arrives home and leaves the umbrella, Jumanji-style, to be discovered by the next eager adventurer.
This is a book created by a team who truly understands the art of the picture book, utilizing all the parts of the book right down to its endpapers, to tell this remarkable wordless adventure. For lovers of Barbara Lehman’s books or Regis Faller’s The Adventures of Polo series especially, this book is a going to be a winner.
Pick up your copy of The Umbrella here.
Thursday, August 25th, 2011
Stormy weather can sometimes make kids feel anxious or even scared. With hurricane season upon us on the East Coast and natural storms and disasters unavoidable in the news, I’ve put together a few recommended picture books to share with your kids to help put them at ease on bad weather days.
Hurricane by David Wiesner (HoughtonMifflin, 1990)
When a weather report tells them that a hurricane is coming, David & George’s family secures anything that might blow away in the yard, makes sure their cat comes inside, and then waits out the storm from the safety of their living room. Even when the lights go out because the storm knocked down electric lines, the boys aren’t scared. “It felt safe with everybody together, even though there were creaks and groans and sometimes great roaring sounds from outside.”
The next day, after the storm has passed, the boys see the changes the hurricane has made. A big tree was knocked down in their neighbor’s yard. Instead of making the boys feel scared or sad, the fallen tree opens a whole new world of imaginative play. The tree is like a new playground – it’s a ship, a jungle or even outer space. “The tree was a private place, big enough for secret dreams, small enough for shared adventures.” I love that this book shows that hurricanes don’t have to be scary and even if it brings destruction and change, good things can also come.
Storm in the Night by Mary Stolz, illustrated by Pat Cummings (HarperCollins, 1988)
When a storm during the night knocks out the electricity, you can’t pass the time like you could on other nights. You can’t watch TV, can’t read a book, and it’s too early to go to bed. Instead, it’s a time you can spend together with your family, talking and telling stories. In the dark, your other senses come alive and you may notice things about the way the rain or winds that you didn’t notice before. Even the world smells different.
Grandfather and the boys watch the storm from the safety of the porch, while Grandfather tells them a story about how he once felt during a thunderstorm and how he overcame the fear. Even if the boys themselves aren’t scared of the storm, it helps to pass the time in the dark. At the same time, with her poetic text, Stolz is reassuring young readers that they, too, can overcome their fears of stormy weather and learn to even see the beauty in all that lightning, rain and wind.
Blackout by John Rocco (Hyperion Books, 2011)
This wonderful new picture book by John Rocco may not be about a hurricane, but it directly deals with the loss of electricity, one of the more shocking and scary things for young children that could happen during a storm. With comic book paneling reminiscent of Sendak’s In the Night Kitchen, and careful use of color and light, Rocco brings a city-wide blackout to life with skill and beauty.
On a hot summer night in the city, one girl’s family is much too busy to play a board game together. Dad’s making dinner, Sister’s on the phone and Mom’s on the computer, so the little girl decides to play a video game by herself. That is, until…the lights go out. Finally, with no electricity and no distractions, the family finds time to play together. And when it gets too hot inside, the family goes up on the roof, where they find other families had the same idea. “It was a block party in the sky.” With no city lights, for the first time they can all see the stars. The neighbors enjoy the night, allowing them to spend time differently than they usually do. But more importantly, when the lights come back on, they remember to spend that same kind of time together once in a while. What a like about this book, that makes it different than others, is that time without electricity doesn’t have to be “quiet” time. It just reminds readers that there’s different kinds of fun than the daily routines we all seem to get stuck in sometimes.
Thunder-Boomer! by Shutta Crum, illustraed by Carol Thompson (Clarion Books, 2009)
On a hot day, a thunder storm can feel like a release from the heat. It brings gusts of wind, chilly air and lots of cool rain. Instead of dreading a storm and feeling nervous when it arrives, the characters in this book book welcome it! The family prepares their farm, trying to take in laundry off the line and get all the animals inside where they’ll wait out the storm.
With humor in both the text and illustrations, full of great sound-effects and lots of antics from funny animals, the feeling during a thunderstorm is not one of fear, but of celebratory fun. Dad’s underwear was left on the laundry line and it goes whipping through the air past the window. When the dog seems to feel nervous and whines, the kids are the ones to comfort him. “‘Shhh, it’s all right.’ I tell him. ‘That’s just the thunder-boomer showing off.’” The sounds of the storm, the animals and bits of dialogue written in the illustration make this a wonderful book to read out loud. “Zzzzzt! Cr-a-a-ck! Zzzzzt! Rumble…. Swish-wack! Thump-wump!” The end of the thunder-boomer brings a wonderfully cute surprise ending to the book.
These picture books help readers see that not only do they not have to be scared of storms, but they can also learn to appreciate all the neat sounds and sights and changes that storms can bring. Do you have a favorite stormy weather picture book? Share it with us and other readers in the comments below!
Wednesday, August 24th, 2011
Our customers always come up with the best ideas for the dozens of different Eric Carle postcards we sell. I’ve heard of people framing them to put on a child’s wall or even buying matching pairs of postcards and laminating them to create a durable memory game. My new favorite use of postcards is simple and charming: Use them to welcome students back to school!
Front of postcard
Back of postcard
An elementary school teacher bought a whole set of our postcards, printed messages on each one and then sent them to her new first grade class. The postcard introduced her as their new teacher, gave them an idea of what they will be learning in first grade this year, and enthused excitement about meeting in a few weeks. I thought it was such a wonderful way to help put at ease children who are nervous about going to school and to break the ice with a well-loved character, like The Very Hungry Caterpillar. These students are very lucky to have a teacher like this, indeed. What a great idea!
Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011
Ten Little Caterpillars by Bill Martin Jr., illustrated by Lois Ehlert (Beach Lane Books)
As they did in Chicka Chicka, Boom Boom, Martin and Ehlert combine their talents to provide children with another delightful tale that cries out to be read aloud. These 10 caterpillars are on the move: the first, crawling into a bower, the second, wriggling up a flower, the sixth, carried off to school, and the tenth, scaling an apple tree. Sumptuous illustrations describe their destinations with one, readers will discover, becoming a butterfly. An imaginative, lilting tale for those just learning to count and for those already accomplished — the rhyme, the rhythm, and the journeys will be a most entertaining trip. In addition, Ehlert cleverly winds a botany lesson into a pictorial narrative.
On shelves August 30, 2011.
* * * * * * * * *
Lois Ehlert is this year’s Carle Honors Artist recipient! Click here to learn more about Lois Ehlert and The Carle Honors. Want more recommendations from The Carle Bookshop? Click here to read for Top of the Shelf book reviews.
Monday, August 22nd, 2011
I hope you are enjoying these late days of summer and are maybe squeezing in a last summer trip before September comes. How about a trip to the water? Here are a few picture books that feature a whole variety of boats – ferries, canoes, rowboats, tugboats and even a pirate ship! Can you name all of the books below? Put your guesses in the comments below and I’ll be back on Friday with the answers. Anchors away!
Friday, August 19th, 2011
Summer is winding down, but I’ve been fantasizing about one last vacation: an old-fashioned road trip. I’m remembering fondly those summer family trips we’d take across the country in our old Dodge van. While my sisters and I may have, at times, been too cranky or too absorbed in our book to want to get out and see another old battlefield or, okay fine, the Grand Canyon, for us kids, it still beat staying at home or going to (oh, the horror!) summer camp.
Whether or not you have plans to go on a real road trip this summer or fall, here are four great picture books about hitting the road with your family.
Pictures from Our Vacation by Lynne Rae Perkins (Greenwillow Books, 2007)
The two siblings in this book are given instant cameras and notebooks to each record their vacation. They take lot of pictures. Pictures of boring car rides, empty pools, damaged badminton rackets and lots and lots of pictures of rain. But the times they seem to be having the most fun are the times they forget to take pictures! “These don’t remind me that much of our vacation,” one of the kids says looking over the photos at the end of the trip. “It’s hard to take a picture of a story someone tells or what it feels like when you’re rolling down a hill.” Through beautiful language and watercolors that evoke the true sense of summer, Newbery-winner Lynne Rae Perkins makes you realize that the memories of those special moments of vacation (even the car trip!) are pictures you can keep in your mind.
Just Us Women by Jeannette Caines, illustrated by Pat Cummings (HarperCollins, 1982)
Aunt Martha and her niece are driving all the way to North Carolina, just the two of them. “No boys and no men, just us women.” The road trip is special time the two can spend together alone, doing whatever they want. They can stop at roadside markets and yard sales, eat at a fancy restaurant or even get out of the car to splash in the rain. They can drive down back roads, stop for pictures in front of famous statues and just take their sweet old time, without anyone else telling them what to do. This wonderful book evokes the true feeling of a road trip. The freedom to explore and cherish the time you have, away from TV and other distractions, with your family.
My Side of the Car by Kate Feiffer, illustrated by Jules Feiffer (Candlewick Press, 2011)
Sadie has been wanting to go the the zoo forever, but each time the trip somehow gets postponed. Finally, she and her dad are in the car on their way to the zoo, and NOTHING will stop them this time. But the weather seems to have other plans. “Sadie, it’s raining,” says Sadie’s father. But Sadie insists that it’s not raining. Not, at least, on her side of the car. With sweet humor, an imaginative banter ensues between Sadie and her father. Sadie comes up with elaborate reasons for why her father’s side of the car might be wet, while insisting outside her window everyone is doing sunny day things, like wearing sunglasses and eating ice cream. Inspired by true story, with great humor father-daughter team Kate and Jules Feiffer explore the power of optimism when things don’t quite go right on a road trip.
The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Stephen Gammell (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 1985)
Sometimes the best part about a road trip is the destination. In this Caldecott Honor picture book, Cynthia Rylant uses skilled prose to evoke all the senses and feelings of a big family reunion. You feel the emotions of missing home while still being excited to be on vacation. You get the feeling of closeness to have so many people in one small house, while acknowledging how strange but special it feels. “It was different, going to sleep with all that new breathing in the house.” Stephen Gammell brings great humor to the text with his illustrations, showing not a idealized family reunion, but one that feels more genuine. The car crashes into the fence and people spill food and snore, making it feel all the more real and maybe a bit more like your family. And like reading a book, the car takes you in a round trip back to the beginning. You might be sad that it’s over, but just like you can visit next summer, you can read the book again!
Happy last days of summer! For more road trip fun, check out my post last summer, Are We There Yet? ,where I recommend great books for entertaining kids on long car rides.
Thursday, August 18th, 2011
I just wanted to share with you these pictures sent to me from a customer in Australia. She bought some Eric Carle fabric and made the most adorable pinafores with matching ruffle pants for her granddaughters.
These are made using our Junk Food fabric, by individually cutting out the foods and appliqueing them onto the dress. The ruffles include a strip of the Junk Food fabric. I love the combination of the Eric Carle fabrics with the solid colors. So bright and cheery! Here is a similar dress made by cutting out the animals from the Brown Bear Animals fabric. Doesn’t this just inspire you to go make your own?
Brown Bear Front
Brown Bear Back
Thanks for sharing with us, Pam!
Wednesday, August 17th, 2011
Are you as excited as we are for Eric Carle’s new book? It’s called The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse and it’s lovely! I got a sneak peak at a galley earlier this summer and I know you all will love it! Not only is it true to Eric’s bright and colorful collage style, but it is also a truly inspirational book.
When Eric Carle was a young boy in World War II Germany, his art teacher secretly showed him works by Nazi-banned expressionist artists like Franz Marc. These artists made an enormous impact on Eric’s life and inspired his own art. This new book is, in a way, a tribute to Franz Marc. It’s a book about true creativity, each paged filled with its own wildly colored animal, such as a blue horse, a yellow cow or a polka-dotted donkey. The artist in the book paints the world as he sees it, even if it may be different from how you or I see it.
Every child has an artist inside of him and this book is not only beautiful and entertaining, it also will make a wonderful teaching tool. Educators can launch into lessons on expressionist art using the informative back matter of the book. Readers can even compare Eric Carle’s blue horse and yellow cow to the reproductions in the back of Franz Marc’s original works. Educators can also use the book to let students explore the artist within themselves, perhaps choosing another artist to which they can create their own mini picture book homage.
We’re so excited to share this new book with our Museum friends, that we simply can’t wait until it’s release date of October 4th! So we’re inviting you to come to The Carle on Sunday, September 25th at 1:00 pm to purchase a copy (or three!) of The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse to get signed personally by Eric Carle. To celebrate the launch of his new book, not only will Eric Carle be at the Museum to sign copies of the book for fans, but we’ll also have original art from the book on display in our West Gallery. You can be the very first out of everyone to get your hands on an AUTOGRAPHED copy of Eric Carle’s new book AND be able to see the original art! How crazy is that? We’ll also be showing the new video, Eric Carle: Picture Writer, The Art of Books in our Auditorium and have Blue Horse art activities in our Art Studio, so it’s going to be a really great day. More information, including signing guidelines (no personalization, no flash photography, etc) can be found on our website here.
If you would like to reserve your copies of the book, you can place your order online here (limit three per person) and come pick it up in the Shop ahead of time to avoid the lines on Sunday, September 25th. Please note that you must be present September 25th to get your early copy of The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse. No copies can be shipped before the official release date of October 4th.
If you can’t make it to The Carle on September 25th but would still like to reserve a copy (unsigned only) of the book, you can place your pre-order here. Books will ship after October 4th.
I really hope all of you can make it here to meet Eric Carle and celebrate this new book’s launch with us. It’s going to be an amazing day!