Have you checked under your bed and inspected your closet? Today especially you might need to be on the look out for monsters. You and I know that picture books are not just cute puppies and fluffy bunnies. Some of the best picture books let children examine and confront their own fears and inner monsters. Besides, not all monsters are scary. Today, let’s embrace our wild sides with a few of my favorite monster books. Can you name each one based on the image below? Put your guesses in the comments and I’ll be back on Friday with the answers. Happy Halloween!
Archive for October, 2011
Some kids like to be scared. Others, like me as a child, definitely. do. not. Halloween is such an appealing holiday with the opportunity to dress up like something you love and get candy from neighbors, but when the actual night comes, there seems to be a thin line between delightfully spooky and horrifyingly scary. For the 2-5 year old crowd picture books can help prepare the child for what to expect on Halloween. These books allow them to play with feelings of tension and suspense, without downright terrifying them. Of course, what Jimmy may like, for example, may be too scary for Joey, so parents, you will know best what will be too much for your children. That being said, here are my top ten not-so-scary picture books that are good picks for Halloween.
1. Pumpkin Eye by Denise Fleming
Denise Fleming’s handmade paper collage illustrations are luminous and exciting, with just the right amount of spookiness. Readers encounter glowing jack-o-lantern and costumed trick-or-treaters as a full moon rises in the dark night. The bouncy rhyme makes this a fun and easy read-aloud.
2. The Vanishing Pumpkin by Tony Johnston, illustrated by Tomie dePaola
It’s Halloween and seven-hundred-year-old woman and the eight-hundred-year-old man’s pumpkin is missing! They go off to search for it, coming across varmints and rapscallions, and even a wizard, along the way. Humor and lyrical repetition in the text make this another fun read-aloud.
3. Boo, Bunny! by Kathryn O. Galbraith, illustrated by Jeff Mack
This book explores the suspense and bravery a child can feel trick-or-treating in the dark. Jeff Mack expertly plays with dark, light and dramatic angles in illustrations of this fun tale. Glowing eyes and silhouettes of tree branches add to the spook factor while cute fluffy bunnies in costume keep it very low key.
4. Only a Witch Can Fly by Alison McGhee, illustrated by Taeeun Yoo
A little witch dreams of flying across the sky on her broomstick, but every time fails. This is a sweet and subtle story of determination and perseverance gorgeously illustrated by Taeeun Yoo’s simple and evocative block prints.
5. The Fierce Yellow Pumpkin by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Richard Egielski
The “fat little, round little, yellow little pumpkin” wants more than anything to be fierce like the scarecrow that guards the field, but no one seems afraid of it. When children pick the pumpkin and start carving a jack-o-lantern, however, the pumpkin’s dreams come true. There’s a lovely repetition and cadence to the text, with a story that will get kids excited to carve the most “terrific and terrible” faces on their own pumpkins.
6. Hallowilloween by Calef Brown
This delightful poetry collection is for children and adults alike. It’s filled with Edward Lear-esque nonsense verse (like oompachupa loompacabra) and wordplay, like Vumpire (a vampire baseball umpire) or Poltergeyser (a ghostly waterspout). The humor is dark at times, and adults will especially appreciate funny literary references like the poem, The Portrait of Gory René, for example.
7. A Dark, Dark Tale by Ruth Brown
While there are many illustrated versions of this traditional Halloween poem available, this is one of my favorites. The illustrations are dark and spooky and the book’s verse builds and builds onto itself as you’re taken further along through the woods and into a house. Just when a child can’t bear the suspense any longer, expecting the worst – goblins, ghosts, maybe a witch? – to jump out of the dark, you discover a teeny-tiny mouse and so the built-up fear is replaced with laughter and delight.
8. Here They Come by David Costello
David Costello’s Here They Come is filled with spooky magical creatures like werewolves and hobgoblins meeting together for a party. The smiling creatures are actually more funny than scary in the illustrations, offering the perfect balance of the unfamiliar and the safe. The twist comes when their party is interrupted by creatures even scarier than them – human children dressed in their Halloween costumes! “That was a fun scare,” the creatures say after the kids leave. I couldn’t agree more.
9. Annie was Warned by Jarrett J. Krosoczka
Jarrett J. Krosoczka touches on the tricks our mind can play on us on a dark and spooky night. Annie was told not to go to the creepy old mansion, but she sneaks out anyway. Along the way shadows and sounds just may be scary spiders, bats or ghosts, but each time have a more practical explanation. I not only love Annie’s boldness as a character, but also that each turn of the page heightens the suspenseful tension. A fold-out final page reveals a fun surprise ending.
10. Vampire Boy’s Good Night by Lisa Brown
Like David Costello’s Here They Come, Lisa Brown’s Vampire Boy’s Good Night is a traditional Halloween story flipped on its head. Instead of children scared of vampires and witches, a little boy vampire and a little girl witch go out on Halloween night to see if “real children” actually exist. They stumble upon a Halloween party of costumed-children dressed liked mummies, ghosts and witches, and so they’re not so sure there’s such thing as children at all. The humor and role reversals balance out the spookiness perfectly.
Want more recommendations? Check out last year’s Halloween picks and my list of not-so-scary Monster books.What are some of your favorite picture books to read at Halloween? Share with us in the comments below.
Stars by Mary Lyn Ray, pictures by Marla Frazee (Beach Lane Books, 2011)
This tall, blue-filled book offers brilliant views of sky marveled at by an array of children depicted with Marla Frazee’s usual attention to getting the right detail to show a variety of charmers. Delicately depicted themes include wishes, a sense of safety, changing moods, the star shapes we can find in flowers and snowflakes, and how what we can’t see remains. Text and pictures gently push us to look and wonder, perfect for bedtimes, when children can close their eyes and imagine great worlds beyond the roof.
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Want more recommendations from The Carle Bookshop? Click here to read for Top of the Shelf book reviews.
What well-known children’s book author had a resume that included sailor, railway fireman, longshoreman, long distance truck driver, bus driver, boxer, policeman, postman, radio broadcaster, folksinger and stand-up comedian?
Last night we hosted a wonderful event, A Day in the Life of an Infant Toddler Center and a Day in a Preschool in Reggio Emilia presented by Amelia Gambetti and Lella Gandini. The Carle’s Art Studio is very much inspired by the philosophy of the early childhood centers of Reggio Emilia, Italy and each year The Carle coordinates Reggio Emilia styled programming (even including trips to Italy to observe and learn from their classrooms) for educators.
These early educators are some of my favorite customers in our Shop because they are always so excited and eager to discover new books for their classrooms and centers. They always have lots of questions, looking for classic as well as contemporary picture books that use themes or concepts they would like to explore with children. Yesterday, there were lots of requests for picture books that explore art appreciation for pre-schoolers and so I’ll share with you some of our recommendations.
There are just so many picture books about art, and some of my favorites fall into distinct categories:
CATEGORY 1: The Mentor
These books, especially, strike a note with art educators because they are books that focus on a teacher/mentor or friend giving confidence and permission to the main character to make art and to see things in their own unique way. Some of my favorites from this category:
The Dot and Ish by Peter Reyolds
The Art Lesson and The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush by Tomie dePaola
The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse by Eric Carle
Eric Carle’s newest book is a tribute to one of his own favorite artists, Franz Marc. Marc’s surrealist art gave Eric (and so his book’s main character) the freedom and inspiration to make art his own way.
CATEGORY 2: Art & the Imagination
These books stress that art has the power to bring imagination to life and in that way empowers the child characters in other aspects in their life. Favorites from this category include:
Jeremy Draws a Monster by Peter McCarty
Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crocket Johnson
Chalk by Bill Thomson
Lily Brown’s Paintings by Angela Johnson and E.B. Lewis
CATEGORY 3: Art Concepts
There are so many wonderful books that touch on concepts of early art education, such as mixing colors and shapes. These are some of my favorites:
The Color Kittens by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Alice & Martin Provensen
Little Blue and Little Yellow by Leo Lionni
Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh
White Rabbit’s Color Book by Alan Baker
Color Zoo by Lois Ehlert
Many of Lois Ehlert books, like this one, work really well in the classroom because students can get inspired to play in similar ways with colors and shapes, making them into animals and objects.
CATEGORY 4: The Many Faces of Art
These books celebrate the breadth and expanse of different types and forms of art. In my experience this often includes a lot of puns, especially with using the character’s name as “Art”. Some favorites:
Art & Max by David Wiesner
Art by Patrick McDonnell
Perfect Square by Michael Hall
I love the way that Michael Hall explores and plays with textures and collage in this colorful book.
I’m sure this list can go on and on, but I’d love to hear some of your favorite suggestions! What are your favorite picture books that stress an appreciation of art?
Have you visited our Barbara Elleman Research Library (BERL) yet here at The Carle? The BERL is a non-circulating research collection of roughly 3,000 professional resources and children’s books devoted to the study of children’s literature and the visual arts. The library is named for former Museum Trustee and Book Links Magazine founding editor Barbara Elleman (you may know her by her fabulous Top of the Shelf book reviews here on the blog). Barbara, with her husband Don, generously contributed the books that form the core of the collection. This library is a children’s book lover’s dream and a real amazing resource for teachers, librarians and students of children’s literature. If you haven’t visited yet, this weekend marks an excellent opportunity as we hold our first annual BERL lecture.
The BERL Lecture Series will feature the country’s preeminent scholars, book collectors, researchers, editors, authors and illustrators in the field of children’s literature. These events will be a must-see for all those serious children’s book lovers out there, especially if you’re like me and love learning everything you can about the literature, its history and the industry.
This first lecture will be presented by renowned editor, writer and teacher, Patricia Lee Gauch.
Patricia was Editorial Director of Philomel Books for almost 25 years and in that time worked with many well known authors and illustrators such as Eric Carle, Patricia Polacco, Brian Jacques, T.A. Barron, Andrew Clements and Loren Long. She was the editor behind three Caldecott medal-winning books: Owl Moon by Jane Yolen, illustrated by John Schoenherr, Lon Po Po by Ed Young and So You Want to Be President by Judith St. George, illustrated by David Small. She also edited Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskin, which won the 2010 National Book Award. In addition to editing, Patricia has also written 39 books of her own, including the Tanya series, and has taught writing and children’s literature at college level. What an amazing wealth of knowledge about children’s books and the industry she must have!
The lecture programming begins Friday, October 21st, with a workshop on picture books led by Patricia, called “Creating a Picture Book: An Editor’s Eye View.” Then on Saturday, October 22nd, we’ll be hosting an informal brunch with Patricia, who will be discussing specific art pieces from books she has ushered through the publication process. Following, Director Alix Kennedy will lead a sneak peek tour of the new Jules Feiffer exhibition, Growing Every Which Way But Up: The Children’s Book Art of Jules Feiffer, which opens to the public next week. Brunch is at 11:00 AM and cost is $25. Registration is required by calling 413-658-1126.
At 1pm Patricia will lead a spirited presentation in our Auditorium, called “The Picture Book as an Act of Mischief.” The lecture will celebrate the magic and mystery of the picture book as a key genre in literature for children. A book signing and reception will follow. Free with museum admission.
I am so excited for this series, offering the opportunity to meet and learn from some of the great and influential people of the children’s book world. Hope to see some of you this weekend!
Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner with art by Christopher Silas Neal (Chronicle Books, 2011)
Over and Under the Snow follows a girl and her father on cross-country skis, while tracks and keen observation hint at life under the snow. The pictures complete stories suggested by the poetic text, which follows the father, daughter, and animals leaving marks on the terrain and the hidden life of snowshoe hares, voles, bullfrogs in the mud at the bottom of ponds, and beavers huddled in a lodge. The tone is as peaceful as the hushed woods, and the repetition soothing, but we also get a sense of adventure and a quiet education in science. The mixed media illustrations have a feel almost as timeless as the forest, and an enchanting simplicity, while changes in scale surprise us into attention. A fox appears in a burst of red that gets echoed by the girl’s red hat and mittens, and the pajamas she wears when at last curled up on white sheets for a well-deserved rest.
An afterword offers more information about wildlife, and further reading is suggested. The lovely book nudges you toward the winter woods, ready to look and listen with a grander attention and joy.
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Want more recommendations from The Carle Bookshop? Click here to read for Top of the Shelf book reviews.
I’m so berry excited for another Picture Book Puzzler! Today’s Puzzler is made up of ten popular children’s books that contain fruit names in their titles. Can you fill in each blank with the pearfect fruit? Put your guesses the comments below and I’ll be back at the end of the week with the answers. Go bananas!
1. The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe ______ and the Bit Hungry Bear by Audrey and Don Wood
2. Anna ____ and Me by Lenore and Erik Blegvad
3. Each Peach ____ Plum by Allan and Janet Ahlberg
4. Lousy Rotten Stinkin’ _____ by Margie Palatini and Barry Moser
5. James and the Giant _____ by Roald Dahl
6. The Red ____ by Bob Staake
7. Cherries and ____ Pits by Vera B. Williams
8. How to Bake an ____ Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman
9. On the Banks of _____ Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder
10. ______ Pear Apple Bear by Emily Gravett
We are so excited about this month’s Book Talk interview! This Sunday, October 16th we won’t have just one illustrator here at The Carle for an interview, we’ll have five! This Sunday join our bookseller Andy Laties and our friend (and one of our favorite customers) Susannah Richards for a lively interview with five amazing picture book illustrators:
John Bemelmans Marciano
These illustrators are just part of the group, The Book Maker’s Dozen, a collaboration of 13 fabulous children’s book illustrators, who share studio space in Brooklyn and help promote each other’s work. Want to see what some of their studios look like? Betsy Bird wrote up a nice photo tour on her blog. Very cool!
Sunday is going to be a full day of fun because after the interview in our auditorium, we’ve invited them all to do story times in our Library and art demonstrations in our Art Studio in the afternoon, along with a big ‘ol book signing outside the Shop. I hope to see you all here!
For our schedule of Book Talk interviews here at The Carle, click here. Was there an interview you missed? Starting next month we’ll be releasing recordings of each of the interviews here on the blog. Stay tuned!