Posts Tagged ‘picture book’

Top of the Shelf: Looking at Lincoln

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

LOOKING AT LINCOLN by Maira Kalman (Nancy Paulsen Books, 2012)

Using a breezy conversational style, Kalman provides a unique introduction to our 16th president. She begins by drawing attention to Lincoln’s tall stovepipe hat and his face on the $5.00 bill, and then she integrates information about Lincoln’s impoverished childhood, study of the law, election as President, Gettysburg address, Emancipation Proclamation and murder in 1865. She also integrates such fascinating lesser-known facts about his run-in with a donkey and the name of his dog. Bold colors and varying use of the pages makes this biography captivating and informative.

*           *          *          *         *          *          *          *           *

Want more recommendations from The Carle Bookshop? Click here to read for Top of the Shelf book reviews.

Top of the Shelf: Stars

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

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.

*           *          *          *         *          *          *          *           *

Want more recommendations from The Carle Bookshop? Click here to read for Top of the Shelf book reviews.

Top of the Shelf: Over and Under the Snow

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

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.

*           *          *          *         *          *          *          *           *

Want more recommendations from The Carle Bookshop? Click here to read for Top of the Shelf book reviews.

Read for the Record: Llama Llama Red Pajama

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Tomorrow, Thursday, October 6th, is Jumpstart’s annual Read for the Record literacy event. Millions of people all around the world are pledging that they will read this year’s chosen book, Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dowdney together all on the same day with children in their life or local area.

Jumpstart, working with the Pearson Foundation, started this campaign six years ago to call for an end to America’s early education achievement gap. “Millions of children in low-income neighborhoods are at risk of school failure before they even start kindergarten.” Jumpstart’s Read for the Record event acts as a world-recognized statement that we pledge to make time to read to children and make sure they get the quality early education that they deserve. Last year over two million people around the world read The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats together, and this year we hope to break the world record again with 2.5 million!

Want to join in? Take the pledge online and tomorrow, read Llama Llama Red Pajama to young children in your area. Many of the staff here at The Carle are offering to do a Read for the Record storytime in their child’s classroom or at the local library. If you’re in the Amherst area tomorrow, you can even come to The Carle’s official Read for the Record Storytime and be counted in our pledge. At 11:00 am we’ll be reading Llama Llama Red Pajama in our Reading Library, followed by a special activity in the Art Studio. We have copies of the book for sale in our Shop, or if you’re in a pinch, you can find a free copy to read online here.

We hope you’ll join us, either here or in your local area, to be counted for this celebration of books and literacy. “Sit down to read. Stand up for children.”


Remembering the Twin Towers

Sunday, September 11th, 2011

Today at The Carle, on the day marking ten years since the World Trade Center towers fell, we hosted a very touching presentation by award-winning artist and author, Mordicai Gerstein about his Caldecott-winning picture book, The Man Who Walked Between the Towers. We gathered together to remember the World Trade Center Towers and their history, including the strangely fascinating and memorable stunts of French aerialist Philippe Petit.

One night in 1974, after years of planning, a young street performer named Philippe Petit, snuck to the roof of one of the towers of the newly built World Trade Center and (with help of his disguised accomplices) managed to string a tightrope the 150-foot distance between the two towers. When dawn came, he proceeded to not only walk across the tightrope, but run, jump, dance, kneel, and even LIE DOWN, for almost an hour, a quarter of a mile in the sky, with the high winds and no safety rope.

Being able to talk with Mordicai Gerstein, we heard the amount of research that went into capturing this amazing story into a book for children. It was fascinating to learn how much work and planning went into Petit’s stunt. After walking a tightrope between the spires of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, he set his heart on next attempting to walk the gap between the World Trade Center towers. He flew to New York City and began to plot and plan. He disguised himself multiple times, sometimes as an architecture student, sometimes a construction worker, to get into the towers to scope them out.

On the night of the big event, he and two friends disguised as construction workers hauled 400 lbs. of steel cable up the elevator and then up the remaining ten flights of stairs to the roof, where they then had to hide under a tarp to keep from being spotted by security, until night fell. In the darkness, they began the hard task of erecting the tightrope. One person on one roof shot an arrow with lightweight fishing line to the opposite tower’s roof, where they were then able to pull a rope and then finally the steel cable across. Dawn was already upon them as they finished tightening the cable and Petit took his first steps across as New York City began its morning bustling below. Onlookers on the ground (helped by a few strategically places friends) gasped and pointed to where he was defying gravity and death in the sky, while police raced up to the roof of each tower, frantically trying to get him to come down. It was indeed a crime, albeit a crime of art, and at the end of the performance, Petit was handcuffed and brought to trial, where the judge sentenced him with a mandate of one night of performing for New York City children in Central Park.

Here’s an amazing juxtaposition of an actual photograph of Petit and an illustration from The Man Who Walked Between the Towers.

© 2008 Jean-Louis Blondeau / Polaris

© 2003 Mordicai Gerstein

It was fascinating to hear how Gerstein (who himself is actually afraid of heights) was able to perfectly capture the amazing height and feeling of vertigo in his illustration. He explained how he created space with overlapping planes that twisted, playing with horizon lines. With amazing fold-out full-page spreads and evocative text, Gerstein is able to get across the beauty and awe of the moment. “Out to the very middle he walked, as if he were walking on the air itself. Many winds whirled up from between the towers, and he swayed with them. He could feel the towers breathing. He was not afraid. He felt alone and happy and absolutely free.”

Above all, Gerstein stressed the infinite and amazing power of the human imagination. “There’s nothing you can’t do,” he said. “The human imagination is vast and marvelous. It can make things and destroy things.” This truly captures the day. Today not only were we aware that the human imagination can devise methods of destruction, but together we marveled at the imaginations that bring us great moments of art. The imagination of architects who brought New York City such massive and majestic buildings. The imagination of Philippe Petite, who followed his dream and brought his skill of agile art to New York City’s skyline. The imagination of Mordicai Gerstein, who was able to picture it and share it with the world and all of its children in such a beautiful way.

“Now the towers are gone. But in memory, as if imprinted on the sky, the towers are still there.” Gerstein reminds us in our minds, anything is possible.

For more about Philippe Petite, check out the Academy award-winning documentary, Man on Wire or his wonderful book, To Reach the Clouds. Here’s the trailer for the documentary:

Top of the Shelf: Oh, Harry!

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

Oh, Harry! by Maxine Kumin, illustrated by Barry Moser (Roaring Brook Press)

Kumin, a highly acclaimed poet who breeds horses on her New Hampshire farm, imagines a funny tale about a horse with an unusual asset — calming his fellow equines in their horse-show barn. When 6-year-old Algernon Adams the Third arrives with a nasty attitude and a barrel of unruly tricks, he puts the whole stable in an uproar. The boy gets his comeuppance, however, when one of his daily pranks backfires and he ends up locked in the grain bin. How Harry saves the day and makes a lifelong friend of Algie provides fodder for Kumin’s agile pen. Moser’s deft illustrations capture Harry’s personality well, amusing children as well as parents reading the story aloud.

*           *          *         *        *        *       *

Want more recommendations from The Carle Bookshop? Click here to read for Top of the Shelf book reviews.

Friday Favorite: Pretend You’re a Cat

Friday, February 11th, 2011

In celebration of Jerry Pinkney’s visit tomorrow, today’s Friday Favorite may be a lesser known title of Jerry Pinkney’s work, but is a terrific interactive storytime book.

Pretend You’re a Cat (Penguin, 1990) by Jean Marzollo, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney

Let me start off by saying, this is NOT a quiet book. Pretend You’re a Cat is a book that will really get kids moving, making noise and interacting with each other and the book. It’s a FUN book and it’s the perfect opportunity to be just plain silly. Use it for a group story-time, especially when your audience is feeling a bit antsy and at home when your kids are restless. With rhyming text, the reader is asked to explore their knowledge of a variety of animals – cats, dogs, horses, bees, and even snakes!

Can you bark?
Can you beg?
Can you scratch
With your leg?
Can you fetch?
Can you roll?
Can you dig
In a hole?

With each line, readers can get up and act out the motions with their whole body or use hand gestures to allow for space and body restrictions. Jerry Pinkney’s wonderful watercolor illustrations compare side-by-side the actual animal with the children acting like the animal. The illustrations of the kids offer giggles and inspiration for the audience (I never would have thought to “hatch” out of a cardboard box pretending I was a chick – brilliant!).  Some of the kids in the book are even illustrated dressed as the animal, such as a girl in a bee costume or a boy with tiger face paint, to help them get more into character. The last line of each page always asks, What else can you do like [that animal] offering an opening for further creativity and exploration. This book is a great leaping off point for a unit on animal behavior or an activity for an animal-themed birthday party. I especially love the handmade horse masks the kids wear. It would make a great accompanying art project!

Along with our favorite, Head to Toe by Eric Carle, Pretend You’re a Cat is one of those special books that lets kids explore their body’s movements, show off their knowledge of familiar animals, and have fun all at the same time. And a book that can do all that, is pretty special indeed.

At The Carle Bookshop we specialize in backlist picture books. Backlist is bookseller talk for the not-so-new picture books that you often can’t find at other bookstores. We carry the fabulous new books too (make sure to read our weekly Top of the Shelf posts for new book recommendations), but we know what makes us unique are the shelves and shelves of picture books you remember from your childhood or books you read to your own children. Each Friday, we’ll highlight one of these special older titles in case you may have missed it or forgotten about it along the way. Let’s keep the picture book alive and loved, shall we?

Top of the Shelf: There’s Going to be a Baby

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

There’s Going to be a Baby by John Burningham and Helen Oxenbury (Candlewick Press)

The lauded husband and wife creators collaborate on this charming book with Burningham writing and Oxenbury illustrating. The story of a child awaiting a sibling has been told, but rarely with such tenderness and humor. I like how the mother listens to her child’s fantasies, fears, anger, and hope without commentary, responding with her own wonder about what the baby will be like. Oxenbury’s inked lines capture varied moods, and every other full-page spread lets us peer into the little boy’s imagination, with a retro dotted background done digitally and nods to Winsor McCay’s Little Nemo and Crocket Johnson’s Harold and the Purple Crayon. There’s a lot to make you laugh and look again at the soon-to-be-older brother’s array of feelings, and relief that no one forces a line toward mature acceptance; the sweetness of the ending comes straight from a loved and loving child who’s been allowed to express himself.

Purchase There’s Going to Be a Baby and make sure to read more of our Top of the Shelf recommendations.

Picture Book Puzzler: Favorite Fact

Monday, November 15th, 2010

Of all of Eric Carle picture books, which does he call his favorite?

Top of the Shelf: Bubble Trouble

Saturday, May 29th, 2010

Bubble Trouble by Margaret Mahy and Polly Dunbar

Little Mabel’s bubble encompasses Baby Brother, sending him aloft and causing a chaotic chase across the neighborhood. His adventures – and eventual rescue – will capture of the attention of even the most restless child. Dunbar’s animated faces are in perfect sync with Mahy’s bouncing rhyme in a book that is great fun to read aloud.

Click here to buy Bubble Trouble or see more Top of the Shelf books.