Tag Archives: picturebook

Celebrating a Storybook Year – June

June brought us the first days of summer and so we headed for the beach…figuratively, at least. We explored beach, ocean and sea creature themes in our books this month. We met Jacques Cousteau (the “Manfish”), Marie Tharp (the woman who first mapped the ocean floor), and plenty of other fascinating real life and imaginary characters. We also enjoyed a week of cute and funny books about Fathers’ Day, complete with bear hugs and goofy dad humor.

All-in-all it was a breezy, warm, and engaging month of reading in keeping with the summer season.


Celebrating a Storybook Year – May

After April Showers come…May flowers! For May we read more books about rain and the water cycle, but added in books on seeds, plants and flowers. We found several wonderful books for Mothers’ Day – some touching, some amusing, all great for read-aloud! We also read a powerful and poignant book for Memorial Day.

may2As you might imagine, given the subject matter, we found some beautifully illustrated selections this month. It’s fun to look at the collage and think about all the amazing books we have uncovered – or rediscovered – this year.

But I digress…we have seven more months to go!


Celebrating a Storybook Year – April

For April we adopted a water cycle and rain theme (April Showers!…get it?), along with gardening.april

We read for Marguerite Henry’s birthday and National Help a Horse Day (seems like those should have been on the same day!). There was also World Penguin Day, Earth Day, National Arbor Day and Shakespeare’s birthday – yes, we even managed to work The Bard into our 365 read-aloud project! April was National Poetry Month, which led to some entertaining selections, and National Library Week happened this month as well. In a sense, we could have relabeled this year “A Local Library Year”. We have always been fans of the public library – but never more so after leaning on them so much all year to help us keep our book list going!


Celebrating a Storybook Year – March

If we thought we had a lot of special days in February, we hit the jackpot in March. This Month we didn’t just have a “foine bundle o’ books” for St. Patrick’s Day!

There was Dr. Smarcheuss’s Birthday (!), Dentist’s Day, Pi Day, and Albert Einstein’s Birthday, National Doctor Day, and the anniversary of the Eiffel Tower’s opening. Oh – and let’s not forget the beginning of spring and a very early Easter! It was a veritable Easter basket full of special days…in what we normally don’t think of as a holiday month!


Celebrating a Storybook Year – February

February was an entertaining month…and because of leap year we got one extra day of reading aloud (bonus!). It was still winter (or as close as we get to it around these parts) and we were geared up tofebruary8-3 celebrate Valentine’s Day. What we didn’t expect was how reading for other special days during the month – Groundhog day, Lincoln’s birthday, and President’s day – led us to read several books we might not otherwise have picked up!

But wait…there’s more!

 


Day 86 – P. Zonka Lays an Egg

“P. Zonka Lays an Egg” by Julie Paschkis is a delightful and playfully illustrated book that incorporates inspiring themes of staying true to yourself and avoiding mindless conformity. P. Zonka, a name taken from the word for a Ukranian Easter egg (“pysanka”), is a chicken living in a farmyard where the other hens lay eggs regularly. P. Zonka, in contrast, does not. She spends her days wandering about the yard and soaking in the natural beauty that surrounds her, while her yard mates gossip about her indolence. Eventually, when she does decide to give egg-laying a try, P. Zonka produces something spectacular: a single, amazing egg, adorned with all the vibrant colors and patterns she has been “collecting” on her farmyard strolls! From that day forward, P. Zonka continues to wander about the yard and to lay eggs only occasionally, but – as Ms. Paschkis assures us – when she does, they are worth the wait! P Zonka

Ms. Paschkis’ colorful and exuberant illustrations make it easy to understand P. Zonka’s sense of wonder as she strolls about the farmyard, and the book provides a compelling reminder to readers to take the time to appreciate the everyday beauty in their own lives. We also liked the fact that the gossipy chatter of the other chickens seems to have no impact on P. Zonka, although it does help make this a particularly fun book to read aloud. All-in-all, a great addition to our Easter week reading list.

 


Day 85 – Little Bunny on the Move

“It was time for a little bunny to be on the move. From here to there, a bunny goes where a bunny must.” Will he stop? No – but for a brief nap, this little bunny will not stop – not for pigs, or cows, or fat sheep, or even a sweet little girl who would keep him as a pet. Over hills, through fences, across railroad tracks, this little bunny is not to be deterred – but where is he going?bunny

Peter McCarty’s “Little Bunny on the Move” is a simple and comforting story about a darling little bunny – who looks like a tiny marshmallow puff – moving purposefully across the landscape to make his way back home. While he appears at times to be almost marching across the page, Mr. McCarty’s little bunny is nothing like the frantic White Rabbit of Alice in Wonderland, he is merely determined to rejoin his family.

The book is illustrated in Mr. McCarty’s unique style: a dreamy and lightly tinted combination of pencil and watercolor that creates a lovely softness and augments the gentle feel of the story. There is also an interesting interaction of dark and light in Mr. McCarty’s drawings that creates a certain glow to the illustrations. The overall effect is memorable, so much so that even though we haven’t picked this book up in almost a decade, it still felt familiar.

 


Day 84 – Marshmallow

Oliver the gray tabby cat lives an idyllic life alone in an apartment with Miss Tilly. He is a pampered “only child” who is unaware that the world is full of other animals; the nearest thing to a rabbit that he has ever seen is a “stuffed plush Easter bunny.” All he craves in life – and all he has known – is peace and quiet, and being served his meals on time. Then one day, Miss Tilly brings home something small, white, and furry with tall ears, pink eyes and a wiggly nose…and it is alive! “What do you think of this, Oliver?” Miss Tilly asks, “Its name is Marshmallow.” Well, let me tell you what Oliver thinks – he is appalled, and he is afraid of this alien presence. Concerned about Oliver’s ability to peacefully cohabitate with Marshmallow, Miss Tilly keeps the two pets separate – until one afternoon when Oliver slips into Marshmallow’s room. Just as Oliver is about to pounce, Marshmallow scampers up and kisses him on the nose! From that moment, the two are inseparable, “romping like two kittens” with Marshmallow following “lippity-lippity” at Oliver’s heels wherever he goes.
Marshmallow

“Marshmallow” by Clare Turlay Newberry is a darling, endearing little book, like the little rabbit himself. According to the author, “every word of (the book) is true…the bunny was so little and was so convinced that Oliver was his mother, what could Oliver do but be his mother the best way he could?” Ms. Newberry’s amusing descriptions and her delightful charcoal drawings of Oliver’s and Marshmallow’s behavior (which won the book a Caldecott Honor in 1943) are remarkably effective at capturing the interaction between the two animals. Her drawings of Oliver in particular looked familiar to us. Having had both cats and bunnies as pets ourselves, we could picture Oliver watching the twitchy-whiskered invader, “…opening and closing his eyes as if it actually hurt them to look at a rabbit”…or lashing his tail and preparing to spring every time the little rabbit hopped by him. Our favorite part of all, however, was the way that Oliver grew to nurture and love Marshmallow as his own.

If you weren’t convinced before reading “Marshmallow”, by the time you are finished perhaps you will agree with Oliver – as we do – that “a bunny’s a delightful habit, no home’s complete without a rabbit.”


Day 83 – Whose Egg?

Riddle me this: what could be more awesome than a lushly-decorated book with a touch of mystery that also increases your children’s understanding of nature? That same book with lift-the-flap – of course! Enter “Whose Egg” by Lynette Evans and illustrated by Guy Troughton, the second of our Easter-inspired selections this week.whose

Each two-page spread of “Whose Egg” presents a riddle with clues to help identify the animal hiding behind the flaps, and Mr. Troughton’s vibrant watercolor paintings provide additional hints for observant readers. There are eggs from reptiles, birds, insects, and even a certain duck-billed mammal – eight in total. We really enjoyed trying to guess each hidden animal. The only challenge for us was keeping our youngest from opening the flaps too quickly!

Like “An Egg is Quiet”, which we read yesterday, the production quality of this book is wonderful; if nothing else, it is just fun to hold and to look at. I can already tell that it is going to be well loved in our house…and I have a feeling I will be taping some of these flaps back on at some point in the near future!


Day 82 – An Egg is Quiet

I had a feeling just from looking at the cover of this evening’s storybook that we were in for a treat, and I was not disappointed. “An Egg is Quiet” by Dianna Aston and illustrated by Sylvia Long, is a beautiful combination of science, poetry, and art.quiet

The simple but elegant text introduces the reader to the wide variety of characteristics an egg can exhibit: not only can they be quiet, but they can also be “clever”, shapely, artistic, and fossilized…just to name a few. Each two-page spread presents a new characteristic complete with stunning watercolor illustrations that are well complemented by the choice in fonts; the production quality is excellent. There are notes scattered around each page providing additional information and letting the reader know what animal belongs to each of the eggs shown. One review I read had what I thought was a particularly apt description of the overall effect: it is like reading a naturalist’s journal.

We read the book through once to get a sense for the flow – the “big picture” if you will – before going back to soak in and discuss all the wonderful details. I really enjoyed being able to identify some of the more unusual eggs from the labels, and was fascinated to learn (for example) that seabird eggs are pointy on one end so that they “roll around in safe little circles, not off the cliff.”

We originally selected Ms. Aston’s book for this week because of the approaching Easter holiday. While not, strictly speaking, an Easter book, “An Egg is Quiet” still fits in nicely – presenting a natural variety and beauty to eggs that outshines the colorful plastic egg decorations we see everywhere this time of year. It seems like the kind of book that would be nice to have on the shelf for little ones to pull out periodically and pore over and I was happy to discover that Ms. Aston and Ms. Long appear to have published several similarly attractive collaborations. I expect we will be reading more of their work this year.