…storytime, books, and ideas

Archive for February, 2018

Extra Info picture books

Maybe this is a trend– when I find 3 in one picture book pile, I deem it a trend. I’m talking about those picture books that include Extra Info at the end.  Like more about the animals, in this case. Here goes.

FiBook cover- kangaroorst up is If I Were a Kangaroo by Mylisa Larsen, illustrated by Anna Raff. In rhymed verse, animals of all sorts head off to bed, and then of course, the book ends with a child going to sleep. Not much new to this concept, but a gentle bedtime story is always appreciated, and the rhymes work pretty well. The ink-wash illustrations are gentle, too, in a night-time palette. What makes this story stand out is the Extra Info. The last few pages give young naturalists notes about how animals sleep. Some kids will just eat this stuff up.

After the animals are all asleep, we can call on Wake Up! , a poem by Helen Frost and illustrated with photographs by Rick Lieder. There’s not much text on each page, which Book cover with duckscould make this a good choice for beginner readers or toddler storytimes. The photographs are clear and engaging, close enough to see detail in each animal portrayed. And at the end, guess what? Extra Info! Just a little, just enough to intrigue a young nature lover.

Now that it is fully daytime, and the sun is out, let’s go on a beach walk with Ana and the Sea Star by R. Lynne Roelfs, illustrated by Jamie Hogan. Ana and her father find a sea star on the beach, and she wants to keep it. Her father teaches a short little lesson on ocean ecology when he describes for her book cover girl on beachwhere the sea star lives, and convinces her, and the reader, to let the star go back to the sea. Ana then describes the day to her mother, who is waiting for them at the beach house. This would be a good mentor text for description for young writers, and the Extra Info on the last two pages make it a good choice for ocean studies.

Do you have some favourite books that include this Extra Info? Tell me in the comments!

Want more books? Follow me on Twitter @annavalley for my #picturebookpile posts!

Review: They Say Blue

They Say Blue is Jillian Tamaki’s debut picture book, and I for one welcome her with open arms into the They Say Blue book coverworld she has joined. It will be released March 13, so place holds or get one ordered now.  I was lucky enough to get a preview copy from Jenny at Abrams (thanks Jenny!)

Let’s start with the case cover. Under the dust jacket that introduces us to the main character, there’s movement and birds. Black birds and white birds that nearly make a yin-yang of flight in the sky. Peek under there to see. On to the end case cover showing birdspages, which begin with a wash of yellows and close with night-time blues. I think these end-pages give us a hint of the passage of time in the book, which could be a day or a year.

We know Tamaki is a capable artist, as her Caldecott honor This One Summer proves. This book is, at first look, so completely different from that graphic novel for older readers. But is it? In They Say Blue,  Tamaki presents a child-view, wondering about the world. So does This One Summer, written by her cousin Mariko Tamaki. The poetic language of this picture book sings and dances along with the art.  As the little girl wonders about whales and crows and growing trees, the art burrows into our hearts and sticks there.

One spread really reminds me of my favourite spreads in This One Summer, where Windy is dancing around the kitchen table. The weather has finally warmed, and the girl is shedding her winter layers, running off to play in the sunshine. It demonstrates Tamaki’s fine handle on depicting movement. There’s more white space here, allowing the words to frame the movement, to give us time to think of what sunny warmth means after winter. She also uses colour to reveal warmth. Her use of line and colour in this picture book are swoon-worthy.

open book, girl is taking her coat off

from “They Say Blue”

open book, girl is dancing around

from “This One Summer”

 

There are so many spreads in this book that I love. There’s one showing the girl sitting “pretzel style” — the verso side is orange and the recto is red: the backgrounds swirl around, matching the text which talks of stillness and movement. Another shows the girl turning into a tree. There’s a spread where a blue whale can be seen under the speckles of paint that are water. I can’t decide which one I love the most. I may love them all the most.

One thing that always makes me realize that I am reading an excellent picture book is the pacing. The text here is sheer poetry, meant to be read aloud, rolled around in the mind. The text is surrounded by art that gives it a place to rest. But it also jumps around, like a child’s mind, then comes back to settle and quiet. Each page turn takes us further in and then brings us back. It truly is a work of art, this marriage of text and illustration. Jillian Tamaki has some secret alchemy going on here, and we get to experience it in this book. I can’t wait for the world to see this one.

Want more books? Follow me on Twitter @annavalley for my #picturebookpile posts!

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