In this fascinating picture book, Amy Krouse Rosenthal uses only words that begin with A, B or C to tell her story. The day begins as a young boy awakens and enjoys Apples, Bananas and Cantaloupe for breakfast before heading outside and finding Ants, Butterflies and Caterpillars. He later celebrates at a birthday party, explores a city and appreciates an artist. Older children will enjoy scouring debut picture book illustrator Gracia Lam’s detailed digital illustrations for an apron, bowling pins, binoculars, a castle, a cape, a church (and more!) that serve to broaden the appeal of the story and support the development of phonemic awareness and alphabet recognition.
It is worth mentioning that Ms. Rosenthal and Ms. Lam do not limit the story or illustrations to the phoneme /K/, they also challenge readers to recognize the use of ‘C’ in words beginning with the /ch/ and soft ‘C’ sounds, as in church and city. the ‘A’ words that we detected use the short vowel sound.
We envision this picture book as a wonderful inspiration to young illustrators and writers. Great for classroom use, the clever take on the alphabet book genre could certainly be a jumping off point for children to create their own stories and illustrations using only two or three letters.
This is a picture book that will be enjoyed by children aged 3 and up but that has great potential for exciting older children and adults.
So many words could accurately describe Journey. A wordless picture book, Journey is the story of a city-dwelling girl whose family members are occupied with chores and technology. As she sits, bored and perhaps lonely, on the front stoop, a neighboorhood boy stands nearby, holding a purple crayon. She goes inside the house and tries to engage her family members in play but they are busy. Disappointed, she goes to her bedroom. Moments later, she notices a red crayon on the bedroom floor. She picks it up, draws a doorway on her bedroom wall and escapes her boring, sepia-toned environment. Soon she is surrounded by gorgeous, glowing colors. Her magical red crayon allows her to create a rowboat, a hot air balloon and a magic carpet as she explores a mystical word, filled with unusual people, intriguing buildings and fascinating machines.
In this wondrous world, she encounters the neighboorhood boy with the purple crayon, the circle is completed and she discovers a new friend.
Highly recommended, Journey will be appreciated most by children aged four years and up. As well, adults will be inspired by both the illustrations and the narrative.
Kevin is hopeful. Each day he heads to the playground, wanting to go down the slide but knowing that if Sammy is there, he won’t be allowed to do so.
“You can’t come!” Sammy said. “I’m King of the Playground!” And he told Kevin what he would do if he saw him on the slide.
Disappointed, Kevin returns home and confides in his dad. His dad listens to the threat that Sammy has made and he encourages Kevin to ask himself, “And what would you be doing while Sammy was tying you up? Just sitting there?”
The following day, Kevin tries again and, again, Sammy is at the playground. When Kevin wants to use one of the swings, Sammy announces,
“You can’t play here!” yelled Sammy, running over. “I’m King of the Swings.” And he told Kevin what he would do if he saw him on the swings.
Once again Kevin shares his problem with his dad and once again his dad challenges him to problem solve.
Kevin’s dad’s approach to bullying is perfect. He remains calm, he doesn’t intervene, he encourages Kevin to think logically and he empowers Kevin to solve the bullying problem himself.
With Dad’s guidance, Kevin realizes that there may be a different way to deal with Sammy and his threats. On his next visit to the playground, Kevin is just a little bit braver. He uses his imagination to counter Sammy’s threats and together the boys find middle ground.
I have written previously of my younger son’s fascination with picture puzzles. When he was four or five, he would spend countless hours searching for objects and noticing small differences between pictures. He loved to have a picture puzzle book as one of his bedtime stories. He is still a fan of puzzles and is very attentive to small details.
Picture puzzle book are wonderful for small children, they encourage kids and adults to slow down and take time to enjoy illustration. They demand that readers pause to examine and appreciate illustrations rather than turn the pages quickly. They also encourage concentration and attention to detail.
I am a big fan of Walter Wick’s work and have shared many of his books with children. Can You See What I See? Toyland Express takes this genre to a new level as it introduces a picture-narrative to the usual puzzle format.
We begin in a woodwork shop and can almost smell the woodshavings and sawdust. It is clear that a skilled craftsman is at work, creating train parts and other intriguing toys made from wood. Turning the page, the woodworker’s creations have been shifted to a large paint shop where bright colours are added to an amazing array of toys and toy parts.
Once painted, assembled and boxed, the Toyland Express – a cheery toy train – is prominently displayed in a toy store window, hoping to entice a buyer. Sure enough, the train, track, bits of scenery and characters become a treasured birthday gift for a young child. One can almost imagine the squeal of delight when the gift is opened.
Gorgeous spreads take us from woodshop to paintshop; toy store to birthday party, soon the bright wooden train joins other toys in a child’s bedroom and undergoes transformations as the child changes the backdrop, accessories and scenery. Each scenes includes a rhyming list of hidden objects to find:
Can you see what I see?
A rocking horse,
a rolling hoop, a birthday candle,
an ice-cream scoop,
Eventually, the well-used train set is stored, with other discarded toys, to gather dust. All is not lost, however. A yard sale and refurbishment are just around the corner for the Toyland Express. Before long, the train is happily chugging through a new, modern world, consisting of blocks, paper, dominos, cars, boats and other toys.
Sure to captivate puzzle-solvers as they search for hidden and disguised objects, Toyland Express encourages imaginative play and delivers a “green” message. It may send readers scrambling to discover treasures at a neighbourhood yard sale or encourage children to consider the steps involved in creating toys.
While on a trip to the beach, Ella May is fortunate to find an extra special stone – a stone that has a white line all around it. Certain that her extra special stone has the power to grant wishes, Ella May decides that her first wish should be to show the stone to all of her friends. Before long, Ella May’s friends have gathered ’round her, hoping to touch the magical stone. When Ella May refuses to let them hold it, they decide to find their own special stones. Although the children find all sorts of interesting stones, none is equal to Ella May’s.
“You’re not nice,” Manuel said. He put his stone in his pocket and tromped down the sidewalk to his own house.
Ella May watched him go, “Hey,” she said, “I wanted Manuel to go home and he did. Thank you again, wishing stone.”
Unable to find their own wishing stones, Ella’s friends come up with a creative but short-lived solution to the problem. Unfortunately, nothing resolves the conflict amongst the children; Ella May wants to be the only person with a wishing stone and she wants to keep her friends. The other children are resentful of the stone and of Ella May.
When Ella May finally realizes that having a wishing stone is not nearly as special as having friends, the stage is set for a happy and imaginative solution that reunites the group.
A great choice for children aged four and up, Ella May and the Wishing Stone is a (32 page) story that invites readers to think about what it means to be a friend, how best to share treasured items and imaginative ways to solve problems.
Note – illustrations and children’s names depict a racially diverse group of friends.
Britain’s author-illustrator Ruth Brown has created many wonderful children’s books. I especially delight in One Stormy Night, wherein we follow the mystifying after-dark travels of a white dog.
Imagine written and illustrated by Ruth Brown
Concept book (opposites) published by Andersen Press
In Imagine Ms. Brown explores opposites and the power of imagination. Simple text and luminescent, painterly illustrations make for an exceptional concept book for preschool.
when you’re half asleep,
those big white clouds
look just like sheep…
A young boy gazes out his bedroom window, sleepily watching puffy white clouds drift by. Soon he is transported to a spring meadow where he sees a slow tortoise and a fast hare, finishing their race “first” and “last.”
Simple text and lovely illustrations contribute to a concept book for preschool that wholeheartedly celebrates the power of imagination.
Best suited for children aged five and up, this is a thoughtful, thorough treatment of a difficult problem; bullying. Dragon and his young friend get together for an enjoyable day of imaginative play. When they meet up with other children, the dragon is told he is not welcome:
“A dragon!” He smirked. “We’ve told you before,
You’re too big, tall and green to play knights anymore!”
“Let’s chase him away!” he cried, raising his shield.
“We’ll vanquish that dragon! We’ll make that beast yield!”
The dragon’s friend responds by standing up for his buddy and, when that does not solve the problem, seeking help from nearby adults. The adults respond promptly and effectively: while one adult talks quietly with the bully’s victim, the other adult chats with the bully and his friends.
The King asked us, “What does it mean to belong?
Was treating the dragon that way right or wrong?”
“Have you ever felt picked on?” I asked. “Have you felt small?
Have you felt like there’s no one who likes you at all?”
Endnotes for the book provide anti bulying information for children as well as ways we can all help to stop bullying.
except if is a playful, unpredictable picture book that challenges the reader to avoid making assumptions and to use his or her imagination. Bold illustrations provide clues and, just as we think we have solved the mystery, they surprise us with unexpected results. An egg that is just about to hatch must surely hold a young bird – or does it?
An egg is not a baby bird,
but it will become one
it becomes a baby snake
who will slither along the ground on its belly
Very well suited to reading aloud, except if will be enjoyed by youngsters aged three and up.
Follow-up activities could include having children create their own cracked eggs and surprising hatchlings.
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