Posts Tagged ‘collage illustrations’

An Outstanding Classic Picture Book: The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Posted on August 12th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts shares classic picture book The Very Hungry CaterpillarThe Very Hungry Caterpillar written and illustrated by Eric Carle
Classic picture book first published by the World Publishing Company and subsequently published by Penguin Putnam

Beautiful, bright collage illustrations and intriguing die-cut pages complement this timeless story of a caterpillar’s remarkable transformation into a beautiful butterfly. Young children love the opportunity to poke tiny fingers through small holes as they follow the path of the caterpillar as he tries to satisfy his need for food.

Initially the caterpillar eats gorgeous, fresh fruit (apple, strawberries, pears, plums, oranges). He later turns to a pickle, salami, cheese and cake. Is it really a wonder that he eventually returns to a healthier choice, a dark green leaf?

Teachers find many ways to extend the learning with this classic picture book. Apart from talking about fresh fruit, there are opportunities to count and to learn about the days of the week. Children will thoroughly enjoy creating their own caterpillars and sampling the foods he enjoyed.

Available in many formats, my copy is a sturdy board book. A great story for children aged two years and up.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar at

The Very Hungry Caterpillar at

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Challenge Gender Stereotypes With Picture Books About Princesses

Posted on October 21st, 2013 by Carolyn Hart

Discovering Diversity and Examining Stereotypes - a Look at Princesses in Picture Books

Reading a selection of picture books about princesses is one way to encourage young children to challenge gender stereotypes

If you ask children in a preschool or kindergarten, ‘How does a princess behave?’ or ‘What does a princess look like?’ what sort of answers would you get? Would boys and girls think beyond Disney’s version of Cinderella, Ariel and Rapunzel?

There are many wonderful picture books about princesses that present a less conventional image and can help guide a discussion, even with very young children, about stereotypes

How might children describe or draw a princess?

Is she helpless or is she capable?
Is she in danger and waiting for a brave prince to rescue her or is she resourceful and able to take care of herself?
Is she always physically beautiful?
What is her ethnicity?
What sort of clothing does she wear?
Is she intelligent, quick-witted, wise, bold, courageous?
Is she kind to others?

Thoughts of a grade five student ~

A princess is a girl who has a dress and she’s very pretty. She’s the king’s daughter and he can choose someone to be the prince to marry her. Some books have princesses and some don’t have princesses. You might have seen movies about one or maybe you haven’t. Princesses often appear in fairy tales.

Here are some terrific picture books that depict princesses in unconventional ways

Discovering Diversity through Picture Books An African Princess An African Princess written by Lyra Edmonds and illustrated by Anne Wilson
Picture book about heritage and identity published by Random House Children’s House

Lyra’s mama tells her that she is an African Princess but she is not convinced. She and her family in a big city and she has freckles. Her schoolmates tease her and prompt her to question the story she has been told by her mama. One wintry day she learns that she and her family are going to travel to meet Taunte May, an African Princess. Lyra counts the days until the family boards a plane to the Caribbean. Once there, Lyra discovers and embraces her very rich heritage.

An African Princess at

An African Princess at

Discovering Diversity Picture Books Not All Princesses Dress in PinkNot All Princesses Dress in Pink written by Jane Yolen and Heidi E. Y. Stemple, illustrated by Anne-Sophie Lanquetin
Rhyming picture book about individuality, stereotyping, gender roles published by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers

Vivid illustrations and cheerful text highlight Not All Princesses Dress in Pink, a look at the many ways young princesses express themselves. Perhaps they play baseball or soccer or they roll on the ground. Whether working on a construction site, riding a bike or planting a large garden, these princesses challenge stereotypes and wear sparkly crowns.

Not All Princesses Dress in Pink at

Not All Princesses Dress in Pink at

Discovering Diversity through Picture Books The Paper Bag PrincessThe Paper Bag Princess written by Robert Munsch and illustrated by Michael Martchenko
Picture book about problem solving, courage, self esteem, and gratitude published by Annick Press

When a nasty dragon smashes her castle, burns her clothes and carries away her betrothed, Princess Elizabeth decides she must rescue him. Elizabeth’s wardrobe is in ruins so wears a paper bag as she follows the path of destruction to the dragon’s cave. Once there, Elizabeth uses a series of clever tricks to rescue Ronald. He is not at all grateful for her efforts on his behalf and gets exactly what he deserves.

Read America! Classic
NEA’s Cat-a-List for Reading
– Greatest Canadian Books of the Century List, Vancouver Public Library
100 Best Books List, Toronto Public Library

The Paper Bag Princess at

The Paper Bag Princess at

Discovering Diversity through Picture Books The Princess and the Pea The Princess and the Pea written and illustrated by Rachel Isadora
Traditional story set in Africa published by Puffin Books

The Princess and the Pea was originally published by Hans Christian Andersen in the nineteenth century. Rachel Isadora sets this version of the traditional story in Africa. A prince wants to meet and marry a ‘real’ princess. His travels take him all over the world but he fails to meet ‘the one.’

One evening there was a terrible storm. Suddenly a knocking was heard at the gate, and the old king went to open it. Sure enough, there is a sodden young woman outside the gate. She claims to be a princess but her appearance suggests otherwise. The queen decides to test her by putting a pea into her bed.

Beautiful collage illustrations nicely match the exotic African setting and costumes.

The Princess and the Pea at

The Princess and the Pea at

Discovering Diversity The Silk PrincessThe Silk Princess written and illustrated by Charles Santore
The legend of the discovery of silk in ancient China published by Random House

Emperor Huang-Ti is very fond of his two sons but never speaks with his daughter, Princess Hsi-Ling Chi. One afternoon, she and her mother visit the royal gardens. When a cocoon falls from a tree and lands in her mother’s teacup, Hsi-Ling Chi notices the cocoon unraveling in the hot liquid and soon sees a long strand of thread. Not realizing the length of the thread, her mother agrees to let her attach one end of the thread to her waist and walk away. Hsi-Ling Chi is astonished as the long, silky thread permits her to travel through the royal gardens, leave the grounds of the royal palace and explore the world beyond its gates. She travels into the mountains, knowing that she must be cautious because there is a dangerous dragon lurking nearby. Despite being careful to cross a bridge quietly, the dragon awakens and frightens Hsi-Ling Chi. The thread is broken and Hsi-Ling Chi is lost. While searching for the thread, she meets an old man. He is weaving thread from silkworm cocoons into beautiful, shimmering fabric. Hsi-Ling Chi learns from him and eventually returns home to share her discovery with her mother. Her mother instructs the royal weavers to create a new robe using the new material. The Emperor is captivated by Hsi-Ling Chi’s discovery and she becomes known as the Silk Princess.

Painterly illustrations are a wonderful match for this story of adventure and discovery. Best suited to kindergarten age (and older) children, there is considerable text – some in white and some in black. The font choice may make this a difficult read-aloud in a large group setting.

The Silk Princess at

The Silk Princess at

Free Printables – Crown Writing Paper and Royalty Picture Dictionary

image of PDF icon  Royalty / Fairy Tale Picture Dictionary

Free printable fairy tale picture dictionary for readers and writers in kindergarten and grade one.

image of PDF icon  Crown interlined paper

Royalty-theme interlined writing paper for penmanship practise and story writing. Use it for writing about fairy tales.

Take a Look at Bully 101 – Asking Some Tough Questions

Posted on July 11th, 2013 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts looks at Bully 101 - Asking Some Tough QuestionsBully 101 written and illustrated by Doretta Groenendyk
Anti bullying picture book published by Acorn Press

Be sure to check out our page about anti-bullying picture books for children.

Want to ensure you get your way?
Just mess up another kid’s day.
Push them and shove them and give them a scare.
Our bullies love fear and thrive on a dare.

Students who attend a class called Bully 101 learn that the best solution to feeling poorly about themselves is to make another child feel terrible. Bullies steal notebooks on the school bus, damage clothing, ostracize good students, spread rumors and make jokes. Sometimes they even resort to physical violence. For those who feel badly about their ‘course selection,’ there is an alternative class: Kindness 202.

Suited to primary and middle grade students, Bully 101 includes rich language: demoralize, humiliate, thrive and striking collage illustrations that will appeal to older readers.

Best at identifying bullying behaviors, Bully 101 implies that Kindness 202 is a happier, more inclusive choice. It does not problem-solve suggestions for victims or bystanders. Essentially the story suggests that choosing kindness will have a happier outcome for all – including those who are currently making poor choices.

Bully 101 takes a simplistic approach to the terrible problem of bullying that will not be appropriate in every circumstance but there are good reasons to use it as a discussion-starter in a primary or middle grade classroom. As well, Ms. Groenendyk’s fascinating illustrations could be used as a jumping off point for exploring this timely theme with young artists.

Bully 101 at

Bully 101 at

Mirror by Jeannie Baker, an almost wordless picture book

Posted on June 13th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts looks at an almost wordless picture book about families. One family lives in a village in Morocco and and the other lives in Sydney, Australia.

Mirror by Jeannie Baker, an almost wordless picture book recommended by Storytime StandoutsMirror created by Jeannie Baker
Almost wordless picture book published by Candlewick Press

Our page about Wordless and Almost Wordless Picture Books

Designed to be read side by side, Mirror is essentially two picture books. Once the reader opens the cover, she discovers a wordless picture book about an Australian family on one side and a parallel story about a Moroccan family on the other. Both stories begin at dawn.

We meet an Australian boy who lives comfortably in the suburbs with his mother, father and a baby. After breakfast, he and his dad climb into the family van and drive on crowded streets to ‘Hardware Planet.’ They buy construction materials and a beautiful woven carpet.

The Moroccan boy’s day begins with a breafast of fresh eggs, plucked from a hen’s nest, and milk just collected from the family cow. After breakfast, he and his father pack up a handmade carpet, climb onto a donkey and travel dusty roads to an open-air market. Once at the market, they make a trade that will likely surprise and delight young readers.

Mirror features remarkable collage illustrations and a fascinating concept. The book will be enjoyed by children aged five and up and offers ample opportunities for discussion including how individuals and families are alike and different and how seemingly very different cultures may not be “different” at all.

Mirror includes introductory comments and afterwords written in English and Arabic.

Joint Winner 2011 Children’s Book Council of Australia Picture Book of the Year
2011 Australian Indie Award Best Children’s Book
2011 The English Association and the UK Literary Association 4-11 Award Best Children’s Illustrated Book (non fiction)

Mirror at

Mirror at

Our page about Wordless and Almost Wordless Picture Books

Lois Ehlert’s Inspiring Illustrations – Wag a Tail is Doggone Great!

Posted on September 2nd, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Lois Ehlert’s Inspiring Illustrations - Wag a Tail is Doggone GreatWag A Tail written and illustrated by Lois Ehlert
Picture book published by Harcourt, Inc.

A first glance, one might assume that Lois Ehlert’s picture book, Wag A Tail is best suited for preschool-aged children. The brief rhyming text tells a tale of sixteen mostly well-behaved dogs. The graduates of the Bow Wow School meet at a farmers’ market and subsequently move on to a dog park for playtime.

Ms Ehlert’s bold, inspiring illustrations are constructed from handmade paper, scraps of fabric and buttons. They are truly fascinating for children (and adults) who are interested in creating art from odds and ends. This book would be a great jumping off point for teachers who are interested in inspiring primary-aged children to create art from paper, scissors and found objects.

At our house, we had a laugh when we read the descriptions of the Bow Wow School graduates. My nine-year old decided he is much like “Bebe… an Affenpinscher, Loyal, but difficult to train. Determined and fearless, sometimes snappy. This dog was born to run.”

I think I’m more like “Queenie” – especially since she’s “smart, loves children… and doesn’t need much exercise.” If only it were true!

Wag a Tail at

Wag a Tail at

This Picture Book is Full of Light: Sparkle and Spin

Posted on August 23rd, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

A retro picture book celebration of words and design

Storytime Standouts looks at Ann and Paul Rand's shimmering picture book about words: Sparkle and SpinSparkle and Spin
Written by Ann and Paul Rand
Picture book published by Chronicle Books

A picture book that was originally published in 1957, this new edition of Sparkle and Spin: A Book About Words is a great introduction to what words are. Combining bold, bright graphic illustrations with a text that begs to be read aloud:

Some words are gay and bright and full of light like tinsel and silver and sparkle.

Sparkle and Spin highlights rhyming, onomatopoeia and homonyms. Although the striking illustrations and wordplay will be enjoyed by very young children, there is much here for older children and adults to appreciate.

About Paul Rand, graphic designer

Sparkle and Spin at

Sparkle and Spin at

Add this Treasure to Your Collection: Hannah’s Collections

Posted on March 31st, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts looks at Hannah's Collections by Marthe Jocelyn, a problem solving picture bookHannah’s Collections – written and illustrated by Marthe Jocelyn
Problem solving picture book published by Tundra Books

When Hannah’s teacher invites her students to bring a collection to school, Hannah finds it difficult to choose just one of her collections.

“Hannah loved to collect things. She found new treasures wherever she went.”

Striking collage illustrations take us to Hannah’s bedroom where we discover her captivating collections of stamps from around the world, sea shells, leaves, small figures, foreign coins, leftover keys and more. Soon we are admiring the 153 buttons she has grouped together by size, shape and color. Next we see the popsicle sticks she has arranged in patterns and her diverse collection of figures, standing in a line from tall to small. Hannah’s Collections will have strong appeal for any child who enjoys collecting and will most certainly encourage young children to count, compare, match and group their own treasures. Hannah’s solution to the challenge of choosing one collection to share is a fine demonstration of problem solving.

Great for classroom use, Hannah’s Collections will provide many opportunities for children to consider how items are alike and different and the many different ways we can sort a group. It could also be used to elicit a discussion about problem solving.

Hannah’s Collections at

Hannah’s Collections at

The King’s Taster Serves Up a Banquet of Delicious Language and Illustrations

Posted on March 24th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts looks at picture book, The King's Taster by Kenneth Oppel and Steve Johnson, Lou FancherThe King’s Taster – written by Kenneth Oppel, paintings by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher
Picture book published by Harper Collins

Max is the king’s tester and the cook’s dog. Life is mighty fine until a new and very young king refuses the cook’s gourmet fare. “The cook went straight to work on the coronation feast. He chopped, he topped, and he tailed; he sliced, he stirred and he whisked.” Despite the cook’s valiant efforts, the obstinate young king refuses to eat. The cook is desperate – he must find new recipes to satisfy an extremely picky and powerful sovereign. After travelling the world and experimenting with all sorts of exotic culinary treats, the cook finally uncovers the truth: the New King is devouring candy, cookies and other sweet treats rather than the delicious and nutritious food prepared by the cook. To avoid having his mother hear the truth, the young king decides to make better choices. He soon rediscovers his appetite and relishes meals that are truly ‘fit for a king.’ The King’s Taster serves up a banquet of delicious language and fascinating collage illustrations.

The King’s Taster at

The King’s Taster at

Big Earth, Little Me Shares A Green Message for Preschoolers

Posted on February 12th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Big Earth, Little Me is a way to introduce green learning in preschoolBig Earth, Little Me

Featuring bright, bold collage illustrations, a ‘lift the flaps’ format and simple text, Big Earth, Little Me provides a great introduction to the idea of helping the earth. Whether reminding youngsters to recycle, turn off the water when brushing their teeth, use a lunch box and draw on both sides of the paper or encouraging children to help in the garden, the message is simple, positive and clear.’s Act Green Webpages
Big Earth, Little Me at

Big Earth, Little Me at

Be sure to visit our page highlighting
picture books about caring for our environment,
ecosystems, recycling,
reducing our environmental footprint and more
Terrific resources for Earth Day and Arbor Day.

Sandy Discovers How to Shrink a Footprint in this engaging picture book

Posted on February 11th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Sandy's Incredible Shrinking Footprint reviewed by Storytime StandoutsSandy’s Incredible Shrinking Footprint written by Carole Carpenter and Femida Handy, illustrated by Adrianna Steel-Card

Sandy’s Incredible Shrinking Footprint tells the story of a young girl who, while visiting her grandpa, happily runs to a nearby beach. She loves to explore the seashore and is shocked to find a pile of garbage others left near a fire pit. She is disgusted by the waste and works to collect the candy wrappers, pop cans and mustard bottles. Before long, she meets an old woman who roams the beach and collects the litter others have left behind. The woman encourages the girl to consider, “The footprint of your life – the mark you leave on the world.”

This breezy, empowering picture book includes colourful collage illustrations made from natural and recycled materials. Suitable for children aged six and up.

The illustrator’s website

Facebook page for Sandy’s Incredible Shrinking Footprint

Sandy’s Incredible Shrinking Footprint at

Sandy’s Incredible Shrinking Footprint at

Be sure to visit our page highlighting
picture books about caring for our environment,
ecosystems, recycling,
reducing our environmental footprint and more
Terrific resources for Earth Day and Arbor Day.

Hands by Lois Ehlert will cultivate creativity in children and adults

Posted on February 4th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Hands by Lois Ehlert is an inspiring picture book about creativity and being artistic

Hands – Growing Up to Be an Artist written and illustrated by Lois Ehlert

Picture book about creativity published by Harcourt, Inc.

You are likely familiar with Ms. Ehlert’s creativity and her many wonderful books for children. She is a consistently inspiring and innovative illustrator In Hands: Growing up to Be an Artist she has an important message for children and adults. She hopes we will all have opportunities to be creative and she strives to inspire us.

Hands shows us the tools mom and dad use in the workshop, the sewing room, and the garden. With these tools and imagination a birdhouse, cat toys and a vegetable garden are created. The youngster in this vibrant story is inspired and encouraged when presented with a special place to work – a folding table next to the sewing machine. Children and adults will enjoy exploring this book and will be inspired by the cheery collage illustrations that are use to lead to more creativity.
Best for children aged four and up.
Hands: Growing up to Be an Artist at

Hands: Growing Up to Be an Artist at

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