Saturday, March 29, 2014

PBD: It's a Book

One of my favorite books about the challenges of new technologies and printed books. Smith, in his usual humorous fashion, plays the monkey against the jackass as they negotiate what reading is. In addition to the book, there is a great book trailer available at:

The board book version does not include the final declaration "Jackass" which unfortunately is the best line in the book!

Friday, March 28, 2014

PBD: Books About Perspective

In my children's literature and my literary theory classes, I use these three
picturebooks to help students understand the concept of perspective. Bub, by Natalie Babbitt tells the story of a king and queen searching for the best thing to provide the prince to make him a better person. The king goes to his collection of books, while the queen walks around asking everyone what they think. Of course, they both find out that everyone has different perspectives on the issue.
In Seven Blind Mice, Ed Young retells an ancient Asian folktale about mice that all report on a something they found near their pond. Of course, each mouse experiences something different about the elephant and reports from his or her perspective. Important to pay attention to the colors used in this book to understand various meaning potentials. In Gila Monster Meets You at the Airport Marjorie Sharmat tells the story of a boy from New York City who is being forced to move to Arizona, and the mirrored story of a boy from AZ being forced to move to NYC. This hilarious book is a good one for introducing the concept of perspective taking for younger readers.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

PBD: Imagine a Day series

This series of stories feature surrealistic art and an imaginative story line. Renowned Canadian artist Rob Gonsalves once again stretches the limits of visual exploration with his breathtaking paintings and encourages parents and children alike to look beyond the limits of the everyday world and imagine. These books encourage students to attend to the visual art and consider alternative perspectives of reality. They make for great read alouds and as mentor texts for students dabbling in surrealism.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

PBD: Picturebooks About Trips to an Art Museum

In today's PBD posting, I am including some of my favorite picturebooks that feature trips to museums and experiences with famous works of art. I have been doing some research focusing on the events and attitudes in picturebooks about art and visits to art museums. The books featured here include some of the more positive attitudes about art and going to an art museum. In many of the books I have been researching kids are dragged kicking and screaming to museums which I don't think is accurate, and I don't think is the message we want to send. Museum visits can be not only educational, but exciting and fun if done correctly. When talking with kids about famous works of art, begin with any of these wonderful books!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

PBD: Unspoken

I have been doing research on wordless picturebooks for my Reading Teacher Column for Fall 2014. Another of my favorites is Unspoken by Henry Cole. In this powerful story about a runaway slave hiding from soldiers along the underground railroad, Cole features black and white charcoal sketches to render the visual narrative. The facial expressions and eyes add a depth of emotion to the narrative. This is a perfect example of how wordless picturebooks are not for young readers alone.

Here is a video clip with Henry Cole reading (discussing) his wordless picturebook:

Monday, March 24, 2014

PBD: The Rabbits

Yes, this book has been around a bit, but I am teaching dystopian fiction in my undergraduate children's literature course and there are few examples (understandably so) of this genre in picturebook form. This one is close. In this story from Australia, written by John Marsden and illustrated by Shaun Tan, rabbits are used as a metaphor for the colonization of indigenous peoples, in this case the Aboriginal peoples of Australia. However, the story could be seen as a metaphor for any type of colonization of native peoples.
Tan goes to great length to explore historical associations with Australian art (Cook's landing at Botany Bay) for his own illustrations. The story certainly hinges upon knowing a bit of Australian history (for example actual rabbits invading the ecosystem in AU), but this can be brought into the discussion with minimal preparation.
The sing-song language used in the text is sparse but enjoyable to read aloud. The illustrations require close examination to understand their relationship to Aboriginal art and the meanings behind this story from down under.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

PBD: Shark vs. Train

This is one of my favorite picturebooks, one that I highly recommend for reluctant boy readers. In this story, two boys argue over which is better, tougher, and cooler - sharks or trains. They go through a series of tests with train winning some and shark winning some. The illustrations are simple, yet colorful and highly entertaining. I was lucky to have Tom Lichtenheld here at ASU for the annual Language and Literacy Conference in Feb 2014. He was a wonderful speaker and his session inspired many teachers to incorporate his work and drawing in their classrooms. I have become a big fan of Tom's work and look forward to his new books in 2014.