Sunday, September 28, 2014

Beauty, Art and Diversity in Picture Books

I love my Saturday mornings...right before my dance classes, I get to enjoy a stack of picture books, my cup of coffee and dive into new books. Then I get to decide which ones make the cut for a review and which ones don't. Today's choices of books celebrate something beautiful like dance, courage, culture and friendship.

In Firebird, ballerina Misty Copeland encourages all dancers everywhere to take their dancing skills to new heights. Through perseverance and practice, she spreads her voice to all dancers that they will too become a "swan, a beauty, a firebird for sure."
The words are elegant as you picture  ballet moves will be. The illustrations are down by award-winning artist Christopher Myers. The pictures are vibrant as Misty's choice of words. I must admit that I like the book but I'm more in love with the story behind the picture book. Ballerina Misty Copeland's passion is giving back and that is why she enjoy mentoring children. She has worked with many organizations supporting this passion. It is no wonder she will write a book for ballet dancers everywhere.

Viva Friday by Yuyi Morales

This book celebrates one of my favorite artists of all time: Frida Khalo. But first I need to say this: if you are looking for a book that shares more in detail Frida's life then this is not the book you are looking for. What this book does so well is this: celebrate Frida's colorful world by projecting that same life of color onto the pages of this book. The book is a celebration of her life through amazing illustrations, details and the colors that could only began to explain Friday's complex life. I can picture children spreading their fingers through the pictures because they are just simply beautifully.

The next two books are great examples of the powerful wordless picture books. Last summer, I taught a class for classroom teachers on supporting English language learners. I shared the powerful of using wordless picture books as a way for children to share their knowledge and understanding of stories by using picture support. My friend Franki recommended this book to me and I loved it. Here I Am by Patti Kim is a powerful story as the author shares her own journey as an immigrant to the USA. Leaving home, having a hard time adapting and always missing that part of you that you left behind are all part of the process as you adapt to the new country. The author gets that. She has done it herself and understand the struggles. But the reader is in charge of telling and interpreting the story as he or she wishes. Sonia Sanchez did a fantastic job drawing great pictures to match the journey. 

Last but not least...this book. Oh, I loved this one! The Farmer and the Clown by Marla Frazee is another wonderful new wordless picture book! I don't like sharing too much when it comes to wordless picture books because that's the whole point of the book: that the reader gets highly engaged in creating the story. But here's what I say: the unlike friendship will get to you. It will. Trust me on this one. I can't wait to hear a child tell me this story. I wonder what words will he or she use to describe certain scenes. Oh, the possibilities! 
Enjoy it friends! Great books everywhere!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

One of those perfect Sundays...

Yes, and by that I mean perfect in the little things that makes us happy, like picking up a perfect pile of picture books from the library and loving each one of them. Or like meeting up with great friends for brunch and talk about our love for the profession, our lives, and connecting in ways that you know it's just special. So perfect in those little things. 

Now, by a perfect pile of picture books I mean these books that I know are a must read for this fall. 

Forget Me Not by Nancy Van Laan is one of those books we all needed it at one point...either for a loved one, a student, a situation. The story is told from the little girl's point of view whose childhood is changing when she realizes that her grandma is not the same person she used to be. Having a loved one fighting Alzheimer's disease is definitely painful but this story reminds us that love is always there despite the seasons changing. 

Flashlight by Lizi Boyd is a fun book that young readers will appreciate. In this wordless picture book, the young boy discovers his surroundings as he goes through the night with one tool and one tool only: a flashlight. 

Little Elliot Big City by Mike Curato is a book I've seen my friends reading it and loving it. So I couldn't wait to read it. The glossy pages, the adorable illustrations and the beautiful story about friendship  makes it a great Sunday morning read. That's all I will say. :-)
From the author of the beloved book Press Here, comes the next book which is as fun as the first. In Mix It Up by Herve Tullet, the reader has a chance to watch magic appear on each page as they interact with paintings. Little ones and not-so little ones will sure love this book!

Jen Bryant's brilliant words and Melissa Sweet's amazing art work makes this book a winning one in so many different levels. I wish there was a biography written like this when I was a child. The book The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus takes us on the life of Roget who was filled with lists, words, reading and a fascinating mind. The amount of words on each page is not overwhelming so the readers can take the time to enjoy the illustrations. I can't wait to share this book with friends and students!

Telephone by Mac Barnett and Illustrated by Jen Corace reminds us how much fun is to play that childhood game of passing messages to friends but as each message is passed on, it changes every time. Will the original message be delivered? This book is Fun Guaranteed. 

These books were a perfect way to spend time after brunch with great friends who love words, books, teaching, reading and food as much as I do. Have a wonderful week!