Posts tagged Caldecott

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown: An instant classic.

Mr. Tiger Goes WildMr.TigerCover

Picture Book

Ages 2-8

By Peter Brown

44 pages

Little, Brown

2013

 

This is Peter Brown’s ninth picture book and I’ve grown to love him more and more with each one. With scenes that unfold in playfully designed locations, and supremely likeable, quirky characters, readers can’t help but be lured into the world of Mr. Tiger. Brown was awarded a 2013 Caldecott Honor for Creepy Carrots and, truth be told, I was a little disappointed that Mr. Tiger Goes Wild was not among this year’s Caldecott recipients.

 

Brown’s art is evocative of Ezra Jack Keats, Margaret Bloy Graham and Miroslav Sasek, yet despite displaying shades of all these masters, Brown’s pleasing and idiosyncratic artistic style stands out as uniquely his own. Certain spreads reminded me of the animated Disney film, The Jungle Book and I later read in an interview that Brown watched a lot of old animated Disney films, including The Jungle Book, while working on Mr. Tiger.

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The opening spreads of Mr. Tiger Goes Wild introduce Mr. Tiger’s world, replete with upright quadrupeds adorned in stiff Victorian attire. The perfectly ordered art is created with a muted palette of grays and browns.

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As the story progresses, the art grows more feral and verdant; the final spreads strike a satisfying balance between conformity and frenzy.

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The consistent palette of greens, grays and browns is broken only by Mr. Tiger’s delightful flare of orange.

 

Brown’s skillfully efficient story telling allows for sparse text; there are several spreads with no words at all. His cheeky narrative breathes humor and energy into the already astounding artwork.

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As the story opens, Mr. Tiger is a dapper, city-dwelling cat with an undeviating expression of displeasure. He lives among respectable animals in a proper society. Everyone around him seems perfectly content but Mr. Tiger is bored.

 

At this early stage of the story almost all of the characters are going about their lives with closed eyes. Mr. Tiger (who is on the verge of acting wild) and the children (who are being scolded for acting wild) are the only ones with open eyes. As soon as Mr. Tiger carries out his first wild idea, everyone’s eyes are open.

 

“And then one day Mr. Tiger had a very wild idea.”

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Mr. Tiger immediately felt better and grew a little bit wilder each day; before long, he’d pushed it too far.

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His friends, outraged, suggested that Mr. Tiger take his behaviors elsewhere, and into the wilderness he ran.

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“…where he went completely wild!”

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As time passed, Mr. Tiger grew lonely; he missed his home and his friends. He decided to return to the city.

Upon returning, Mr. Tiger found that a wonderful thing had happened. His friends and neighbors were no longer perfectly genteel—though still sporting Victorian attire, some had taken to all fours.

“Now Mr. Tiger felt free to be himself. And so did everyone else.”

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Mr. Tiger Goes Wild is all about balance—wild behavior can be beneficial, in appropriate contexts, civilized behavior is necessary if you want to exist in a society—and this book strikes a perfect balance on every level.

 

Certainly there are plenty of books that enjoy long lives as classics without any medals adorning their covers. Conversely, some medal-winning books fade into oblivion not long after their initial time in the spotlight. Though I believe this book deserved the recognition of the Caldecott committee, I also believe it will live a long life in print just like some other non-medal winning, perennially adored classics. Mr. Tiger Goes Wild will be in good company with Corduroy, Harry the Dirty Dog and Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel.

 

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Grammy’s Schmammy’s. The Caldecott and Newbury Awards are where it’s at!

The 2014 youth media awards have been announced by The American Library Association (ALA)!

 

The John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature goes to Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures written by Kate DiCamillo and published by Candlewick Press.

Readers may be familiar with her 2004 Newbury Award winner, The Tale of Despereaux or her 2001 Newbury Honor book, Because of Winn Dixie (one of my favorite books for middle readers). Also, DiCamillo was named the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature by the Library of Congress for the term 2014-2015.

 

Four Newbery Honor Books also were named:

Doll Bones, written by Holly Black (the author of The Spiderwick Chronicles) and published by Margaret K. McElderry Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division.

The Year of Billy Miller, written by Kevin Henkes and published by Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Kevin Henkes was awarded a Newbury honor in 2004 for Olive’s Ocean and was awarded the Caldecott Medal for Kitten’s First Full Moon in 2005.

One Came Home, written by Amy Timberlake and published by Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc.

Paperboy, written by Vince Vawter and published by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc.

 

The Randolph Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children was awarded to Locomotive, written and illustrated by Brian Floca and published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing. This phenomenal picture book will delight train lovers and quickly convert any non-train lovers.

 

Three Caldecott Honor Books also were named:

Journey, written and illustrated by Aaron Becker and published by Candlewick Press. This magical, wordless picture book is overflowing with beauty and adventure.

Flora and the Flamingo, written and illustrated by Molly Idle and published by Chronicle Books LLC. This (also) wordless picture book is bursting with pure joy! 

Mr. Wuffles!,  written and illustrated by David Wiesner and published by Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. David Weisner was also awarded the Caldecott Medal in 1992 for Tuesday, in 2002 for The Three Pigs and in 2007 for Flotsam.

 

Congratulations to all the award winners and honorees! Click here for a complete list of all the 2014 youth media awards.

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The Monsters’ Monster and Frankenstein: Two wickedly fun picture books for Halloween.

Monster's Monster

The Monsters’ Monster

Picture Book

Ages 2-7

By Patrick McDonnell

32 pages

Little, Brown

2012

 

Patrick McDonnell’s picture book, Me…Jane, was a 2012 Caldecott Honor book. Taking anecdotes from Jane Goodall’s autobiography, he tells the story of Goodall’s childhood, her beloved toy chimpanzee and her early fascination with the natural world. It is a splendid and captivating book and one I highly recommend.  The Monsters’ Monster is charmingly sweet and another must have from this creator. His art is luscious, and his storytelling is pitch perfect.

Three (rather small) monsters—Grouch, Grump and Gloom ‘n’ Doom—lived together in a dark castle high atop a monster-y mountain. Every day the three brutish beasts would argue over which of them was the loudest complainer, or the most miserable.

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They decided the best way to settle their argument was to build the biggest, baddest monster ever. The three fiends gathered tape and staples, gunk and goo, bolts and wires and assembled a monster Monster and brought him to life with a great bolt of lightening. (The diminutive size of the comic and adorable monsters is spotlighted by the humongous size of their Frankenstein-y creation.)

The three giddy monsters could barely contain their excitement as the growling giant stumbled toward them.

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“And then in a deep, booming voice, he said his first words . . . ‘Dank you!’”

The monster’s Monster, built to be a big, bad menace, was anything but. He was so happy to be alive he threw open a window and giggled. Next he greeted every bat, rat, spider and snake in the castle. When he crashed straight through the castle wall and went down to the village below, Monster’s architects followed in amazement.

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Anticipating the monster’s first terrible act, the trio watched as Monster lumbered into the bakery, and awaited the screams and howls that would certainly follow. But after some silence, all they heard was, “Dank you!”

Then Monster clomped out carrying a paper bag and headed toward the beach; Grouch, Grump and Gloom ‘n’ Doom followed after him. When Monster arrived at the beach he sat down in the cool sand. Shortly after, the three perplexed and tired monsters collapsed around him. Then Monster gently patted them on their heads and gave them each a warm, powdered jelly doughnut from his bag.

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At first the three brutes were stunned into silence but then they repeated what they’d learned from Monster. “Thank you!” they said, and the four friends sat and quietly watched the sunrise and none of them thought about how monstrous they could be.

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Frankenstein: A Monstrous ParodyFrankenstein

Based on Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans

Picture Book

Ages 3-8

By Ludworst Bemonster

(By Rick Walton & Nathan Hale)

48 pages

Feiwel and Friends

2012

 

For readers not familiar with the picture book Madeline, by Ludwig Bemelmans—which was published in 1939 and received a Caldecott Honor—it features a fearless young girl that lives under the tutelage of Miss Clavel, a concerned and doting nun, with eleven other girls. “The smallest one was Madeline.”

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One night Miss Clavel senses a disturbance in the house and soon discovers Madeline in distress. The wee girl is rushed to the hospital and promptly has her appendix removed.

Some days later, Miss Clavel and the girls go to visit Madeline in the hospital. The girls covet the toys and candy that fill Madeline’s room but when they see her scar from the surgery they are beside themselves with envy.

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That night after Miss Clavel turned out the light, she, once again, knew something was not right. As she entered the room all the little girls cried, “Boohoo, we want to have our appendix out, too!”

In this delightful parody, the completely adorable main character lives in a creepy old castle with eleven other equally cute monsters. “The ugliest one was Frankenstein.” In the spirit of all things Halloween, the artist uses a variety of orange hues (the illustrations in Madeline were awash in yellow).

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“One bleak and dark and dismal night, Miss Devel turned on her light and whispered, ‘Something is not right.’”

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She soon discovers that Frankenstein has lost his head! He’s quickly taken to the laboratory. Upon awakening, the formerly decapitated monster finds he’s been given a brand new head, bolted on with two shiny, metal screws. Without delay Frankenstein eats most of the hospital staff, the ceiling fan and a pizza man.

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Days later, Miss Devel and her motley pack of monsters visit Frankenstein at the lab. Though they’re jealous of all of his yucky treats, it’s the neck bolts that prompt them to beg to stay. “But Miss Devel replied, ‘No way!’”

Later that night, back at the castle, Miss Devel knows something is amiss once more. Rushing to the monsters’ room she hopes for no more disasters. She opens the gate to discover that all of the monsters have lost their heads!

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“Good night, monsters! Now you cannot whine and yell! I’m going back to sleep.”

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Most parody picture books don’t deliver on their promise to entertain. They either fall flat or are entertaining for one reading only—but Frankenstein is a wonderful exception to that rule. Fans of Madeline, monsters or Halloween will giggle with glee at this hysterical and thorough parody.

 

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The Ant and the Elephant by Bill Peet: There’s strength in numbers.

Ant&Elephant

The Ant and the Elephant

Picture Book

Ages 4-10

By Bill Peet

48 pages

Houghton Mifflin

1972

 

 

Bill Peet (1915 – 2002) wrote and illustrated 36 books (most of which remain in print) and I truly love them all. His books are sublime. Full of humor, compassion, and warmth, his stories often focus on friendship, kindness and respect for the environment. Yet Peet was never condescending or didactic, he held his audience in high esteem. That his lengthy, complex books still hold the attention of today’s easily distracted children is a testament to his connection to young minds.

Peet’s lavish, enchanting art was created with colored pencils, pastels and India ink. His illustrations are colorful, detailed, expressive and whimsical. His wholly satisfying books are fantastical journeys into strange yet familiar lands featuring lovable, sympathetic characters (usually animals).

Prior to publishing his first book, Hubert’s Hair-Raising Adventure (1959), Peet worked for Disney Studios (he was there from 1937 to 1964). He worked on several of Disney’s most famous films, including Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Jungle Book (though his work on that film went uncredited due to a dispute with Walt Disney).

Peet also created the first Disney film to come from a single storywriter, 101 Dalmatians—based on the book by Dodie Smith. He wrote the script, created the storyboards and designed the characters. It was Bill Peet who created the iconic Disney villain that so many people (myself included) love to hate, Cruella de Vil.

Cruella Deville

Isn’t she just perfectly evil?

Because of Peet’s work with Disney there’s a familiarity to his art; once readers begin to recognize his style, it becomes easy to spot his creations in the films he worked on.

 

The Ant and The Elephant is a twist on Aesop’s The Lion and the Mouse, in which a meek, small character is remarkably able to help a large, strong character.

While climbing a long blade of grass for a better view of the river, a small ant finds himself in a predicament after being blown by the wind. The minute creature lands on a stick in the middle of the river. He would surely drown if he tried to get to the shore himself, so he asks a nearby turtle for assistance; the grumpy turtle cannot be bothered to help.

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Soon enough the turtle finds himself in a bit of a bind, having tipped onto his back while trying to climb onto a rock.

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He asks a nearby hornbill for a hand and receives a response quite similar to the one he gave the ant.

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And so it goes down the line through several unhelpful—and perhaps shortsighted—African animals, until readers are introduced to the noble elephant. He hears so much with his large ears, “the faint rustle of a leaf, the least snap of a twig, or even the tiny voice of an ant calling.”

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The accommodating elephant, having heard all the events of the day, makes his way to the river to assist the miniscule creature. He offers the trapped ant his trunk; the grateful ant crawls on and is deposited safely on the shore of the river.

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The elephant continues on, helping each of the helpless—and shockingly ungrateful—creatures along the way.

Soon it is the elephant that finds himself in a disabled position; he’s fallen into a ravine.

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He calls for help and waits and waits. As the sun sets, the elephant hears the sound of tiny footsteps. Soon, ninety-five thousand ants arrive to help him!

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They successfully lift the giant beast and carry him up the wall and onto flat ground. And in return all of the ants climb aboard their new, grateful friend for their first ever elephant ride!

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The Story of Little Babaji by Helen Bannerman and Fred Marcellino: a perfect update to a classic story.

BabajiCover

The Story of Little Babaji

Picture Book

Ages 3-8

By Helen Bannerman

Illustrated by Fred Marcellino

72 pages

HarperCollins

1996

 

 

Helen Bannerman (1862-1946), the author and illustrator of The Story of Little Black Sambo (published in 1899), lived in India for several years; the basis for the story came from illustrated letters she wrote to her children during her time there. Though “sambo” was a term used throughout the 1800s it seems to have risen to its now well-known racist usage in the first half of the 1900s, perhaps in part owed to this story.

The Story of Little Black Sambo has been a point of controversy for nearly as long as it’s been in print. The story itself obviously took place in India, featuring tigers and ghee, or clarified butter, but Bannerman’s art featured an offensively caricatured black child.

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Despite being married to some highly objectionable art, the story itself features a wonderfully clever and brave boy who outwits four hungry tigers to escape the jungle without being eaten. I did not understand the connotations of the word “sambo” as a child, and I loved the story. It was included in Volume 2 of the My Book House series and featured illustrations of distinctly Indian characters.

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I loved all the fancy clothes and their vivid colors. I was fascinated by the idea of the tigers turning into butter, and then being used on pancakes, and eaten! And the number of pancakes the family consumed, two hundred and fifty-one, astounded me.

The Story of Little Black Sambo has been retold many times. The Story of Little Babaji, illustrated by Fred Marcellino (1939-2001), was published the same year as another retelling, Sam and the Tigers, by Julius Lester and illustrated by Jerry Pinkney. In Lester and Pinkney’s version, a whole new story is fashioned and takes place in the fictional village of Sam-sam-sa-mara, where everyone is named Sam.

In general, I object to publishers altering or removing what is, now, deemed to be offensive material from books. In addition to the fundamental danger of hiding a rightfully shameful past, these books provide an opportunity to see how attitudes have evolved. Historically speaking, I think it’s important to be aware of the original book, with all its faults.

Marcellino’s version adheres to the original tale; he simply changed the names of the characters and created art to reflect the story’s Indian setting. He also chose a trim size (6.5 in x 6.5 in), close to that of the original book (4 in x 6 in). This decidedly improved edition is a beautifully designed book and a wonderful story worth sharing.

Fred Marcelino illustrated several children’s books; in 1991 his lavishly illustrated version of Charles Perrault’s Puss in Boots received a Caldecott Honor. Its striking cover bore no title and featured a gorgeous illustration of a finely dressed cat.

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Marcelino’s stylish watercolor art in the Story of Little Babaji is lighter and airier. Each exquisitely delicate and lively illustration is rendered in a wide-ranging, joyful palette. The highly detailed art alternates between being elegantly simple, with no background, and lusciously full, showing the surrounding environs.

 

“Once upon a time there was a little boy, and his name was Little Babaji. And his mother was called Mamaji. And his father was called Papaji.”

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Mamaji made Babaji a fine red coat and a pair of lovely blue trousers. Papaji bought him an ample green umbrella and a lovely pair of purple shoes.

“And then wasn’t Little Babaji grand?”

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After donning all his new items, Babaji went for a walk. Before long he encountered a tiger who threatened to eat him! Babaji pleaded with the tiger and offered his fine red coat in exchange for his life. The vain tiger accepted the deal and walked away declaring, “Now I’m the grandest tiger in the jungle.”

Babaji escaped unharmed but in no time at all his path crossed with another tiger who also threatened to eat him. This time Babaji surrendered his blue trousers to remain uneaten. Now a second tiger was claiming to be the grandest in the jungle.

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Babaji continued on his way and soon came face to face with another hungry tiger. When Babaji offered to trade his lovely purple shoes for freedom the tiger responded that he had no use for two shoes when he has four feet. But Babaji convinced the foolish tiger to wear the shoes on his ears. Another vain beast marched off announcing his grand status.

When Babaji met the fourth (and final) tiger, he had only his umbrella left to offer and since tigers have no hands to carry umbrellas, Babaji tied it to the tiger’s tail.

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“And poor Little Babaji went away crying, because the cruel tigers had taken all his fine clothes.”

Before Little Babaji could reach safety he heard the tigers growling nearby; the growling grew louder. Babaji hid behind a palm tree and spied the tigers—all in their fine new items—arguing over which of them was the grandest in the jungle. The tigers removed their adornments in a fury and began clawing and biting each other; forming a circle around the tree, each tiger grabbed hold of another by the tail.

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While the vicious creatures were otherwise occupied, Babaji retrieved his things and rushed off to a safe distance, where he magnanimously provided the opportunity for the giant cats to reclaim their items! But the tigers were too angry and refused to let go of each other’s tails and Little Babaji re-dressed in all his resplendent finery and walked off unscathed.

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Meanwhile the tigers, still bound in a circle by tails and teeth, began chasing each other faster and faster until they were a blur of orange and black; then the tigers ran so fast that they melted away into a pool of ghee (though this is the common spelling, in the book it’s spelled ghi).

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As it happened, Papaji was on his way home from work and came upon the beautiful buttery pool and scooped it all into the brass pot he was carrying. He brought it home for Mamaji who used the ghee to make a pancake feast for the whole family. The pancakes “were just as yellow and brown as little tigers” and “Little Babaji ate a hundred and sixty-nine, because he was so hungry.”

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TurtleAndRobot’s 15 Favorite Picture Books about Spring

I am a BunnyBunnyCover

Board

Birth-3 years old

By Olé Risom

Illustrated by Richard Scarry

26 pages

Golden Books

Reprint edition: 2004

(Originally published in 1963)

 

Richard Scarry is a pillar in the hall of children’s books. His Busytown books should be in every home library. The illustrations in I am a Bunny are richer than his usual style, though they evoke the same joyous feelings that all his books share.

“I am a bunny. My name is Nicholas. I live in a hollow tree.”

Thus begins the perfectly simple story, which follows Nicholas the bunny through each of the four seasons; Scarry’s palette changes to match the seasons but is consistently luminous.

In the winter Nicholas curls up in his hollow tree and dreams of spring. And when spring arrives he likes to pick flowers and chase butterflies.

 

 

Spring is Herespring-is-here-board-book-by-taro-gomi

Board Book

Ages Birth-4

By Taro Gomi

34 pages

Chronicle

1999

 

Taro Gomi has created many wonderful books for children; I especially love his activity books, including Scribbles and Doodles. (Some readers may know him for his wildly popular book, Everyone Poops.) 

Using bright, simple illustrations and minimal text, this book focuses on all four seasons.

It opens in the spring, with a bold illustration of a fresh young calf; the bright white baby cow is set against a hot pink background.

Soon the calf’s black spots begin to appear, and the background becomes a warm, mellow orange. The seasons change, the calf grows, and soon it is spring again!

 

 

It’s Springits-spring

Board Book

Ages 2-5

By Samantha Berger & Pamela Chanko

Illustrated by Melissa Sweet

32 pages

Cartwheel

2001

 

Just looking at the cover of this book makes me want to skip through an open field.

All the animals are excited about the impending arrival of spring! Word spreads through the community from bird, to rabbit, to deer and to duck, and they all welcome the lovely new season.

 

 

The PuddleThePuddle

Picture Book

Ages 2-6

By David McPhail

32 pages

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

1998

Out of print

 

David McPhail has had a lengthy career in children’s books and he continues to create wonderful stories and pleasing illustrations.

On a rainy day, a young boy asks his mother if he can go outside and play in the puddles.

“Okay, but you stay out of the puddles.”

The boy dons his coat and boots, grabs his toy sailboat and heads outside in search of the largest puddle. Once he’s found it, he sets his boat to sail.

Soon a frog comes by and jumps on the boy’s boat. Then a turtle happens by for teatime. More and more animals join the fun creating a wild and unbelievable adventure.

Eventually the sun dries up the puddle and the animals and the boy return to their respective homes.

 

 

The Happy DayHappyDay-001

Picture Book

Ages 2-6

By Ruth Krauss

Illustrated by Marc Simont

36 pages

HarperCollins

1949

1950 Caldecott Honor Book

 

This book made TurtleAndRobot’s Top 20 Books about Snow as well, but it’s also about spring and it’s a really wonderful book.

It begins under the cover of snow with all the animals sleeping. Soon they are waking up and sniffing. What is it they smell?

They emerge from their burrows and start running and sniffing. They stop, and laugh, and dance! There, in the midst of all the snow and white and cold, a burst of color appears in the form of a beautiful yellow flower.

The delicious, buttery yellow of the flower is the only bit of color in this otherwise black and white picture book.

 

 

Rabbit’s Good Newsrabbitgood

Picture Book

Ages 2-6

By Ruth Lercher Bornstein

32 pages

Clarion

1995

Out of print

 

Ruth Bornstein is the author and illustrator of Little Gorilla, which is an adorable picture book. She uses warm pastel colors in her luminescent art.

A baby rabbit and her family are snuggled in a burrow deep underground. Everyone else is asleep but Rabbit is awake, so she peeks outside. There’s something in the air, something calling to Rabbit, something with a “soft green sound.”

Rabbit leaves the hole to investigate and experience some of the amazing events of spring: green grass, a blooming flower and a bird hatching from an egg.

She returns home to share the good news with her family, “Spring is here.”

 

 

Little White RabbitLittleWhiteRabbit-hc-c

Picture Book

Ages 2-6

By Kevin Henkes

40 pages

Greenwillow

2011

 

Kevin Henkes has published dozens of books for children, from board books to novels. His stories are funny, compassionate, relevant and timeless. His artistic style ranges from soft and subtle to vibrant and active and is always impressive and enticing.

Little White Rabbit is not technically about spring but the soft art and verdant palette embody the feelings of spring.

The little white rabbit hops through grass and wonders what it’s like to be green; soon his whole world is bathed in emerald. He hops past trees and wonders what it’s like to be tall; soon he is peeking out over the tops of the tallest pine. He hops over a rock and tries to imagine staying perfectly still and slowly turning to stone.

In the end, he hops all the way back home to rejoin his loving family.

 

Countdown to Spring: An Animal Counting BookCountdown-to-spring

Picture Book

Ages 2-8

By Janet Schulman

Illustrated by Meilo So

32 pages

Knopf

2002

Out of print

 

Meilo So’s spare, deft watercolors are luscious. Wildflowers bloom in the background as playful animals flutter, crawl, scurry and frolic across the page.

This counting book celebrates spring, starting with one bountiful Easter basket and ending with ten ladybugs crawling; there are also chicks, ducks, squirrels and foxes along the way. 

 

 

And Then It’s SpringAndThenItsSpring

Picture Book

Ages 3-8

By Julie Fogliano

Illustrated by Erin E. Stead

32 pages

Roaring Brook Press

2012

 

And Then It’s Spring, Julie Fogliano’s first book, won her the Ezra Jack Keat’s New Writer Award. This was Erin E. Stead’s second book to be published; her first, A Sick Day for Amos McGee, won her the Caldecott Medal.

“First you have brown, all around you have brown.”

The book opens on a vast, brown landscape. A young boy, with his dog close behind, plants some seeds. And then he must wait. And wait. While he’s waiting he must also keep those seeds safe from birds and careless bears.

Soon the brown starts to whisper and hum about the coming green. And then it’s spring.

Fogliano’s spare and poetic text, coupled with Stead’s finely detailed, delicate, beguiling art produce a book that perfectly portrays both the long wait between the end of winter and the beginning of spring, and all the joy that comes with spotting those first green shoots of the season of renewal.

This pair has another spectacular book, If You Want to See a Whale, due out in May.

 

 

Bear Wants MoreBearWantsMore

Picture Book

Ages 3-8

By Karma Wilson

Illustrated by Jane Chapman

40 pages

Margaret K. McElderry Books

2003

 

This author and illustrator have created several books together about the downright adorable Bear and his friends. The simple, rhyming text flows smoothly and Chapman’s bright art has a fresh, velvety appearance.

At the end of a long winter, Bear wakes up from his hibernation and he is very hungry. He nibbles on some grass, but Bear wants more. He meets up with his friend Mouse and they visit a strawberry patch. Bear eats and eats, but still wants more.

After eating his way through the day, Bear arrives home. His friends have arranged a party for him but he can’t fit through his own door! All of Bear’s friends must work together to dislodge him from the entrance to his den.

When he’s finally freed, Bear eats a little more and goes back to sleep.

 

 

Planting a Rainbowplanting rainbow

Picture Book

Ages 3-9

By Lois Ehlert

40 pages

Sandpiper

1992

 

Ehlert’s vibrant, bold collage art and simple, informative text make this a great book for aspiring gardeners and flower lovers. From planting bulbs in the fall, to ordering seeds in the winter, to waiting for sprouts in the spring until finally a rainbow of colors and a mélange of shapes all come together to form a beautiful garden.

With clear labels and color-coding, it’s easy to follow the steps and teach children about colors, shapes, planting, flowers, gardening and seasons, all with this one beautifully simple book.

 

The Gardenergardener

Picture Book

Ages 3-9

By Sarah Stewart

Illustrated by David Small

40 pages

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

1997

1998 Caldecott Honor Book

 

Young Lydia Grace is moving to the city to help her uncle, who owns a bakery. Lydia Grace does not know anything about baking but she knows everything about gardening and her happy, generous spirit is just what her grumpy uncle needs (even if he doesn’t know it yet).

She immediately sets to work planting everything she can in anything she can, including broken teacups and bent cake pans. One day she finds a secret place and makes great plans for it. Meanwhile, the world around her is blooming and brightening from all her planting.

In a perfect and grand reveal, readers discover that the secret place is a rooftop, now gloriously transformed into a majestic garden by Lydia Grace—who now goes by “The Gardener.”

Told in a series of increasingly jubilant letters from Lydia Grace to her family back home and paired with exquisite art that radiates life, The Gardener possesses all the beauty that comes with spring.

 

 

The Boy Who Didn’t Believe in Springboy who didn't believe in spring

Picture Book

Ages 3-9

By Lucille Clifton

Illustrated by Brinton Turkle

32 Pages

Puffin

Reprint edition: 1992

 

This book was originally published in 1973 (the cover sort of gives that away) and is a distinctly urban-centric story.

King Shabazz doesn’t understand what everyone means when they say spring is just around the corner. He’s never seen this “spring” and he’s sick of everyone talking about it. He wants to find spring for himself, and enlists his friend Tony Polito to help. The two boys explore outside their usual neighborhood to investigate new sounds and smells; they’ve never been past the end of their street before.

Eventually they come across an abandoned car, emitting unfamiliar noises, in an empty lot. As the boys are approaching the car they see a patch of yellow flowers growing amidst the litter in the lot. Once they reach the vehicle they learn that the unfamiliar noise is a mama bird protecting her nest of eggs, prompting the boys to declare, “Man, it’s spring!”

 

 

Home for a BunnyHomeforBunny

Picture Book

Ages 3-9

By Margaret Wise Brown

Illustrated by Garth Williams

32 pages

Golden Books

Reprint edition: 2003

(Originally published in 1956)

 

Margaret Wise Brown is best known for penning Goodnight Moon. Her simple text in this story is rhythmic and lyrical.

Garth Williams has illustrated some of the world’s most beloved books, including Stuart Little, Charlotte’s Web, Bedtime for Frances and The Gingerbread Rabbit. His detailed, lush and comforting art is absolutely exquisite.

Bunny is in search of a home. During his search, he encounters many other animals and learns about the kinds of homes they live in.

When he meets a mother robin and learns about nests, Bunny declares, “Not for me, I would fall out of a nest. I would fall on the ground.”

‘”Where is your home?” he asked the frog. “Wog, wog, wog,” sang the frog. “Wog, wog, wog, Under the water, Down in the bog.”’

Under the water would not be a good place for a bunny to make his home either.

Before long Bunny meets a lovely white rabbit whose home is under a rock and she invites Bunny to stay. It’s a perfect home.

 

 

Bently and Eggbently

Picture Book

Ages 4-10

By William Joyce

32 pages

HarperCollins

1992

Out of print

 

William Joyce’s career spans children’s books, animated films (Rise of the Guardians) and television (Rolie Polie Olie). His intricate and detailed illustrations are stylistically unique and incredibly beautiful.

Bently Hopperton is a young, artistic frog. When his duck friend Kack Kack needs someone to watch over her egg while she visits her sister’s new ducklings, Bently is left to watch over the precious package.

Bently doesn’t like the egg even though all the other animals are quite excited about the joyous turn of events in the recently widowed duck’s life. He decides to spruce up the dull shell by painting it, but a young boy wanders by and takes it, certain it’s been left by the Easter Bunny.

Bently must find the boy who took the egg and shepherd it to safety without it coming to harm, and without his beloved friend discovering. Thus begins a wild adventure. Happily, Bently recovers the egg and gets it back to its mother just in time for the beautiful baby duck to hatch. Kack Kack decides to name her new son Ben, after her hero Bently.

Comments (9) »

A Tree Is Nice, and this picture book is a perfect reminder.

A Tree Is NiceTreeCover

Picture Book

Ages 2-7

By Janice May Udry

Illustrated by Marc Simont

32 Pages

HarperCollins

1956

1957 Caldecott Medal Winner

 

 

Janice May Udry wrote seven picture books, including Let’s Be Enemies and Moon Jumpers, both illustrated by Maurice Sendak. A Tree is Nice was her first picture book, and it is divine. Her unpretentious text is direct and expressive.

Marc Simont has appeared on TurtleAndRobot before, see The Philharmonic Gets Dressed and My Brother Ant. In A Tree is Nice his drawing style is loose and unrestricted; he doesn’t squander lines. Giving just enough information and omitting fine details, he’s creating a feeling with each scene as much as a picture.

The spreads alternate between black and white and color. The luxuriant, saturated color art arouses warm, joyous feelings.

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In the black and white illustrations Simont uses a gray wash and thicker, more strategic strokes, generating a quiet, meditative feeling.

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And every spread evokes serenity and comfort.

DSC01738

Trees are nice. They offer shade, they make the woods, they’re good for hanging swings on and they make sticks!

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This exquisitely simple picture book provides many reasons trees are nice, and some reasons just one tree is nice too.

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This book will make you want to plant a tree, or climb a tree, or lie down under a tree and take a nap. And really, don’t all of those things sound perfectly delightful?

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Buy the book!

IndieBound / Powell’s / Amazon

Comments (6) »

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