Posts tagged Julie Fogliano

If You Want to See a Whale: A quiet story in a perfect package.

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If You Want to See a Whale

Picture Book

Ages 2-7

By Julie Fogliano

Illustrated by Erin E. Stead

32 pages

Roaring Brook

2013

Book Trailer

 

 

If You Want to See a Whale is a flawlessly designed book. The diminutive trim size, approximately 9×7, begs to be held; the enticingly serene cover prompts readers to curl up and escape into its pages. Peeling away the deliciously smooth coated matte cover reveals a rich blue cloth with a humpback whale in relief. Complementing the deep blue background, the book’s title is stamped on the spine in a lavish copper foil which perfectly matches the endpapers. The interior paper has substantial weight and its milky white canvas spotlights the art.

 

Absent of punctuation and in a font reminiscent of a typewriter the exclusively lower-case text is judiciously set apart from the art, accentuating the story’s quiet, contemplative feel. This is not a story to be rushed through. This is a story about waiting, about being quiet, about being still. Readers, like the book’s main character, are rewarded for these virtues.

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Fogliano’s compact, lyrical prose is reminiscent of Ruth Krauss and Karla Kuskin but her style is decidedly her own. Her stories are thoughtful, poetic and sublimely profound. Like Fogliano and Stead’s other collaboration, And Then it’s Spring, If You Want to See a Whale offers tranquility—a welcome and necessary port in a sea of noise.

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Stead’s art— composed of whisper thin lines, fervently detailed and ever so delicate—invites the reader to study each spread. Color, at once saturated and transparent, is used sparingly. Stead’s incredibly involved process of creating the art can be viewed here.

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A young ginger haired boy and his loyal basset hound are determined to see a whale, but seeing a whale is no simple task. It requires an ocean, and a window for watching, and a chair for sitting, and patience, for it may take a very long time. A whale watcher cannot get too comfortable, for fear of falling asleep. A whale watcher cannot allow himself to be distracted by passing ships, or puffy clouds. A whale watcher must simply watch, and wait. And as with all important things in life, focus and determination pay off in the end.

 

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When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons

When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for all Seasons

When Green Becomes Tomatoes

Poetry Collection

Ages 2 and up

By Julie Fogliano

Pictures by Julie Morstad

56 pages

Roaring Brook Press

2016

 

 

 

 

Every April, elementary school teachers and librarians scramble for books to celebrate National Poetry Month and booksellers are hard-pressed to produce anything new and worthy. The standard favorites and repetitive collections are highlighted and praised for 30 days then poetry gets shoved back in the closet for eleven months. But poetry—often glossed over, taken for granted or dismissed as frivolous—is an essential medium. It often seems to get the same treatment as jazz: it is deemed important but does anyone really understand it, or care?

Generally, the very first words read to an infant are those of Mother Goose: simple rhymes whose rhythms are meant to soothe an audience instinctively soothed by a mother’s heartbeat. Rhyming poetry is, in a real way, meant to speak the language of the heart. But poetry doesn’t always rhyme or follow any convention; it sometimes seems purposely vague, and it is generally accompanied by lengthy explanation, and so, appreciating poetry takes a certain kind of awareness. A recent article in The Atlantic focuses on the importance of teaching poetry. And it is important; supremely important. These two paragraphs sum it up perfectly:

Yet poetry enables teachers to teach their students how to write, read, and understand any text. Poetry can give students a healthy outlet for surging emotions. Reading original poetry aloud in class can foster trust and empathy in the classroom community, while also emphasizing speaking and listening skills that are often neglected in high school literature classes.

Students who don’t like writing essays may like poetry, with its dearth of fixed rules and its kinship with rap. For these students, poetry can become a gateway to other forms of writing. It can help teach skills that come in handy with other kinds of writing—like precise, economical diction, for example. When Carl Sandburg writes, “The fog comes/on little cat feet,” in just six words, he endows a natural phenomenon with character, a pace, and a spirit. All forms of writing benefits from the powerful and concise phrases found in poems.

However, despite being such a necessary form for understanding both language and the human spirit, well-crafted poetry collections are few and far between. When Green Becomes Tomatoes, a truly exceptional poetry book, is a rare gift and will no doubt be a timeless classic for generations to come.

Poetry is characterized by an economy of words and Fogliano is adept at economical writing. Poetic in their simplicity her picture books, And Then it’s Spring and If You Want to See a Whale, demonstrate this austerity as well. Her refined prose is imbued with a childlike perspective that speaks to its readers on an elemental level. Reading her carefully chosen words, it’s clear that none are wasted. Fogliano writes with a beautiful simplicity that can make people believe writing for children is easy, but I assure you it is not; achieving this kind of elegant perfection requires an immense amount of skill.

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Beginning and ending with a poem for the first day of spring (March 20th), the 47 poems in When Green Becomes Tomatoes are named for the dates they honor. Fogliano’s masterful compositions encapsulate the very essence of each season and every one of these captivating, playful poems immerses its reader in a moment.

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Her style, distinctly her own and one I expect many will try (and fail) to replicate, can rightly be compared to such icons as Ruth Krauss and e e cummings.

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Some of these poems could easily stand alone as their own books.

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Morstad’s art is perfection: never excessive, always inviting. Her illustrations, luxurious at times and modest at others, harmonize with the text. Adjusting her palette to the season, choosing warm or cool colors as needed, she captures the spirit of the ever-changing flora and fauna. With a style that is reminiscent of Alain Grée and Ezra Jack Keats, she depicts a diverse group of children to accompany readers on their journey through the seasons. At a time when the lack diversity in children’s books is being spotlighted, her multi-cultural cast is an oasis in a desert.

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I’m an avid lover of the changing of the seasons; it’s such an invigorating time. I love seeing the first heralds of spring, feeling the first hint of summer heat, smelling the first breeze of autumn and experiencing the unadulterated joy of the first snow. Superbly capturing all the inherent delight that these harbingers induce, Fogliano and Morstad have created the perfect companion to all the glorious wonders of the seasons.

A marvel as welcome as spring’s first blush of color after a long, drab winter: When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons is a thing you knew you needed but didn’t fully comprehend how much until you finally had it.

 

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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.

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Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award goes to Julie Fogliano!

AndThenItsSpring

Congratulations to Julie Fogliano, friend of TurtleAndRobot and author of And Then It’s Spring (illustrated by Erin E. Stead) for winning the Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award for Children’s Books! A well deserved award for a stunningly talented writer.

Read all about it here.

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Horn Book Fanfare 2012: The Best Children’s and YA Books of the Year

Once again, it thrills me to congratulate friends of TurtleAndRobot!

 

Philip C. Stead: A Home for Bird; written and illustrated by Philip C. Stead (Porter/Roaring Brook)

Erin E. Stead and Julie Fogliano: And Then It’s Spring; written by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Erin E. Stead (Porter/Roaring Brook)

Jason Chin: Island: A Story of the Galápagos; written and illustrated by Jason Chin (Porter/Roaring Brook)

 

See the full list here.

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Kirkus Reviews’ Best Children’s Books of 2012

Special congratulations to Book of Wonder alumni and friends of TurtleAndRobot!

Hades by George O’Connor

And Then It’s Spring by Julie Fogliano, Illustrated by Erin E. Stead

A Home for Bird by Philip C. Stead

Bear Has a Story to Tell by Philip C. Stead, Illustrated by Erin E. Stead

Island by Jason Chin

 

View the full List Here

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Publishers Weekly picks their best children’s books for 2012.

Picture Books

Special congratulations to friends of TurtleAndRobot, Philip C. Stead, Erin E. Stead and Julie Fogliano!

Fiction

 

Non-Fiction

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