Friday, January 30, 2015

PPBF: London Bridge is Falling Down!

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

London Bridge is Falling Down!,
the first title in the Mother Goose Library

London Bridge is Falling Down!
From The Mother Goose Library
Illustrated by Peter Spier
Doubleday & Co, 1967
grades K-3

Rhymes, Historical

"See-saw, sacradown,
Which is the way to London town?
One foot up and the other foot down,
That is the way to London town.
And just the same, over dale and hill,
Is also the way to wherever you will."

Legendary illustrator Peter Spier conceived of the Mother Goose Library as a fresh was to represent traditional songs and rhymes in an illustrated format. Here he presents all eighteen verses (yep, eighteen!) along with a pictorial history of London, occasional factual sidebars, the musical notation for this nursery rhyme, and a three-page synopsis of London Bridge, spanning 43 BC to 1970 AD -- pun intended.

What I Love:
Well, Peter Spier, of course. He always manages to imbue his illustrations with authenticity and humor. Nearly every page is color, but there are a few lively pen and ink sketches sprinkled throughout. This book was way ahead of its time. Many non-fiction books of the 60's were dry and lacking in the details that engage young readers. Peter Spier's drawings allow modern readers to glimpse real life as it was, and to see themselves in the story. He makes the bridge itself seem like a character.


1. I scrambled to post this review instead of my regularly scheduled book, because Doubleday reissued two of Spier's classics last Tuesday. Read the announcement from Publisher's Weekly.
Play London Bridge!
Thanks to Bethany Kindergarten
2.The History Channel presents more interesting facts about London Bridge on their website.
3.  Surf or visit the London Bridge Museum in the UK, or the reconstruction in Arizona.
4. Cook up recipes from the Elizabethan Era or Medieval Times.
5. You can build the Tower Bridge with Lego or out of paper with downloadable instructions.
6. Singer, composer, and picture book enthusiast Emily Leatha Everson has collected half a dozen of Peter Spier's musical books on here blog, SingBooksWithEmily. Her fun blog is dedicated to picture books that sing, literally!
7. The New Netherlands Institute has information and links on the artist himself.
8. Don't forget to sign up for the Knopf Doubleday newsletter so you won't miss any of their new releases.
9. Check out these and other Perfect Picture Books at your local library.

Reviewed by Julie
My review from 2013

Reviewed by Darshana

Have you reviewed a Perfect Picture Book along this theme? Please leave the link in the comments below. Thanks!

Check out all the recommended titles for Perfect Picture Book Friday
for January 30, 2015 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Writing Time is Precious

"Guard your spare moments. They are like uncut diamonds."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Available from Etsy

Monday, January 19, 2015

Literacy and Life

"The ability to read awoke inside me some long dormant craving to be mentally alive."
-Malcolm X*

Bookplate by Kazimierc Babkiewicz,
Courtesy Frederikshavn Art Museum

*The Autobiography of Malcolm X

Monday, January 12, 2015

Rise From Your Ashes

"It's best to have failure happen early in life. It wakes up the phoenix bird in you . . ."

Commissioned Kingfisher bookplate
by Kathryn Elisabeth Lovejoy

Friday, January 9, 2015

PPBF: The Sea Chest

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

The Sea Chest, by Toni Buzzeo and Mary Grandpre
The Sea Chest
Written by Toni Buzzeo
Illustrated by Mary GrandPre
Dial Books, 2002
Fiction, grades K-3
word count 1070

Siblings, Adoption, Legends

"City lights flicker in the dusk like winking fireflies.
I hold my Auntie Maita's papery hand. Together we stare at the shiny photo in her lap, touched so often with hope, the edges curl."

A lonely girl, daughter of lighthouse keepers, wishes for companionship. Her wish washes ashore the morning after a fateful storm when the family discovers a baby tucked inside a sea chest. The sisters grow up to share the delights of the island and the joys of sisterhood. The story is based on a Maine legend, but the author skillfully weaves together a second storyline about the descendants of the orphaned baby and a new adoption about to take place.

What I Love:
I love how the author flashes back to the legendary scene, and how she has drawn on her own sibling experience to speak to children awaiting a new baby. She knows precisely the loneliness of the island girl. She understands, too, the anticipation and anxiety felt by a family expecting a child through adoption. Mary Grandpre captures the wind and waves and nostalgia so needed for this book with her sweeping colors. Her somewhat exaggerated style is toned down here to give The Sea Chest a ring of truth.

The manuscript for The Sea Chest won the Barbara Karlin Grant in 2000.


Courtesy Coastal Living
1.You may want to read this touching interview with Toni Bizzeo by Cynthia Leitich Smith.
2. For more information, read the Kirkus review of The Sea Chest.
3. You can find more about the 19th century Legend on which this story is based, at PBS.
4. Visit Hendricks Head Light where the story takes place.
5. Try your hand at a gingerbread lighthouse like this one from Coastal Living.
6. If you enjoyed this book, here are a few more Perfect Picture Books you might enjoy.

Reviewed by Jarm
Reviewed by GatheringBooks
Reviewed by Erik

Reviewed by Diane
Check out all the recommended titles for Perfect Picture Book Friday
for January 9, 2015, available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Welcome 2015!

Happy New Year!

Here's hoping this year is full of warm hugs, bright dreams, and chocolate. Lots of chocolate.