Monday, March 30, 2015

Aspiring Young Writers

“If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy.”*
― Dorothy Parker 

Courtesy Leo Baeck Institute

*Courtesy D Biswas on Amlokiblogs

Friday, March 20, 2015

PPBF: The Paper Crane

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

The Paper Crane, by Molly Bang
Courtesy Amazon
The Paper Crane
Written and Illustrated by Molly Bang
Greenwillow, 1985
grades K-3, 450 words

magic, kindness

"A man once owned a restaurant on a busy road. He loved to cook good food and he loved to serve it. He worked from morning until night, and he was happy."

Father and son restaurant owner take pity on a poor stranger even though business is slow. In return for his meal, the old stranger fold a napkin into a magic origami crane. When the restaurant owner claps his hands, the bird becomes a living crane and dances beautifully. The magic bird draws customers to the restaurant again. Even when the stranger returns to claim his crane, the restaurant family is happy, serving food and sharing the kindness in their hearts.

What I Love:
No deep meanings or complex characters here. Just a simple story about joy and kindness. This is a modern story with a fairy tale feel. The spare text and gorgeous cut-paper illustrations have kept this book on the shelves and in the hearts of its readers.

1. Make a paper crane, of course! Or dabble in other Origami forms. Origami Instructions for Kids is a good place to begin. Or buy one of Kunihiko Kashahara's books, like Origami Made Easy. I've used mine for thirty years.
Available at the Printmeneer's Etsy shop
2. Learn about the history of Japanese American immigration at the JANM website.
3. Play restaurant with this fun DIY cabinet-turned-diner.
4. Printmeneer makes amazingly clever cookie cutters that look like folded paper cranes.
5. If you are studying picture book structure with ReFoReMo, Molly Bang gives a basic structure for this and other folk tales on her website.
6. Check out these and other Perfect Picture Books at your local library.

Reviewed by Carrie
Reviewed by Joanne
Reviewed by Erik

Reviewed by Joanna
Reviewed by Julie
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 March 20, 2015 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Same Advice: Are You Listening?

"A writer isn’t a person whose work sells, or is well known, or has published, or possesses a single reader besides him or herself. A writer is a person who writes."
-Lance Olsen*

Bookplate of Edmund Rathbone, by Robert Anning Bell,
courtesy Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest

*Taken from Architectures of Possibility.

Friday, March 13, 2015

PPBF: Silent Music

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

Silent Music, by James Rumford, courtesy Amazon
Silent Music: A Story of Baghdad
Written and Illustrated by James Rumford
Roaring Brook Press, 2008
non-fiction, grades K-3
AR Level: 3.8,
Lexile 830L, Level E

Culture, Historical, Art

"My name is Ali. I live in Baghdad. I love playing soccer in the dusty street with my friends. I love loud parent-rattling music. I love dancing. But most of all, I love calligraphy . . ."

Through paint and digital collage, James Rumford brings the flavor of Iran to this story of a young boy named Ali. He is just like any other boy, except he is passionate about his country's tradition of beautiful handwriting. The story compares ordinary things in Ali's life to the calligraphic strokes. The author parallels Ali's experience during a bombing of Baghdad to the experience of the famous calligrapher Yakut during the Siege of Baghdad in 1258. Ali is able to find joy in the midst of fear and hope for the future in keeping his traditions alive. There is one page of back matter about Yakut and information about the country and its writing sprinkled throughout the text.

What I Love:
The book is beautiful, to start. The calligraphy throughout is Rumford's own. His comparisons are lyrical: Ali's little sister's name is a lovely, energetic swish, his grandfather's is tall and stately. Some strokes twirl and fly like a soccer match. Some strokes are as complicated as the busy streets. These comparisons are an inventive way of drawing young readers into the text.

James Rumford's collage, traditional patterns, and hand-calligraphy 

I was also impressed with the author's ability to take a tiny piece of history and build a book around it. More likely, he wanted to share his love of the Iranian calligraphic art form, then traced a parallel between the war-torn past and present. He sneaks details about calligraphy into the text which might have been dry in the hands of another writer.

1. You can learn more about the history of the city at The University of Baghdad website.
Calligraphy by Sultan Mahmud II
2. Explore the changes in Persian Calligraphy from 500 BC to modern times. Then view the work of modern Persian calligraphers.
3. Introduce kids to other Islamic arts like architecture on History For Kids.
4. Read about the real Yakut Ul'Musta-simi from
5. You'll find dozens of other calligraphers, their work, and their biographies on the Journal of Ottoman Calligraphy.
6. For authors studying through ReFoReMo, you can find his thoughts on structuring a biography on his website.
7. Diane Tulloch has a great interview with the author / illustrator on her website, Patient Dreamer.
8. If you enjoyed this book, here are a few more Perfect Picture Books you might enjoy.

Joanna's review
Laura's review
Kirsten's review
Jarm's review
S. N. Taylor's review
Barbara's review

Joanne's review
Wendy's review
Diane's review

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 March 13, 2015, available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Simple Writing is Powerful

". . . good writing doesn’t have to be fancy. Simple is powerful when the timing is right."

Bookplate by Adrian Feint courtesy The Linosaurus

Friday, March 6, 2015

PPBF: The Trouble With Henriette!

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

The Trouble with Henriette!
By the husband and wife team
of Wende and Harry Devlin
The Trouble with Henriette!
Written and Illustrated by Wende and Harry Devlin
Simon & Schuster, 1995
Ages 3 and up

culture, pets

Grandfather's farm truck sputtered into the big city. Putt-putt-putt.

Maybe this is the worst day of my life, thought Jolie, squeezed between Grandfather and her truffle hound, Henriette. Jolie hugged Henriette close. Today, she was going to lose her dog.

Grandfather needs a good hound to hunt for truffles to sell to the fancy restaurants of Paris. Jolie's friend and pet Henriette seems to have lost her ability to scent the truffles. Now grandfather must sell Henriette to buy another dog. When Henriette escapes, she leads them on a chase through the elegant Hotel Eclair. Henriette may find truffles, but she also finds trouble with a capital "T." Jolie must convince her grandfather, the hotel manager, and the restaurant's most important guests that Henriette is worth her weight in truffles.

What I Love:
I love the work of this dynamic duo. Their honest illustrations and clever POV make the pictures energetic. Below the surface of the obvious dilemma (a girl about to lose her dog) is the more subtle theme of the relationship between the grandfather and Jolie. He is blinded by his own opinion and fails to see that a little girl may have the solution to his problems. I was immediately drawn to the unusual story elements. I thought only pigs hunted truffles! Here is an example a spread from the book.

Henriette invades the Hotel Eclair!
Henriette disappears into the restaurant.

1. What is a truffle? Learn more from the Mycological (mushroom) Society of San Francisco or the North American Truffling Society.
2. Investigate the life of real truffle hunting dogs at Modern Farmer.
I'm told they taste delicious.
3. Cook up a new taste with Simply Recipe's potato-onion dish, flavored with truffle oil.
4.  If truffle oil is out of your price range, try these adorable meringue mushrooms instead.
5. Fill your house with origami mushrooms courtesy of Krokotak and turn your next snowy day into a truffle hunt.
6. You'll find fun activities and facts about France at the Kids' World Travel Guide. All that and picture book recommendations, too at Travel For Kids.
7. On America's west coast? Plan to visit the Oregon Truffle Festival.
8. Then check out these and other Perfect Picture Books at your local library.

Reviewed by Fats
Reviewed by Kirsten

Reviewed by Richa

Another favorite
by Wende & Harry Devlin
Reviewed by Barbara
Reviewed by Julie

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 March 6, 2015 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

World Read Aloud Day 2015

Celebrate literacy!
Read aloud to someone you love.

Monday, March 2, 2015

One Book, Two Book, Red Book, Blue Book

"Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living; it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope."
- Dr. Seuss

Available from Designela