Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Write What?

"There's an old rule that you should write what you know, but I've never believed in it,...I think you should write what moves you."
—Mike Rich*

Bookplate with cello by Anton Pieck

*Via The Los Angeles Times

Friday, November 17, 2017

PPBF: Rettie and the Ragamuffin Parade

Here's today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

Rettie and the Ragamuffin Parade, a historical fiction picture book
Rettie and the Ragamuffin Parade
A Thanksgiving Story
Tales of Young Americans series

Written Trinka Hakes Noble
Illustrated by David C. Gardner

Sleeping Bear Press, 2017
Ages 6-9, 32 pp, 800L

Historical, Poverty, Holiday

All the tenement children on New York's Lower East Side couldn't wait for the Ragamuffin Parade o Thanksgiving morning. But no one was more excited than a young girl named Loretta Stanowski, whom everyone called Rettie.

The story focuses on one little girl who depends on the Ragamuffin Parade and the penny scramble to put food on the table for her poor family. Rettie has always been too young to participate in the penny scramble, but she is determined to elbow her way to her share of coins this year in order to help her struggling family. Rettie shows she is a hard worker and persevering through the many chores she undertakes while her mother is sick. The spread of influenza threatens to cancel the parade, which further complicates Rettie's plans. Back matter includes information on President Wilson, World War I, influenza, the origins of the Macy''s Thanksgiving parade, and the penny scramble.

What I Love:
The rich text and engaging illustrations make this book a must for homes and classrooms. The author includes sensory images to put readers in the middle of the action. She skillfully combines historical facts into the fictionalized story in order to ratchet the tension and increase the stakes. The art beautifully compliments the words not only through exquisite detail, but with animated character poses and expressions. A personal note and informative backmatter completes the picture.

I was surprised at the high word count, but drawn in by the rich storytelling. I love the way the text explains the details without bogging down. For example, the main character plans to collect change at the penny scramble, which might seem trivial to modern children. So the author includes a trip to the market where readers learn the cost of produce at that time. Rettie cannot afford to spend a few extra cents on an apple, reinforcing the value of money and increasing the family's plight in the eyes of the reader.

Take kids to the market like the mom on An Everyday Story
to teach them the value of money.

1. Sleeping Bear Press has designated a dozen worthwhile picture books in to the Tales of Young Americans series.
I've reviewed Lily's Victory Garden
Diane Tulloch has reviewed The Tsunami Quilt
My friend Doris illustrated Black-Eyed Susan

2. You'll find amazing photos from the early Ragamuffin Parades on Gothamist and at the NY Public Library site. Learn more on Hey Ridge.

3. Witness a modern penny scramble if you're in the neighborhood of Yorkshire or at the Florence County Fair, for example or host your own.

4. In the author notes, you'll see President Woodrow Wilson's role in the celebration of Thanksgiving. Learn more about America in the first decades of the 20th century from the Woodrow Wilson House. Read past president's proclamations for giving thanks on What So Proudly We Hailed or on the American Presidency Project.

5. Check out these and more Perfect Picture Books at your local library.

Reviewed by Susanna
Reviewed by Penny

Also reviewed by Susanna
Reviewed by Jarm

Reviewed by Joanne
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 Friday, November 17, 2017 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Generating Story Ideas

“Wherever I go, I’m watching...Even on vacation, when I’m in an airport or a railroad station, I look around, snap pictures, and find out how people do things.”
—Richard Scarry*

German bookplate by Mathilde Ade

*Via Mathilde Ade on Sterling Publishing

Friday, November 10, 2017

PPBF: Clara and Davie

Here's today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick:

A biographical story of sibling love, by Patricia Polacco
Clara and Davie
The True Story of Young Clara Barton, Founder of the American Red Cross

Written and illustrated by Patricia Polacco
Scholastic Press, 2014
Ages 3-6, 40 pp, 690L

Biography, Siblings, Kindness

On a cold, blustery morning in North Oxford, Massachusetts, a blizzard was threatening and bearing down hard. It was Christmas Day 1821.
Mama was expecting her fifth child. Ten years had passed since her last baby. Mama's health was fragile.

Young Clara adores her older brother. He encourages her to explore nature, to look into employment outside of traditional women's roles, and to be herself. Her passion for animals leads her to become a sort of veterinary doctor her community relies on, but when her brother is gravely injured, Clara will need all her skills to help him survive.

What I Love:
The text is in a slightly older, more wordy style, but it tells the story with warm, sensory detail. The tender relationship between siblings, though they are ten years apart, is one modern audiences need to hear. The author uses this true story from Clara Barton's past to give readers a look into her depth of character and into the circumstances which helped shape her groundbreaking career. The author's note explains the writer's personal connection to the family and provides more historical detail. Lively illustrations in Polacco's trademark style add personality and ground the story in time and place.

1. Find fascinating facts about the real Clara Barton at the Clara Barton Museum in Washington, DC or explore their website. HistoryNet offers fasts facts and a summary of her accomplishments, while the National Archives houses several of her correspondence and photos.

2. Visit the Red Cross site to find ways even kids can volunteer, and be an example of good citizenship by finding a blood drive near you. RocParent offers suggestions for teaching children about blood donations and Easy Science For Kids elaborates on the technical side of your circulatory system.

3. Boys' Life posted a great article on stocking a first aid kit. Use it along with the 5 easy safety tips every kids should know from Boston Parent Paper.

4. Clara started out as an animal caretaker, a good place for all kids to learn gentleness and empathy. I enjoyed reading the creative ways kids can get involved in animal-centered volunteering from Mother Nature Network, the Central PA Humane Society, and PETA Kids.

5. Did you know there are several songs about Clara Barton? Makers asked modern songwriters to band together to create songs to teach and honor Clara. "Angel of Mercy" is a teaching song, by Jonathan Sprout. "Lady With the Lamp", by Jerry Garcia, and "Thank-you, Nurse" by Joe McDonald are two you can find online.

6. Check out these and more Perfect Picture Books at your local library.

Reviewed by Leslie
Reviewed by Joanna

Revieweed by Family-Ship
Reviewed by Valarie

Reviewed by Joanne
Reviewed by Kid-Lit Reviews

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 Friday, November 3, 2017 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

Friday, November 3, 2017

A Tribute to Dianne De Las Casas

It's Picture Book Month, time to celebrate the profound effect picture books have on the world and spread the love. Sadly, Dianne De Las Casas, one of the key creators of this event, was killed tragically and unexpectedly this year.  I can't think of a better way to spend Perfect Picture Book Friday than honoring Dianne by introducing you to her books. Champion them and all picture books. Follow Dianne's motto: Read * Share * Celebrate!

And please check out the very special anti-bullying series Dianne and her fiance, John Couret, created, Captain Deadeye.

The first in the Captain Deadeye series
The Bully Shark
Be a lifesaver. Share Captain Deadeye and the Bully Shark

Thank-you to all those who keep Picture Book Month active and help it transform lives.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Picture Book Month 2017

I hope you'll join us each day of Picture Book Month for insightful interviews and encouraging posts centered around the world of picture books: the people that create them, the people that read them, and the people that love them.

Grab a color-your-own or full color version of this year's calendar of speakers.
Thanks to Elizabeth Dulemba, Joyce Wan, and others for the PBM calendar and logo and heartfelt prayers to Captain Deadeye and his family.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

What Picture Books Can Do

"The one thing picture books can do that a longer biography can’t do is really capture the emotional essence of a person."
-Cindy Jenson-Elliott*

Bookplate art by Peter Dietzsch

*Via San Diego Union Tribune