Lines that Lift Late Summer Blues

Illustrator Julie Paschkis (Through Georgia’s Eyes, 2006, etc.) taps her characteristic vibrant folk-art motifs to enlarge the space for joyous wordplay in her sprightly new bilingual poetry collection Flutter & Hum/Aleteo y Zumbido: Poemas de Animales.
Flutter and Hum by Julie Paschkis
Paschkis’s collection of 12 brief poems, complemented with vivid double-spread illustrations rendered in gouache, glimmers with surprising suppleness. In “Snake,” or “La Serpiente,” the 11-line poem secretes numerous “s” sounds, and her grassy images of twisting tendrils slip in words such as swerve, subtle, shy, and swallow. On the opposing facing page, she highlights such alliterative Spanish words as sombra (shadow), sabia (he/she knows), sorpresa (surprise) and solo. As most of these do not appear in either the English or Spanish poem, they act as extended riffs on the child-pleasing poetry.

For her playful poem “Turtle/La Tortuga” Paschkis focuses on the shell as a secret vault of enchantment: “The turtle hides/in her shell./But maybe there is space,/a place/for hidden treasure.” Embedded in the hard shell are drawings of gems, locks, and keys, while copious pointy teeth embellish the shell’s border. On the English half of the two-page illustration, the shell reveals such words as glow, inside, glisten, while the right-hand side gives us the Spanish gema (gem), adentro (inside), and lustra (he/she polishes). Unhurried, curious readers will relish the correlation between the Spanish words and various related English words.

In her author’s note, Paschkis reveals the singular inspiration of her poetry. While illustrating Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People, a picture-book biography written by Monica Brown (2011), she fell in love with Spanish and immersed herself in the Chilean poet’s work. That led her to create her own poems, first in Spanish and then in English. Some poems, she noted, “are not translated word-for-word; instead I used the phrase that worked best in each language to convey the same meaning.”
This energetic interplay of art and poetry lends itself to multiple creative uses—choral reading, acting, musical adaptations—as well as leisurely literary romps and reveries.

Reprinted with permission from the New York Journal of Books.

Also see …

Poem-Mobiles Crazy Car Poems by J. Patrick Lewis and Douglas FlorianPug and Other Animal Poems by Valerie WorthStardines Swim High Across the Sky and Other Poems by Jack Prelutsky


Educated by Kindness

McCully, Emily Arnold.
Wonder Horse: The True Story of the World’s Smartest Horse. Holt, 2010.

A horse is a horse, but sometimes it takes a special person to recognize its real worth. Bill “Doc” Key was born a slave, but became a veterinarian and a successful entrepreneur in post-Civil War Tennessee. Doc decided to see how much he could teach Jim, his seemingly bright little foal. With kindness and patience, he taught the horse to count, to distinguish colors and letters of the alphabet, and to add and subtract.

Doc took his prodigy on the road, and for a while, the two met with applause and amazement at fairs, theaters, and arenas. Then a newspaper reporter asked, “How could a little old black man with no education teach a dumb animal to do those things?” Doc didn’t give up, though; he invited some professors at Harvard to examine Jim Key to determine if the horse was, in fact, educated. After they confirmed  it, the newspapers set the record straight: “JIM KEY EDUCATED BY KINDNESS.”

McCully, whose sprightly watercolors add charm to this fact-based story, continues to live up to the high standard she has set in her career of writing and illustrating beloved picture books. Those yearning for more details on this amazing man and his horse can find them in the author’s note and bibliography.

Recommended Read-alouds That Call for Kindness to Animals
Note: Please leave a comment with your favorites!

Elliot, David. In the Wild. Illus. by Holly Meade. Candlewick, 2010. Fresh language and stunning woodblock and watercolor illustrations distinguish this engaging collection of poems about wild animals, ranging from the lion to the polar bear.

Saint Francis and the Wolf make a plan for peace

Image via Wikipedia

Kimmel, Eric. Brother Wolf Sister Sparrow: Stories About Saints and Animals. Holiday House, 2003. See the masterfully retold Italian legend “St. Francis and the Wolf of Gubbio,” in which St. Francis approaches a wolf that’s been terrorizing the town.

Levitin, Sonia. All the Cats in the World. Harcourt, 1984. Powerful story of friendship and kindness. No one can care for all the cats in the world, but everyone can perform acts of kindness, as an elderly woman shows a lonely, bitter old lighthouse keeper.

Meddaugh, Susan. Martha Walks the Dog. Houghton, 1998. Clever Martha uses praise to tame a hostile dog.

Pericoli, Matteo. The True Story of Stellina. Knopf, 2006.   Pericoli and his wife, Holly, rescued and raised a finch, Stellina, that had fallen from her nest onto a busy street in New York City. They nurtured the bird in their Manhattan apartment, where she leaned to eat, fly, and sing.

Spencer, Ann. And Round Me Rings: Bell Tales and Folklore. Tundra, 2003. See “Bell of Justice Rings,” a retelling of an Italian folktale, in which a horse calls attention to its mistreatment.

Back to the Land of Picture Books

… Or Reality Flies the Coop in the NYT

If you’re still outraged by the supposedly dim outlook for picture books depicted in the much-criticized NYT article in October, take a deep breath. Thanks to Karen Springen’s recent Publishers Weekly’s article, we can put that distorted view to bed. Check the facts: Picture books represented 10.8 percent of the children’s book market, slightly up from 2005. Moreover, the NYT article ignored  library use. It’s up around the country, says Julie Corsaro, president of the American Library Association’s Association for Library Service to Children division. “And in many public libraries, picture books have the highest circulation.”

What do picture books do so well? Consider these features:

  • 1.    Children read them over and over and over.
  • 2.    Picture books encourage young ones to envision and to predict what might happen next (habits that help them become fluent readers).
  • 3.    Picture books teach visual literacy – a skill needed today perhaps more than ever.
  • 4.    Picture books can be used as models of narrative technique, point of view, skillful word choice, foreshadowing, symbolism, imagery, and plot development.
  • 5.    Picture books can tap higher-level thinking skills. Examples:  the crackling humor in Kevin O’Malley’s folktale-based Animal Crackers Fly the Coop or the theme of finding one’s place in the world in  How I Learned Geography.

In my years as a PK-5th grade librarian, I often found the vocabulary in picture books was more sophisticated, more memorable and more powerful than what typically occurs in chapter books for younger children. Additionally, the range of themes explored in picture books is astounding, as my reviews (Christmas in the Trenches, John’s Secret Dreams, etc.) on this blog indicate. Many are intended for and best appreciated by older readers.

I hope some special picture books tumble down the chimney for children across the universe. Those treats might inspire a whole new way of looking at the world. They could earn a treasured spot in someone’s personal library …  or nestle forever in a child’s memories.

Welcome to my Table: Tales of Hospitality

Demi. The Hungry Coat. Margaret K. McElderry, 2004.

“Once upon a time in Turkey there lived a funny, little wise man named Nasrettin Hoca. He wore a huge, white turban and a worn-out coat made of patches upon patches. Riding about on his little gray donkey, he liked to help whomever he could.”

When Nasrettin sets out to visit a friend who’s having a banquet, he encounters a caravan getting wrecked by a frisky goat. Because he stops to help, Nasrettin finds he doesn’t have time to change his dirty clothes before visiting his friend. He finally arrives, but  instead of the friendly, cheerful welcome he expects, he is ignored. Nasrettin slips out and returns, this time wearing an elegant silk coat. The host promptly invites him in and gives him all the fine food previously denied him. But Nasrettin has a trick up his sleeve; he starts to feed his coat instead of his belly! Children will love chanting the refrain “Eat, coat, eat” and as they participate in the story, they’ll understand what Nasrettin’s host should have: It’s wrong to judge a person by his clothes. Demi’s gorgeous paintings feature the motifs and colors of traditional Turkish art and brighten this lively tale featuring Turkey’s famous folk hero.

More Tales of Hospitality

Becker, Bonnie. A Visitor for Bear. Candlewick, 2008. A grumpy bear posts a “No visitors” sign outside his door. But a bright-eyed, friendly mouse keeps popping in and opens Bear’s eyes to his need for companionship.

Leodhas,  Sorche. Always Room for One More. Illus. by Nonny Hogrogian. Caldecott Medal. Lachie MacLachlan lives in a “wee house in the heather” in Scotland, with his family of twelve. He always welcomes every weary traveler who wanders by in rough weather. His guests show their gratitude in a delightful way that continues to charm readers young and old.

Kinsey-Warnock, Natalie. Nora’s Ark. Harper-Collins, 2005. Based on the Vermont flood of 1927, the author tells a memorable story of how a girl’s grandparents welcome neighbors, chickens, ducks, pigs, a horse and a cow into their home on the hill as the waters rise and uproot their community. The humorous, detailed paintings by Caldecott Medal-winning artist Emily Arnold McCully evoke the dangers of the flood and the warmth of a kitchen filled with kind people and good cheer.

Muth, Jon. Stone Soup. Scholastic, 2003. Muth retells a beloved old French folktale and transports it to China. Instead of hungry soldiers, he features three monks who know the importance of community in making people happy. This picture book presents a feast for the eyes, heart and mind.

Ryan, Pam Munoz. Mice and Beans. As Rosa Maria prepares for a big family party, some mice are planning their own festivities. Even though Rosa Maria sets mouse traps, the mice save the day when they notice she forgot to stuff the piñata.

Rylant, Cynthia. The Relatives Came. Aladdin, 1993. It’s a full, full house every year when the relatives come bumping up from Virginia. When they leave at summer’s end, the beds feel “too big and too quiet.” Gammel’s lively illustrations capture the unbridled love and fun of the family get-togethers.

Thank your lucky beans

Birtha, Becky. Lucky Beans. Albert Whitman, 2010.

Who wants beans? Marshall’s family, like many others living through the Depression, is lucky to have food on the table. That doesn’t stop Marshall from growing tired of having beans every night, though.

Some welcome excitement bubbles up after the family hears about the contest at Kaplan’s Furniture Store. Guess the number of beans in the jar and win a new sewing machine! Marshall knows someone who’s good with numbers and who’s been wanting a sewing machine — Ma. He can’t help but wonder if this contest is open to all people, not just to whites. Reassured by fair-minded Mr. Kaplan, Marshall is ready for action. Together, the family members tackle the problem, using the estimation techniques Marshall has learned at school. The day arrives when Mr. Kaplan announces the winner. The jar contains 53,293 beans — just 13 more than Ma guessed. She gets to take home that shiny black sewing machine. In no time, she’s putting it to good use and earning money.

This likable picture book is a natural to use with units on estimating, the Depression, or the trait of industriousness. As with Grandmama’s Pride, her first picture book, Birtha notes she was inspired by recollections of her grandmother — who actually did win a sewing machine in a similar contest.

More Books Featuring Industrious Characters

Galdone, Paul. The Little Red Hen. Clarion, 2006. Every child should hear this classic, retold with sass and rhythm by Galdone and illustrated with lively humor. Then share another, newer version that emphasizes cooperation: The Little Red Hen: An Old Fable by Heather Forest. Discuss with children the similarities and differences between the two and ask which they prefer, and why.

Galdone, Paul. The Three Little Pigs. You know which one built the best house. Compare the classic with an Appalachian version,  The Three Little Pigs and the Fox by William H. Hooks, in which sister Hamlet saves her silly brothers. S.D. Schindler’s finely detailed paintings add to the fun.

McDonald, Margaret Read. Too Many Fairies: A Celtic Tale. Marshall Cavendish, 2010. An old woman complains, “Work! Work! Work! How I hate it!” But after noisy fairies invade her home to do her chores, she decides work might not be so bad after all. The watercolor illustrations by Susan Mitchell are fun, but it’s McDonald’s use of repetition and onomatopoeia that make this tale lively and engaging.

Taback, Simms. Joseph Had a Little Overcoat. Viking, 1999.  This winner of the 2000 Caldecott Medal is a visual and verbal delight.  Simms Taback creates bright, folksy illustrations by using gouache, watercolor, collage, pencil and ink, to tell a fun, simple story that celebrates frugality. The tailor Joseph made a fabulous coat, but he didn’t discard it as it wore out. Each page contains a die-cut hole that you can hold up for children as you read it. Let them guess what the tailor made next out of the material left. Taback includes the lyrics and notes for the Yiddish song on which this book is based. 

Whelan, Gloria. Jam and Jelly by Holly and Nellie. Sleeping Bear, 2002.  Living in northern Michigan, Holly’s family might not be able to let her go to school because they can’t afford to buy her a coat. But resourceful Mama hatches a plan to make jam and jelly, using the abundant berries growing nearby. While this book is a little wordy at times, it evokes an unusual respect for nature and for the trait of industriousness.The uplifting story is enhanced by Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen’s glorious paintings.

Williams, Karen Lynn. Galimoto. Harper, 1991. Kondi, who lives in a village in Malawi, has no money for toys. He does have the creativity and determination to make his own galimoto, a toy vehicle made of wires. Children will enjoy following his adventures throughout the village, as he goes about gathering all he needs to build his galimoto. See Williams’ helpful teaching guide for Galimoto.

Recommended Thanksgiving Books

Anderson, Laurie Halse. Thank You, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving.

Atwell, Debbie. The Thanksgiving Door.

Cox, Judy. One is a Feast for a Mouse.

Cowley, Joy. Gracias, the Thanksgiving Turkey.

Cuyler, Margery. The Bumpy Little Pumpkin. Scholastic, 2005.

Waters, Kate. Giving Thanks: The 1621 Harvest. Scholastic, 2001.

Wisdom from a Spider?

Water drops on spider web

Image via Wikipedia


Didactic tales do not reach children. Over the centuries, storytellers, rabbis, and Christ himself  have relied on better tricks. You have to give your audience an entertaining story, with images that linger in the mind. Many have used the  image of the spider to evoke desirable character traits such as industriousness, perseverance, cleverness, or cunning. In West Africa, griots spin tales featuring the humorous spider/man Anansi, who  often shows children what they should not do. Every child can relate to Anansi!
What are your favorite spider stories? Here are some of mine:

Great Spider Read-alouds from Many Cultures

Arkhurst, Joyce. The Adventures of Spider: West African Folk Tales. Illus. by Jerry Pinkney. Little, Brown, 1992. Entertaining and accessible collection of six Anansi tales retold by a NYPL librarian/storyteller. My favorites include “How Spider Got a Thin Waist,” which shows the result of Spider’s greed; (2) “How Spider Got a Bald Head,” which features some hot baked beans in an unexpected spot; and (3) “ How the World Got Wisdom,” which reveals why no one person or culture holds all the answers.

Badoe, Adwoa. Pot of Wisdom: Ananse Stories. Illus. by Baba Wague Diakite. Badoe’s witty retellings of ten Ananse folktales are enlivened by Diakite’s boldly patterned illustrations.

Bruchac, Joseph, Ka-Hon-Hes and Michael Caduto. Native American Stories. Fulcrum, 1991. Collection focuses on the many lessons nature can teach humans. See the Muskogee/Creek myth “How Grandmother Spider Stole the Sun,” a story simple enough for children to retell.

Cronin, Doreen. Diary of a Spider. Illus. by Henry Bliss. HarperCollins, 2005. Ages 5-8. Spider keeps a diary, allowing young readers to see the world according to arachnids. Cronin’s fresh, funny story shows the engaging protagonist at spider school, at sleepovers, and in the throes of friendship — in this case, among different species.

Cummings, Pat. Ananse and the Lizard: A West African Tale. Holt, 2002.  Ages 6-8. When Ananse the spider hears that whoever guesses the name of the daughter of the village chief will get to marry her and get half the kingdom, he’s sure he’ll be the winner. But tricky Lizard has his own scheme, and this pourquoi tale reveals why lizards always stretch their necks. Cummings skillfully employs humor and lively, bright watercolor, gouache, and pencil illustrations to render a vivid West African setting for this story she says she found in a bookstore in Ghana.

Dewey, Jennifer Owings.  Once I Knew a Spider.Walker, 2002. Ages 6-8. This gentle, beautifully told true story features two mothers, one human and the other a spider. It begins when a spider makes its home in the windowsill of an expectant mother’s home.  As the year progresses, the young woman observes a delicate egg sac. Miraculously, the orb weaver survives the fall and winter, and stays with her eggs until spring.  Although the story is a little longer than most read-alouds, it is a powerful reminder of the magic in our actual world, and how it can touch our lives. An afterword provides additional information on spiders.

Haley, Gail E. A Story A Story: An African Tale. Aladdin, 1980. Caldecott winner presents a stunning match of bold illustrations and the humorous Anansi folktale of how stories spread throughout the world.

Howitt, Mary. Illus. by Tony DiTerlizzi. Spider and the Fly. Simon & Schuster, 2002.  Ages 6+ DiTerlizzi’s silvery, stylish illustrations, which won a Caldecott Honor, put a fresh spin on a trite old poem. Using black-and-white gouache and pencil drawings that get reproduced in silver-and-black duotone, the illustrator has created paintings with a perfectly spooky quality.  The vain, naive Ms. Fly is shown with a silly flower umbrella and flapper attire, while the slick spider is dressed in a silk robe and six slippers. Darkly humorous details foreshadow the fly’s demise.

Kimmel, Eric. Anansi Goes Fishing. Illus. by Janet Stevens. Ages 6-9. That cunning Anansi tries to trick Turtle into catching a fish for his dinner, but Turtle is too smart to fall for that — and ends up with a free meal. This folktale explains the origin of spider webs. Also see Kimmel’s other Anansi tales.

Max, Jill. Spider Spins a Story: Fourteen Legends from North America. Rising Moon, 1997. This fine collection of spider stories from many Indian nations includes “How the Spider Got its Web,”  “Osage Spider Story,” the wise and lovely “Legend of the Loom,” and the Cherokee legend “Spider, the Fire Bringer.”

McDermott, Gerald. Anansi the Spider. Henry Holt, 1972. Ages 6-8. When the clever spider Anansi runs into trouble, he calls for help from his six industrious sons. McDermott’s simple, memorable pourquoi tale shows how the moon came to be in the sky. The boldly patterned illustrations won the Caldecott Medal.

Musgrove, Margaret. The Spider Weaver: A Legend of Kente Cloth. Blue Sky, 2001. In this folktale from Ghana, a wise and wondrous spider teaches two Ashanti weavers to incorporate bright, intricate patterns in the cloth they fashion.

Pae, Wod-Ldy and Margaret H. Lippert.  The Talking Vegetables.
The villagers plant a garden, but Spider doesn’t do his part. Finally, he tires of eating plain old rice and decides to help himself to the vegetables. But they won’t hear of it — and tell him so! This Liberian folktale  humorously shows the importance of working together to accomplish a goal.

White, E.B. Charlotte’s Web. HarperCollins. This endearing classic focuses on the friendship of Wilbur the pig and Charlotte the spider. Never has so much wisdom found its way into one small novel. No child should grow up without hearing this one.

Informational Books for Children Ages 6-9

Berger, Melvin. Spinning Spiders. HarperCollins, 2003. Berger provides a clear, lively introduction to spiders. The detailed illustrations by S.D. Schindler will enhance children’s understanding and appreciation of spiders’ varied features.

Glaser, Linda. Spectacular Spiders. Lerner, 1998.

Markle, Sandra. Outside and Inside Spiders. Atheneum, 1994.

———————Sneaky, Spinning Baby Spiders. Walker, 2008. In vivid but simple detail, Markle shows and tells about 14 species of spiders. Text is enhanced with mesmerizing, full-color photographs by various photographers, capturing such moments as the spiders guarding their young or catching a fly.

Celebrating Imagination

Rappaport, Doreen. Illustrated by Bryan Collier.  John’s Secret Dreams. Hyperion, 2004.

John Lennon forever changed the scope and impact of rock ‘n’ roll. He was a rebel from the wrong side of town who dreamed of hitting it big. Yet, as he reached the pinnacle of fame and fortune, he resented its warped confines. When he met Yoko, his life seemed to open up. He became politically engaged, and as the Vietnam War raged on, he spoke out for peace. This powerful picture-book biography by a masterful nonfiction writer and award-winning illustrator invites children to follow their own dreams. Rappaport’s spare, sometimes poetic text flows with Collier’s lively cut-paper collage and watercolor art, which, in turn, illuminates well-chosen excerpts from John’s lyrics. Eerily, the last illustration zooms in on a single lit candle, surrounded by others — so evocative of the peace tower Yoko has established in Iceland in honor of John. October 9th, John would have turned 70. Remember and imagine peace.

More Picture Books that Celebrate the Power of Imagination

Ahlberg, Allan. The Pencil. Illus. by Bruce Ingman. Candlewick, 2008. Ages 5-7. What can an energetic pencil and a perky paintbrush do? Create a fun picture book, for one. But watch out for the evil eraser!

Alarcon, Francisco X. Poems to Dream Together/Poemas Para Sonar Juntos. Lee & Low, 2005. Ages 8+. Alarcon expresses his dreams of peace, community, and hope for the future in this lively bilingual collection of poems. The rhythmic poems are fresh, simple, and original, and are enhanced with Barragan’s dreamy, bright illustrations.

Banks, Kate. Max’s Words. Farrar, 2006. Ages 6-9. Max’s brothers collect things like coins and stamps. Max decides he’ll collect words. Starting with short, ordinary words, he progresses to the more sophisticated ones he discovers in the dictionary. His brothers, intrigued by Max’s collection, move the words around to make a story, which is illustrated with Kulikov’s artwork featuring  exaggerated facial expressions and odd perspectives.

Fleming, Candace. Clever Jack Takes the Cake. illus. by G. Brian Karas. Random/Schwartz & Wade Bks., 2010. Resourceful Jack bakes a beautiful cake for the princess’s 10th birthday party, but during his journey to the castle, he encounters a variety of sweet-toothed dangers. Fortunately, the princess is clever enough to appreciate his fine story. This is a delicious tale enhanced by Karas’ witty illustrations.

King, Stephen Michael. Milli, Jack, and the Dancing Cat. Penguin, 2004. Ages 5-8. Already out of print, this lively picture book is a charming celebration of creativity. Milli’s special gift is her ability to see the wild potential in ordinary objects. She can “take a straight piece of wire and give it a wiggle, or a simple square of cloth and set it dancing in the wind.” Yet, her own potential is untapped as she spends her days making the plain brown shoes the townspeople want. When  Jack and the dancing cat stroll into town, they offer her dancing lessons in exchange for new boots. This initiates in Milli a newfound freedom and courage to use her creativity. Her delightfully quirky inventions, brought to life with King’s lively watercolor illustrations, will delight children.

Levine, Arthur A. The Boy Who Drew Cats: A Japanese Folktale. Illus. by Frederic Clement. Dial, 1994. Ages 8+. Strange and powerful retelling of a Japanese folktale featuring a young boy who does not seem to belong anywhere. After his mother takes him to a monastery, he angers a monk who thinks he wastes time with his drawing. The other monk, though, gives him a special farewell gift and a message that will help the boy survive a frightening night. Clement’s haunting illustrations include calligraphy that relates to the unfolding events. The folktale serves to remind us to value each person’s unique gifts.

Nesbit, E. Abridged and illus. by Inga Moore. The Book of Beasts. Candlewick, 2001. The enchantment of this 100-year-old fairy tale lives on in this gloriously playful edition. Lionel, age 6, suddenly becomes king and while in his new abode, discovers an old book in which the illustrations come alive, and wild adventures ensue. If you cannot locate this edition, the original version is in Nesbit’s Book of Dragons, a fine collection that lacks illustrations but contains much magic.

Schroeder, Alan. In Her Hands : The Story of Sculptor Augusta Savage. Lee & Low, 2009.  Although the sculptor Augusta Savage figured prominently in the Harlem Renaissance,  she is little known today. Schroeder’s fictional account of her childhood shows Savage playing in the red clay of her yard in Florida and later as her elders come to recognize her talent and encourage her to attend art school. An author’s note provides some interesting facts on this African American artist.  Bereal’s realistic illustrations evoke the touching aspects of the story.

Shulevitz, Uri. How I Learned Geography. Farrar, 2008. Ages 8+ Has a picture book ever expressed more than this one? The Caldecott-winning illustrator mines his boyhood memories of fleeing Warsaw after the Germans invaded in 1939, The family reaches Kazakhstan, where they survive with strangers in cramped, bleak quarters. One day, Father returns from the bazaar with a huge map of the world instead of bread. The boy and his mother react with quiet rage, but soon afterwards, the boy becomes enthralled with the map, and begins to imagine life in faraway, exotic-sounding places.  The illustrations burst with life and color as the boy feeds on his imagination. Use this picture book to entertain and to inspire, but also to enhance students’ interest in geography …  their understanding of immigration and war …  and, perhaps most of all, to illustrate the power of the imagination to sustain the soul.

Whitman, Walt. Illus. by Susan Roth. Nothing but Miracles: From Leaves of Grass. National Geographic, 2003.  Whitman relishes the simple pleasures in nature, on city streets, and at home in his poem, enlivened for children by Roth’s bright, whimsical collages.

Wood, Douglas. Nothing to Do. Penguin, 2006.  What to do when you have nothing on your calendar?  “I have heard . . . wonderful stories about taking off your shoes and walking through green grass. . . . Or making toy ships . . . and sailing them across a puddle.” This unusual story celebrates the time and freedom to wonder, to create, to slow down enough to appreciate the world’s small beauties. Halperin’s mixed-media illustrations, featuring images of  children hiking, sipping lemonade, and building a fort, evoke the story’s free-wheeling spirit.

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