From the first sentence - "She could have picked a chiming clock or a porcelain figurine, but Miss Bridie chose a shovel back in 1856.“ - I knew thisFrom the first sentence - "She could have picked a chiming clock or a porcelain figurine, but Miss Bridie chose a shovel back in 1856.“ - I knew this would be a rare picture book. The sentences contain ample information without laying it out too obviously, they are complex and rhythmic, and they build on each other smoothing, inevitably, like the steps in a journey. The illustrations, too, provide more information than a reader may at first realize, with a figure on one page becoming the husband on another. A particularly good example of the beauties contain within the English language. Read it aloud to some one you love!...more
Growing up with Macy's Thanksgiving parade, the balloons were special because they were soooo big and because they were familiar old friends returningGrowing up with Macy's Thanksgiving parade, the balloons were special because they were soooo big and because they were familiar old friends returning once a year. Melissa Sweet, however, brings a new sense of wonder to the story: how did someone even come up with the idea? It was not as simple as enlarging balloons, as I had assumed; instead, in a way, they are marionettes flipped upside-down. Now that's the kind of creative solution I want my students exposed to.
When thinking about the experience of a child reader, furthermore, Sweet includes the usual childhood vignette well. The main of the book is about play, so why not discuss the work that balloon-creator Tony Sarg had to do as a child? There is also an realistic immediacy to a child's successful effort to get out of doing his chores that more common and more didactic "he studied hard and one day grew up to be..." lacks.
The illustrations' pastiche reminded me simultaneously of two recently-read picture books: Paul Thurlby's Alphabet and How the Dinosaur Got to the Museum. Sweet, like Thurlby, uses vintage paper to set a literally background mood. She uses other bits of vintage and contemporary flotsam to capture, as did Jessie Hartland, the chaos of creativity so convincingly that I half expected to have to rip apart a couple of pages, as if Sarg'e glues and paints had stepped right out of the pages.
Finally, it contains the best pronunciation guide ever: "Sarg rhymes with aargh!"...more
If anyone could imbue a chicken with a personality worthy of an epic journey it would be Kate DiCamillo, but even she may not quite be up to such a chIf anyone could imbue a chicken with a personality worthy of an epic journey it would be Kate DiCamillo, but even she may not quite be up to such a challenge. However, although Louise may not have the personality of Gollie, Mercy, or Despereaux, her tale is just as charming. And really, should we expect any author to truly see into the soul of a chicken?
Louise yearns for the adventures that we all regularly encounter our dreams. Since she is actually living out those dreams, when she returns home she is able to sleep "the deep and dreamless and peaceful sleep of true adventurers." The excitement of each chapter ends with that rhythmically written image of peaceful sleep, including the epilogue-like final chapter, making this a good bedtime story read in pieces or in its entirety.
As a picture book, there is plenty of visual context to support an ELL in understanding the words. This is particularly important when the story has several severe breaks from the normal A to B to C progression of a simple tale. A chicken on a farm - no, on a ship under attack by pirates - no, auditioning for a circus. It would be reasonable for an English language learner to doubt their own understanding with a tale like this. (The unusual use of chapters will also help readers come to terms with the shifts in narrative.) ...more
Let's be clear right now, because I don't want you confused by the charming blue bird on the cover into thinking that this is a beginning vocabulary bLet's be clear right now, because I don't want you confused by the charming blue bird on the cover into thinking that this is a beginning vocabulary book. No, this is a Lemony Snicket book. That means that after "teaching" us the word bird, we are confronted with the second word: Despondent. The bird is despondent. Too much, too soon? Okay, Snicket backs off and gives us cake and dog. However, the reader would be wise to listen to the little voice telling them that words like haberdashery and panache are lurking around the corner.
Maria Kalman's brightly surreal art is a perfect match for Snicket's prose. There is something in-jokey about the illustrations and I found myself searching in vain for figures from American Gothic or the Boy in Blue. The bizarre characters leaving you feeling like anything is possible in this world, and isn't that great?
Would the art be quite so appealing to a young reader? That is my fear with primitive styles where perspective and proportion are shifted in a way that appears to be an imitations of a child's painting. It is the right choice for this world where a bird must paint eleven ladders ten colors, but it leaves me wondering if this is one of those books that adults will appreciate more than children do. Snicket's writing always has humor designed to particularly appeal to adult readers, but I simply don't know if this one has the kid-appeal to match....more