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The Picture-Book Club > Feburary 2020: Celebrating Phyllis Root (Discuss Here)

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message 1: by Kathryn, The Princess of Picture-Books (last edited Feb 01, 2020 05:24AM) (new)

Kathryn | 5768 comments Mod
In February, we will explore picture books by Phyllis Root. Here are the books we will read together as a group. Feel welcome to read and comment on any of Root's other picture books, too.

Big Momma Makes the World
Grandmother Winter
Snowy Sunday
Scrawny Cat
Plant a Pocket of Prairie
The Lost Forest


message 2: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 7238 comments Mod
I will start with Big Momma Makes the World


message 4: by Cheryl is busier irl atm., Newbery Club host (new)

Cheryl is busier irl atm. (cherylllr) | 6250 comments Mod
I'll read whatever I can get my hands on... :)


message 5: by Kathryn, The Princess of Picture-Books (new)

Kathryn | 5768 comments Mod
Okay, I've combined the above and also took a look at some of her highest rated books and what's available at my library and added a few of my own choices so here's the list of our club reads:

Big Momma Makes the World
Grandmother Winter
Snowy Sunday
Scrawny Cat
Plant a Pocket of Prairie
The Lost Forest

*Aunt Nancy??? So, I can only get Aunt Nancy and the Bothersome Visitors from the library and the library record shows it is 56 pages? Not sure if that is a mistake as I see the two voted on above show on GR as 32 pages. I'll go ahead and check that one out and see what it's like. Maybe others of you can get the "Cousin Lazybones" or "Old Man Trouble"?


message 6: by Cheryl is busier irl atm., Newbery Club host (new)

Cheryl is busier irl atm. (cherylllr) | 6250 comments Mod
Hmm. Other reviewers say both "age 4-9" and "7-10." I can only get Bothersome Visitors myself w/out a special request... if I love it, I'll order the other two.


message 7: by QNPoohBear (new)

QNPoohBear | 1501 comments Cheryl, that Aunt Nancy is an omnibus edition containing Aunt Nancy and Old Man Trouble -- Aunt Nancy and Cousin Lazybones -- Aunt Nancy and Old Woeful -- Aunt Nancy and Mister Death. (source: Library catalog)


message 8: by Cheryl is busier irl atm., Newbery Club host (new)

Cheryl is busier irl atm. (cherylllr) | 6250 comments Mod
Ok, Kathryn, we'll have to read it as an 'episodic' story then. ;)
And you'll have to let us know what age level you think it best suited for, as your children are right in there.


message 9: by Kathryn, The Princess of Picture-Books (new)

Kathryn | 5768 comments Mod
Cheryl wrote: "Ok, Kathryn, we'll have to read it as an 'episodic' story then. ;)
And you'll have to let us know what age level you think it best suited for, as your children are right in there."


;-) Okay, will do!


message 10: by Kathryn, The Princess of Picture-Books (new)

Kathryn | 5768 comments Mod
We have read quite a few of Root's books over the years, and enjoyed most of them. I find that when an author isn't also the illustrator of his/her work it is harder to remember just how many books by that author we've actually encountered.

Some of my favorites:

Lucia and the Light -- full of adventure and beautiful imagery.

One Duck Stuck -- Vibrant and humorous illustrations and a fun-to-read-aloud rhyme make this a delightful counting book as one duck seeks help getting unstuck from the mud and a plethora of creatures, from frogs and dragonflies to moose and skunks, come to help.

Flip, Flap, Fly!: A Book for Babies Everywhere -- so darling for read-alouds with baby.

Hop! -- Another really cute board book for the very wee ones. Adorable little rhyming story about what these bunnies do all day. Great for read-aloud and little ones. Though not an Easter book, it would be perfect for Easter-time, or spring-time in general.

Anywhere Farm -- Thoroughly enjoyable and an important message that anyone (including children) can grow something beautiful, useful and eatable anywhere. I keep wanting to call it "Anywhere Garden" -- really, I think it's a bit of a stretch to consider one plant in an old boot a "farm" and I'm not sure if really is fair to have children think they can just start a farmer's market or community garden in any old abandoned lot -- but the story's heart is in the right place. I appreciate the diversity portrayed in the illustrations, too. My kids enjoyed it, too, and chuckled about some of the ideas of where to plant a garden (the horn gave them a big kick).


message 11: by Kathryn, The Princess of Picture-Books (last edited Feb 01, 2020 05:34AM) (new)

Kathryn | 5768 comments Mod
With regard to the selections for our group to read together:

Grandmother Winter -- I read this one several years ago and thought it was wonderful. Reading it again with my youngest, I think I loved it even more. He loved it, too, and has already requested multiple rereads. It's funny because one of the children's novels I was reading with my oldest recently (set circa 1900) mentioned something about snowflakes like feathers and about "shaking out the feathers" (when it's going to snow) and I wonder if that is is a reference to the old folktale.

My original review: A very special story that is like a love letter to winter. Based on a folktale, this story tells of "Grandmother Winter" who makes a down quilt throughout the year (thanks to her special geese) and then shakes it over the world to bring in the winter snows. Despite the whimsy in premise, there is also some good science here as we get glimpses into how various creatures survive the winter by going underground, etc. The illustrations really stole the show for me--scratchboard illustrations tinted with watercolors that have an old-fashioned charm while being completely vibrant and compelling.


message 12: by Kathryn, The Princess of Picture-Books (new)

Kathryn | 5768 comments Mod
Snowy Sunday This is fanciful and fun for the wee ones in the PB audience, but I'm not sure it really did much for me. I read it to my youngest (4 years old) and he seemed amused but hasn't asked for any rereads. I could see this being a really fun read-aloud if kids have a family member who knits.


message 13: by Kathryn, The Princess of Picture-Books (new)

Kathryn | 5768 comments Mod
I'll get to the rest of the club reads this week :-)


message 14: by Kathryn, The Princess of Picture-Books (new)

Kathryn | 5768 comments Mod
Cheryl wrote: "Ok, Kathryn, we'll have to read it as an 'episodic' story then. ;)
And you'll have to let us know what age level you think it best suited for, as your children are right in there."


Just glancing at this, hmm, it's hard to say. The pictures are all like B&W silhouettes and it appears to be very short stories -- I think four short stories. I'll report back once I've actually read it.


message 15: by Cheryl is busier irl atm., Newbery Club host (new)

Cheryl is busier irl atm. (cherylllr) | 6250 comments Mod
Moon Tiger was one of my favorites when my boys were little. I don't remember if the boys liked it, though! I have that and several others that I should be able to get to this week, then some more when I visit my older sons in OKC in a couple weeks.


message 16: by Cheryl is busier irl atm., Newbery Club host (new)

Cheryl is busier irl atm. (cherylllr) | 6250 comments Mod
Ten Sleepy Sheep is a delight. The concept of counting down is so important, and often overlooked. The pictures are adorable. The illustrator, Susan Gaber, gets big props for giving the lambs colored neck ribbons so we could see which was going to be the next to calm down and fall asleep.

And she gets credit for showing us all that the lambs *are* tired, but *overtired* and too stimulated to fall asleep... as a parent, I learned the importance of bedtime rituals to get the kids to settle before expecting them to be able (never mind willing) to curl up and let sleep come.

This is just a wonderful book and, honestly, could justify its presence in every nursery. Well, this or Ten Little Mice which has ridiculously gorgeous illustrations but not, iirc, the effective 'prediction' feature.


message 17: by Cheryl is busier irl atm., Newbery Club host (new)

Cheryl is busier irl atm. (cherylllr) | 6250 comments Mod
Oh! I very highly recommend The Old Red Rocking Chair! The whole neighborhood makes good use of the chair for awhile, even after it breaks into pieces. And the pictures are a hoot.

Just know that some communities have made it illegal for ppl to go into others' trash. If you want to discard something that somebody might be able to use, set it out 'free' on craigslist, announce it NextDoor, or at least set it out beside, rather than in, your trash can.


message 18: by Cheryl is busier irl atm., Newbery Club host (new)

Cheryl is busier irl atm. (cherylllr) | 6250 comments Mod
One Duck Stuck leaves me cold. The rhyme is fun, the vocabulary words are excellent, the pictures are bright and clear... but the plot makes no sense. How did the moose not succeed the first time? What was the cause of the success at the end? I think most children would be like my inner child, wanting to see actual attempts to get the duck out and the technique for the actual success.


message 19: by Kathryn, The Princess of Picture-Books (new)

Kathryn | 5768 comments Mod
Cheryl wrote: "Moon Tiger was one of my favorites when my boys were little. I don't remember if the boys liked it, though! I have that and several others that I should be able to get to this week, t..."

I see I gave this four stars back in 2009 but I didn't write a review -- I'll see if I can find it at the library.


message 20: by Kathryn, The Princess of Picture-Books (new)

Kathryn | 5768 comments Mod
Cheryl wrote: "One Duck Stuck leaves me cold. The rhyme is fun, the vocabulary words are excellent, the pictures are bright and clear... but the plot makes no sense. How did the moose not succeed t..."

Hm, I don't remember it well enough to comment on that -- it's been years since I read it and I read it before having kids. I think it was just supposed to be a bit of silliness but that is a good point that kids would probably like to see HOW the success happens.


message 21: by Kathryn, The Princess of Picture-Books (new)

Kathryn | 5768 comments Mod
Cheryl wrote: "Oh! I very highly recommend The Old Red Rocking Chair! The whole neighborhood makes good use of the chair for awhile, even after it breaks into pieces. And the pictures are a hoot. ..."

That sounds great! Right up my ally. I didn't see it at the library but will try to get it from ILL.


message 22: by Dolly (new)

Dolly (dollymart) | 252 comments If you haven't had a chance to listen to/watch the Tumble Book Library version of One Duck Stuck, I highly recommend it.

Many elementary school and public libraries have links to this resource through their websites and our girls watched many of these videos on this site when they were younger.

I'm not sure who narrates the story, but it's very entertaining.


message 23: by QNPoohBear (new)

QNPoohBear | 1501 comments Big Momma Makes the World
I'm not sure I liked this creation tale. Being the analytical mind that I am, and my younger niece has my mind too, we'd want to know where Big Daddy is and how there could be a baby without Big Daddy! The speech pattern of Big Momma "That real good" implies to me an African-American tale but the illustrations don't show Afro-centric features on Big Momma and baby. The author's biography states this story was based on a family trip out west. Her children made up stories about how the unfamiliar landscape came to be. God and babies featured into a lot of the stories.

Aunt Nancy and Old Man Trouble
I liked this story better. This one is for older kids who can sit through a longer picture book and also not be scared by the creepy Old Man Trouble. This is a cute trickster tale featuring an old lady as the trickster. I like the way she works Old Man Trouble to her advantage even though she was obviously upset by his arrival in the beginning. The illustrations are charming depicting an old lady in a log cabin wearing an old-fashionedish dress. Old Man Trouble wears a top hat and suit giving the story a historical feel.


message 24: by Tracy (new)

Tracy Ledford | 8 comments Dolly wrote: "If you haven't had a chance to listen to/watch the Tumble Book Library version of One Duck Stuck, I highly recommend it.

Many elementary school and public libraries have links to t..."


This is a fan favorite for my K-1 crowd! They love everything about it, but the skunks are always the big draw.


message 25: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 7238 comments Mod
QNPoohBear wrote: "Big Momma Makes the World
I'm not sure I liked this creation tale. Being the analytical mind that I am, and my younger niece has my mind too, we'd want to know where Big Daddy is and ..."


With Big Momma I would have either wanted a fantastical mythological tale or a scientific one and not this strange verbal stew of both.


message 26: by Kathryn, The Princess of Picture-Books (new)

Kathryn | 5768 comments Mod
Dolly wrote: "If you haven't had a chance to listen to/watch the Tumble Book Library version of One Duck Stuck, I highly recommend it.

Many elementary school and public libraries have links to t..."


Sounds fun!
(And nice to see you here again, Dolly :-) )


message 27: by Kathryn, The Princess of Picture-Books (new)

Kathryn | 5768 comments Mod
Tracy wrote: "This is a fan favorite for my K-1 crowd! They love everything about it, but the skunks are always the big draw"

Always great to get the perspective of the target audience :-) I maxed out on my holds but I am going to see if I can get this from the library later this month to share with my children.


message 28: by Kathryn, The Princess of Picture-Books (new)

Kathryn | 5768 comments Mod
QNPoohBear wrote: "Big Momma Makes the World
I'm not sure I liked this creation tale. Being the analytical mind that I am, and my younger niece has my mind too, we'd want to know where Big Daddy is and ..."


Hmm, that does sound... odd! Surprisingly, none of the branches in our district have this. I'm attempting ILL so will see if I can get it in time for this month's discussion.


message 29: by Dolly (new)

Dolly (dollymart) | 252 comments Thanks, Kathryn.

I've been trying to keep up with the books you select, but often a month or two behind you. I'm working in an elementary school library now, so I have a little more of a chance to catch some of the books (and the discussion) in a more timely manner.


message 30: by Cheryl is busier irl atm., Newbery Club host (new)

Cheryl is busier irl atm. (cherylllr) | 6250 comments Mod
Tracy wrote: ".One Duck Stuck

This is a fan favorite for my K-1 crowd! They love everything about it, but the skunks are always the big draw.
.."


See, that's why we need more active teachers and parents here. I clearly misjudged the appeal!


message 31: by Kathryn, The Princess of Picture-Books (new)

Kathryn | 5768 comments Mod
Dolly wrote: "Thanks, Kathryn.

I've been trying to keep up with the books you select, but often a month or two behind you. I'm working in an elementary school library now, so I have a little more of a chance t..."


Oh, that's great! Will look forward to having you aboard again :-)


message 32: by Beverly, Miscellaneous Club host (new)

Beverly (bjbixlerhotmailcom) | 2334 comments Mod
Plant a Pocket of Prairie
Beautiful illustrations of prairie plants, animals, and insects; with text that celebrates everything about the prairie. In the back matter is information on the importance of the prairie ecosystem, and advice on growing prairie plants in one's backyard to attract prairie animals/insects. In addition, there are short blurbs about the animals, insects and plants. The focus is on Minnesota, but, I think, informative for everyone.


message 33: by SamZ (new)

SamZ (samwisezbrown) | 220 comments The Lost Forest
Wow, this book was super interesting! While giving lots of information about flora and fauna in Northern Minnesota, it also tells the story of a mis-labeled plot of land leading to the preservation of an old growth forest (a rarity in the much-valued timber boom of the early 1800s). The "Lost Forty" is now a protected National Park, but it is easy to imagine what could have happened if the original surveyor hadn't made the mistake of mapping a lake in the wrong place!
I liked the story and the illustrations, but also really loved the inclusion of historical facts, photographs, journals, a glossary, and even a website where you could go to learn more about surveying!


message 34: by Kathryn, The Princess of Picture-Books (last edited Feb 07, 2020 03:50PM) (new)

Kathryn | 5768 comments Mod
Scrawny Cat I feel like such a grump, but I didn't love this one as I hoped I would. I have such a soft spot for animals that it usually doesn't take much to wrap me up emotionally in their stories, especially about strays, but this one just didn't resonate with me. Maybe it was just an off day. Did anyone else really connect with this one? What did I miss? I, of course, felt for the poor cat and it is such tragic reality that cats who once belonged to someone can become strays. I used to volunteer at a cat shelter so I have a lot of experience with this. But, I think the ultimate plot was just kind of too far-fetched for me (view spoiler).


message 35: by Kathryn, The Princess of Picture-Books (last edited Feb 07, 2020 04:01PM) (new)

Kathryn | 5768 comments Mod
Plant a Pocket of Prairie On the one hand, I think this is a lovely book with an important message. We may not be able to bring back the entirety of a certain ecosystem that has been lost, but we can create little areas, preserving or rejuvenating what we can, where we can. In this case, we cannot bring back the vast prairies and the bison herds that once covered so much of North America (native prairies once covered 40% of the USA -- today less than 1% remains). But, we can "plant a pocket of prairie" -- planting native prairie plants and grasses that will encourage native prairie wildlife to visit. The illustrations are lovely and we are introduced to many specific types of flowers, birds and insects, some of which were new-to-me. Back matter explains more about each plant or animal.

HOWEVER, I do have a quibble with the way the message is delivered. Unless I missed something, I see no caveat that not everyone should go around planting pockets of prairie in their backyards or communities. The closest we get is in the back matter when the author encourages readers to do research to find out what kind of prairie might have grown in the reader's area. However, 60% of the USA was *not* native prairie. I really don't think that readers who live in those areas should be encouraged to plant pockets of prairie. If you're planting prairies where prairies don't belong, you will either have failures or introduce invasive species, neither of which is good. Readers should be encouraged to look up the natural ecosystem in their area, maybe go to a local nursery and learn about the plants that are native *to their area* and plant *those*! I don't know if this book was meant just to be a regional publication (it focuses on Minnesota, the author's home state) but since it's obviously circulating around the country, I really think the author ought to have addressed these matters.


message 36: by Cheryl is busier irl atm., Newbery Club host (new)

Cheryl is busier irl atm. (cherylllr) | 6250 comments Mod
Excellent point about the need for clarity in the notes so people who live where there wasn't Prairie find out what is actually the right thing to plant for their area. I'm surprised that caveat is not included. All I see is "Do research... find out what kind of prairie might have grown in your area" in the notes, and of course the sketch of Minnesota (which if anything is less than helpful, because certainly the prairie extended far beyond that state's boundaries, and into Canada, too). Still, it's a beautiful book, and I'm giving it four stars.


message 37: by Cheryl is busier irl atm., Newbery Club host (new)

Cheryl is busier irl atm. (cherylllr) | 6250 comments Mod
The same team created Big Belching Bog. This book has better geographical notes and some miscellaneous information, but they got carried away with the idea of Big and the book is too big to hold comfortably, or to shelve. And the font is small and pale, so those of us with less than perfect vision have to read this at a table, leaning over. I think some readers will like it, esp. families who live in northern Minnesota of course, but I give it only three stars.


message 38: by Cheryl is busier irl atm., Newbery Club host (new)

Cheryl is busier irl atm. (cherylllr) | 6250 comments Mod
But speaking of planting, many children will find Anywhere Farm inspiring. There are no details given, but of course there are lots of other books and web pages that will provide those. This is just a friendly little plotless story that will 'plant the seed' of the idea in the readers' imaginations. Root's goal is for an 'everywhere farm' which is cute. Reminds me of history, of Victory Gardens. I am a big fan of growing at least a few fresh vegetables and I agree that more families should.


message 39: by Cheryl is busier irl atm., Newbery Club host (new)

Cheryl is busier irl atm. (cherylllr) | 6250 comments Mod
I quite liked Scrawny Cat. When something that seems implausible like this is in a story, I read it as First it happened, Then the story was written. I'd give it three stars, but for some reason my inner child is hollering for another one....


message 40: by SamZ (new)

SamZ (samwisezbrown) | 220 comments Grandmother Winter
This was a really sweet re-telling of an old folktale. I feel like this would be a perfect bedtime story! The illustrations were a perfect accompaniment showing all the little creatures tucking in for the winter as the kids play in the new snow. I agree with Kathryn, above, when she mentions that seeing all the animals ready for winter is a great way to bring some natural science into the conversation with little ones.


message 41: by Kathryn, The Princess of Picture-Books (last edited Feb 08, 2020 05:37AM) (new)

Kathryn | 5768 comments Mod
Cheryl wrote: "I quite liked Scrawny Cat. When something that seems implausible like this is in a story, I read it as First it happened, Then the story was written. I'd give it three stars, but fo..."

I'm glad you liked it. I didn't *dis*like it, but it just didn't resonate the way I expected it to. Maybe I'll give it another try a different day.


message 42: by Kathryn, The Princess of Picture-Books (new)

Kathryn | 5768 comments Mod
Cheryl wrote: "But speaking of planting, many children will find Anywhere Farm inspiring. There are no details given, but of course there are lots of other books and web pages that will provide th..."

Yes, we really enjoyed this one.


message 43: by Kathryn, The Princess of Picture-Books (last edited Feb 08, 2020 05:40AM) (new)

Kathryn | 5768 comments Mod
Cheryl wrote: "Excellent point about the need for clarity in the notes so people who live where there wasn't Prairie find out what is actually the right thing to plant for their area. I'm surprised that caveat is..."

Thanks. Yes, it IS a beautiful book. I would still recommend it to families/people interested in the subject, and I do think it informative and inspirational, but I do think they really missed the mark on that one point. My library doesn't have the Bog book and I probably won't go out of my way to seek it out based on your review, but I'd been curious so glad to see what you thought of it.


message 44: by Kathryn, The Princess of Picture-Books (new)

Kathryn | 5768 comments Mod
SamZ wrote: "Grandmother Winter
This was a really sweet re-telling of an old folktale. I feel like this would be a perfect bedtime story! The illustrations were a perfect accompaniment showing al..."


I'm so glad you liked this so much, too! :-)


message 45: by Beverly, Miscellaneous Club host (new)

Beverly (bjbixlerhotmailcom) | 2334 comments Mod
Scrawny Cat
I also liked this story, and the illustrations were nice, but not outstanding. And while the plot might seem improbable, it is not impossible. I did like how the cat found a forever home, and that at the end the author said that the sailor and cat belonged to each other.


message 46: by Beverly, Miscellaneous Club host (new)

Beverly (bjbixlerhotmailcom) | 2334 comments Mod
Aunt Nancy and the Bothersome Visitors
This was such a funny book. The name "Aunt Nancy" sounds suspiciously similar to "Anansi" the African spider trickster. And Aunt Nancy is a world-class trickster. In four short chapters, she outwits Old Man Trouble, Cousin Lazybones, Old Woeful, and Mister Death. I especially loved this sentence: "Lucky for Aunt Nancy her head wasn't up on her shoulders just to keep her ears from fighting with each other." Great writing and expert silhouette illustrations.


message 47: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 7238 comments Mod
Beverly wrote: "Aunt Nancy and the Bothersome Visitors
This was such a funny book. The name "Aunt Nancy" sounds suspiciously similar to "Anansi" the African spider trickster. And Aunt Nancy is a world-class tricks..."


This sounds delightfully fun! Got to check it out.


message 48: by QNPoohBear (new)

QNPoohBear | 1501 comments I quite liked Scrawny Cat. I thought it was a sweet story of rescue. If my best friend had children, I would have gotten this for them. She is "mom" to three rescue cats. The illustrations didn't wow me but I think they were appealing enough for small children.

Snowy Sunday
This is a very simple story. The story introduces animal sounds to the very young. The story is a little silly but charming. I think this one is for the grandma's who knit to read to their grandbabies. I'm surprised we didn't have this one in stock in the gift shop at work for knitting weekend. The illustrations aren't great but I love the cute, scruffy dog. My favorite kind.


message 49: by Cheryl is busier irl atm., Newbery Club host (new)

Cheryl is busier irl atm. (cherylllr) | 6250 comments Mod
It sure is interesting to see others' reactions to the different selections. My review of Grandmother Winter, read last summer, is less positive than others here:

The appeal of this is dependent on how much one likes the illustration style. They're well done, but I do not like them, sorry. Well, and the scientist in me is having trouble mixing science and myth.

I wasn't overly fond of Big Momma makes the World, either.


message 50: by Cheryl is busier irl atm., Newbery Club host (new)

Cheryl is busier irl atm. (cherylllr) | 6250 comments Mod
Apparently Snowy Sunday is part of a seven-book set about an unconventional farmer named Bonnie Bumble and seven days of adventures in caring for her animals and garden. Many children will laugh out loud at the antics, the word-play, and the nonsense. Helen Craig deserves credit for making the story come alive, and for adding even more humor.

In Meow Monday the pussy willows burst into bloom... what can she do to get them to stop meowing so loudly?

In Thirsty Thursday there's been so little rain that the Black-Eyed Susans are spoiling for a fight. How can Bonnie get the clouds to let down some rain on her farm?


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