Posts Tagged ‘imagination’
Today I’ve got two books replete with the pleasures of the ordinary.
Both books draw children in by presenting them with an array of choices to make, always a favorite activity for my kids when they were young. Such interesting conversations open up this way.
One of the books I’m giving away — details at the end of the post.
I am head-over-heels in love with Canadian artist Julie Morstad’s illustration work and her lovely portrayal of uncluttered, soothingly-simple childhoods. I’ve featured a number of her books over the years on Orange Marmalade. You can find them via the Search box if you please, or visit her website here.
This one meanders through one day in a style reminiscent of Gyo Fujikawa’s book Oh What a Busy Day — one of our all-time favorites.
Morstad’s pure, charming drawings fill the pages with clothes, hairstyles, breakfasts, outings, sweet treats, bits and bobs found in a child’s bedroom — and invite children to pick out what they like best. Where would you like to go today? And how will you get there? Which pajamas would you choose?
Oh, the expansiveness that arises in a two-year-old’s heart when presented with such delectable choices! And of course, with Morstad, they are all imaginative, creative, full-of-life choices.
I love this book. It’s one to enjoy again and again with children ages 2 and up.
What Will Danny Do Today? written by Pippa Goodhart, illustrated by Sam Usher
first American edition published in 2016 by Kane Miller
Coming to us from the UK, this book has a similar concept — a presentation of all kinds of choices Danny faces in his day. Clothes. Recess activities. Art projects. Bedtime stories. And for each, we are invited to help him choose.
The feel of this book is quite different however. Sam Usher has given it an immensely energetic vibe with his scribbly black line, crammed-in compositions, vibrant colors, and perspectives that plunge us right into the scenes. It’s perfect for busy bees!
In addition, the book is printed on heavy-duty, glossy, card stock pages, making it much less fragile when loved by toddlers and preschoolers.
Great fun and another book that I’d guess would become a well-worn favorite for ages 18 months and up.
And thanks to the generosity of the folks at Kane Miller — I have a copy to give away!
Enter by commenting below telling us what you would choose to do today if it was up to you! I’ll pick the winner out of a hat on Thursday, February 9.
U.S. shipping addresses only, please. Sorry!
Use your gift-giving to tantalize kids with a variety of creative pursuits! This year I have extra items suited to kids ages 5-12, a time when electronic devices too often begin to usurp imaginative pursuits as fast as the sun melts butter.
Stem the tide! Keep them living juicy, creative lives!
Play with Color!
Hilarious! Watch your baby create some abstract art with this genius bib!
Crayons rock…and now there are crayon rocks! Don’t they look lovely to work with?
I love these people paints encouraging children to incorporate the whole, real, human race in their artwork.
How magical to color your own set of beautiful, wearable, butterfly wings!
Rosie Flo coloring books charmingly combine drawing and coloring. This set features fantastical animal couture! Lots more themes to choose from.
To the Ocean Deep coloring book by Sarah Yoon unfolds to create a marvelously l-o-n-g, deep, underwater journey.
For younger artists, unroll a jolly picture to color with these paper rolls from Mudpuppy.
Build cool stuff!
This geyser car look like a blast — literally! Wild, fizzy thrills!
These clever chain reaction contraptions designed by Klutz to build from Legos will provide hours of fun and surely inspire more engineering.
My son built a rocket many years ago. So cool to build and so exciting to blast off!! Here’s a good beginner model.
Try this classic cookbook to introduce the joy of cooking to preschoolers. Nutritious. Vegetarian. Charming.
How much fun would it be to whip up some pumpkin pasties or Mrs Weasley’s meat pies? Enjoy some literary feasting, Potter-style.
Snazzy aprons make cooking even more fun! Handstand Kitchen has a great variety of kids aprons to choose from including this bake-me-a-cake print. Nice that they aren’t all frilly, for kids who aren’t at all frilly.
This small loom is perfect for getting started with a dynamic form of textile art.
Stitch up some charming woodland creatures with these beautiful kits.
Wool felting is responsible for so much beauty and delight in this world. Get started with this darling hedgehog kit.
Are you puzzled?
Block puzzles are super for the youngest puzzlers. This Eric Carle set would make a great take-along activity.
The lovely puzzles from eeboo make it exceedingly difficult to choose just one.
A double treat from Alain Grée. Winter on the front, summer on the back. Sounds like a tricky challenge!
My children’s homemade books are such treasures. Encourage your little ones to write and illustrate their own stories with this set of blank books.
Comics are being used to tell all manner of stories. Get your kids started by crafting some superhero comics.
Ideas galore to get young writer’s juices flowing. I would have loved this as a child…or maybe even now!
Have fun and enjoy the beauty of a worldful of faces.
This animal-stacking game from Haba looks like great fun for a wide age-range.
Keri Smith is the brilliant mind behind many books inspiring us to think outside the box. This one contains great out-and-about, investigate-and-create activities — enough to last a long time and inspire many more.
This water whistle from Cameroon is intriguing, and even young children can enjoy making music.
How about a cool thumb harp from Burkina Faso — make music and support local artisans.
Punch your own musical notations into the paper, then crank it through the music box mechanism. Brilliant idea for youthful composers.
Isn’t this doll pram gorgeous?
We had this set of blocks for our kids. They come in very handy for constructing villages along a wooden train set!
Find gobs more ideas by using the Gifts tab at the top of the page to search past years’ lists.
I’ll be back next week with a literary-themed gift list for young book-fans.
Long live imagination!
A Big P.S. — I have restarted my Amazon Affiliate program.
This means that if you use an Amazon link anywhere on my blog to direct you to their website, anything you purchase from them at that time will result in a wee kickback for me. It does not increase the cost of your item. Just deposits a few cents in my account. Think of it as a tip jar 🙂
I would love if you would shop at your local, independent book stores instead of Amazon! However, I know that many of you do not live near any such thing, and for many of you the convenience of Amazon is what you need at any given moment. If you’re shopping at Amazon anyway — please consider linking through from my blog.
I worked extra hard to link directly to a variety of sites today in order to introduce you to folks who offer creative, non-electronic choices. I hope you enjoy perusing their collections. If it’s easier for you to purchase these products in one fell swoop from Amazon, many of them are available there as well.
Charles William Eliot, the transformative president of Harvard from 1869-1909, called books “the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counsellors, and the most patient of teachers.”
All of us who love books and reading can get downright soppy when it comes time to praise them. It is hard to express how much books impact our lives. Rather than even try, today I’m simply celebrating books with these fabulous books about books.
How This Book Was Made, written by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Adam Rex
published in 2016 by Disney Hyperion
The dynamic duo, Barnett and Rex, are back at it again, and who better to make book-making as engaging and appealing a subject as a golden Willy Wonka ticket. Their silly, self-deprecating, unconventional, winning way with both text and art works like a magnet, pulling us into this crazy, fascinating account.
It all starts with an idea. Simple enough. But gobs of hard work, wrangles with an editor, waiting, waiting, waiting, illustrating, printing, and shipping, come after that and the process is so full of surprising twists and turns, a circus world of interruptions, and any number of ludicrous bumps in the road, you would not believe it.
Unless Mac the author and Adam the artist spell it out for you, as they have done here. At the end of the day, though, all that work still does not make a book a book. What’s the last, key ingredient?
A thoroughly-inventive, humorous, masterful treatment of what goes into bringing you all the amazing stories you love. It’s a superb treat for ages 3 through Adult.
Brother Hugo and the Bear, written by Katy Beebe, illustrated by S.D. Schindler
published in 2014 by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers
Of course, books have not always been made via high speed printing presses. Once upon a time medieval monks labored painstakingly to create them by hand, start to finish.
Katy Beebe relates this intriguing process while regaling us with a delightfully-improbable story about one monk, one manuscript, and one particularly-hungry bear. Effortlessly learn about the monasteries of 12th-century France, the preparation of parchment, pen, and ink, and methods of book-binding, while shuffling along with a hapless monk named Brother Hugo. Beebe’s use of the quaint manner of medieval speech is suffused with gentle humor, all to brilliant effect.
Meanwhile, Schindler’s artwork is exactly right. He provides a lovely, matching touch of whimsy and historical accuracy. Gorgeous, illuminated letters, bucolic French landscapes,and scenes of monastery life share the stage with a curiously book-hungry bear and poor, unlucky Hugo.
A historical note, glossary of terms, and author’s and illustrator’s notes complete the package, an utter pleasure for ages 5-6 and up.
The Not-So-Quiet Library, written and illustrated by Zachariah OHora
published in 2016 by Dial Books for Young Readers
Zoom into contemporary, hipster-land now with this salsa-fied, rambunctious ode to storytime!
Every Saturday, Oskar, his pal Theodore (a bear), and Oskar’s dad go to the library.
Hilarious side note: this picture of Dad loading up his books to be returned is epic, is it not?
It is how I feel every time I lug my bags and bags of books to the library. Immediate connection with Oskar’s dad. I love having his company on this planet.
Okay. But this Saturday at the library, there’s a sudden booming. A crashing. Even a growl. Egads! There’s a monster in the library! A five-headed one at that! And he’s steaming mad! It seems he?…they?…think books are for eating and those cardboard covers and inky pages are really not doing it for them.
It’s a wild ride while Oskar and Theodore attempt to defuse the situation. Thankfully, Ms.-Watson-the-librarian steps in with just the right antidote — stories. OHora’s bold-as-brass illustrations grab us by the collar in this blast of a story that will tickle the fancies of any child (and parent) ages 2 and up. And P.S. Doughnuts and sprinkles are included. So get some to munch while you read this sizzler.
The Storybook Knight, written by Helen Docherty, illustrated by Thomas Docherty
published in 2016 by Sourcebooks, Jabberwocky
Oh, those Dochertys. They write great books about books! See my review of The Snatchabook if you haven’t already gobbled that one up.
Plus they live in Wales, which is cool.
This is a story about a gentle knight named Leo. Sort of the Ferdinand-the-bull of knights. He’s not into fighting and swordsmanship. Nope. He is a reader. Yay, Leo!
However, Leo’s folks do not see eye to eye with him on his preoccupation with books. There’s a dragon to be fought, and they want Leo to do it. They send him packing — sandwiches, shield, and all. He makes quite a Quixotic character on his slump-bellied horse, Old Ned.
Leo encounters several potentially-hazardous creatures en route to the dragon — a griffin, a troll — and unsurprisingly to us bibliophiles it’s his story lore that saves the day each time. When Leo meets the dragon, though — the entire, enormous, fiery, dagger-tailed, winged eminence — how can a book possibly come to the rescue?
So much book-love, such delight, warmth, personality, and peaceableness are crammed into this story, it simply radiates from the pages. You will love it. A sunny treat for anyone ages 3 and up.
A Child of Books, written and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston
published in 2016 by Candlewick Press
Finally, this philosophical, artistic wonder. Jeffers and Winston say that they “both wanted to create a tale that celebrates our own love of classic children’s literature with an added modern twist.”
Goal achieved. And then some.
It starts right off with the end-papers, a wallpaper of titles and authors from the canon of classic literature that has been enjoyed by children and adults for centuries. Immediately, we are overwhelmed with the vastness of this treasure.
Hand-lettered text meanders through the pages, poetically describing the voyages of imagination undertaken by someone lucky enough to be “a child of books.” Mountains of make-believe. Forests of fairy tales. These are the worlds we enter and live in and are changed by when we dwell in the world of literature.
Although the concept, the largeness of this idea, seems too big for words, too immense for a picture book, the brief phrases here are at once so concrete and so enchanting that even very young children will connect and feel deep inside that someone else understands just how magical an experience storytime is. That’s a sweet kinship.
Meanwhile, the illustrations are brilliant, incorporating segments of text from classic literature — at times whole paragraphs, at times a sea of letters or words. Inventive compositions, fantastical, friendly, ethereal, explosive expressions of the world of story, dominate the pages. It’s a joy for book-lovers, ages 3 to 100.
Today’s set of five all made my heart feel like someone just poured in a stream of golden honey. So full of love, belonging, participation, growth, cleverness. These gems are all perfect for preschoolers. Enjoy!
Sometimes We Think You Are a Monkey, written by Johanna Skibsrud and Sarah Blacker, illustrated by Julie Morstad
published in 2015 by Puffin
When my youngest child was a toddler, we often referred to her as The Goat. Yes, it was affectionately said, but with a hint of exasperation as well, for she ate so darn many things not intended for human consumption. Lipstick. Glue. Playdough. The tips of the Crayola Markers. There was no stopping her.
The comparisons in this book are much sweeter! Sometimes a baby’s mouth, opening and closing, “looking for a drop of milk,” reminds us of a little bird. A baby’s skin is so peachy soft, it feels like “brushing our fingers over the fine dust of a butterfly’s wing.”
But you, my dear, are not a baby bird, nor a butterfly. You are a perfect new baby.
Blanketed in tenderness, with Julie Morstad’s brilliant illustration work – gorgeous textures, compositions, hand-lettering, and a contemporary, natural palette of ocean blues, meadow golds, apple blossom pinks –this is a phenomenally sweet book to share with your little ones.
Great baby shower gift!
Sam and his lovey-bunny, Jump, do everything together. Chances are, if you have a toddler, someone like Jump lives in your household, too. Worn as the velveteen rabbit, sticky with jam, sporting a grubby, gray color, with the scent of stale milk embedded in its mattered fur. You know what I’m talking about.
And you know what happens when such a creature goes missing. Sam’s Jump goes missing after a day at the beach, making Sam one forlorn little guy. But fear not, this is a story with a happy ending.
Discover how Sam and Jump are reunited and receive a bonus friend to boot in this utterly-relatable story. Mann tells it wonderfully with minimal words and enormously warm, engaging illustrations that convey all the emotions brilliantly. Charming.
Let’s Go to the Hardware Store, written by Anne Rockwell, illustrated by Melissa Iwai
published in 2016, Christy Ottaviano Books, Henry Holt and Company
When my kids were small, we read so, so many of Anne Rockwell’s books. Her understanding of young children is masterful. Her ability to tell a story that rivets the attention of a child, with a minimum of words — genius.
This latest book is a prime example. In it, a brother and sister are moving with their family into a new house and everything needs fixing, according to Mom. Luckily, Dad’s a great fix-it man if he’s got the right tools. He needs some new ones, he says. Convenient.
So off Dad and the kids go to the hardware store. It’s not one of those big box stores. It looks like this:
Excellent. As these three meander the aisles, they see a variety of hammers to choose from and learn the keen names for them – ball-peen, framing, mallet. They buy material to fix the crack in the ceiling – spackle and a putty knife. There are so many interesting gadgets and dojiggers in a hardware store!
Rockwell’s plainspoken, conversational tone is authentic and respectful of a child’s investigative mind. Iwai’s illustrations are friendly and chock-full of cool hardware supplies.
Can I just say I love two illustrations particularly: One shows Dad properly using his saw horse. I cannot tell you how many illustrations get this wrong, with a carpenter who should know better sawing a board right smack in-between two saw horses. The other shows Mom nursing her baby, just on the floor, in the middle of the mess and mayhem. Lovely and happy.
It’s time for Little Bird to migrate, but wait just a minute! Little Bird loves his home! He has a favorite branch. Delicious berries. Beautiful music chinging from a wind chime in his tree. A lovely view.
Little Bird’s solution is to cart his favorite things along with him on the long journey. Seems sensible, but in fact lugging all of these precious bits slows Little Bird down to the point he’s in danger of losing the rest of the flock. What to do?
Jo Empson’s sensitive, thoughtful exploration of home, leaving home, trying to take home with us, creating new places that feel like home, speaks to all of us, from young children through adults. Her ravishing artwork spritzes and washes and floods each page with glorious color, energy, beauty, and happiness.
It’s a great title for all, but particularly well-suited to those on the move or those third-culture-kids who consistently migrate between one home and another.
Shapes, Reshape!, written and illustrated by Silvia Borando
originally published in Italy, 2014; English edition 2016 by Candlewick
Puzzlers for little busy brains fill every page of this whip-smart book!
See these shapes? This stack of lime green squares and rectangles, bitsy ones and boxy ones? And the pile of red stripeys?
Well, if you’re clever, you can reshape them into some JUMPY things.
Silvia Borando counts back from 10 to 1, rearranging shapes imaginatively into lots of creatures — roary ones, pinchy ones, sniffly-snuffly ones — in this fabulous book.
It’s a sparkling invitation to imagining, seeing possibilities, creating, for yourselves. If you like this, she’s got another title, Shapes at Play, bursting with the same sort of magic.
I’ve been reading my way through a bunch of the New York Review Children’s Collection titles lately. Several of them I’ve passed along to you here and there.
Today I have a bunch to recommend, particularly if your sense of humor and delight runs along the quirky line.
If you’re not aware of the New York Review Children’s Collection, they are titles from quite some time ago, written and illustrated by masters of the craft, that are being republished in beautiful editions. Presently there are over 80 of them, and you can find them all at the site here. Some, like Leon Garfield’s Shakespeare Stories, are hundreds and hundreds of pages long. Some, like Duvoisin’s Donkey Donkey are short picture books. I love finding old treasures I’ve never encountered before, and this collection is one great way to find them.
Beginning with the briefest story of today’s set…
Ruth Krauss was a deeply thoughtful woman whose high regard for children’s ideas gave us treasures such as A Hole is to Dig, which you should definitely get acquainted with if you aren’t already. Here she teams up with beloved illustrator Marc Simont to tell the story of a little boy who awoke one morning and declared it to be backward day.
Watch this topsy-turvy day unfold, surely to the delight of children ages 3 and older who just might want to try this out for themselves.
Fletcher and Zenobia, by Victoria Chess and Edward Gory, illustrated by Victoria Chess
originally published in 1967
Herein is the story of Fletcher, a cat, and Zenobia, a little girl, who find themselves fairly stuck in the branches of a tall tree and pull off a whangdoodler of a party there…
…complete with “a lemon cake with five layers which she covered with raspberry icing and walnuts and decorated with green and blue candles,” as well as balloons, stunning party hats, dancing to a gramophone, and a most surprising visitor who comes in verrry handy the next morning.
Yes. It is quite the story! Just the right size for ages 4 and up.
You know Dorothy Kunhardt for one reason: Pat the Bunny. But Junket is Nice was her very first book! Aren’t you just a wee bit curious?
It seems that once upon a time a very old man with a monumentally large, red beard and jolly red slippers was sitting at a table eating junket out of a capacious red bowl. And boy-howdy, this fellow could put away a lot of junket! Astonishing.
As a crowd gathers to watch his junket-eating, the old man invites them to play a guessing game with him. The guessing game makes up the bulk of this rambly, nonsensical tale.
There’s a bit of a Wanda Gag feel to the handwritten text and the cadence of the story. Peculiar and unexpected ideas abound in this longish piece for ages 4 or 5 and up.
When my son was a little boy, he and one of his best buddies used to have conversations quite like the supposings in this book. “Oh, oh, oh! What if…” one would say, and they were off, concocting more and more elaborate and outlandish scenarios. (As an aside, they are both now pursuing their PhDs in the sciences. Cultivating imagination in children is no fool’s errand!)
This is a collection of wild supposings. Each one unattached to the one before, and accompanied by a sketchy drawing by master-of-design, Bob Gill. Imagination-stretching, for ages 5 or 6 and up.
Okay you logophiles, you linguists, you poets and wordsmiths. Yes, there are many of these among the Ages 3 to 8 population, you know. Children love words! Silly words. Tongue twisters. Rhyming words. Onomatopoeia.
This extraordinary collection, this tintinnabulation of words is a fizzing wonderland for them and for you, too! Lists of ZZZ-ing words and squishy words. Names for elephants or whales if you prefer.
Names for twins. Newly-invented ways to count to ten. Words to bamboozle and confound. Words to pull out when the cat’s got your tongue.
All quite marvelous. Illustrated masterfully by artist Ben Shahn. A highly-unusual treat for ages 6 to 100.
The Robber Hotzenplotz, by Otfried Preussler, illustrated by F.J. Tripp, translated from the German by Anthea Bell
originally published in 1962
One fine morning, Kasperl’s grandmother sits in her garden grinding the day’s coffee in her brand new musical coffee grinder. It’s a birthday gift from her grandson Kasperl and his best friend, Seppel. BUT! The wicked robber Hotzenplotz steals the coffee grinder — the joy of her heart! — and it’s up to Kasperl and Seppel to retrieve it.
This is much, much easier said than done. And is not accomplished until the boys can outsmart both Hotzenplotz and a wicked magician named Petrosilius Zackleman who, luckily, has a weakness for fried potatoes. And it involves an alliance with a toad-fairy. Yup.
Merrily illustrated, this absurd little adventure would make a dynamite read-aloud for ages 6 and up. It’s the longest of today’s titles at 121 pages. My kids would have loved it.
Posted in fiction, non-fiction, picture books, tagged air travel with children, airports, animals, book reviews, children's literature, creative play, dollhouses, fairy tales, imagination, picture books on July 4, 2016| 6 Comments »