by Sarah Momo Romero
I cannot remember a time when I wasn’t drawn to reading. Books that grab a hold of me, calling me to take them along everywhere I go and pulling me to read late into the night, are the best feeling. My parents even recount stories of me at three years old, memorizing the lines and page turns of my favorite picture books, seeming to read way before I actually could. I’ve always loved reading, so it’s no surprise I eventually found my way towards writing and illustrating stories of my own. And now, finding picture books about that love of reading are my new treasure hunt. Someone Like Me and You Can Read are just a couple of my recent discoveries with that warm and fuzzy feeling of getting lost in a good book.
Someone Like Me by Patricia MacLachlan, illustrated by Chris Sheban, with its poignant text and soft illustrations captures a little girl’s love for reading and books so beautifully. A semi-autobiographical picture book, MacLachlan and Sheban create an inviting world with the brilliant morning light and quiet evenings of reading.
Sheban’s illustrations really bring MacLachlan’s sentimental moments to life. The deliberate and textural pencil textures create a sense of memory, ones that could easily be my own, of listening to stories and having my eyes glued to a book.
Someone Like Me is an inspiration for those with the same connection to reading, and those with the drive to tell stories of their own.
You Can Read, written by Helaine Becker and illustrated by Mark Hoffmann, shows the humorous side of reading. A little boy and girl read on the playground, at home, underwater and in the most unlikely places. What’s so great about this, is the unexpected way reading is portrayed- we can read in actual places, like hidden in a basket, but perhaps we’re actually on a spy mission in our hiding place.
The combination of Becker’s minimal text and Hoffman’s simple and graphical illustrations are the perfect match, capturing the playful energy of all the adventures reading takes us on. I especially enjoyed the kids expressions, portraying emotion so accurately, even with the simple line work. The extra detail of tying in the book title to each moment on the page adds to the reading fun. We can love reading, as You Can Read shows us in so many entertaining ways, but please, let’s not be rude about it.
Books about reading are one of my favorite genres. I’m still a newbie with my picture book discoveries, but here are a couple of other great tributes to reading to check out:
A Child of Books
By Oliver Jeffers
written by David Miles and illustrated by Natalie Hoopes
(which I also wrote about on The Blogateers here: http://www.childrensbookacademy.com/the-blogateers/discovering-book-for-the-summer)
Do you have any favorite picture books about reading? Share them with me here!
by Bryan Patrick Avery
This past week, magicians from around the world gathered for the 66th Blackpool Magic Convention. I was not among them. Instead, like many magicians, I followed along online, living vicariously through my fellow compeers who had made the journey. One of the most exciting aspects of the convention is the unveiling of the newest magical effects. In honor of Blackpool, and the new magic that comes with it, I’ve decided to take a look at three brand-new picture books. First up, a beautifully retold folk tale.
How the Finch Got His Colors, written by Annemarie Riley Guertin and beautifully illustrated by Helena Peréz García, is the retelling of a Belgian folktale. After a major rain, Rainbow appeared and bestowed her colors upon the animals of the land, leaving them vibrant and colorful. Looking down on all the colors below them, the birds, ask for colors of their own.
One by one, the birds are granted their colors until only one is left, Gouldian Finch. But Rainbow is out of colors. The other birds, who had previously pushed their way forward in order to get the best colors, all feel bad. Rainbow’s solution to the problem yields a beautiful result and this retelling of this timeless story is sure to become a classic.
If you believe in the power of words, Peter H. Reynolds’ The Word Collector is sure to find a special place in your heart. It’s the story of Jerome, who collects words. Long and short, funny or sad, he writes them down and stores them in his scrapbooks. But when he accidently jumbles the words, Jerome begins to see his collection differently.
As he discovers the power the right words can have, he continues to grow his collection, and uses it to express himself. Eventually, Jerome finds a fantastic way to share his words with the world. The Word Collector is brilliant in its simplicity, and it’s message on the power of words is accessible to all, no matter the age.
Words, of course, aren’t our only source of power. Sometimes, that power comes from within. That message is the theme of Daria Peoples-Riley’s This Is It. This is the story of a young girl preparing for a dance audition. She may be nervous, but she’s not alone. Her shadow takes her hand and, whispering words of encouragement, guides her through the city, reminding her of who she is and what she’s capable of.
By the end, our dancer is ready, and so are we. This book is a perfect reminder that what we might be looking for is inside us all along. This beautifully illustrated and inspiring book belongs on every child’s bookshelf.
That’s all for this month. I’m off to see what else I missed at Blackpool and do some writing of my own. Have a magical month!
by Melissa Stoller
The first line in a picture book sets the tone for the story. First lines can establish the setting and identify and expand the current world of the main character. A grand opening can hook the reader in an instant, offering the promise of action, adventure, humor, and heart. And perhaps most important, the first line will hopefully encourage readers to continue reading. Sometimes it takes the first few sentences to capture an audience, but the first line remains ever important.
Here are ten of my favorite first lines from recent picture books:
1) “The day the antlered ship arrived, Marco wondered about the wide world.” (The Antlered Ship, by Dashka Slater, illustrated by The Fan Brothers). Marco wonders and so does the reader.
2) “The is not a valentine, since those come with buckets of roses and bushels of tulips that smell like grannies fresh out of the garden.” (This is NOT a Valentine, written by Carter Higgins, Illustrated by Lucy Ruth Cummins). If it’s not a valentine, then what is it? Readers will turn the page to find out.
3) “Bunny loved books.” (Bunny’s Book Club by Annie Silvestro, illustrated by Tatjana Mai-Wyss). This simple sentence sets up Bunny’s world, and readers who also love books will be drawn right into Bunny’s adventure.
4) “Hey, kid!” (Dragons Love Tacos, by Adam Rubin, illustrated by Daniel Salmieri). The authors are speaking directly to the child reader. What child wouldn’t be intrigued? The reader immediately wants to hear what the author has to say.
5) “Long ago, in an ancient and distant realm called The Kingdom of Backyard, there lived a warrior named ROCK.” (The Legend of Rock, Paper, Scissors by Drew Daywalt, pictures by Adam Rex). Readers will continue to learn more about the Kingdom of Backyard, which sounds so familiar yet very distant.
6) “The city is big and I am small.” (Small by Gina Perry). Readers will identify with a small girl in a large city.
7) “One rainy day an Elephant was taking a walk with his green umbrella.” (The Green Umbrella by Jackie Azua Kramer, pictures by Maral Sassouni). Rainy days are full of adventure and mystery. . . readers will continue to see where this Elephant and his green umbrella are going.
8) “There once was a bear who was more than a bear.” (BunnyBear, by Andrea J. Loney, pictures by Carmen Saldana). Who could stop reading here?
9) “Congratulations on your new lion!” (Caring for Your Lion, by Tammi Sauer, illustrated by Troy Cummings.) This story starts on the title page with a note to the reader, who is drawn in immediately.
10) “It was winter, and the river winding through the enchanted forest was frozen solid.” (Little Red Gliding Hood, story by Tara Lazar, pictures by Troy Cummings). This scene-setting first line appears on the page before the title page, creating a memorable picture book opening spread.
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So get to work creating memorable first lines that hook readers and make them wonder, smile, identify with the story, and most of all, keep reading.
Melissa Stoller is the author of the chapter book series The Enchanted Snow Globe Collection - Book One: Return to Coney Island and Book Two: The Liberty Bell Train Ride (Clear Fork Publishing, 2017 and Summer 2018); and the picture books Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush and Ready, Set, GOrilla! (Clear Fork, Fall 2018). She is also the co-author of The Parent-Child Book Club: Connecting With Your Kids Through Reading (HorizonLine Publishing, 2009). Melissa is an Assistant for the Children’s Book Academy, a Regional Ambassador for The Chapter Book Challenge, an Admin for The Debut Picture Book Study Group, and a volunteer with the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators/MetroNY. Melissa has worked as a lawyer, legal writing instructor, freelance writer and editor, and early childhood educator. Additionally, she is a member of the Board of Trustees at The Hewitt School and at Temple Shaaray Tefila. Melissa lives in New York City with her husband, three daughters, and one puppy. When not writing or reading, she can be found exploring NYC with family and friends, traveling, and adding treasures to her collections.
We are so excited to be mixing things up at CBA, beginning with some delicious additions to the Blogfish. Meet our awesome new bloggers!!
Here's our lineup:
1st Mondays begin with Clear Fork/Spork editor/art director, former agent and former kidlit professor Mira Reisberg PhD who is also the Director of the Children's Book Academy.
2nd Mondays will feature super smart Melissa Stoller whose career is taking off with several new books.
3rd Mondays will feature Bryan Patrick Avery, published writer, man of mystery, and professional magician among other things.
4th Mondays feature funny Aussie author Sharon Giltrow sharing awesome Aussie books.
And 5th Mondays will feature Libyan American author Koloud Tarapolsi sharing wonderful diverse books.