Posts tagged ‘goodnight’

April 9, 2012

The swirling genius of two picture books

The gift of a book is something that can last a lifetime. One of these books, The House in the Night, was a gift for The Wizard of Why. He liked the story and the pictures and I think it’s absolutely wonderful. The whole book is printed in yellow and black. The style of the illustrator is so unique that when I saw Swirl by Swirl on the bookshelf at our local store (Parnassus) I knew it had to be the same artist. We had to have it! Activities I talk about below include drawing and hiking–perfect for alternately rainy and sunny Spring days!

Title: The House in the Night
Author: Susan Marie Swanson
Illustrator: Beth Krommes
Genre: Picture Book
Ages: 2 – 7

Summary: This book won the Caldecott, and it’s easy to see why. The illustrations are beautiful and uniquely done in only yellow, white, and black. The story is a bedtime one of a young child who takes a fantastical bedtime journey with everyday objects children will both relate to and be excited by. It’s really a wonderful metaphor for the journey of going to sleep. I would read it every night if I could, but there are so many good books out there!

Title: Swirl by Swirl
Author: Joyce Sidman
Illustrator: Beth Krommes
Genre: Picture Book, Science and Nature
Ages: any!

Summary: They teamed Krommes up with a Newbery-Honor winning poet to make this wonderful book that celebrates the beauty of the natural world in all of its swirly forms. Really fun to read and look at. While typing this post, the Wizard of Why looked over my shoulder and said, “Oh you are publishing The House in the Night and Spirals?” I asked him what his favorite part of the books were, and he said the tornado from Swirl by Swirl. Which just goes to re-emphasize the origin of his blog-name, I suppose. 🙂

Follow-up with the kids: I’m going to focus on the art for this one, as I think it is just so amazing. For The House in the Night, it would be fun to have your kids draw pictures with only black and one other color. Ask older kids to justify their color choice. (And for another example of a book with a lot of the same color in it, although not exclusively, see the equally-gorgeous-in-blue, The Longest Night.) It would make for a fun comparison to see how one illustrator conveyed nighttime so perfectly using the color blue and another one did it using the color yellow.

For Swirl by Swirl, your kids could draw their own pictures of familiar items with a swirled shape. Or they could take items that don’t have a swirled shape and see if they can draw them with swirls anyway. Another fun activity would be a morning hike or walk with the family for a “swirly scavenger hunt.” Have the kids pick up, point out, or photo things with a spiral shape. I bet you can find a lot more than you think! And that gets them outdoors and exercising, too!

February 1, 2011

The day my son fell in love with a book (and the night)

The free puppet shows at the Nashville Public Library might be the highlight of my week.  I LOVE them!  Generally, we go almost every Tuesday morning.  I ask my son each week if he wants to go, but that’s more of a formality–it’s always met with an enthusiastic “YES!” followed by excited discussion about which of the puppets will be there that day.

“Wishing Chair Productions”, three brilliant people who put on the shows, are all heroes of mine.  There’s none of the high-pitched, over-excited, shout-in-your-face, super-smiley over-acting that keeps me away from many a kids’ activity and class.  They juggle, they sing, they puppet (is that a verb?), they improvise, they act, and they read stories with a wonderful combination of wit, humor, and understated happiness.  And they even throw many a sarcastic comment at each other, as if trying the other’s patience, things that go over the heads of the toddlers perhaps, but land with smiles on the faces of the adults who accompany every week.

And I’d like to say that their repeated routines–such as JJ the Lamb playing peek-a-boo with Library Pete–are hysterically funny from my son’s point of view–and believe me they are.  But really, I’m the one laughing the loudest.  Every time.  Basically, I just love it.

Today at the puppet show was a particularly special day.  In the middle of the show, when they finished one of the books, my son jumps up from my lap and starts to say “Mommy!  Mommy!” rather loudly.  This was unlike him, and I wasn’t sure what he meant.  We are in the middle of a never-ending potty-training process and I thought at first he had peed on the floor…or worse.  But he settled down to watch the rest of the show and it was only afterwards that I realized what he was asking.  He had loved the book so incredibly much that he wanted to go check it out IMMEDIATELY.  In fact, we have only been home from the show about an hour and we’ve already read it twice.  (It would have been more but it was nap time.)

Title: Good Night, Mr. Night
Author/Illustrator: Dan Yaccarino
Genre: Picture Book
Age: 0 – 7

Summary and Review:

Mr. Night is a quiet man made of the dark and the stars, with moons for his eyes.  He quiets the animals, closes the flowers, and helps the young boy narrator close his eyes and go to sleep.  In the morning, Mr. Night falls asleep on the other side of a far hill as the sun rises and the boy whispers “Good Night, Mr. Night.”  Something about the book grabbed my son’s attention in such a magnetizing way.  It’s really fun to see that happen–the powerful connection between literature and humanity, even the smaller forms of humanity.

Follow up with the kids:

There are SO many fun things you could do.   Here are a few ideas:

1) Read the book at bedtime, and look out the window.  Ask your son if he sees Mr. Night.  Who helps your son close his eyes?

2) Have a preschooler draw pictures of what they think Mr. Night should be doing, in addition to the things he does in the book.

3) Write your own book from the point of view of Mr. or Ms. Sun.  Ask your child to think of what the sun does, and write your child’s ideas down.  You can write them in the same format as the book, with each phrase on a new sheet of paper.  Then give your child the paper to illustrate.

If you also enjoy this book, or have other ideas, please tell me about them by commenting on this entry!  Enjoy reading!

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