Posts tagged ‘winter picture book’

November 6, 2014

if you could skate with a PENGUIN

by Wendy Lawrence

I have a gorgeous book for you today, a story of a girl and a penguin told entirely in whites, blues, and yellows. White mostly for the snow, blues for the penguin and the girl’s snowsuit, yellows for her hat, his feet.

floraTitle: Flora and the Penguin
: Molly Idle
Genre: Picture Book
Ages: 0 – 6 (I usually think kids need to be a little older to get books without words, but this is a story anyone, even the youngest, would love to look at.)

There are no words, and I have mixed feelings about books without words. On the one had, I love them. The illustrations tend to be powerful and emotional. The stories tend to be mixed with a certain kind of humor that can only be told without words. (Remember Flashlight and the raccoon pointing the light back at the boy?) On the other hand, when I’m “reading” them to my kids, which is clearly the wrong verb, I’m sometimes at a loss.

Do I describe the pictures? But if I do that, which sometimes I do, then I’m just writing the words myself, and that seems lame, because even though I call myself a writer, I don’t think that the words I’m using would be any better than the words the author might have used and, in the end, decided not to.

Or do I remain quiet and just flip the pages, letting my mind and my son’s mind wander through the story? But then sometimes he gets mad, and doesn’t believe me when I say there are no words.

Or do I ask him to tell the story? Ask him what he sees? Ask him to describe?

Usually, I settle for a mix of all three. Which is probably what the authors intend. Plus, it has the added benefit of forcing interaction with the book! Which is why I started this blog in the first place! So bring it on, books that demand me to do more than think about the laundry while reciting words my brain has long since memorized!

Flora and the Penguin is a great one for this because the story is told so obviously. Also, it adds to the interactive nature of the book with tabs that your kids can flip. Flora starts ice skating, she finds a penguin. She ice skates with the penguin. The penguin disappears. She is a little sad. Penguin brings her a fish. She throws it back in the water. The penguin is a little sad. There is resolution and love in the end. It’s a super sweet book with beautiful colors and lines and surprise. With the snow on its way, it would make a great fall or winter birthday present or a gift for the winter holidays!

October 11, 2012

Pass along some warmth, and maybe some knowledge, too

Every time the Wizard of Why asks me about a polar bear, I want to cry. What if there aren’t any left when his son asks him the same question? The idea that I brought a child into a world like that–the idea that he learns every day the world is less perfect than he imagined it, is sometimes hard to take. News stories of bears stranded mid-ocean on small pieces of ice, or mother polar bears eating their cubs pound through my head. I don’t share those. Sometimes I talk to him about the danger they face. I try to balance honesty with his own young developmental stage.

But I do love that he’s asking–always asking–about the world around him. He wants to know how animals do the things they do. And, former science teacher that I am, (or current, if this counts as a job), I want to tell him. Which is why I love getting books like this one.

My son will love it. I know he will ask to read it again and again, as he does with any fact-laden book. But this is not nonfiction in the strictest sense of the word. The facts are laced into poetry and the poetry sewn into a kind of a story.

The question “how do humans keep warm in the winter, Mama?” is repeated, with slight variations, on each of the crisply illustrated pages of this scientific story. “Do they live in a bunch taking turns for their lunch?” the voice asks, while the picture shows us that this is what bees do. Through a series of questions partnered with drawings, children learn how animals stay warm in the winter through adaptations, shelters, and changing habitats.

One of the great twists in this book is that the questions are asked by the animal young of their own mothers–a turtle is imagining a human child with a shell on its back, a bear cub is picturing a sleepy girl who has just finished a full meal. My son will love this as well–he will love the idea that animals are asking questions and it confirms for him that questions are good, that they are part of our natural world, that they are important to us.

Title: A Warm Winter Tail
Author: Carrie A. Pearson
Illustrator: Christina Wild
Genre: Picture Book
Age: 0 – 7

Usually, I like to talk about what you can do with a book other than just reading it. But this book does that for me! There are activities in the back of the book that include more fun facts, more detailed explanations of the winter behavior of the animals in the book, and a matching game. There are also more activities online.

I don’t know how to save the world, but I do know that education is the first step. It may not be sufficient, but it is necessary. Books are an important part of that education. I’m excited to be a stop on the blog tour of A Warm Winter Tail, and I hope you enjoy it too!