Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Picture book possibilities

I.N.K. readers may recall the much-discussed NY Times article about how some parents were supposedly pushing children away from picture books and towards chapter books, among other claims. I.N.K.’s own David Schwartz blogged about it recently. As was discussed in the comments section of that post, nonfiction picture books cannot easily be replaced by a chapter book precisely because the images convey so much.

If anyone needs more persuasion regarding the worth of picture books, please check out this article, Expert: Picture Books Still Work for Kids in which Dr. Deborah Pope, executive director of the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation discusses why a rush-kids-into-chapter-books strategy may backfire. Included are excellent tips about how to choose a title that is right for a particular child based on his/her learning style, current interests, a book’s potential to inspire, and several other criteria.

In keeping with the current holiday shopping season, here are a few titles that may be perfect for a young reader on your list. Titles are linked to Amazon:

O Christmas Tree: Its History and Holiday Traditions
Written by Jacqueline Farmer
Illustrated by Joanne Friar
Artwork: gouache paintings
Charlesbridge, 2010

Starting with pre-Christian practices in ancient cultures then proceeding through history to modern times, readers can find out the many ways people have used trees for holiday celebrations. A visit to tree farms and information about the different species of
evergreens used for Christmas trees is also included.

A video trailer for this title gives a peek at the lovely detailed artwork.

The Twelve Days of Christmas in Georgia
Written by Susan Rosson Spain
Illustrated by Elizabeth O. Dulemba
Artwork: digital
Sterling, 2010

There are fourteen states and two cities (NYC and D.C.) in this series so far by a variety of authors and artists (click here to see the others.) The Georgia story takes Jacob and Ava to the Martin Luther King, Jr. historic site in Atlanta, along the Appalachian Trail, and other regional highlights. Free coloring pages and other activities are available on the illustrator’s web site.

The Grand Adventure: A True Story of Survival and Determination on an Amazing River Journey into the Grand Canyon and Other Canyons of the West
Written by Mark A. and Donna E. Hicks
Illustrated by Mark A. Hicks
Artwork: watercolor and pencil
Published independently in 2010

An adventure unfolds as John Wesley Powell embarks on a 1,000 mile expedition into the uncharted territory of the Grand Canyon in 1869. Interested readers can check out several spreads of the book
using the “Look Inside” and “Surprise Me” features on Amazon.

Calico Dorsey: Mail Dog of the Mining Camps
Written by Susan Lendroth
Illustrated by Adam Gustavson
Artwork: oil paintings
Tricycle Press, 2010

Based on the true story of a stray Border collie that became an official U.S. Postal Service letter carrier in California during the
1880’s. A photo of the real dog, Dorsey, who delivered mail to the town of Calico is included.

Off Like the Wind! The First Ride of the Pony Express
Written by Michael P. Spradlin
Illustrated by Layne Johnson
Artwork: oil paintings
Walker Books, 2010

In 1860 a rider started out from Missouri on the way to deliver mail overland for the first time to the West. It took eleven days and many riders braving harsh conditions and wild animals to accomplish the feat. An excerpt and reading guide are available on the author’s website.

Draw Plus Math
Written and illustrated by Freddie Levin
Artwork: colored pencils and digital
Peel Productions, 2010

This step-by-step drawing guide incorporates math concepts including counting, addition/subtraction, sets, patterns, graphs, and much more in an appealing way. The activities are based on the standards developed by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. (I wish a book like this had been around when I was in elementary school!)

Baby Owl’s Rescue
Written by Jennifer Keats Curtis
Illustrated by Laura Jacques
Artwork: acrylic painting with digital enhancements
Sylvan Dell, 2009

A fictional story about two children who find a young owl displaced by a storm conveys accurate information about how animals can be aided by a wildlife rehabilitator. Included are facts about great horned owls, suggestions about how to proceed if you find an injured bird.
The publisher’s web site has more resources including teaching activities, related web sites, and online quizzes.

All of the above books were illustrated by members of the Picture Book Artists Association, which I also belong to. Happy reading and happy holidays to all!

1 comment:

Melissa Stewart said...

Thanks for the link to the article, Loreen. I hadn't seen it.