Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Goodnight Goodnight

Goodnight Goodnight
by Eve Rice

Here is another classic goodnight book. Written in 1980 by Eve Rice, it looks to me remarkably like the 2009 Caldecott Medal winner, A House in The Night. Both are sweet patterned nighttime books in nighttime colors, but have a bit of a different flavor even if they do look similar. Let me tell you about Goodnight Goodnight.

The first line of this book reads, "Goodnight came over the rooftops slowly." And with that, goodnight comes to many people in the town, each doing different things at this goodnight time, but each settling down for night --except for the kitten who wishes to find someone to play with! Even the kitten ends up with a goodnight, and the town is ready for sleep.

'Similar to A House in the Night, my children were not taken with this book upon first read. They preferred to choose books with brighter pictures and more exciting themes. However, even if I am still the one to choose this familiar book from the library it is more accepted, even enjoyed, and the kitten is more appreciated in his efforts to continue playing!

The illustrations in this book are done with pen and ink, lithographic crayon, and an yellow overlay of acetate. Yes, this is news to me and I need to do more research to understand! What I do know though, is the pictures are appealing and soft and very suitable to nighttime in their black, white, and yellow way, even if they don't excite children immediately. Neither does bedtime! This book is likely more difficult to find for purchase than a newer book, and certainly more difficult than the Caldecott Medal book it reminds me of. However, I would not be surprised if you could easily find and enjoy this classic at your library. There is something comforting about these well-worn library books, and rechecking them out and enjoying them over and over. I recommend this one, and of course, it is best read at bedtime!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The House in the Night

The House in the Night
By Susan Marie Swanson
Pictures by Beth Krommes

The Caldecott Medal is awarded to the artist of the most distinguished picture book of the year. The House in the Night is the winner of this medal for 2009. When I heard this title was the winner I was unfamiliar with it, but eager to read it. Author Susan Marie Swanson wrote The House in The Night based on a traditional nursery rhyme. Of course this makes me want to search out this old rhyme which begins, "this is the key to the kingdom." Swanson's book begins, "Here is the key to the house." Swanson continues with a pattern of telling you about another object, relating to the previous one, all related to nighttime.

In an effort to be honest, I have to say that this book upon first reading was not impressive to me. Yes, I liked it, but it did not stand out. However, after reading it more than once I have come to appreciate the pattern of the writing more. My children were not enthralled upon first reading either, but this book strikes me as one that when owned and reread could become a familiar and well-loved comfort book through its gentle subtle ideas and pattern. It is worth reading, and thinking about. I even feel intrigued to use repeated readings to see if the story does indeed grow on my children!

In talking about this book, as with all picture books, it's important for us not to forget the pictures! Since the Caldecott Medal is awarded to the artist of the book rather than the author, in this case it feels especially important to dote on these lovely illustrations. They are lovely done in only the nighttime scheme of black, white, and yellow, using scratchboard and watercolor. To learn more about this interesting and beautiful technique you can visit illustrator Beth Krommes web page as I did. I love the unique look of her method! The illustrations are remarkable and worthy of an award. Especially lovely are the stars, which shine in such a lovely black, white and yellow way! I am very inclined to search out Krommes first book, Grandmother Winter, whose illustrations have an appealing gentle color and intricate snowflakes I want to just study! I hope I can track this book down.

Do check out The House in the Night if you haven't already, and tell me what you think! Next week I will tell you of the familiar nighttime book this winner reminded me of, Goodnight Goodnight, by Eve Rice.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Looking Closely Through the Forest

Looking Closely Through the Forest
By Frank Serafini

There are times when you are grateful for other people's mistakes, because they lead you places you otherwise might not have been. I am so glad someone misplaced this book! Clearly nonfiction, this book was erroneously placed in fiction picture books A section. Haphazardly they did this, but I am grateful!

Frank Serafini is apparently a talented person whose books range from his looking closely series to professional books about using reading workshop in the classroom. For some reason, that he is so knowledgeable about something as useful as reading workshop, and also created such a great nonfiction book with his own photographs, is intriguing. I would like to read more. Obviously he is talented!

Looking closely through the forest is a gem! All objects of the forest, you first see only a small orange-sized circle of the item surrounded by an otherwise black page. Your child and you get to guess before turning the page to see the whole picture revealed. Along with the entire gorgeous photograph revealed there are also a few paragraphs with interesting basic information about the object and its place in the forest. Did you know that the black marks on an Aspen tree are called beards and they mark where former branches once grew? My children were thrilled they could recognize the small circular view prior to viewing the entire picture of the aspen tree! They also now know it is called an aspen tree, not just the tree with the white bark.

I love this book for the thinking it creates, the interactions that can occur, and of course the broadening of knowledge. We can't wait to read Looking Closely Across the Desert!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Owl Moon

Owl Moon
Written by Jane Yolen
Illustrated by John Schoenherr

Have you ever been owling? Me neither, but this books makes me want too. The young boy in this book is out for his first owling with his Dad, and he is excited. He is quiet, he is patient and the moon is full. The situation and setting in this story call out for descriptive language and talented author Jane Yolen does not leave room for disappointment. My first grade teacher-mom uses this book to teach descriptive language to aid her student's writing. This is a quiet and fun little book with a happy boy, a dark night, and a big-eyed owl. Owl Moon is the winner of the Caldecott medal in 1988.