This week we’ve hit the jackpot with some good read-alouds–so many that I’m having to ration them for various blog posts. 🙂 That’s a good problem to have, though, right?
I am never “up” on new books, mainly because I just browse at the library and find most of our good books serendipitously. Even after reading this post over at Brimful Curiosities, I mostly just thought it would be nice to happen upon the new Caldecott Medal winner one day. Well, I was following my usual protocol at the library last week when I happened to see that beautiful bookcover staring back at me from a display shelf, smack by the library’s front door. It was meant to be! Jerry Pinkney’s The Lion & the Mouse is everything a wordless picture book should be. (Keep in mind that I usually don’t even like wordless picture books.) First of all, the story is familiar enough that we didn’t lose the narrative in the middle of deciphering the pictures. Second, the illustrations themselves do a great job of carrying the story–there aren’t any gaps. Third, well, it’s by Jerry Pinkney–need I say more? (We’ve enjoyed his work before.) Fourth, it isn’t truly, completely wordless–there are lots of onomatopoeic animal sounds in the book–all done up in large, illustrative type, which is perfect for a beginning reader. I’d love to add this one to our collection. I think I’m beginning to appreciate wordless picture books more. 🙂
Maybe I should’ve called this edition of Read Aloud Thursday the fable/folktale edition; this next book is a retelling of a familiar folktale. Out of the Egg by Tina Matthews is sort of a fractured version of “The Little Red Hen.” Actually, I think I’d call it a redeemed version, not a fractured version. The story goes along predictably until the Little Red Hen lays a perfect, white egg. Out of this perfect, white egg comes the cutest little red chick. The little red chick then has the opportunity the undo some of the selfishness of the past. . . Okay, this sounds way too serious–it’s really a great little picture book, and I know we could pull all sorts of lessons out of it. What I really want to highlight, though, are the pictures! With a palette of only four colors, Tina Matthews showcases the woodblock print technique beautifully. The reds and greens are surprising against the stark black and white backgrounds, which is perfect for this tale that ends in a surprising way. Highly Recommended!
Okay, maybe this post is more about beautiful illustrations than anything this week. 😉 I saw Uri Shulevitz‘s Snow on display at the library and picked it up despite the fact that we had already finished our study of all things snowy. I’m really glad I went ahead and picked this one up, though. The story is rather sparse, actually–a little boy is excited because it is snowing. No one he encounters, though, will admit that it might actually snow more than a flake or two or share in his excitement. Even the weather forecasters side against him, but thankfully, “snowflakes don’t listen to radio” and “snowflakes don’t watch television.” The story ends with some fantastical elements–a Mother Goose and nursery rhyme characters literally come off of a bookstore sign and frolic in the snow with the believing boy. What this book is really all about to me, though, is the pictures. (It turns out that Uri Shulevitz won a Caldecott honor for this book the same year Snowflake Bentley won the Medal.) You can tell by the cover illustration that gray figures heavily into the color scheme, which is entirely appropriate for a snowy day. I love the way the artist emphasizes the strengthening of the snowstorm as the book progresses. On one of the first illustrations, there is just that one snowflake, a mere dot of white on a gray field of sky. We found it to be surprising and delightful. I’d definitely add this one to my winter book collection!
Oh, I’m just basking in the joy that is beautifully written and even more beautifully illustrated picture books! What a privilege it is to share these with my children! 🙂
Would you like to share your joy at your family’s read-alouds? (Or even perhaps steer others away from certain books?) Simply write up your own Read Aloud Thursday blog post and link it up below. If you don’t blog, simply leave a comment!
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Have a terrific Read Aloud Thursday!