Monday, December 29, 2008
Imagine the greatest works of art, gathered according to topic, titled and dated, and then bound as board books for the youngest eyes. That is the How Artists See Jr. series. Colleen Carroll, who has created educational materials for USA Today, the Smithsonian Institution, and MTV, is now bringing the finest art to the youngest reader.
In Dogs, the examples range from Roman, 1st Century, Dog on a Leash to Jeff Koons' Puppy, 1992. Spread after spread introduces amazing art and transports the viewer through time and back again. How rich for the eyes to absorb a Gauguin and then a 1st Century, Chinese sculpture. It's a feast, especially at a page turn which moves from two images to a full spread. One can actually get lost in the Tomb of Sennedjem with the Anubis. My absolute heart-breaking favorite is Dog, 1951, by Alberto Giacometti.
"So, are these readertotz appropriate?" I hear you asking. YES! First of all, these are the images your babies will grow to love by this early exposure. Then, as they mature, the book can be used for further exploration. In the front matter, Colleen has wonderful questions you might ask your toddlers while reading together:
*What is the puppy doing?
*Does she look happy or sad? How can you tell?
*If this were your dog, what would you name him?
I'd add that the child could make a drawing inspired by his own favorite in the board book.
Talk about raising the bar in infant/toddler books, Dogs is appropriate for your coffee table! Watch how many adults pick it up and then share it with their own babies. Here's a special thanks to Colleen and Abbeville Press Publishers for enriching the arena of board books.
Listen to Colleen discuss the series in her own words through this podcast.
I, myself, have taught art lessons for nine years to children ages six through sixteen. I will be using these sturdy board books with my classes! As well as sharing them with the totz I know.
How Artists See Jr. Dogs, 2008
Abbeville Press Publishers
Lorie Ann Grover ~author/illustrator
Friday, December 26, 2008
Come to the Window
Come to the window,
My baby, with me,
And look at the stars
That shine on the sea!
There are two little stars
That play bo-peep
With two little fish
Far down in the deep;
And two little frogs
Cry "Neap, neap, neap;"
I see a dear baby
That should be asleep.
Enjoy the holidays with your readertotz!
~Lorie Ann Grover, author/illustrator
Monday, December 22, 2008
I’m a fan of David Shannon’s picture book, No, David!, which was named a Caldecott Honor Book, an ALA Notable Children's Book, and a New York Times Best Illustrated Book of the Year, and which lead to two more bestselling picture books about David. So I was interested when I ran across the three “Diaper David” board books, which explore the mischievous David’s toddler years.
Trying to choose which pages to display wasn’t easy because the illustrations in this book are all hilarious. The expression on David’s face here is so endearing, and he seems so proud of his, um, accomplishment. The little skunk on his blanket is a nice touch. There’s another spread that ties with this one for my affections. It's the one in which David seems to have more than the usual number of arms and legs as Mom tries to wrangle him into a pair of pjs.
Interested in owning the original art from Oh, David! or some of David Shannon's other books? Some of it’s available at Every Picture Tells A Story.
If your readertotz enjoy Oh, David!, they’ll be pleased to know there are two more in the “Diaper David” board book series: Oops! and David Smells.
Friday, December 19, 2008
As many head to their families and homes for the holiday, I thought this nursery rhyme was perfect! Catch the full roundup at author amok!
Just let your feet go clippetty clop
The tail goes swish and the wheels go round
Giddy up, we're homeward bound.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Now I'm thrilled to share our first monthly older sibling pick! I just have to give Joan a BIG HAND for Knuckleheads!
From Joan Holub . . .
One of my favorite spreads is when Handerella and the Finger Prints dance hand-in-hand at the ball, spelling “LOVE” in sign language, even as things turn to toe jam for her two step-sisters.
Meanwhile, that green witch slips from one tale to the next,
So, to show what I intended, I made a dummy full of simple black and white sketches. I shared it with my critique group, including the fabulous Dia Calhoun and Lorie Ann Grover, who cheered me on. After much revision, I submitted the dummy to Chronicle Books. Fortunately, the editors there had been on the lookout for a project for an amazing illustrator--Michael Slack. When my dummy came in their door, they knew his beautiful, quirky, humorous style, which is reminiscent of early fairy tale books, would be perfect! (My rough sketch is on the left; Michael's illustration of that same page on the right. Can you guess which of the four mini-tales in the book this is from?)
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
CO-FOUNDER OF READERGIRLZ AND READERTOTZ CELEBRATES A NEW BOARD BOOK: HUG, HUG!
Author/illustrator Lorie Ann Grover's new board book for babies and toddlers embodies the love of a hug.
December 16, 2008 (Seattle, Wash.) – readergirlz and readertotz co-founder and author/illustrator Lorie Ann Grover's new board book Hug Hug! has just been released from Little Simon. Endearingly illustrated by Rebecca Malone, the work beautifully expresses love from the largest animals to the smallest bug.
Hugs with our noses. (elephants) Hugs in red roses. (ladybugs)
Hugs round the neck. (giraffes) Hugs with a peck. (chickens)
"I loved the thought that we all snuggle and hug each other," says Grover. "It was exemplified as I watched Sumner High School band students greeting each other, and swallows were nesting in the school vents. Pairing a rhyme with each spread was the perfect format to mimic a hug and share this concept with parents and their babies."
Hug Hug! is a sturdy board book which introduces a love of reading to preschoolers and reinforces the comfort of a hug.
About readergirlz, readertotz, Lorie Ann Grover, and Rebecca Malone
readergirlz is the foremost online book community for teen girls, led by six critically acclaimed YA authors. The site is the recipient of a 2007 James Patterson PageTurner Award and the Association for Library Services to Children, ALA, Great Web Sites Award. www.readergirlz.com
readertotz is a blog which showcases infant-toddler books as an important addition to children's literature. http://readertotz.blogspot.com
Lorie Ann Grover is the author of three young adult verse novels (Loose Threads, On Pointe, Hold Me Tight) and three board books (When Daddy Comes Home, Hug Hug!, Bedtime Kiss for Little Fish). http://lorieanngrover.blogspot.com
Rebecca Malone is an illustrator from Massachusetts who enjoys creating beautiful works with acrylic paints. www.rebeccamaloneillustration.com
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Oh, my. I love writing for this blog! Joan and I knew we would have fun, but there is so much joy in sharing beautiful work. I just discovered Welcome Precious!
This is exactly what we mean by literary quality and beautiful illustration. If there was a board book award, this work would have been a contender!
The beautiful poet Nikki Grimes of Bronx Masquerade authored the lyrical text that welcomes the newborn to our world. Listen:
"Welcome to a world
wrapped in rainbow."
"For now, rest, Precious,
rest in the ark of my arms.
Rest, safe beneath the blanket
of love's lullaby."
From "wrapped in rainbow" to "the ark of my arms"....how-gorgeous-is-that? I find I keep returning to the beginning of this work to read the rhythm that is going to soothe your readertotz. The crisp, fresh images are a delight to the mind and ear.
And then there are the paintings by Bryan Collier!
Bryan's watercolors and collage glow with the joy of life. The layers of texture and color invite your eye to wander through his world and enter the love being shared between the characters.
I particularly respond to the portraits of the mother and then the father holding the baby. There's a looseness and freedom to the abstract backgrounds that brings a flowing, pulsing warmth to the illustrations. The magical bond between parent, child, and grandparent is caught by Collier's brush.
I just visited Bryan's online gallery and discovered his works are affordable! I don't think I can snag the images and post them here. You must go and see them. My favorite: "Love Can Be Heard."
Taking Care of Business:
Because Welcome, Precious was originally a picture book that was released again in a board format, let me take a moment to talk about reissues. How do we personally view them at readertotz?
Sometimes a reissue is a poor choice as the picture book is the best format for a text. Editing out text and illustration to accommodate the shortened board book structure is often detrimental to the story. Or packing it all in is just as poor of a choice. However, in other instances, the board book is actually the better form to communicate the story, or at least it is equally viable.
Joan and I are committed to responding to reissues as if they are first releases. We will not compare the work to its original form but view it exclusively as an infant-toddler book. Each reissue will be gauged against original infant-toddler books. Our aim is to bring you the best for your baby regardless of the work's publishing history.
Therefore, with confidence and pleasure we recommend Welcome, Precious to your readertotz library!
Welcome Precious, 2008
by Nikki Grimes and Bryan Collier
Lorie Ann Grover ~author/illustrator
Friday, December 12, 2008
As I ran around this morning, this nursery rhyme seemed terribly appropriate! Snuggle warm with your readertotz!
Monday, December 8, 2008
The dog on the cover has a large pink button as a nose, which can be unbuttoned to reveal the first page of the book. There is also a rabbit with ear-laces and a turtle that snaps. My favorite is the “zipper teeth” page, which shows an alligator with a green zippered mouth. When the zipper is unzipped, its teeth actually look a bit like alligator teeth. Very clever.
Inside Info: I’ve met author-illustrator, Nina Laden, at various writing events, so I asked her to give me some background scoop on the development of this book. Here’s what she told me:
“When I was a child, I had a cloth “book” called “Dressy Bessie.” Basically, it was a girl wearing clothing that you had to button, zipper, tie and snap. There were no words, and it was, in my mind, a little sexist. (Was there a “Dressy Dan?”) When I came up with “Button Nose” I knew I had to play with the simple words and tasks, and use animals to teach kids the motor skills they need to dress themselves. However, in order to submit this idea, I had to literally sew up the book. I am sewing-challenged. Thankfully I can do some simple things, so I bought cloth, buttons, zippers, snaps, laces and Velcro and put a dummy together. I drew the illustrations with marker on the cloth. Chronicle had never done a cloth book either, and it took about nine months to get the right materials and the best manufacturer.”
Note that this book is packaged in a plastic container, so you may find it hanging in a bookstore, rather than on a shelf. The book itself is about the size of a potholder and the cloth makes it easy for little hands to grasp.
Nina Laden (Author-illustrator)
Chronicle Books, 2008
Joan Holub ~author/illustrator
Friday, December 5, 2008
by Edward Lear
The Owl and the Pussycat went to sea
In a beautiful pea-green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
"O lovely Pussy! O Pussy, my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are, you are, you are,
What a beautiful Pussy you are."
Pussy said to the Owl "You elegant fowl,
How charmingly sweet you sing.
O let us be married, too long we have tarried;
But what shall we do for a ring?"
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the Bong-tree grows,
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
With a ring at the end of his nose, his nose, his nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.
"Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
your ring?" Said the Piggy, "I will"
So they took it away, and were married next day
By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon.
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand.
They danced by the light of the moon, the moon, the moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.
Lorie Ann Grover ~author/illustrator
Monday, December 1, 2008
Joan Holub and I are psyched to begin readertotz together. We each will be posting every other week about an infant-toddler book in board, novelty, and interactive formats. We'll also throw a few extra blogs in occasionally. Watch for author and illustrator interviews and the highlighted book of the month entry for the older sibling.
We hope you enjoy the monthly community service project in the sidebar, and the playlist which will be updated periodically. Hats off to our sister site readergirlz. Nobody does it better!
So here's a warm welcome to readertotz and let the blogging begin!
Our first feature is Leslie Patricelli's board book:
I'm so proud that this is our first book review at readertotz. Leslie's bald baby character, clad only in a diaper, is a spirited, endearing figure. Join baby as he demonstrates opposites in BIG Little with humor and enthusiasm.
Leslie's graphic, bold colors and thick black lines combine to create an energetic delight. Her layers of colors build rich depth in her flat paintings. I especially appreciate her hand lettering which brings a cohesiveness to the entire layout.
Leslie's humor will be appreciated by totz and adults.
"Ladies are BIG.
Ladybugs are little."
Each comparison she has chosen to illustrate big and little are things dear to a toddler's life: dandelions, puddles, trikes, and of course babies themselves.
"Heads are BIG.
Toes are little."
to the last:
"The moon is BIG.
My night-light is little."
Who can resist smiling at baby's square nose, wiggling toes, and pursed lips as he blows out his cupcake candle?
I can share that Leslie and I first took an amazing picture book class together about ten years ago under Keith Baker and Laura Kvasnosky. Leslie and I sat next to each other as she wrote dandelion poems, and I wrote a book about squirrels. As critique partners a few years later, I had the pleasure of seeing her baby board books in dummy form. Margaret Chodos Irvine and I knew these would bring joy to many. Needless to say, we were right! Woohoo! Here's a recent photo of me and Leslie.
As a side note, Joan and I are author/illustrators, and we will review and celebrate books of authors we don't know and of those we do, dare I even say, our friends? The industry is not that large, and we refuse to overlook the best of the best, because of a relationship. Our aim is to bring great infant-toddler books to you. So enjoy!
Here's to Leslie Patricelli's board book BIG Little.
* Click on the cover to purchase from Powells.
Lorie Ann Grover ~author/illustrator