Friday, July 31, 2009

Poetry Friday: Broadway Across America

I just wrote and posted this haiku at my blog, On Point, and realized it's kind of fun for our readertotz, too. If The Lion King hits your town, GO! It was a lifetime memory for our family!

Broadway Across America

Gazelles ready to
leap for Simba the Lion
King, dancing through town.

Lorie Ann Grover, 2009

Catch the full roundup with Sylvia Vardell at Poetry For Children.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

For the Older Sibling: The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques Cousteau

What makes a picture book stand out from the crowd? How about unique art treatments, interesting layouts, intriguing perspectives, and tight text? The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques Cousteau includes each of these elements and more. When I first opened this work, I knew I was holding a gem. I'll be shocked if this doesn't garner awards.

Author/illustrator Dan Yaccarino's text relays the life of Cousteau, from childhood to adult. The simple font does not detract from the illustrations and almost reflects the voice of the storyteller. The pacing of facts, interspersed with quotes from Cousteau, is brilliant. Yaccarino conveys so much feeling in this non-fiction work.

"The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever." Jacques-Yves Cousteau

Yaccarino's gouache and airbrush treatments perfectly capture the underwater world. The layers of imagery and color pull the attention into the multitude of details. The large format is able to hold the world Cousteau uncovers.

I've watched adults pick up this work and say, "I didn't know Cousteau co-invented the Aqua-Lung," while children say, "I didn't really know who he was before." Then both groups sink into the story.

I'm so happy to share this beautiful book with you this month. The siblings, friends, and family of your readertotz will be amazed by Cousteau's journey, discoveries, and achievements, captured and shared brilliantly by Yaccarino. Here's my favorite quote which concludes the book:

"If we were logical, the future would be bleak indeed. But we are more than logical. We are human beings, and we have faith, and we have hope, and we can work."

The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques Cousteau

by Dan Yaccarino
Alfred A. Knopf, 2009

Monday, July 27, 2009

readertotz CHALLENGE: The Kunhardt Award

Thanks to everyone for their input on our idea of a board book award. Everyone is truly in favor of the Kunhardt Award!

Let's remember that unlike the Geisel Award which was named to honor Dr. Seuss' collective body of work, the Kunhardt choice would be based on the fact that Dorothy Kunhardt created the 1940 groundbreaking board/novelty book Pat the Bunny which still generates 250,000 sales a year.

So, American Libraries Association, we put forward the Kunhardt Award! We would like to see this award given to the best contribution to the board book/novelty arena. What book published in the given year represents the strongest art and appropriate text for the youngest reader? What book is going to engender a lifelong love of literature in our babies and toddlers?

Let's encourage authors, illustrators and publishers to create the best in this important field. Let's offer the Kundhardt Award!

~Lorie Ann Grover, author/illustrator, co-founder of readergirlz and readertotz
and Joan Holub, author/illustrator, co-founder of readertotz

Lost Sheep and the Scary Day: Christina Goodings and Claire Henley

How do you convert a Bible story into the board book format and retain the accuracy of the one and the toddler appeal of the other? Lion Children's Book has done this with their series All Join In. I was skeptical at first but then delightfully surprised!

Author Christina Goodings has reduced the scriptural parable to the fewest words for plot. Then she has added repeated animal and nature sounds to further increase interest and tension.

"slurp slurp
scritch scritch"

Illustrator Claire Henley's paintings are fresh and bright. Her layout of the book will catch your totz' eye. Each half spread is a close depiction of animals, along with the first of the shepherd. The rich treatment balanced by a spot illustration on the opposing page creates a strong rhythm. The final full page spread with a flap is a fun reward at the story's conclusion.

Here's to publishers who offer the richest stories to totz in accessible ways. Brava to writers and illustrators who create them.

Lost Sheep and the Scary Day

by Christina Goodings
illustrated by Claire Henley
Lion Children's Book, Lion Hudson pic, Trafalgar Square Publishing, UK: 2007, US: October, 2009

Friday, July 24, 2009

Poetry Friday: These Chickens, from Syria

Here's a Syrian nursery rhyme to share with your totz this Friday! Thanks, Mama Lisa.

These Chickens

These chickens... How they are beautiful
They are walking around their mother happily
They drank water and said Wow Yum Yum
They raised their heads and thanked God happily.

Catch the roundup with Mary Lee Hahn at A Year of Reading.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Silly Suzy Goose: Petr Horacek
Suzy Goose may look like your average white goose with an orange bill and feet, but she has a big imagination. She can see the merits of being all sorts of other animals:

If I were a giraffe, I could S T R E T C H up high.

But she can see the merits of just being herself as well.

With cut-paper and collage illustrations which are pleasingly reminiscent of Eric Carle, this sturdy board book is filled with examples of animals and common action words and sounds associated with them. It's longer than average at 17 pages (32 spreads) and is suggested for ages 1 to 3.

Also see Lorie Ann's review of this book in her June 15th post. We reviewed the same book without realizing each other had chosen it. I think this speaks well for this book.

Silly Suzy Goose
Petr Horacek, author-illustrator
board book
Candlewick Press, 2006

~ reviewed by Joan Holub, author

Friday, July 17, 2009

Poetry Friday: Hush You Mice!

I love uncovering these nursery rhymes from other lands! Mama Lisa is a great resource. Today's is from Russia and translated by Natalia, with an appearance by Angelina Ballerina.

Hush You Mice!

Mice are dancing in a round,
On a bench a cat is sleeping.
"Hush, you mice, don't make such noise
Or you'll wake up Vaska Cat
Vaska Cat will jump and leap
And will spoil and break your round."

Catch the roundup with Becky Laney at Becky's Book Reviews.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

readertotz CHALLENGE: Name that Board Book Award...

*waving to you from ALA*

When Joan and I began readertotz, our mission was to raise the profile of board and novelty books while challenging writers to contribute their very best for the youngest readers. Our long term goal is to see an award created for the very first books that ignite a love of reading.

Here at ALA, we are celebrating the Newbery, Caldecott, Printz, and other prestigious awards. Why not an award for the best board book published?

Today, July 12th, 2009, Joan and I put forward two names for the first board book award for literary and artistic merit:

The Nordstrom Award
Shall we honor Ursula Nordstrom, (1910-1988) the amazing editor-in-chief of Harper & Row from 1940-1973, who edited Margaret Wise Brown's Goodnight Moon, our country's most beloved board book today? True, the book was originally 32 pages, and only took the board book form in 1991, but no one can contest what Ursula contributed to children's literature. And this board book will stand for generations.


The Kunhardt Award
We would remember Dorothy Kunhardt the author of Pat the Bunny, possibly the first interactive book for babies. Printed by Random House, Golden Press Golden Books in 1940, the work still generates 250,000 sales a year, rating only second in all time sales behind The Tale of Peter Rabbit. It would be an honor for board book creators to receive The Kunhardt Award, remembering the woman who broke the ground for us today.

Please feel free to repost this entry and generate feedback. Which do you prefer?

And a thought recently came to mind. Is there room in the Cybils awards for board book winners? What do you say? Thanks for your input!

~Lorie Ann Grover, author/illustrator, cofounder of readergirlz and readertotz

Friday, July 10, 2009

More More, More!: April Pulley Sayre at ALA Annual

Hanging at ALA and I ran into April Pulley Sayre, 2008 Geisel Honor Winner for:

Here's the Amazon blurb:

"Turkey vultures soar on the balmy air, looking for their next stinky feast. These birds don’t hunt—they like their food to be already dead, and their eating habits serve a very important ecological role. Vultures are part of nature’s clean-up crew.

In her signature poetic, energetic style, acclaimed nature writer April Pulley Sayre introduces young readers to the world of the turkey vulture. The gorgeous illustrations by Caldecott Honor–winning artist Steve Jenkins capture these birds in all their surprising majesty."

April has written over 50 natural history books. What an awesome contribution to the field. On behalf of our totz, we thank you, April!

Poetry Friday: Our Baby, a Chinese Rhyme

Here's a fun Chinese nursery rhyme to introduce to your totz. Enjoy!

Our Baby

Mrs. Chang, Mrs. Lee,
Mama has a small baby;
Stands up firm,
Sits up straight,
Won't eat milk,
But lives on cake.

Catch the roundup with Jama Rattigan at Jama Rattigan's Alphabet Soup.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Little Fish Signing

I had one of the best signings ever at Costco! Just take a look at Lucy, my perfect match. :~) Thanks to everyone for their support of this super event! *hug, hug, kiss, kiss*

~Lorie Ann

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Update for Wednesday's Wins

Thanks to Joan for all the Wednesday Wins so far this year! Just an fyi: she's taking the summer off as she's writing her head off. Yay! She'll resume the wins in September.

We'll still continue our weekly reviews, celebrations of Poetry Friday, and occasional extras at totz, however. So stay tuned and drop comments. Onward!

And admit, this fella is soooo cute! Chillin' in summer.

fat baby mouse

Monday, July 6, 2009

Lily's Twinkly Bedtime: Katie Peters
Lift the large, glittery flaps in this Sweetheart Fairies book and you'll see Lily the fairy saying good night to her three fairy friends in this sturdy board book. Each time she bids another fairy friend good night, the friend gives her an object she'll need for her own bedtime: a blanket, a teddy, and a book.

Lily says good night to Rosie,
and finds her blanket, soft and cosy.

The sparkly flaps each have a small half-oval cut-out--a good idea because it made them easy for me and the totz I read this book with to lift. The colors are attractive and appropriate to fairies--pink, blue, and other pastel hues. A cute bedtime book!

PW Review

Lily's Twinkly Bedtime

Katie Peters, author
Sanja Rescek, illustrator
Scholastic, 2008

~ reviewed by Joan Holub, author

Friday, July 3, 2009

Poetry Friday: The Lion and the Unicorn

The Lion and the Unicorn

The lion and the unicorn were fighting for the crown
The lion beat the unicorn all around the town.
Some gave them white bread, and some gave them brown;
Some gave them plum cake and drummed them out of town.

Catch the full roundup with Tabatha A. Yeatts.