Tag Archives: Pre-K

A Picture Book for Newbery! Last Stop on Market Street

laststoponmarketstreetLast Stop on Market Street by Matt De La Peña
Illustrated by Christian Robinson

I jumped up and down when this book was announced at the Youth Media Awards press conference — after the initial “WHAT? Really?  A picture book text?” Then, it was, “YAY!  Finally.  A real picture book has won the Newbery!”  Great job.  Committee!

However, it was not until today, when I finally re-read the text, blocking out all the illustrations, just paying attention to the rhythm, the word choices, the imagery, the heart and soul of this seemingly simple text for the very young that I realized how marvelous a choice this book is for the award.

By recognizing the text, which allows for so much imagination and chances of deep discussions, especially literary ones, the Newbery Committee has affirmed the significant value of finely crafted text for young children.  I can still recite many passages from Margaret Wise Brown’s The Important Book because I read that book to my daughter when she was still in her crib.  Every night, for months, and no matter how many times I read it aloud, I found myself admiring the genius writing page after page.  I am quite certain that the reason my daughter appreciates poetry and what she calls “good writing” in the adult books she reads now that she’s 16 is her wide exposure to excellent texts like The Important Book,  So Said the Little Monkeys, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Madeline, and many others.

I am ordering copies of Last Stop on Market Street for my Middle School Library and will encourage middle grade teachers to use the book to inspire students to interpret the text as they envision in their mind.  CJ could be anyone.  Nana could be anyone’s grandma.  The boys on the bus with something CJ envies do not have to share ear-buds on their iPod and the imagery of the large tree “drinking through a straw” was never depicted literally in the illustration anyway.  The students in a language arts class will simply bask in the glory of the text like “The outside air smelled like freedom,” and “rain, which freckled CJ’s shirt” and have a rigorous mental workout to understand the implied interactions and emotions.

And ample discussion opportunities for the ending, when Nana does not give her usual deep laugh… now what is that all about?

De La Peña sure wrote a distinguished book!

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A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams

A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos WilliamsAuthor: Jen Bryant; illustrated by Melissa Sweet
Rating:
Reading Level: pre-k to 5th grade (depending on how the book is to be used)

Publisher: Eerdmans
Edition: Hardcover, 2008

Oh, how I absolutely
love this book
adore it
for its simple
informative text
admire it
for the collage and
water color illustrations

showing the time
the world and
the spirit of the poet
who was a doctor,
healed wounds,
delivered babies,
and soothed
our souls

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How to Heal a Broken Wing

Author: Bob Graham (illus.)
Rating:
Reading Level: toddler to 3rd grade

Publisher: Candlewick
Edition:Hardcover, 2008


How to Heal a Broken Wing Since I am not one who usually loves books with strong and obvious messages, I surprised myself for really liking this one. Why? First and foremost, I think it is because that there is a real plot and emotional arc in the telling of this gentle and simple story of hope. Hope in healing the wounds of the world (a page with the TV screen showing the current War in contrast with the family’s loving care of the bird); hope in having our next generations to have compassion for the world around them; and hope for the inter-generational “collaboration” in finding ways to heal.

Graham’s cartoon illustrations do not reduce the emotional impact of the story — the varied composition, perspectives, page layouts, all contribute beautifully to accentuate the events and the interior motions of the characters. That one spread where you only see Will and the bird with broken wing (as an extreme close-up from the spot on the cover) is superb! The more and more closely I examine this work, the more I appreciate it. (So, just changed from 4 to 5 stars!)

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The Black Book of Colors

Author: Menena Cotton, illus. by Rosana Faria
Rating:
Reading Level:pre-k – 2nd (and all ages)

Publisher: Groundwood
Edition: 2008, Hardcover

The Black Book of ColorsWhat a unique and amazing book!!!! I am speechless and wish everyone could read/touch/experience it!

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Bear’s Picture

Author: Daniel Pinkwater; illustrated by D.B. Johnson
Rating:
Reading Level: pre-k, k, 1, 2

Pages: np
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Edition: Hardcover, 2008

Bear's PictureAbsolutely fabulous! The text is matter-of-fact; straightforward; and it conveys a great sentiment — the artist’s own interpretation is enough to make any artwork worthwhile. A bear can be a painter and he can paint whatever he feels like and see whatever there is in the picture without being told by others that he can’t paint or what his artwork means.

And the ART in this book is unusual, for sure. The contrast between the gray-scale color scheme of the three characters and the vibrant multi-colored painting keeps the readers’ focus on the “real” protagonist of the story: the painting, in progress and in its final state. I love how the bear’s scarf gets progressively messier, with more colors until it’s completely covered. And of course, the page where you must turn the book around to see the final picture from bear’s point of view of a bear that is embedded within the autumn honey tree, cool stream, hollow log, field of flowers, and the two gentlemen’s hats is such a beautiful and breathtaking moment! The color scheme reminds of of Kandinsky and Klee in their modern, abstract style. The final image of bear sleeping in the hollow log (his own creation) engulfed by the snow is the perfect and calm end note to a rigorous story.

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The House in the Night

Author: Susan Marie Swanson; illustrated by Beth Krommes
Rating:
Reading Level: Pre-k, K, babies

Pages: np
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Edition: Hardcover, 2008

The House in the Night This one has a classic look and a classic feel — from its scratch board, 3-colored (black, white, yellow) illustrations to its minimalistic and poetic text — a great addition to bedtime lullaby stories. This one doesn’t make me say, “Who needs another bedtime story? Don’t we have ENOUGH?” Obviously, we don’t since talented writers and artists like Swanson and Krommes still have new things to offer for new generations of children and their parents. The pictures are worthy of looking closely over and over again (thanks to the artistically and strategically placed yellow ink and the cosmic scope of the “story”.) This repeatability is definitely one reason why parents and children can enjoy the book night after night.

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Duck at the Door

Author: Jackie Urbanovic (also the illustrator)
Rating:
Reading Level: pre-k to 2nd


Publisher: HarperCollins
Edition: Hardcover, 2007

This is an absolute WINNER! The text is sparing and just right to convey the situations from page to page — I enjoyed the individual thoughts from the animals mixed in with the straightforward text.

Each animal in the house is distinctly designed and incredibly adorable/attractive/expressive. Their body language speaks volumes!

The surprising second-to-last spread made me *GASP* with horrified delight.

This whole package just WORKS!

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