Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Module 5 Journal

In a successful picture book the illustrations and the text should reinforce each other and create a sense of unity between the visual elements and the story. In the 5 books you have chosen to discuss, evaluate how well the visual elements (line, color, shape, style, details) reinforce or extend the characterization, setting and theme of the book. Do the two elements work to create a unified whole?

Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems
Knuffle Bunny is a blend of cartoons and photographs. This gives the book a different kind of feel than most picture books. It is a collage of bright colored cartoons and muted black and white photographs. The cartoon's lines and shapes are curved making the clean lines of the realistic background all the more striking. Trixie's wide expessive eyes show dismay and shock over losing Knuffle Bunny. Her boneless technique is shown with great comedy as limbs fall in abnormal poses. The pictures reinforce how lost Trixie is without her favorite stuffed animal and her joy at finding him once again. Father's lack of understanding is finally shattered by lightning bolts crashing around him as Mother asks "where's Knuffle Bunny?" This book is a great example of how pictures can enhance a story.

Pinduli by Janell Cannon
Pinduli is set on the African plains and uses a blurred background to represent the vastness of these plains. The vivid blue sky and the yellow desert make the characters the focus point of the book and how they learn their lesson of not hurting other feels with their words. Pinduli is illuminated when she is covered with pale dust by the dark blue background. The reader can barely make out the few trees blurred into the background, instead the reader sees how unhappy Pinduli has become. The illustrations enhance the characters of the book by making them the focus and not getting lost in the details of the background.

Cinderella Skeleton by Robert D. San Souci and illustrated by David Catrow
Line, Color, Shape, Style, Details
Cinderella Skeleton never lets the pictures become to scary for kids. The style of the art is to comic with the skeletal characters coming off as over the top. The colors clash and are garish with bright yellows and reds making the backgrounds jump on several pages, yet some pages have an autumn feel with brown and gold leaves littering the floor. Cinderella is not your usual beautiful young girl but the foulist in the land, this is shown not only through the books discriptive text but through the pictures where Cinderella is looking troubledly through the window. The illustrations show that this world is unlike ours and how this different Cinderella can still achieve a happily ever after.

Bats at the Library by Brian Lies

Lies uses his illustrations to enhance the story of bats visiting a library. The bats have a distinctive personality and the richly detailed pages of bats in classic stories evoke nostalgia for older books such as Pipi Longstocking and Winnie the Pooh. The warm tones invoke a feeling of saftey and an intimate feeling towards the library. The shadows are not scary but comforting for the bats. They are the perfect place to hide or to add a little detail to the illustrations. The attention to detail of the books is shown on the very first page where the family of bats is hanging upside down but it is only the roof of the house in the upper right hand corner that gives it away.

Owl Moon by Jane Yolen, illustrated by John Schoenherr
The watercolor illustrations of Owl Moon depict a winter walk between a father and daughter. The contrasting colors of milky white snow and the dark forest gives the book a wonderous feel. The true warmth of the book comes from the loving bond beween the father and daughter. Their faces are almost blurred out at times so the reader could imagine themselves walking along the dark forest. The long shadows and small footprints are clearly defined by the white background. On every page there is a small detail, like a mouse in a hole of a log or a train smoking in the distance. The illustrations enhance the theme of the beauty of the forest at night and the love between a parent and child.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Module 5 Book Review

Book Info
Cinderella Skeleton by Robert D. San Souci, Illustrated by David Catrow
Cinderella Skeleton lives with her evil step-mother and step-sisters. She longs to go to the Prince's Halloween Ball but does not have a dress or coach. The nice wich down the road helps her but she must be home by sunrise. After dancing the night away, she runs at the sight of dawn but the Prince snaps off her foot and tries to find her.

My Thoughts
Cinderella Skeleton was a beautifully illustrated and it was a great twist on the Cinderella story. It had the feeling of The Corpse Bride and Coraline. I would have enjoyed this book as a kid and loved it as an adult.

Gr 3-7-Not for the faint of heart, this retelling continues the author's fascination with "Cinderella" tales. In challenging vocabulary and a complex rhyme scheme, the clever narrative tells of Cinderella Skeleton, a wraith who lives in a mausoleum with her horrific stepmother, Skreech, and stepsisters Gristlene and Bony-Jane. She wiles away her days streaking the windows, hanging cobwebs, and feeding bats until the Halloween Ball invitation arrives. A good woodland witch conjures up the usual participants into a funeral wagon, dragon steeds, a gown, and slippers, but in fleeing from Prince Charnel at sunrise, Cinderella breaks off her slippered foot mid-calf. Gross, yes, though later other ghosts break off their shinbones with the hope of fitting the leg-and-slipper remains ("Wire or glue; you're good as new!" snaps the stepmother as she pulls off each girl's foot). Catrow's wonderfully weird pencil-and-watercolor illustrations feature wiggly lines, lurid pink and bilious green accents, large-eyed skeletons, and grotesque mutantlike creatures. The envious stepfamily conveniently shrivels to dust, which is certainly less horrible than other endings (though younger readers will still be disturbed about those broken legs). This darkly humorous and spooky variation will tickle the twisted tastes of upper-elementary and middle-school readers if it is displayed where they'll find it.
(School Library Journal, 2000)
This book would make a great center piece for a Halloween display at the library. It can be enjoyed by both older and younger readers. It could be placed with The Grave Yard Book Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Twilight, ghostgirl, and The Halloween Tree. It could also be placed with a grouping of fractured fairy tales, like The Stinky Cheese Man or The True Story of the Three Little Pigs.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Graveyard Book and How I Live Now

Book Info
The Grave Yard Book by Neil Gaiman

Nobody Owens, otherwise known as Bod, is your typical boy except for the fact that he lives in a grave yard, is raised by ghosts and has a guardian who may be a vampire. Not only does Bod have to deal with the dangers of living among the dead, but we must never leave or else be killed by a mysterious man named Jack.
My Thoughts
This book is one that could not put down until the end. Neil Gaiman is a hit or miss with me. I loved Neverwhere and Coraline but hated Stardust and American Gods. I was wary at first but as soon as Bod tumbled into the cemetary and is adopted by ghosts I was sold. I liked the illustrations and thought they moved the story along quite well.
(Fantasy. 10 & up) Wistful, witty, wise--and creepy. Gaiman's riff on Kipling's Mowgli stories never falters, from the truly spine-tingling opening, in which a toddler accidentally escapes his family's murderer, to the melancholy, life-affirming ending. Bod (short for Nobody) finds solace and safety with the inhabitants of the local graveyard, who grant him some of the privileges and powers of the dead--he can Fade and Dreamwalk, for instance, but still needs to eat and breathe. Episodic chapters tell miniature gems of stories (one has been nominated for a Locus Award) tracing Bod's growth from a spoiled boy who runs away with the ghouls to a young man for whom the metaphor of setting out into the world becomes achingly real. Childhood fears take solid shape in the nursery-rhyme-inspired villains, while heroism is its own, often bitter, reward. Closer in tone to American Gods than to Coraline, but permeated with Bod's innocence, this needs to be read by anyone who is or has ever been a child. (Kirkus Reviews, Aug. 2008)
Holloween is coming up and this book would work great in a display for teens and tweens along with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Twilight, ghostgirl, and The Halloween Tree. These books have a scary feel that will excite teens and get them in the mood for Halloween.

Book Info
How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
Daisy is shipped off to live with her Aunt and cousins when her father remarries and her new step-mother is expecting a baby. She falls in love with her cousin Edmond and they start a sexual relationship when her Aunt leaves for a conference. War starts suddenly and she is seperated from her new family, except for her younger cousin Piper and their sheep dog Jet. Daisy struggles to deal with the war and taking care of Piper while dreaming of Edmond.
My Thoughts
I was intrigued by this book and found myself enjoying the stream of consciousness writing narrated by Daisy. It was shocking at the end when she started using correct puncuation and giving characters actual lines but I think that was the point. The book took me a few days to read because it dealt with so many different things I had to put it down and reflect. Daisy is a character that sticks with you because of her problems such as anorexia, falling in love with her cousin and surviving a war.
Gr 8 Up-- Impending war, parental rejection, and anorexia are 15-year-old Daisy's concerns as she steps off the plane in England to stay with her aunt and four cousins. Meg Rosoff explores what happens when war leaves these five youngsters to fend for themselves in this Michael L. Printz Award winner...Rosoff handles the harshness of war and the taboo of incest with honest introspection. (School Library Journal, Oct. 2005)

This book would be placed in the teen section of my library because of the adult content. I would also start a display that highlighted award books and include this one in the Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Module 3 Journal

Choose 5 picture books that were published in 2008 or 5 picture books that were published in 2009. Look at the criteria for the Caldecott Award. If you were on the Caldecott Award Committee, which do you think best fits the criteria and should win the award? Which should be honor books? Why? Make sure you explain fully your reasoning and list the books, authors, and illustrators for all 5 books.

Bats at the Library by Brian Lies (Winner)
This book has won for its excellence of execution in the artistic technique employed. The story is enhanced by the artwork and tells its own story. The bats have a distinctive personality and the richly detailed pages of bats in classic stories evoke nostalgia for older books such as Pipi Longstocking and Winnie the Pooh. The attention to detail of the books is shown on the very first page where the family of bats is hanging upside down but it is only the roof of the house in the upper right hand corner that gives it away.

Way Up and Over Everything by Alice McGill, illustrated by Jude Daly (Honor Book)
This book is a Caldecott Honor book because of the stylized art that is spare but the elegant design enhances the folk-art watercolor illustrations. The watercolor landscapes of the Georgia country shows a vast area that is hard to escapse into. The characters in the story are almost stick figures but are realistic enough to draw young readers in. The story is seen from a birds-eye view and adds to the taking to the air and flying away. Younger children will be able to follow the story through pictures as it is read aloud.

A Visitor for Bear by Bonny Becker, illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton (Honor Book)
A Visitor for Bear is set in watercolors, ink, and gouache. This book is a pure delight and the engaging characters of Bear and Mouse are brought to life by the delightful illustrations. Bear is a comic character with his wild gestures and tiny apron but Mouse is small and easy to miss however is always popping up in unexpected places looking happy to see Bear. It is fun to see the tiny Mouse advancing friendship to the large Bear and proves that just because you are small doesn't mean you should be afraid. Their interaction sets the mood for this playful story.

Buffalo Music by Tracey E. Fern, illustrated by Lauren Castillo
Buffalo Music has a very rustic feel that comes out throught the muted tones that make up the American prairie. The characters are outlined in thick black lines and the buffalo calves look warm and fuzzy. Although the mixed-media illustrations depict the west well with its greys and browns, the illustrations did not show the excellence of presentation that the others did.

Boogie Knights by Lisa Wheeler, illustrated by Mark Siegel
Boogie Knights is cutely drawn in doodles and in full page artwork. It is a fun book that has many pictures that advance the plot and even a sub-plot involving a scared prince that is spying on the festivities. Although the illustrations are quite good and help move the story, it does not have the depth of the others.

Caldecott Award Committee Criteria

1. In identifying a distinguished picture in a book for children,
a. Committee members need to consider:
Excellence of execution in the artistic technique employed;
Excellence of pictorial interpretation of story, theme, or concept; of appropriateness of style

of illustration to the story, theme or concept; of delineation of plot, theme, characters, setting
mood or information through the pictures.
b. Committee members must consider excellence of presentation in recognition of a child

2. The only limitation to graphic form is that the form must be one which may be used in a picture book. The book must be a self-contained entity, not dependent on other media (i.e., sound or film equipment) for its enjoyment.

3. Each book is to be considered as a picture book. The committee is to make its decision primarily on the illustration, but other components of a book are to be considered especially when they make a book less effective as a children's picture book. Such other components might include the written text, the overall design of the book, etc.

Module 3 Book Reviews

Book Info

Mirette on the High Wire by Emily Arnold McCully


Mirette lives in a boarding house in Paris that caters to people in show business. One day she sees a man named Bellini walking on the clothes line and falls in love with tightrope walking. She begs Bellini to teach her and after much persuasion he teaches her the basics. Bellini admits he is afraid of walking on the tightrope but stages a demonstration and freezes halfway through his act. Mirette comes to the rescue and they finish the routine together.

My Thoughts

I thought this was a lovely book that showed how practicing something is very important. I also loved the vivid colors because it reminded me of a Renoir painting. Mirette's spirit really shines through in this book and I'm sure kids will relate to her dare-devil spirit!


K-Gr 4—As improbable as the story is, its theatrical setting at some historical distance, replete with European architecture and exotic settings and people, helps lend credibility to this circus tale. Mirette, through determination and perhaps talent, trains herself, overcoming countless falls on cobble-stone, vaunting pride that goes before a fall, and lack of encouragement from Bellini. The impressionistic paintings, full of mottled, rough edges and bright colors, capture both the detail and the general milieu of Paris in the last century. The colors are reminiscent of Toulouse-Lautrec, the daubing technique of Seurat. A satisfying, highspirited adventure.

(School Library Journal, Jan. 1993)


This book shows an important lesson that practice is the only way to get better at something. What is something you have to practice to make better? This can include a musical instrument, martial arts, writing, or even a cartwheel. Have to children give a demonstration of something they have practiced.

Book Info

Magic Windows by Carmen Lomas Garza


Magic Windows is a bilingual (English/Spanish) look at Carma Lomas Garza's artwork and how she was inspired by her Grandmother and Mother to make papel picado (cut-paper art).

My Thoughts

Garza makes the art of paper cutting look so easy in her book and I know it is hard. I'm in charge of decorating our office and snowflakes are about all I can handle. I really liked the fact that the book is bilingual because so many of the students who live in Texas speak Spanish.


Gr 1-5 --A collection of full-page reproductions of Lomas Garza's papel picado, cut-paper art, accompanied by short explanatory narratives in Spanish and English. The intricate cutouts have bold, thick lines and severe angles and the artist uses delicate connectors, such as cactus spines and corn silk, to hold the images together… A brief description accompanies each scene. Although the cutouts successfully demonstrate Lomas Garza's considerable artistic skill, the presentation is not entirely effective. The reproductions appear flat, making them look more like computer-generated art than fragile paper cutouts. The book can best be used and most fully appreciated in conjunction with a hands-on introduction to the art form.

(School Library Journal, Jul. 1999)


This book is the perfect activity starter! Teach the children how to make their own simple windows. One simple cut paper art is the snowflake. I have added a link to a good website that explains how to make one.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Module 2 Journal

Choose at least one of the chapter books you read for this module. When was the book published? What are the gender roles of the characters? Do they reflect the time period in which they were written? Why or why not? What are the major issues, themes and/are problems in the novel? Are they are reflection of the time period during which they were published or are they more universal issues, themes and/or problems? In other words, what does the book "say" about the time period during which it was written and published?

The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes was published in 1944 and features three little girls going to school in that time period. The gender roles of the story are very strongly ingrained into the story line. The school has an art contest where the girls must design a dress and the boys a motor boat. This does reflect the gender roles of the 1940’s where women did not go into engineering but rather fashion design, a secretarial school, or stayed at home. The girls of the story all wear dresses and would never even think of wearing anything else to school.
The major issue of the book is how the bullying of Wanda Petronski makes Maggie uncomfortable but is unable to stand up to her best friend Peggy, the main instigator. The problems of dealing with bullying are universal issues and there are still books today that help kids deal with schoolyard bullying. Today’s bullying may be a little more easier with the invention of e-mail and texting because it follows the child into the home but in the 1940’s they could only taunt in the schoolyard where adults were scarce. The book deals with Maggie and Peggy “having fun with” Wanda and teasing her about her claim of having a hundred dresses despite only wearing the same dress to school every day. They felt it was okay to tease her because she had a different kind of last name than them which was a common ideology of new immigrants coming into America. The author even goes as far as to state “and she wasn’t just an ordinary person, else why would she have a name like that.” The books of today usually take the point of view of the person being bullied but this book takes the perspective of Maggie a girl who wishes the bullying would stop but does not have the courage to stand up to her popular best friend. Her thoughts of having the teasing turn in her direction show how hard it is to deal with the peer pressure of teasing someone less fortunate than herself. The fact that Maggie had a made over dress that Peggy gave her made her even more afraid that she would be the next target.

Module 2 Book Reviews

Book Info
Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

Mole gets tired of cleaning his underground home and goes for a walk along the river. He meets Rat who introduces him to Mr. Frog and Badger. These four friends have adventures that include a stolen motorcar, getting lost in the Wild Wood, and recapturing Toad Hall from the ferrets.

My Thoughts
I have always wanted to read this book but never had the time and was very excited to to finally have the chance. I was not disapointed and read it all in one sitting. I especially liked Mole who was so excited to experience the world by the River. The friendship the characters shared was heartwarming and I can understand how his son wanted Grahame to publish the beloved bedtime stories. I loved how lyrical the book read and all the discriptive parts. It would be the perfect book to read aloud to kids.
K-Gr 6 --This handsomely illustrated, unabridged edition celebrates the 100th anniversary of Grahame's classic animal fantasy. Ingpen's detailed paintings blend earthy tones with fire-lit highlights to create a warm mood... Both the woodland scenes and animal abodes are charmingly depicted, and the characters, costumed in 19th-century garb, have loads of personality. An appealing choice, particularly for sharing aloud.
(Booklist, April 2009)

This is a perfect book to read aloud to kids. Ratty is always writing poetry about the River in Wind in the Willows. After reading the book kids can create their own poems about something they love.

Book Info
Millions of Cats by Wanda Gag
Coward-McCann, Inc, NY 1928

An old man goes out to find a cat for his wife because they are lonely. He brings home millions of cats because he can not choose which one he thinks is the prettiest. They let the cats decide which one they should keep but the eat each other up leaving only the most homely kitty left. They take the kitten home to bath and brush until it it turns out to be a very pretty cat after all.

My Thoughts
Over the weekend I helped a friend pick out a cat at the animal shelter and this book just made me remember all the animals that need a home. Most of the time it is the thin scraggly animals that need the home.

"Considered by many to have ushered in the age of the modern picture book, this Newbery Honor winner is characterized by innovative design and a strong storyteller's cadence."
(School Library Journal, Jan. 2000)

This book can be used by a librarian to talk about pets. The librarian can have kids discribe their pets or what kind of pet they want.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Module 1 Journal

Choose 1 of the "Books Adults Love" from the reading list. Discuss the following statements and questions: Many children's books are written to appeal more to adults than children. For which age group would this (these) books appeal? How does it meet the developmental needs of that group? Would you consider this book more appealing to adults than children or equally to both? Why?

I believe The Runaway Bunny was written for the 10-18 month stage of the social-emotional development in children.

It meets the developmental needs of that group by gaining the trust social-emotional development in children. It meets the developmental needs of that group by increasing the infants learning to trust. An infant, according to our lecture notes, needs to learn to trust that people (parents) will take care of them and keep them safe. This book invokes a reassuring response in the infant. The comfort and security of know the mother bunny will always come for the baby bunny. Many people see it as controlling but I view it as an exercise in trust. The baby bunny teases that it will run away from home and it is hoping that the mother bunny will come after him to make the world a safer place.

“If you run after me,” said the little bunny,
“I will become a fish in a trout stream and I will swim away from you.”
“If you become a fish in a trout stream,” said his mother,
“I will become a fisherman and I will fish for you.”

Even the way he says “Shucks…I might just as well stay where I am and be your little bunny” does not invoke a case of smothering mothering but of peace and security of knowing there is a safe place where he belongs. Even the language-repetitive patterns of the book gives the book a balanced feel. The rhythm and timing of the book are perfect for little ones.

I think this book appeals to both children and adults. Many children have asked their parents to read them this book over the years and it has not been out of print since its publication in 1942. This book was printed right after World War II and in this time many children felt scared and displaced. The point of the book is not of keeping your child in your home forever but to make them feel secure for the time being. I will admit that this book may appeal to adults because you do want make sure your child is always within your sight but overall, I think this was a sweet book that little children and their parents can enjoy together at bed time.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

SLIS 5420 Module 1

Book Info
Bats at the Library
Written and Illustrate by Brian Lies
Houghton Mifflin Company 2008


A bored colony of bats fly through an open library window. While the older bats go an look for their favorite books, the younger bats explore and play with the library equipment. The young bats finally settle down and they read to each other where they imagine themselves into classic books.

My Thoughts

This book is extremely cute and I enjoyed the homage of classic stories. I loved the half hidden Hobbit hole, the Peter Rabbit Bat, and the bats reading Goodnight Sun. I genuinely laughed out loud when I saw the Winnie the Pooh bat. I would never have thought that exploring a library through a bats perspective could be so much fun.


PreS–Gr. 3.--An open library window is an invitation for a colony of bats in this sequel to Bats at the Beach (2006)... The bat homage to classic children’s books includes titles like Goodnight Sun, while images such as Little Red Riding Bat will amuse children who are familiar with the originals. The rhymed narrative serves primarily as the vehicle for the appealing acrylic illustrations that teem with bats so charming they will even win over chiroptophobes.
(Booklist, Oct. 2008)

PreS-Gr 3
--In this companion to Bats at the Beach (Houghton, 2006), Lies pays homage to the pleasures to be found within libraries and books... Lies's acrylics are a successful fusion of fantasy and reality. The rhyming narrative is generally smooth, with enough humor and sophistication to propel readers along. And who can argue with the message?
(School Library Journal, Nov. 2008)


This book could be used in conjunction with a childs first visit to a library to make them feel at home in the library. They could make a drawing of a bat in their favorite story to tie it all together.

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