I've been reading up a storm in the way of chapter books as you can tell if you've been checking out my Shelfari widget that I added here on the blog. It occurred to me that I haven't talked about chapter books at all, even though I'm constantly reading or listening to a couple. And... I'm not going to blog about them today either. Simply because I have a couple of books that I want to feature that don't fall in that category. I love books with illustrations. I'm a bit of an art junkie, even though I don't tend to get the intellectual side of it all. I've done a lot of crafting and painting, just for fun, and so can appreciate the work that goes into illustrating a book. So, I'm going to feature a couple of books that I've pulled off the shelf specifically to take a look at their illustrations. I ran into both of these by reading about their illustrators on one of my favorite blogs, Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.
by Jennifer Sattler
I'm not really one of those flamingo fanatics. Come on, you know you're out there. Those of you who put flamingos in your front yard and are huge Mary Chapin Carpenter fans. But I think I've become a little bit of a fan after seeing this book. I always enjoyed looking at the flamingos when we went to the zoo, mostly because they stood so still, I always wondered if they were real. And then every once in a while they would MOVE. Here's the thing about flamingos. (Yes, I know I'm going on forever. Just hang on.) They are so very graceful looking when they are just posed on that one leg. How do they do that? Their legs are so skinny, like a stick. And then they walk and they look AWKWARD. So there you have it, the duality of flamingos, awkward little graceful things, they are. And now I'm going to get into the book...
Somehow Jennifer Sattler nailed that awkard gracefulness that all flamingos have in her illustrations. Now I want to know, how did SHE do that? And it's a great story besides. And the story goes: Sylvie is a young flamingo. She looks around and notices that her whole family is pink and wants to know why. Well, you are what you eat, right? And flamingos eat pink stuff (seafood, right?). So Sylvie decides she's going to branch out and try something new. She takes a little nibble of all sorts of colorful things on the beach, including a paisley swimsuit, and changes colors accordingly. Here's where the illustrations are just amazing because Sylvie practically dances across the pages with her long awkward legs. But after taking a taste of a lot of different snacks, Sylvie doesn't feel that great. In fact, she just doesn't feel like herself at all. She goes back to her family and eats some more shellfish, and then she feels just like she should. The story of Sylvie would be great for an "I Like Me" theme and reminds me of Leo Lionni's A Color of His Own.
If you want to read more about Jennifer Sattler and her artwork, check out the interview at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.
Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Color
by Joyce Sidman
illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski
I don't have as much to say about this book, but I really do appreciate the combination between the poetry of Joyce Sidman and the artwork of Pamela Zagarenski. The artwork is so very detailed that my three-year-old spent a lot of time just looking. The simple, yet exquisite, poetry on each spread focuses on one or two colors (a couple of spreads have many colors), with splashes of that color throughout the scene and cleverly illustrating the concepts into a more concrete form for little ones to understand. "In SPRING, Red sings from treetops: cheer-cheer-cheer, each note dropping like a cherry into my ear." The accompanying artwork shows redbirds in the tree with very delicate little red notes sprinkled throughout the sky looking very much like cherries. So, my daughter and I had discussions of cardinals and how their song does sound like "cheer", how berries fall from our crabapple tree, and what musical notes look like (very much like cherries, don't they?). What a great teaching tool! And to top it off, we're learning to read individual words, so I was thrilled that the color words are all in their appropriate color(the rest of the text is black or white, depending on the background color). My daughter might not have been able to read the word, but she got a great hint to give her success even before we sounded out the word. This one should definitely be used with the older preschool set, ages 3 - 5.
Here's the interview with illustrator Pamela Zagarenski at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.