Tag Archives: illustrations

Take a Look in Picture Books!

by Katrina Morse for Family Reading Partnership

How is a “p” different from a “q” and a “b” not the same as a “d”? The little details that make letters different from one another require good observation skills that children develop with practice. Noticing differences and similarities also helps when learning to draw, read, study the natural world, and learn a new sport. Details matter! Slow down and just look. You and your child will see a new world.

It’s easy to use picture books to help your child develop observation skills. Most children’s books have little details in the illustrations that may tell even more about the story than the words. The next time you read together notice what is the same and different in the pictures from one page to the next. Are there objects or actions not mentioned in the story that you find? It’s a fun game to play.

Use any of your favorite picture books or try some of these and play the “same and different” game.

“Birds,” by Kevin Henkes, illustrated by Laura Dronzek. Simple, playful text describes how birds are many colors, shapes, and sizes. Compare them all. Then in some “what if”” scenarios we see how with some imagination birds can paint colors across the sky with their tails and a tree-full of crows can fly away in a rowdy surprise.

“Little Cloud,” written and illustrated by Eric Carle. A picture book for the very young child. See Little Cloud as he changes from one shape to another before becoming part of a big rain cloud. After reading, look at real clouds in the sky with your child and see if any look like familiar objects.

“Flotsam,” by David Wiesner. This is a wordless picture book, so all you can do is look and see what has changed in each illustration! The pictures reveal the story of a boy at the beach finding an underwater camera washed up on the shore. When he develops the film, he can’t believe what he sees. There are many details to discover on each page.

“The Snail and the Whale,” by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler. Charming illustrations and rhyming text together tell the story of a great adventure. Seagulls, a cat, and many little snails are supporting characters in the pictures at the start of the story, but are replaced by penguins and seals at the north pole and then parrots and crabs in tropical islands. Each place the snail and whale travel around the world is a new place depicted in detail. Is the cat in the beginning the same cat at the end? Take a look.

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Filed under I spy, imagination, observation skills, same and different, wordless picturebooks

Children’s Book Award Winners Announced

What would your family pick as the very best children’s storybook? What about the very best illustrations in a children’s book? It’s hard to choose, isn’t it? But the American Library Association does choose each year and gives awards for what they decide is the best in American children’s and young adult books published the year before.

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This week the winners of two of the most well known awards were announced. For best illustrations, Jon Klassen was awarded the 2013 Randolph Caldecott Medal for his book “This Is Not My Hat,” published by Candlewick Press. For best story, the 2013 John Newbery Medal went to Katherine Applegate for her mid-grade children’s book, “The One and Only Ivan,” published by HarperCollins Children’s Books.

This year is the 75th anniversary of the Caldecott Medal. Starting with the first award given in 1938 to Dorothy P. Lathrop for her illustrations in a book by Helen Dean Fish, one illustrator has been honored each year since for his or her creative representations of stories for children.

The round, bronze Caldecott seal is added as an embossed sticker to the cover of a book when it has won the award. The medal almost guarantees that the book will never go out of print because bookstores and libraries will always want to have these award winners on their shelves.

The image on the Caldecott medal is from an illustration by 19th century artist Randolph Caldecott. It pictures a man on a runaway horse with squawking geese, barking dogs, and astonished people in his wake. Caldecott’s etchings were unique compared to other illustrators during his time because they showed humor and action, and so, this medal for most distinguished pictures in a children’s book bears the Caldecott name.

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A portrait of Randolph Caldecott, his book illustration, and the Caldecott medal with the image from his illustration.

 

Looking at past Caldecott winners such as “A Ball for Daisy” by Chris Raschka (2012), “A Sick Day for Amos McGee” illustrated by Erin Stead, text by Philip Stead (2011), “The Lion and the Mouse” by Jerry Pinkney, (2010), “Grandfather’s Journey” by Alan Say, text edited by Walter Lorraine (1994), “The Polar Express” by Chris Van Allsburg (1986), and “Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears” illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon, text retold by Verna Aarmedma (1976), the style of illustration winning the award has varied tremendously.

It seems like each year the book that is awarded a Caldecott medal is chosen especially because the art is so very different from past years. See what you think when you look at some Caldecott winning books. Remember that the story of a Caldecott winner isn’t judged; only the illustrations are under consideration.

The best story in children’s books is awarded the Newbery medal. Along with the Caldecott and dozens of other children’s literature awards given annually by the American Library Association, librarians, teachers, and parents have the choice of reading a lot of winners!

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Wordless Picturebooks

If you’ve ever seen a children’s book that has no words, just pictures, you may have wondered how to even go about “reading” it. How can you read a book to a child when there is no story?

Ah, but there is a story! The illustrations tell the story and it is up to you and your child to come up with your own narrative. Share the pictures together and use imagination and good observation skills to see the plot.

Look for the beginning, middle, and end to this story–the sequence of events. Ask questions and soon your child will be asking questions about the pictures too. Take your time and really look at the illustrations. Your child may see little details in the pictures that you miss.

Wordless books can be adapted to many levels of understanding. Model story telling and talk about the emotions of the characters in the book. Can your child imagine how the characters are feeling?  Together, predict what will happen next. You will be stretching your child’s thinking and using the pictures to expand your child’s vocabulary.

Try some of these wordless picture books and enjoy telling stories together!

“Wave” by Suzy Lee. Delightful illustrations of one little girl, 5 seagulls, and the seashore in only black ink and blue paint on white paper. We see the girl interacting with the ocean as the seagulls mirror her humorous reactions to the waves lapping up on the sand.

“Chalk” by Bill Thomson. Almost photorealistic illustrations of three children and a bag of chalk on a playground. Their chalk drawings come to life and cause some problems for the children, until the weather changes.

“Pancakes for Breakfast” by Tomie dePaola. A little old woman wakes up on a cold winter night and decides to make pancakes. We see the origin of all the ingredients needed for pancakes as she collects eggs, milk, maple syrup, and butter.

“Rainstorm” by Barbara Lehman. A young man lives a lonely life in a big house surrounded by his servants and dressing formally in a suit and tie for meals. One day when it’s raining, he finds a key to a door that leads him on an adventure to a sunny place where children run barefoot in the grass!

“Carl Goes to Daycare” by Alexandra Day. One of many books about Carl the Rottweiler. This is an “almost wordless” book with realistic, loosely painted watercolor illustrations. Carl is one very smart dog; he even seems to know how to read, which is lucky for the daycare teacher.

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Filed under children's books, family reading, wordless picturebooks