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Giant Squid

fleming_giant squid

Do you like creepy, shiver-inducing monster stories? If so, you’ve got to see Giant Squid by Candace Fleming, illustrated by Eric Rohmann. Sometimes when we discuss an information book — yes, it’s nonfiction — here, there are debates about whether it’s really a picture book. Is there enough play between art and text? Is there […]

Teaching poetry

Poetrees

In a short 6-week module like the one I teach at Harvard Ed School, time is the enemy. My quixotic goal for this too-short class is to expose students to all aspects of children’s literature, in breadth and in depth. Of course, every year and there is something I wish we had discussed in more […]

Sarah S. Brannen and Ekua Holmes

Photo: Pamela Mason

During last night’s class, we had two guests: Sarah S. Brannen and Ekua Holmes, both illustrators of information books we were reading for this week. Sarah S. Brannen illustrated Feathers: Not Just for Flying by Melissa Stewart and has nearly twenty books under her belt. Ekua Holmes has one book out so far: Voice of […]

Can One Balloon Make an Elephant Fly?

Can One Balloon Make an Elephant Fly?

Earlier this fall, we took a careful look at Emma and Julia Love Ballet based on Julie Danielson’s recommendation. Here’s another title that Julie has high on her radar. (I hope all of you  illustration-lovers follow her blog Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. Whenever I need in-depth information about illustrators, I try Seven Imp first. […]

Folklore and poetry | Class #5, fall 2016

Folklore and poetry

For our class on November 16, we are reading four books and one article. I like combining these two genres because both need to be read aloud in order to really appreciate them. Folklore has to have a strong voice, as it comes from an oral tradition where storytellers have individual styles, just as today’s […]

Javaka Steptoe on Radiant Child

Radiant Child

In our November/December 2016 issue, reviewer Lolly Robinson spoke with author/illustrator Javaka Steptoe about his personal connection to the subject of new biography Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. Read the full starred review. Lolly Robinson: You and your father, John Steptoe, were both artists in NYC when Basquiat was working. Did […]

Review of Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat

Radiant Child

Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat by Javaka Steptoe; illus. by the author Primary    Little, Brown    40 pp. 10/16    978-0-316-21388-2    $17.99 Picture books about artists are tricky. Should the illustrator mimic the subject’s style, or instead attempt to capture his or her essence? Steptoe does a little of both in this introduction […]

Why teachers should know the Virtual History Exhibit

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We have an opening in the post schedule this week because there’s no class tonight, so I want to make a plug for our Virtual History Exhibit which displays items from our archives over the past 100 years. Because of our unique place in the history of children’s books in the US, the VHE has […]

Information books | Class #4, fall 2016

informationbooks_2016_square

Our next class will be in two weeks, on November 9. We’ll be talking about five information books: Actual Size by Steve Jenkins Me…Jane by Patrick McDonnell Feathers: Not Just for Flying by Melissa Stewart, illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen Dave the Potter by Laban Carrick Hill, illustrated by Bryan Collier Voice of Freedom: Fannie […]

Chapter books | Class #3, fall 2016

julian_joey_omakayas

This week we are reading three chapter books — The Stories Julian Tells by Ann Cameron, Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key by Jack Gantos, and The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich. Each is the first book in a series and each has a strong central character, an element that I think is essential in early […]