Archive for the ‘Writers and Illustrators’ category

A Book Lover

December 11, 2014

Have I told you about my good friend, Mary Petersen? She’s the ultimate book lover. As a former elementary school teacher and a school librarian, she’s a pro at book talks and continues to inspire and promote reading at all levels.

Visiting Mary’s home is delight. It’s like walking into a cozy library. Books! Books! Books! They’re everywhere.



photo 1 (37)

photo 2 (35)

Charming knickknacks, pictures, and pillows related to reading adorn shelves, walls, and tables.


photo 2 (28)

Although Mary enjoys a wide variety of genres, picture books make up most of her collection. If you walk into Mary’s yard, you’ll find a Little Free Library filled with books and a bench nearby to relax and read.

photo 1 (38)

photo 1 (34)

Mary’s home is a place where you want to curl up on one of her comfy chairs and read to your heart’s content.

I asked Mary to share a bit more about herself and her book choices.

What made you such a book lover?

Public libraries and particularly the librarians in the children’s rooms. No matter where my family moved there were always friendly librarians with great books to recommend.

Your family is very lucky that you’ve made books such a priority in their lives. Why do you think books are so important?

Books introduce one to new ideas, new cultures, new ways of thinking, and new relationships.

What types of illustrations speak to you?

Woodcuts, collage, and realistic paintings

Favorite woodcut illustrators are Mary Azarian, Betsy Bowen, Michael McCurdy, and Ashley Wolff.

Favorite collage artists are Eric Carle, Leo Lionni, Lois Ehlert, Melissa Sweet, and Carin Berger.

Favorite realistic paintings artists are Jerry and Brian Pinkney, Wendy Halperin, and Jane Dyer.

I notice your shelves are filled with picture books. Why do you choose them over middle-grade or young adult?

The artwork! It’s like having a personal art gallery in my home. I like being surrounded by fine art. I like introducing children to the art as well.

Other favorite artists:

Leo & Diane Dillon

Floyd Copper

Steven Kellogg

Cynthia Rylant

Wendell Minor

Steve Jenkins

Kevin Henkes

Douglas Wood

Donald Crews



Robert Sabuda

Helen Oxenbury

Ernest Shepard

Keiko Kasza

If you’re looking for a great picture book experience, you can’t go wrong with any of Mary’s suggestions!

Cheers, Chairs, and ALL THE WORLD

May 25, 2012

The world is smaller than you think. Look around. More often than not, there is someone or something that sparks a light of familiarity from another time or place.

Last weekend we attended UW-Madison graduation and spent time celebrating on the Memorial Union Terrace, overlooking Lake Mendota. We sat in the famous “sunburst” chairs as we raised our cups to give cheers to the graduate.

“Mendota Blue” Sunburst Chair

This week I began book inventory in our school library. I reshelved the book, All the World, written by Liz Garton Scanlon and illustrated by Caldecott Honor medalist, Marla Frazee. There is one particular double-page spread I take special pride in pointing out to students. Marla Frazee created an illustration of a café with sunburst chairs and tables – chairs and tables exactly like those on the Wisconsin Union Terrace.

In this beautiful book, whether you know it or not, a familiar part of Wisconsin has been represented. It’s a small world after all!

Black History Month Authors and Illustrators

February 17, 2012

Black History Month is ticking away, and my library students are busy celebrating the African American experience with books. They have discovered a wide variety of genres written and illustrated by some awesome African American writers and artists.

Picture books, poetry, folktales, historical fiction, biographies, and nonfiction have been discussed, passed around, checked out, and enjoyed. It’s heartwarming to see students get excited about books they wouldn’t ordinarily choose. They’re learning to step outside of the box for a new literary experience.

What we’ve come to know during our author/illustrator study is that being exposed to different cultures and ethnic backgrounds enhances our knowledge of the world around us.

We grooved to the rhythmic words in Jazz written by Walter Dean Myers and illustrated by Christopher Myers. We tapped our toes to Leo & Diane Dillon’s Rap A Tap Tap Here’s Bojangles – Think Of That! We learned what it’s like if you have a passion to succeed in For the Love of the Game written by Eloise Greenfield and illustrated by Jan Spivey Gilchrist. Lessons of love and acceptance came our way in The Other Side written by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by E.B. Lewis and Show Way also by Woodson and illustrated by Hudson Talbott. Richard Wright and the Library Card written by William Miller and illustrated by Gregory Christie and SitIn How Four Friend Stood Up by Sitting Down written by Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrated by Brian Pinkney demonstrated the hardships black Americans were up against in their struggle for equal rights.

We’ve looked at works by Jerry Pinkney, Virginia Hamilton, Nikki Giovanni, Bryan Collier, Patricia and Fredrick McKissack, Floyd Cooper, and Rita Williams-Garcia. We’ve been wowed by their talent and impressed by their numerous literary awards.

Celebrate Black History Month. Read. Learn. Enjoy.

“We should emphasize not Negro History, but the Negro in history. What we need is not a history of selected races or nations, but the history of the world void of national bias, race hate, and religious prejudice.” ~Carter Woodson, 1926

Illustrations by Kadir Nelson

February 10, 2012

Whenever I see a book written or illustrated by Kadir Nelson, it immediately goes on my wish list for our library collection. I am captivated by his talent as an artist. Kadir Nelson’s illustrations are so life-like you want to reach out and touch them. His ability to reveal the joy, pain, and sadness in the faces of his subjects is uncanny.


Kadir Nelson celebrates his heritage in art and words. His work has been acclaimed by many. In the children’s publishing industry he has been honored with the Coretta Scott King Author and Illustrator Awards, the Robert F. Sibert Award, the Caldecott Honor Award, and the NAACP Image Award to name a few.


In January, Nelson’s Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans won the Coretta Scott King Author Award and was the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book. He is a talent not to be overlooked.

February is Black History Month. Kadir Nelson and his illustrated books are two perfect ways to commemorate this event. Get one from your library today!


January 10, 2012

The American Library Association Midwinter Meeting is quickly approaching. Do you know what that means? The ALA will announce the Youth Media Awards. I can’t wait to hear who all the winners are, but my two favorite awards are the Caldecott and the Newbery.

There are so many excellent books out there. Choosing is difficult. I’m not an expert, but I know what I like. Here are some of my choices.

For the Caldecott Medal:  A colorful group.

Blue Chicken written and illustrated by Deborah Freedman (Viking Juvenile, September 2011)

Blackout written and illustrated by John Rocco (Hyperion Book CH, May 2011)

Red Sled by Lita Judge (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, November 2011)

Jonathan and the Big Blue Boat written and illustrated by Philip C. Stead (Roaring Brook Press, June 2011)

Me … Jane written and illustrated by Patrick McDonnell (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, April 2011)

For the Newbery Medal: 

Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart written by Candace Fleming (Schwartz & Wade, February 2011)

The Mostly True Story of Jack written by Kelly Barnhill (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, August 2011)

Inside Out and Back Again written by Thanhha Lai (HarperCollins, February 2011)

Okay for Now written by Gary D. Schmidt (Clarion Books, April, 2011)

Bigger than a Bread Box written by Laurel Snyder (Random House Books for Young Readers, September 2011)

Will one of these books be an award winner or will the selection committee surprise us all?  What do you think?



%d bloggers like this: