Radiant Art

Posted May 4, 2017 by cathyso3
Categories: Award-Winning Books

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“Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.” ~Henry Ward Beecher

I was not familiar with Jean-Michel Basquiat until I read, Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, written and illustrated by Javaka Steptoe, Little, Brown and Company. This book was awarded the 2017 Caldecott Medal, the 2017 Coretta Scott King Award for its illustrations, and the 2017 NAACP Image Award Nomination for Outstanding Literary Work.

radiant

From an early age, Jean-Michel knew he wanted to become a famous artist. His mother was a creative spark in his life, exposing him to literature, theater, museums, and the energy of New York City. His father brought home old paper from the office on which Jean-Michel drew for hours. When his mother became ill, Jean-Michel lost an important mentor in his life. More than ever, drawing and painting were his passion. At night, he spray-painted poems and drawings on the walls in the New York City. His pieces brought attention to the city’s diverse population and its social and political issues. Basquiat’s unique style was embraced by art critics and fans, and, at a young age, he achieved his goal of becoming a famous artist.

“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” ~Edgar Degas

What makes this book truly amazing is Javaka Steptoe’s eye-catching illustrations. In the back matter of the book, he provides more information about Jean-Michel Basquiat and adds a poignant author note. Javaka Steptoe was inspired by Basquiat’s work. He saw his graffiti in New York City, read about Basquiat in the newspapers, and went to one of his art shows. In illustrating this book, Steptoe says he used his own interpretations of the artist’s works rather than using copies. The end result is a book filled with vivid illustrations inspired by Basquiat and his unique style. Through his text and art, Javaka Steptoe exposes readers to an extraordinary artist and offers them an opportunity to learn and appreciate artists and their compositions.

“The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place: from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider’s web.” ~Pablo Picasso


 

Problems, Problems

Posted April 27, 2017 by cathyso3
Categories: Picture Books

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Tuesday was World Penguin Day. Who can resist penguins? They’re cute, and they waddle. I hope you didn’t forget your inner child and you waddled like one on Tuesday.

Did you know that sometimes penguins have problems? Read on.

big pen

Penguin Problems written by Jory John and illustrated by Lane Smith, Random House Books for Young Readers.

Penguin is having a bad day. Nothing is right. It’s too early. It’s too cold. There’s too much snow. It’s too bright. It’s one problem after another. Then a walrus comes along with some inspirational words about appreciating what you have. It takes Penguin a while to realize there is a point to the walrus’s words, and Penguin begins to see the world around him as a better place. But then again, there are always Penguin problems. Lane Smith’s delightful illustrations combined with Jory John’s text make this book a laugh-out-loud success for both children and adults.

Waddle to your local library or bookstore and pick up Penguin Problems and some of my other penguin favorites.

pinecone

Penguin and Pinecone: a friendship story written and illustrated by Salina Yoon, Walker & Company

little

 Little Penguin Gets the Hiccups written and illustrated by Tadgh Bentley, Balzer & Bray/Harperteen

grumpay

 Grumpy Pants written and illustrated by Claire Messer, Albert Whitman & Company

tango

 And Tango Makes Three written by Justin Richardson; Peter Parnell and illustrated by Henry Cole, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

 

 

Earth Day 2017

Posted April 20, 2017 by cathyso3
Categories: Special Days

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“The wealth of the nation is its air, water, soil, forests, minerals, rivers, lakes, oceans, scenic beauty, wildlife habitats and biodiversity… that’s all there is. That’s the whole economy. That’s where all the economic activity and jobs come from. These biological systems are the sustaining wealth of the world.” ~Gaylord Nelson

Gaylord Nelson, a popular political figure from Wisconsin, is the founder of Earth Day. He had the foresight to understand the need to protect our environment. On April 22, 1970, millions of Americans gathered to raise awareness about our environmental problems and demand that our elected officials see the necessity to do something about it.

This Saturday, April 22nd, we continue to celebrate Earth Day. The theme of this year’s event is Environmental and Climate Literacy.

Below are selected picture books to share with young readers to help them become more knowledgeable about our environment and to encourage them to take care of our earth’s precious gifts.

tidy

Tidy written and illustrated by Emily Gravett, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

watersong

Watersong written by Tim McCanna and illustrated by Richard Smythe, Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books

giant

The Lonely Giant written and illustrated by Sophie Ambrose, Candlewick Press

pond

Over and Under the Pond written by Kate Messner and illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal, Chronicle Books

bag

One Plastic Bag: IsatouCeesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia written by Miranda Paul and illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon, Millbrook Press

wangari

Wangari’s Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa written and illustrated by Jeanette Winter, Harcourt Children’s Books

green

What Does It Mean To Be Green? written by Rana DiOrio and illustrated by Chris Blair, March 4th Inc

garden

The Curious Garden written and illustrated by Peter Brown, Little, Brown Young Readers

lorax

The Lorax written and illustrated by Dr. Seuss, Random House Children’s Books

stew

Compost Stew: An A to Z Recipe for the Earth written by Mary McKenna Siddals and illustrated by Ashley Wolff, Tricycle Press

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s National Library Week

Posted April 13, 2017 by cathyso3
Categories: National Library Week

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“A library is not a luxury but one of the necessities of life.” ~ Henry Ward Beecher

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Town Library

It’s National Library Week. If you haven’t visited your local library recently, now is the time to do it. Libraries are a gift. Read what others have to say about libraries.

“Information helps you to see that you’re not alone. That there’s somebody in Mississippi and somebody in Tokyo who all have wept, who’ve all longed and lost, who’ve all been happy. So the library helps you to see, not only that you are not alone, but that you’re not really any different from everyone else.”          ~ Maya Angelou

photo 16dBoston Public Library

“Libraries store the energy that fuels the imagination. They open up windows to the world and inspire us to explore and achieve, and contribute to improving our quality of life.” ~Sidney Sheldon

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“It is an awfully sad misconception that librarians simply check books in and out. The library is the heart of a school, and without a librarian, it is but an empty shell.” ~ Jarrett J. Krosoczka

IMG_0873Home Library

“As a kid, I would get my parents to drop me off at my local library on their way to work during the summer holidays, and I would walk home at night. For several years, I read the children’s library until I finished the children’s library. Then I moved into the adult library and slowly worked my way through them.” ~Neil Gaiman

photo 1 (61)Little Free Library

“A library is a good place to go when you feel unhappy, for there, in a book, you may find encouragement and comfort. A library is a good place to go when you feel bewildered or undecided, for there, in a book, you may have your question answered. Books are good company, in sad times and happy times, for books are people – people who have managed to stay alive by hiding between the covers of a book.” ~E.B. White

“Entering a library is like being welcomed into the comfort of home.”       ~Cathy Ogren

Support our libraries!

 

Hooked on Poetry

Posted April 6, 2017 by cathyso3
Categories: National Poetry Month

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April is National Poetry Month.

What is poetry?

If you ask a child, the answer most likely would be that poetry is something that rhymes. This is true, but we also know that poetry is much more than that. Let’s look at poetry from a child’s point of view. Poems that rhyme are fun because they have rhythm and beat. Kids get into that. If a poem is funny, that’s even a better incentive to get kids hooked on poetry. Exposure to different types of poetry is key to getting kids to read more, more, more.

Mother Goose rhymes are a great starting point to engage children. Most are short and can be acted out. Don’t delay. Unlock the door to poetry, step inside with your child, and enjoy. Take a gander at the poetry books below and see which ones tickle your fancy. There is something for everyone.

mother

Mary Engelbreit’s Mother Goose: One Hundred Best-Loved Verses illustrated by Mary Engelbreit, HarperCollins

lullaby.JPG

Lullaby & Kisses Sweet: Poems to Love with Your Baby selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Alyssa Nassner, Abrams Appleseed, Board Books

kennedy

Poems to Learn by Heart selected by Caroline Kennedy and illustrated by Jon J. Muth, Disney Press

Patrick

Keep a Pocket in Your Poem: Classic Poems and Playful Parodies selected and written by J. Patrick Lewis and illustrated by Johanna Wright, Wordsong

beat

Feel the Beat: Dance Poems that Zing from Salsa to Swing written by Marilyn Singer and illustrated by Kristi Valiant, Dial Books

sidewalk

Where the Sidewalk Ends written and illustrated by Shel Silverstein

 

What Is Your Burning Question?

Posted March 30, 2017 by cathyso3
Categories: Special Days

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I know exactly what your burning question is:  Why is today special?

Today we celebrate Robert Wilhelm Eberhard Bunsen’s birthday. He was a chemist and the creator of the Bunsen Burner. You probably remember the Bunsen Burner from high school chemistry. It’s a gas burner used in labs, and it has a metal tube and with an adjustable air valve at the bottom. You might also remember singeing your eyebrows or hair if you got too close to the flame. Ouch!

Since this is also the end of Women’s History Month, I have the burning desire to celebrate Bunsen Burner Day and share a few more biographies of women who set the world on fire and made a difference in the field of science.

women in science

Women in Science:  50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World written by Rachel Ignotofsky, Ten Speed Press

Magnificent minds

Magnificent Minds:  16 Pioneering Women in Science and Medicine written by Pendred E. Noyce, Tumblehome Learning, Inc.

hidden

Hidden Figures Young Readers’ Edition written by Margot Lee Shetterly, HarperCollins

Marie

Who Was Marie Curie? written by Megan Stine and illustrated by Nancy Harrison and Ted Hammond, Grosset & Dunlap

ideas

Ada’s Ideas:  The Story of Ada Lovelace, the World’s First Computer Programmer written and illustrated by Fiona Robinson, Abrams Books for Young Readers

Picture books worth reading:

ada

Ada Twist, Scientist written by Andrea Beaty and illustrated by David Roberts, Abrams Books for Young Readers

rosie

Rosie Revere, Engineer written by Andrea Beaty and illustrated by David Roberts, Abrams Books for Young Readers

Hot stuff here!

 

 

 

Tips for Writing Humor

Posted March 23, 2017 by cathyso3
Categories: Humor, Writing

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You have an idea for a great picture book. It’s a funny idea. It’s so funny that tears of laughter run down your cheeks. You know this is the manuscript that will put your writing over the top, and you’ll soon be bringing in the big bucks. Go for it. Get that manuscript down on paper and get it out to the masses.

But before you begin on your laugh-out-loud masterpiece, here are a few tips you may want to keep in mind. There are elements in every humorous picture book that contribute to the humor.

Peter Pearson, the author of How to Eat an Airplane, knows humor. He suggests several ways it can be used in picture books. Humor happens when things don’t go together, when characters do unexpected things, when there is a unique premise, or when something totally unexpected happens. Humor also has to do with timing, pacing, and language.

With language, a variety of techniques can be incorporated into your writing to add humor. Think personification, alliteration, repetition, lively verbs, rhythm, rhyme, and onomatopoeia. Remember, too, that as a picture book, a child should be able to relate to it, and it should move along quickly with perfect page turns. And don’t forget to leave room for the illustrator to do his magic. Above all, your book needs to have some emotional level to which the reader can relate. It has to have heart!

There you go – tips for writing humor. They may sound simple, but simple is often deceiving. Get thee to a library and read all the humorous picture books you can find. In fact, read all types of picture books and then read some more.

Check out my last post for some examples of humor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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