Posted tagged ‘Imagination’

A Gift of Imagination

December 7, 2017

If someone asks me what I want for Christmas, I’d say a green umbrella. Why?  Because it’s much more than an ordinary umbrella. It’s an object that tickles your imagination and takes you on extraordinary adventures.


The Green Umbrella is written by Jackie Azúa Kramer and illustrated by Maral Sassouni. On a rainy day, Elephant is taking a walk with his umbrella when he meets Hedgehog who insists Elephant has his boat and tells him of his boat adventures. When Elephant says Hedgehog is mistaken, Elephant offers to share his umbrella with Hedgehog. Along comes Cat who insists Elephant has his tent and tells of his tent adventures. Elephant says Cat is mistaken but offers to share his umbrella. The story continues as Elephant meets different animals who are convinced his umbrella is not really an umbrella but something else. In the end, despite their differences, they all become friends. Maral Sassouni’s illustrations are whimsical and rendered in soft pastels. The Green Umbrella is a delightful book of imagination, sharing, and friendship.

Get me that green umbrella!




Don’t Be Afraid to Make a Mistake

October 12, 2017

What if no one ever made a mistake? That would be the biggest mistake of all. Throughout history, mistakes have led to great strides in making our world a better place.


A perfectly delightful picture book written and illustrated by Corinna Luyken is The Book of Mistakes. The endpapers begin with a splat of ink and end with a charming surprise. Luyken begins her story with spare text and seemingly simplistic sketches rendered in black ink and surrounded by white space. The reader learns the artist has made a mistake. She corrects it by coming up with a good idea, but then there are more mistakes followed by more good ideas. With each page turn, colors seep into the illustrations. In the middle of the book, there are five wordless spreads in which the artist’s illustrations become more intricate and more colorful. At the end, Corinna Luyken poses the question, “Do you see—” which makes readers pause to think. The final illustrations and text give the reader a closer look into the creative mind of the author/artist who demonstrates how inspiration can change a simple mistake into something amazing.

Make no mistake. Grab hold of this book now!





Get Ready to Turn these Pages

September 14, 2017



If you’re looking for a book to get your toddler/preschooler moving, take a look at Lucy Cousins’ picture book, Hooray for Birds. This book is filled with bold, bright colors and invites the child to imagine he/she is a bird and do what the birds do. The fast–paced rhymes begin with a “Cock-a-doodle-doo!” in the morning and continue throughout the day until it’s time to say good night. Don’t be surprised if your little one insists you read the book again and again, and you’ll oblige because this book is fun for everyone!


Bird, Balloon, Bear written and illustrated by Il Sung Na is quite the opposite of Hooray for Birds. This is a gentle story about finding the courage to make a new friend. The text is spare and the illustrations in the book are muted and soft with a fun double page spread. What makes this book special is it lends itself to cuddling together as you turn the pages to reveal how a friendship blossoms.

These two books are looking for a space in your library.



December 1, 2016

If you have very young children, you know they have a language of their own – uhda, madee, ticka …  They know what they’re saying, but it’s up to us to figure it out. And that brings me to a picture book that fascinates me. When I first heard about this book, I was convinced it was written in a foreign language. When I finally got my hands on it, I was in for a big surprise!



Du Iz Tak? is written and illustrated by Carson Ellis. The text is sparse, using “invented” words. With that in mind, Carson Ellis has masterfully crafted a fanciful story filled with creativity and imagination. Two damselflies discover a shoot growing out of the ground. Other insects investigate the growth. After some interesting discussion and the help of Icky the bug, they build a tree house in the growing shoot. Drama comes into play with the addition of a huge spider, a hungry, bird, and a blossoming flower. While all of this is taking place, a caterpillar has made its cocoon. At night, a violin-playing insect sits above the cocoon and plays to the night sky. This oversized picture book is one that needs time to absorb. Ellis’ illustrations are filled with the beauty and wonder of nature and what can happen when imagination blossoms. This circular story has a very satisfying ending and lends itself to close examination and discussion.

Another picture book with invented words and fun to read is Best Frints in the Whole Universe by Antoinette Portis. See my comments here.


Planting Season

May 26, 2016

In my part of the world, warm weather has taken the place of the extreme cold of winter and early spring. Jack Frost has packed his icy bags for a long vacation. Spring is here, and summer is not too far behind. It’s time for planting gardens!

Fresh vegetables are a boon to everyone’s health. Crunchy radishes, long green beans, juicy tomatoes, crisp lettuce leaves – all this can be yours. A little plot of land or a few dirt-filled buckets will do. Get the family together and plant those seeds, nurture them, and watch them grow.

While you’re waiting for your veggie delight, here’s a great book to share.


My Garden written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes, Greenwillow books.

A little girl helps her mother in the garden as they water, weed, and chase rabbits away. But the little girl has her own ideas of what she would like in a garden. She imagines a weedless garden with flowers that change color and patterns, chocolate rabbits, a jelly bean bush, and all kinds of possibilities that only a child could dream up. Henkes’ text and colorful spring illustrations will make even the biggest skeptic a believer in garden possibilities. This is a perfect book to plant the seeds of creativity in your children.

If you choose a flower garden over a vegetable garden, here’s another great book.


Planting a Rainbow written and illustrated by Lois Ehlert, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Lois Ehlert’s colorful collages and simple text help children understand the step-by-step process of planting a flower garden. With special care, you’ll soon have a rainbow at your fingertips.

And one more …


Mrs. Spitzer’s Garden written by Edith Pattou and illustrated by Tricia Tusa, Harcourt Children’s Books.

There are many different types of gardens. Mrs. Spitzer’s garden happens to be the students in her classroom. She knows just how to plant the seeds of knowledge in children to make them blossom. Young readers will love Tusa’s delightful illustrations and Mrs. Spitzer’s unusual gardening techniques.






Imagination: Don’t Leave Home without It

September 13, 2012

“The man who has no imagination has no wings.” ~Muhammad Ali

Tuesday was my birthday and I imagined the numbers in my age were transposed. I immediately felt younger. I bounced around like a kid. I had more energy than usual. My mind was sharp, and my tongue was froth with wit. It was a magical day.

That evening when I looked into the mirror, I no longer saw that fresh young face I had worn all day long. I saw my mother! I guess that was her birthday gift to me – to carry on the family genes. Age happens, but imagination rocks!

Without an imagination, you’re stuck. You have no place to go – nothing to fill the empty spaces of your day. Think what this world would be like if we didn’t have “imaginators” like Walt Disney, Marie Curie, Steve Jobs, Harriet Tubman, Albert Einstein, Georgia O’Keeffe,  Benjamin Franklin …

Everyone needs an imagination. From early on, children’s minds need to be stimulated to help them develop their creativity and play. How can this be accomplished?  The picture book!

The picture book is an amazing tool. The pictures, words, sounds, characters, and story all work together to expand a child’s imagination and play. The more books children are exposed to the wider their world becomes. Children begin to develop language skills and make connections between what they see and hear. And don’t forget the emotional bond derived from sitting in the lap of a loved one, sharing the whole experience of reading a book together.

Here are some great picture books, both old and new, to get you and your child started on the road to imagination.

It Looked Like Spilt Milk by Charles G. Shaw

Press Here by Hervé Tullet

Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Not a Box by Antoinette Portis

And to Think that I Saw It on Mulberry Street by Dr. Seuss

Little Cloud by Eric Carle

The Hello, Goodbye Window  written by Norton Juster, illustrated by Chris Raschka

Frederick by Leo Lionni

Roxaboxen written by Alice McLerran, illustrated by Barbara Cooney

Tuesday by David Wiesner

Flotsam by David Wiesner

Iggy Peck, Architect  written by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts

The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds

World Building

November 22, 2011

At the last two writing conferences I attended, world building was addressed. Each speaker noted that in order to create a world for a paranormal, dystopian, or fantasy novel, every detail is important. Michele Burke, editor at Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, said people, history, and objects play an important part in world building.

I don’t write the type of books the speakers talked about so I never thought of simple objects being an integral part of world building unless the objects were the main focus of the story. Thinking more on the subject of world building, a picture of a cowboy hat ashtray flashed into my mind. It was a focal point for imaginary play when I was young.

This ceramic ashtray sat on an end table in my grandmother’s house for as long as I can remember. It was still there when she passed away. I took it. It’s ugly, and I would never use it for anything except for the wonderful memories it evokes. I don’t recall ever seeing ashes in it, but I do recall playing with it. It was a time when westerns were popular on television. Like horses and cowboys, that ashtray was a part of my life. It represented the pony I wished for and never got. I was magically drawn to the cowboy hat ashtray. I transformed my grandma’s living room into an imaginary western town. I spent hours creating western adventures that always included the cowboy hat ashtray.

If I did write fantasy, dystopian, etc., I’d make the cowboy hat ashtray play a vital role in a world of futuristic cowboys. Anyone in possession of the ashtray would have the ability to wield his power within certain limits. If those limits were surpassed, the ashtray would become volatile. The holder of the cowboy hat ashtray would have to know how to maintain a perfect balance of good and evil. If he didn’t, the ashtray would explode and destroy everyone and everything in the futuristic world. Who knew my grandma’s ashtray could be so powerful. It’s smokin’ hot!

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