Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Canine Conversations

Each year during the month of January when Caldecott fever spreads throughout the picture book world, we at Charlevoix Elementary School catch it too in the form of author studies and a Mock Caldecott Election.  Our first grade classes study author/illustraor Lois Ehlert, Caldecott Honor Award winner for Color Zoo.

What some call trash Lois Ehlert sees as treasure.  With an artist's practiced eye for detail she views everyday items as potential parts for her bold, creative collages.  Bits and pieces of our natural world make their way into the pages of her books. Ehlert sees possibilities everywhere. Her newest offering, RRRalph, is a classic example of her artistic talents and her less-is-more writing style.

As the story begins an unseen narrator states, I bet you won't believe me, but our dog can talk.  On the opposite page sits the dog in question. Made of torn and cut textured black and white papers sporting a multicolored striped collar with a zipper for a mouth, a flip-top from a can for a nose and button-like eyes he eagerly awaits  the narrator's first of many questions, What's your name?  Turning the page a two page view meets our eyes with our doggie character upright on his two legs as he speaks: RRRALPH  RALPH

Throughout the story our unobserved speaker continues to pose questions which can be only answered as canines can.  Vivid colors as if spilled from a box of crayons are the backdrop for the numerous poses of Ralph and his varied forms of dog speak.  Ehlert's  genius as a storyteller is revealed in the matched responses and queries; What's on that tree?  BARK BARK BARK 

Whether shared one on one or as a read aloud RRRalph is a rousing romp inviting reader participation.  Trust me, listeners will sit and stay once this tale begins.

Beneath the interesting author's note about the book's inspiration title information states the illustrations for this book were made from zippers, wood, buttons, twine, metal, tree bark, screws, hand-painted and handmade papers, and textile fragments.

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