Quote of the Month

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




Friday, February 28, 2014

For The Little Guys And Gals...

There is nothing quite like having your library filled with a kindergarten class.  At the beginning of the school year, you seriously wish you could clone yourself when they are learning to browse for books.  Many lessons involve breaking into song for showing them how to save their spot with a marker, explaining the fiction and nonfiction areas, the difference between an author and an illustrator and getting settled in the story area.

When it comes to reading aloud you couldn't ask for a more captive audience.  The sound of their oohs, aahs and laughter is the best music in the world. If what you are reading has the slightest cadence, they will soon be responding with body movements to match the beat.  Little Poems for Tiny Ears (Nancy Paulsen Books, an imprint of Penguin Group(USA) ) written by Lin Oliver with illustrations by Tomie de Paola will have listeners grinning, giggling, singing and sighing in no time at all.

These twenty-three rhythmic rhymes cover a variety of aspects and activities from the babyhood realm.  The startling discovery of seeing someone exactly like you doing everything you do in tandem when first looking in a mirror, the numerical fascination with ten toes, the built-in buffer of behinds when learning to walk or cruising the neighborhood in a vehicle powered by parents are examined with the open enthusiasm of a child.  A nose, a sneeze and a tongue are placed, defined and described with transparent truths.

What's that noise?  What's that you said?  There's simply no sense to these sounds except to the one making them.  Friendly dogs and cuddly cats are constant companions and communicators. The advantages of sitting in certain places are featured with eager energy.

Silly games, clanging kitchen utensils, and moving mobiles provide endless entertainment.  Daily rituals, diaper-changing time, nap time, bath time and bed time, are titled and shared with delightful musings.  The three "b"s, belly button, beard and blankie are all part of this creative welcoming collection.

You can almost hear the childlike voices reciting these poems as they are read.  Lin Oliver combines her keen observations of human behavior and stellar writing skills to deliver verses as lively as the subjects. There is a sense of sincere respect for these marvelous moments shared by children as well as a gentle joy, a touch of humor, in each of Oliver's selections.  Here is a single poem.

Blankie
Without my blankie,
Me so cranky.
When it's by me,
Me all smiley.


The beautiful layout and design found on the front extends to the back of the matching dust jacket and book case; the row of square blocks continuing with fifteen more, alternating background colors, stretching to an enlarged back book flap.  In what can only be described as brilliant, this longer jacket flap unfolds covering the front of the book.  It can be secured in place by a variety of stickers provided in the back of the book; a gift inside and outside.

Using transparent acrylics in his signature palette of pastel shades, Tomie dePaola frames each of his single or two pages illustrations in a double border with tiny inverted shapes resembling photograph corners in the four respective spots.  His children's faces from diverse ethnic backgrounds are animated with the full range of emotions you take joy in seeing.  Tiny stars, confetti-like shapes, dots, and hearts are sprinkled on many of the pages.  Exquisite details encourage participation; pictures on the walls, stuffed animals, bugs and butterflies, balls, teddy bears and blocks, dolls, toy cars, and rubber duckies.  You want to jump right in the pictures with these children as they tell their poetic tales.

One of my many favorite illustrations is for the poem, My Car Seat.  The steps necessary to get ready to go are depicted with absolute charm.  Everything is there, the stuffed animals, the dangling overhead toys, the striped hat on the boy's head and the necessary bag of cereal.


You couldn't ask for a better book on a day in the life of babyhood than these twenty-three poems, Little Poems for Tiny Ears, written by Lin Oliver with illustrations by Tomie dePaola. You will be grinning from ear to ear before you have even finished the first one.  I guarantee you will be able to hear the soft laughter of little children in the background.

For more information on the author and the illustrator, please follow the links embedded in their names to their official websites.

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