Quote of the Month

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

Monday, July 23, 2012

Game On!

Most people like games.  Children love games.  Games in some form or other have been around for...well, when haven't they been around?  Whether with a group or as an individual, as a contest or just for fun, people like to play.

Two well-known members of the children's book community, author, Amy Krouse Rosenthal, and illustrator, Tom Lichtenheld, have combined their significant gifts to bring forth an original book, Wumbers (Chronicle Books) that challenges in a most delightful way. I can almost imagine a whispered conversation with numbers going over to letters and saying, "Hey guys, we love the magic you create with words.  Can we try too?"  Obviously the letters responded in the affirmative.

As the pooch confirms on the front cover--

It's words cre8ed with numbers!

Covers, endpapers and all the pages in-between spell out phrases displaying a fresh way at looking at words and the way we use them.  Children making cozy domains, pretend tea parties, picnic boo-boos, music class, friendly tussles, under-the-sea and up with the angels, even penguins parading, all are part and parcel to the challenge.  Rosenthal's depiction of characters, their everyday activities (some straight out of her fruitful mind's eye) and what might be said, moves the narrative at a cheerful tempo giving each reader an opportunity to participate.

Right away the cover catches the reader's eye with its use of primary colors and slight variations with an occasional blast of purple.  Tom Lichtenheld's bold, black ink outlines are softened with his use of PanPastels throughout.  Endpapers are awash in red with colorful speech bubbles in blue, yellow and white displaying Wumber questions?

What is the lati2ude and longi2ude of where you live?

Readers will not be able to contain smiles at his illustrative interpretation of the text Rosenthal has fashioned; characters are usually grinning or at the very least exuberant in the display of their emotions.  Every illustration spreads across two pages capturing a special moment.  It's hard but my favorites are the children on the swings, shoes aloft,  a freckle-faced boy, huge grin displaying a missing tooth and a boy, arm hugging his dog, both curled in sleep.

Wumbers wri10 by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustr8ed by Tom Lichtenheld is a huge success on all counts.  The best part is this volume offers possibilities other than the norm. As a read aloud-splendid but for generating writing and reading activities-superb.

This is the link to a nine page activity kit at Chronicle Books. A very useful four page teacher's guide also at the Chronicle Books site is linked here.  Be sure to visit each of the artists's websites for information; Lichtenheld has more illustrations from the book posted at his.

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