Quote of the Month

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

Monday, May 18, 2015

Greet The Day With A Shout

You step outside first thing in the morning to a rip-roaring chorus of birdsong.  You marvel at the volume a single one achieves.  How can something so small be so loud?

As an educator walking through the hallways before the first bell rings, the noise of chatter quickly erases any remnants of lingering sleep and dreams.  As a teacher librarian with the arrival of each class there is always one (or sometimes more) student whose voice raises above all the others demanding your attention.  This sound makes the birdsong and hallway chatter seem like whispers. How can something so small be so loud?

The exuberance is hard to miss; usually leading to laughter on my part. In Lita Judge's most recent title, Good Morning To ME! (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division, May 5, 2015) a peppy parrot delights in announcing greetings.  Her voice has one volume---loud.

Early one morning in a little cottage,
Beatrix was wide AWAKE.

Everyone else was sound asleep.  You would expect anyone in this situation to be quiet.  Beatrix was not quiet.  Clear as a factory whistle at quitting time she exclaimed

"Good morning to me!"

She failed her attempt at whispering, startling her friend Mouse into wakefulness.  She pledged to be better.  Beatrix assured Mouse she would use her

indoor voice.  

This particular vow lasted mere seconds as she quickly but carefully left her perch to walk on the snoozing cat's tail.  With a squawk from the parrot Kitty jumped and gave chase.  Beatrix ran for her life thinking this was the best game ever.  Ah, oh.  Beatrix was in need of help.

It's Mouse to the rescue.  Whew!  Beatrix agreed to try harder but Gracie walked in the door.  Gracie, the resident canine, loved running and Beatrix was ready to ride.  After a wee bit of a disaster, the feathered busybody saw yet another being she loved.

This final hello proved to be more than the lively birdie could handle.  A nap is interrupted more than once.  Words of affection, no matter how ear-splittingly spoken, were a welcome close to the day.

Lita Judge has a way to put words together sending them straight to stored laughter in your heart.  The main character may be a parrot but the joy this bird finds daily will remind readers of them now or in the past.  Beatrix, like so many young readers, sees possibilities everywhere.

Judge captures the playful personality of Beatrix, the instinctive nature of Kitty, the resourcefulness of best friend Mouse and the faithfulness of Gracie perfectly in narrative, dialogue and expressed thoughts.  The contrast between the effervescence of Beatrix and the here-we-go-again demeanor of Mouse supplies lots of giggles.  Here is a sample passage.

Beatrix climbed down from her perch. 
"Watch me, Mouse."
"DAH...dut, DAH...dut, DAH...dut."

On her matching dust jacket and book case Lita Judge introduces readers to almost all the characters in this story.  The curious Kitty is thoughtfully set for a chase, Mouse is worriedly hanging on to Beatrix, Gracie wishes these critters would leave so she can take a nap and Beatrix is being her happy-go-lucky self. The pale golden circle providing the background for the text is replicated on the back as a canvas for Gracie running with Beatrix perched on her nose.

The pale blue stripped wallpaper in the cottage is used on both the opening and closing endpapers.  On each of the four pages are four framed portraits of a running Gracie, Beatrix perched on Kitty, and two of Beatrix and Mouse together.  Beneath the words on the title page, the parrot is sitting on her stand eyes closed at an open window with wooden shutters thrown back.  Ivy and flowers surround the opening.

Regardless of their size all of the illustrations rendered in watercolor and pencil are framed in a loose heavier black line. Judge shifts from a double page to a large image crossing the gutter on the left with a small one on the right, to two single page pictures to start her story.  Her panel sizes, some horizontal and some vertical, dictate the pace of the tale.  Her wordless storytelling is outstanding.

The full color used for Beatrix, Mouse, Kitty, and Gracie is placed on the soft blue of the inside of the cottage.  The crowning glory of her artwork is her attention to detail and the facial expressions on her characters.  Her eyes are full of emotion causing this reader to laugh-out-loud more than once.  When Mouse takes the top of the tea kettle to use it as a hat in many of the illustrations I can't stop smiling.

My favorite sequence of drawings covers two pages.  Mouse is first seen in a vertical column on the left thinking


In three stacked images in a column to the right, Gracie is asked for help.  This is followed by a third column on the right with a closer perspective of mouse on Gracie's nose pointing.  The full page visual on the right is...HILARIOUS.  I'm not going to tell you what it is.

May is National Pet Month in the United States.  Good Morning To ME! written and illustrated by Lita Judge would be a wonderful read aloud to bring readers' attention to what might happen in their homes when they are at work or school.  It's also a fantastic title to show different personalities and how they perceive each day.  I guarantee you are going to laugh every single time you read this book.  And you are going to be reading it repeatedly.

To discover more about Lita Judge and her other captivating and charming titles, please follow the link attached to her name to access her website.  She dedicates a full page to this title showing you the real Beatrix and Kitty.  She has graciously included many interior illustrations from this book.

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