Quote of the Month

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

Friday, December 30, 2016

Word Play, Hooray!

Nothing is better than a storytime filled with laughter, words and music.  As soon as the little guys and gals (and some of the older ones too) hear the sounds and feel the beat, they are on their feet.  As they learn the words to the story or song, they'll be rocking along with voices loud and strong.

There are some books which naturally have you moving as you read or listen along.  There are others specifically designed to employ the best techniques for engaging children in active learning.  A Toucan Can Can You? (The Kids at Our House, Spring 2016) words written by Danny Adlerman and friends (illustrated by Lindsay Barrett George, Megan Halsey, Ashley Wolff, Demi, Ralph Masiello, Wendy Anderson Halperin, Kevin Hammeraad, Pat Cummings, Dar (Hosta), Leeza HernandezChristee Curran-Bauer, Kim Adlerman and Symone Banks with music by Jim Babjak) is one of those books.  It's a toe-tapping and hand-clapping good time.

How much snow could a snowshoe shoo if a snowshoe could shoo snow?

As much snow as a snowshoe could if a snowshoe could shoo snow!

Using compound words eleven more upbeat verses beckon to readers.  Without the help of humans what can a teaspoon do?  It might be more than a little bit interesting to see a jellyfish out of water, trying to catch preserves.  Does honey have hair?  Why do they need a comb?

Watch out for the shaking and shimmying milk!  I wonder what would happen in many an artist's studio if the brushes they use came to life.  Maybe they did.  Maybe that's how some of the masterpieces were completed.  Grab your nearest resource to discover if a rockhopper flops or hops.

One of my dad's favorite sayings was 

"I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!"

right before he started to crank the handle on the ice cream maker.  There is nothing on this planet like the taste of homemade ice cream.  Although I have to admit I've never heard it utter a sound.

You'll be looking at bow ties with new admiration.  Will a tropical bird be able to collect and count a simple number?  Join in the fun!

All twelve of the compound words chosen by Danny Adlerman are well-known but if any of your readers or listeners are unfamiliar with one or more, what a wonderful way to explore and educate. (My curiosity about rockhopper taught me one or two new facts.)  The fantastic alliteration contributes to the rhythm of each phrase.  Here is another verse.

How much ham could a hamster stir
if a hamster could stir ham?

As much ham as a hamster could
if a hamster could stir ham!

The opened matching dust jacket and book case reflect the title and final phrase of the song.  The bright bold colors indicate the spirited text within the title.  Each of the visuals contains added details as this one does.  Can you see the butterfly and the beetle?  What might they be considering the habitat of the toucan?  To the left on the back, framed in black, is text about this book as well as information about the previous companion title, How Much Wood Could a Woodchuck Chuck?

The opening endpapers are framed in gold with a white canvas and button style flowers and leaves in corners and at the center.  A cartwheeling, pig-tailed girl points us toward other Alderman titles, music and a game.  The closing endpapers, framed in dusty deep lavender, give readers the musical score, words and challenges for readers.  There is much more to this title than the twelve phrases and song.

Each phrase is pictured by the different illustrators noted above.  (Before I looked at the list of illustrators and which picture they created, it was fun to figure it out.)  Lindsay Barrett George's bunny on snowshoes with ski poles looks right at us, challenging us to jump right into the image.  Megan Halsey's teaspoons are four high society women wearing hats and enjoying a tea party.  Ashley Wolff's jellyfish is lazily resting in a boat aptly named the S. S. Toucan with a pole in the water hoping to snag a treat.  It's nighttime with a crescent moon and shimmering stars.  Demi's signature style fashions a honeycomb replete with bees and bees form a frame.  One bee, larger than the rest is set apart holding a hair comb.

You will hardly be able to suppress a laugh when you first gaze at Ralph Masiello's cow on an exercise machine in front of the barn on the farm.  His border is boards nailed to the image edges.  The intricate, delicate montage painted by Wendy Anderson Halperin is exquisite.  You'll be racing to your art history textbooks.  Kevin Kammeraad's space scene will have readers pausing and pondering.  The background for Pat Cumming's rockhoppers is graph paper with an equation attempting to figure out if they can actually hop a rock.  The rocks appear to be a real photograph with the penguins drawn on top.  

Dar (Hosta)'s Puffin Ice Cream truck is as adorable as the polar bear holding a pink ice cream cone as it rolls in the snow.  Musical notes are blaring forth from the truck.  You can almost hear the pigs snorting in Leeza Hernandez's barnyard scene.  Is that a hamster trying to lasso a pig?  Cristee Curran-Bauer fashions darling, vibrant animated bow ties busily at work but also jumping into a colorful bunch of ribbons.  Kim Adlerman's toucan and twos are a collage of eye-catching realistic items.  New artist Symone Banks was chosen to do the final spread asking readers Can you?  There are many items to discover in this final two-page spread.

I have to say that it is impossible to pick only one favorite illustration out of these twelve wonderful representations of each artist's work.  Each one fits the phrase perfectly.  Each one asks readers to stop and look and learn.

A Toucan Can Can You? written by Danny Alderman with illustrations by Lindsay Barrett George, Megan Halsey, Ashley Wolff, Demi, Ralph Masiello, Wendy Anderson Halperin, Kevin Kammeraad, Pat Cummings, Dar (Hosta), Leeza Hernandez, Cristee Curran-Bauer, Kim Adlerman and Symone Banks is the best kind of book to get young and early readers excited about language.  The music provided by Jim Babjak is upbeat and will remain with listeners.  The CD has two tracks; one with the words and one that is strictly instrumental.  There are seven activity sheets available to download at the author's website.

To learn more about each of these creative people please follow the links attached to their names to access their websites.  At Lee & Low Books you can view a few of the interior images.  Betsy Bird, the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library reviews this title at School Library Journal, Review of the Day.

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