On one thing most scientists can agree, the strength of laughter to elevate our well-being. Laughter pushes everything else aside for those moments you are laughing. If you are not alone in your laughter, it lasts a lot longer. If you have the giggles, a simple look, sound, or body movement can ignite another bout of guffaws shared by those gathered.
As soon as you read certain books (in between bursts of laughter), you know you are holding hilarity gold in your hands. Today, two book releases fit this description. Both have imbedded facts, making them fun and funnier. On February 26, 2019 readers were able to enjoy a generous serving of humor reading The Very Impatient Caterpillar (Scholastic Press) written and illustrated by Ross Burach. The outspoken, exuberant caterpillar is back after having the patience to make it through metamorphosis. In The Little Butterfly That Could (Scholastic Press, April 6, 2021), our butterfly friend finds the thought of migration a tad bit terrifying.
HEY! Have you seen
a group of migrating
They went that way.
Excited the group is close, the butterfly is shocked to discover they are 200 miles away. When asking the whale how to travel 200 miles, the whale says flight is the only solution. In a fit of drama, the butterfly believes this is impossible.
In the ensuing interlude, the butterfly recounts how much simpler life was as a caterpillar, and then as a chrysalis who patiently (HA!) waited to become a flower-seeking butterfly. It seems a fog descended, and the butterfly lost his migrating flutter friends. With calm, the whale counters every possible thing the butterfly believes will hinder its success. It is okay to be afraid.
When the whale says he gets butterflies in his stomach, in reference to possible obstacles, the butterfly wants to hide there. Certainly, inside a whale's stomach is preferable to flying 200 miles! Finally, the butterfly starts flying. It is more of a struggle than true flying. He moves two feet! For this butterfly there is no light at the end of the tunnel, but the whale keeps offering encouragement. You must believe.
Voicing mantras of inspiration, the butterfly, fortified with confidence, begins at last. First, he makes 25 miles. Then he makes 50 miles. At every point closer to the 200 miles, the butterfly pushes forward with words and an affirmative mindset. Does the spunky insect reach its pals only to discover there is yet another challenge in the offing? Read on, readers. Don't give up.
Told entirely in dialogue, this book is a study in humor, contrast, and education. Ross Burach manages to make us laugh as the butterfly's frantic fear is countered by the whale's calm composure. The over-the-top outbursts by the butterfly engage us in every moment. We all understand this feeling. This is why we laugh. It is pure genius how facts about butterfly migration become a part of the butterfly's explosions of speech. Here is a passage.
Can't I just live in your
a one-year lease?
(My copy is on its way, so this post is being completed using an F & G.)
On the front of the dust jacket, in bright bold colors, matching a bright bold personality, the wide-eyed, little butterfly is jittery with worry. Here over an ocean, what's a butterfly to do? On the back, the butterfly is offering no-nonsense words to readers about the value in reading the first book, The Very Impatient Caterpillar. It needs to be read NOW!
(I am looking forward to seeing the endpapers on the finished copy. The opening endpapers on the first book feature a row of white caterpillars along the bottom of an orange background. On the closing endpapers in white is the little butterfly with a couple of flutter friends. They are hovering over some flowers on a purple canvas.)
Ross Burach's art was created with pencil, crayon, acrylic paint, and digital coloring.
Each visual is loaded with exaggerated animation. Ross Burach alternates between two-page pictures, single-page pictures, and groups of smaller illustrations. His shifts in perspective keep the pace moving quickly. One minute you are looking at the vast display of the ocean across two pages with the whale and the little butterfly small in comparison. The next minute you are inside the whale's stomach as the butterfly moves through three scenarios of setting up possible residence there.
As if there is not enough comedy to be found in the little butterfly, the whale, and other butterflies' bodies and expressions, readers need to notice the details. When the little butterfly is sobbing, out of nowhere in the middle of an ocean, the whale is holding a box of tissues. When the butterfly is worrying about getting lost, an upside down map is in its hands. It is holding a pair of binoculars up to its eyes. When the butterfly is looking inside a refrigerator inside the whale's stomach, the only thing stored inside is krill.
One of my many favorite illustrations is one of three on a single page. It is the center visual. The little butterfly is at mile 150. Its wings are down in their flapping, or perhaps it is gliding. The little butterfly is wearing a runner's head band. It's squirting water from a bottle into its mouth.
Nothing is better than laughter except when laughter and learning are combined. We understand the importance of a can-do attitude and butterfly migration after reading The Little Butterfly That Could written and illustrated by Ross Burach. I know you'll want this title in both your personal and professional collections.
To learn more about Ross Burach and his other work, please follow the link attached to his name to access his website. You'll find loads of extras there. Ross Burach has an account on Twitter. At the publisher's website you can view some interior images. Scholastic's Ambassador of School Libraries, John Schumacher reveals the cover for The Very Impatient Caterpillar and chats about The Little Butterfly That Could with the author illustrator on his site, Watch. Connect. Read. Here is a link to the recent Book Joy Live event with Ross Burach and Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen.
When spring rolls around after more than a year of enduring a global pandemic, everyone is ready for a seasonal change at the very least. The sound of spring peppers encourages you to join them in song. Leaves of tulips and daffodils are pushing their way through dirt. Soon their stems will extend, and blossoms will form. We want to join them by shedding our winter wear for t-shirts and shorts. Teeny, tiny buds on sprouting from shrub and tree branches. We want to stretch out our arms and embrace this newness. Down on the farm, most of the animals are ready for spring, too. In Not Now, Cow (Abrams Appleseed, April 6, 2021) written by Tammi Sauer with illustrations by Troy Cummings, everyone is welcoming the season, except for one. Cow is confused.
Duck is ready.
Helps things grow.
Sheep is ready.
Goat is ready, too. Cow is not. Cow is standing under a tree wearing mittens, a scarf, and a snow cap. Rooster states this is not the time for winter wear.
When summer comes Chick, Goat, and Pig all dive into appropriate activities. Cow stands ready to race down a snow-covered hill on a sled. Rooster is exasperated.
Horse, Chick, and Sheep enjoy the out-of-door fun fall brings. There is leaf-raking, apple-eating and pumpkin carving. And Cow, well Cow, is not getting the autumn vibe at all.
Finally, winter arrives. (I'll bet Cow can hardly wait.) Pig, Horse, and Duck are frolicking in the snow and on the ice. To Rooster's utter amazement, Cow's seasonal clock has tick-tocked into another hemisphere. The final sentence (the whole book, truthfully) will invite loads of laughter.
Is this book perfect for a read aloud? Yes. Is this book perfect for reader's theater? Yes. Is this book perfect for a puppet show? Yes. Tammi Sauer writes for readers to experience this book completely. She establishes a cadence for each season with three animals participating in an activity followed by Cow's lack of understanding and Rooster's frustration. She repeats phrases. The final words in sentences rhyme. It's pure playful perfection. Here is a passage.
Pig is ready.
Leaves a trail.
Cow is . . .
How can you look at the front of the book case and not laugh out loud? Look at Cow wearing beach gear and ready for some fun in the sun in the middle of winter! Cow's grin and Rooster's incredulous look tell a story themselves. On the back amid the continued snow scene is information about Tammi Sauer and Troy Cummings similar to that found on the back end flap of a dust jacket. Beneath the text are Goat, Chick, and Sheep appropriately attired for winter. They are looking slightly mystified at a green and yellow polka dot beach inner tube laying in the snow.
Not wasting any space, Troy Cummings uses the opening and closing endpapers to start and conclude the story. Rooster is shouting out the news of spring's appearance prior to the verso and title pages. There a double-page picture shows Cow ambling in from the left as Rooster races off the right side. They are placed amid a pastoral scene on the farm. At the end, the entire barnyard crew is staring at Cow.
These digitally created images have a rhythm to them as does the text. Each season is given a full-page picture. This is followed by two animals sharing one page and another one on a single page. For the
Cow is . . .
phrase, this stands alone in a loosely framed image. A two-page visual closes out the season. It depicts Cow's clueless demeanor contrasting with hilarity to Rooster's look of disbelief. Readers will enjoy looking at all the extra elements in the clothing, facial expressions, and actions of the other animals. Chick nibbling on and carrying an apple bigger than it is while wearing oversized work boots is a real rib-tickler.
One of my many favorite illustrations is a double-page picture. The countryside is all aglow with colors of fall. Standing on a pile of leaves is Cow. Cow is wearing a purple puffer coat, bright mittens and earmuffs and ski goggles. In one hand is a ski pole. In the other hand is a cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows. Ski boots and skis finish the ensemble. Rooster perched on the fence is gritting its teeth. Its eyes are rolled, and one wing is to its forehead.
Expect a chorus of read it again from story time listeners after reading Not Now, Cow written by Tammi Sauer with illustrations by Troy Cummings. Between all the grins and giggles, each season is explored. Be sure to place a copy of this title in your personal and professional collections.
To learn more about Tammi Sauer and Troy Cummings and their other work, please visit their respective websites by following the link attached to their names. Tammi Sauer has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Troy Cummings has accounts on Instagram and Twitter. Tammi Sauer penned a post at Picture Book Builders about this title.