Quote of the Month

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




Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Through The Four

For those fortunate enough to live in an area experiencing all four seasons, in the northern hemisphere spring seems to have finally arrived.  There have been several mornings in the last ten days without frost on rooftops.  Grass is greening and growing. Tiny buds are appearing on shrubs and trees.  Shoots are pushing through the soil in gardens and forest floors.  The first flowers of spring from bulbs like daffodils, hyacinths, tulips, or crocus are blooming.  The birds are back with all their various melodies.  The sun is rising earlier and setting later.  And we are experiencing warmer than normal temperatures.

All living things are embracing this change.  People of all ages are outside biking, walking, and working in their yards and gardens.  You can hear the sound of children talking and laughing as they ride their scooters or shoot basketballs at a neighbor's hoop.  A wonderful new title to help us enjoy this spring and the other three seasons is My Big Book Of Outdoors (Candlewick Studio, an imprint of Candlewick Press, March 29, 2022) written and illustrated by Tim Hopgood.  It is a lively look at spring, summer, fall, and winter and all each season has to offer.

On the title page, beneath the title text it reads:

Welcome! In every season, there is something different to see, discover, make, and do.  So step outdoors and into nature.

Following the title page, two pages are dedicated to an extensive table of contents with page numbers.  For each season's introduction a double-page picture provides a place for listing, on the left, six phrases, observations about that season.  The next two pages are devoted to 

Signs Of_________.
 
For those up at sunrise in the spring, we are given descriptions of six birds we might see or hear.  We are asked to notice birds building nests.  This is followed by an activity where we can create our own nest out of chocolate.  (Yum!)  Eggs and feathers of birds are later discussed.

We explore bugs, building a bug hotel, soil we can see and soil we can't see.  Do you know how a tadpole becomes a frog?  Can you tell the difference between a frog and a toad? Have you ever been pond dipping?

During summer, the insect populations explode.  We are given pictures of fifteen insects with their names.  How many have you seen?  Do you know how an egg turns into a butterfly?  You can enjoy painting your own butterfly before eight butterflies are displayed and identified.

Bees and their purpose are disclosed.  Dandelions, sunflowers, and daisies are a part of our explorations and things to do.  Fruits and vegetables of summer are portrayed and labeled.  For those near an ocean or sea or those who make a trip to either, what can you discover in a tide pool or along the sandy shore?

The signs of autumn most visible are the changing colors of leaves.  We can still distinguish between eight leaves by their shapes.  Trees shed seeds which the fall winds carry.  (Our area has a gazillion maple seeds now sprouting in lawns and gardens.)  Squirrels are getting ready for winter building shelters and storing food.  We are presented with two thoughtful pages on the power of a single acorn.  

Fruit is being harvested and used in delicious recipes like baked apples.  How many apples can you name?  If you look to the skies you can see birds leaving on their annual migration routes and cloud formations predicting the weather.

As the chill of winter descends, some birds stay the course.  Which ones of those shown are in your area?  Winter walks in snow reveal tracks of wild travelers.  I spy deer and rabbit prints of the six shown.  Two pages show a dormouse and a hedgehog hibernating.  Some facts about each are shared.

Do you know the name of trees which retain their leaves regardless of the season? Five conifers are represented as well as seven different pine cones.  Did you know pine cones are natural humidity detectors? Four pages speak about snow and snowflakes along with an activity.  To close out the section on winter we look to the skies again, studying stars and the phases of the moon.


The enthusiasm Tim Hopgood has for this subject is evident in every chosen word and every written sentence.  Although the specific topics covered in each season vary, their presentation is similar enough to create a pleasing and welcoming rhythm for readers.  There are the previously mentioned introductory phrases, the signs of pages, topics and matching activities and several poems.  These are woven together seamlessly in each season through informal and informational conversations and abundant labeling.  Here is a passage and a poem.

Cool Places
Stones block out wind and
sunshine and keep the ground
cool, dark, and damp---the
perfect place for insects to
live.  Insects with hard shells
can push under stones to find
food and shelter.

Splish Splash!

Plip
plop
plip-plip-plop
pitter-patter
pitter-patter
drip, drop
splash!

Pitter-patter
pitter-patter
drip, drop
splash!

Drip-drop
drip-drop
drip
drip
stop!


The bright turquoise blue sky stretches from flap edge to flap edge on the open dust jacket.  Swirls of startling white clouds are spread across that sky.  The vivid splashes of color seen in the insects and flowers (butterfly on the right and ladybug on the left) also extend to the flap edges.  The ladybug on the left is flying above a large, colorful cluster of flowers.  The ISBN is placed in the center of a white flower.  The title text is varnished.

On the book case it is as if we are looking at a natural exhibit.  The background is dark in hues of blue and green and black.  From left to right on the open case, we are presented with an egg, ladybug, snowdrops, sea creatures, leaves, a butterfly, an acorn, a feather, a snowflake, a mushroom, a pinecone, a moth, a snail, worms, and another kind of nut.  The ISBN is placed inside a white leaf.

On the opening and closing endpapers, on a canvas of pristine white, is a close-up of a honey bee.  It is flying over a gorgeous array of flowers.  They are turquoise, pink, white and yellow, orange, and yellow.  Bits of green appear toward the bottom.  On the verso and title pages is a two-page image.  It is a close-up of grasses and a leaf.  Featured are a snail, an ant, a ladybug, and a caterpillar.  The dedication reads:

For everyone who stayed
indoors in 2020

Using 

mixed media

every page turn depicts either a two-page picture or a single-page visual.  Tim Hopgood takes us close to a topic such as his conversation about ants.  Here we are viewing their activities via a cross-section.  In support of a sentence and a question in the section about fall, we are privy to a forest landscape.  Many different types of flora and fauna are present in this vista done in warm shades of autumn.

One of my many favorite illustrations is for the Signs of Winter section.  It is a two-page picture.  There are white and black silhouettes.  Evergreen boughs, tree trunks, shrubs, and spider webs are in frosty white.  There are several black tree trunks.  On the left side is a winter sky with brighter stars.  A black bird rests in branches covered in red berries.  On the right side, snow swirls.  An icy blue area indicates a frozen pond.  This is a marvelous collage of winter wonders.


Not only is My Big Book Of Outdoors written and illustrated by Tim Hopgood brimming with information, activities, and stunning artwork, but it is an ode to nature.  Your appreciation for the outdoor world will grow with every supplied observation.  You will want to have a copy in both your professional and personal collections.

To learn more about Tim Hopgood and his other work, please access his website by following the link attached to his name.  At his website, there are many images from this book to view.  Tim Hoppgood has accounts on Instagram and Twitter.  At Penguin Random House, you can view interior illustrations.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Lofty And Lovable

For imaginative minds, they are a medium for wondrous works of art.  They provide shade from sweltering sunshine.  If you are looking for predictors of weather, they are highly accurate.  As a part of one of this planet's cycles, they ensure the continuance of life.

And, they make the most splendid best friends.  Lizzy and the Cloud (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, May 3, 2022) written and illustrated by The Fan Brothers expands our thinking by exploring a fantastical "what-if" scenario.  Lizzy and readers discover nature is a willing teacher if we are ready to learn.

It was Saturday.
Every Saturday, Lizzy went
for a walk with her parents.

People, young and old, gathered at the park on Saturdays.  Rather than ride on the carousel, watch a juggler or a puppet show, or enjoy the fountain or canopy of large trees, Lizzy quickly hurried toward the Cloud Seller.  Floating on the subtle breeze like balloons, clouds on strings in all shapes and sizes were held by the man.  All Lizzy wanted was the most ordinary of clouds. 

In her bedroom at home, Lizzy read over the instructions for cloud care.  There was a list of eight.  The first item was to name your cloud.  Lizzy named her cloud Milo.

Lizzy, consistently and carefully, followed each direction. She watered Milo and took him for walks with her parents.  Milo loved rainy weather.  As the seasons passed, Milo grew and grew and grew.  Lizzy could not seem to stop Milo from growing.  He filled the ceiling in her room.

That night, Milo reacted as could be expected and Lizzy remembered item number eight.  In the morning, Lizzy did not need a list to know what to do.  Her heart was speaking to her.  Milo would always be a part of Lizzy.  Friends are.  Upward.


The imaginations of The Fan Brothers, Eric Fan and Terry Fan, are like those of cloud watchers.  They see beauty and possibilities when they look to the skies.  Their words take us to a time and place just beyond reality.  With two words, Cloud Seller, we know this story is going to be extraordinary.  Simple, profound declarative sentences and phrases wrap around us, bringing us into this story of a girl and her cloud.  They leave room for our minds to grow like Milo and for the artwork to elevate the narrative.  Here is a passage.

The clouds bobbed gently up and down
with every breath of wind.
Some were puffy and round.
Others were wispy and almost-not-there.
There was a parrot, a rabbit, a fish, and
an elephant . . . .


Using a muted color palette, The Fan Brothers take us into Lizzy's world.  The soft green shown on the open dust jacket extends flap edge to flap edge.  We meet Lizzy and her cloud on the front highlighted with bright spots of yellow and the hint of a rainbow.  To the left, on the back, we are inside Lizzy's home.  Our eyes are drawn to a coat tree.  There hangs Lizzy's rain gear.  Her boots are next to the tree.  On the dust jacket, front and back, Lizzy, her rain gear, and the title text are varnished.

On the book case, the background is the same delicate hue.  To the left of the yellow spine is the coat tree.  On it hangs Lizzy's winter coat and yellow scarf.  A bit of snow is on the floor.  There are Lizzy's charcoal-colored boots.  On the front of the book Lizzy stands with her cloud.  The cloud is snowing on Lizzy.  Her scarf is wrapped around her lower face.  She is wearing a fur-trimmed hat, her plaid coat and fur-trimmed boots.  She stands in a pile of snow.  It is not snowing anywhere else.

On the opening and closing endpapers is the patterned wallpaper used in Lizzy's home.  Together there are twenty-three different framed portraits and photographs on the walls.  As you look at each one, you wonder at their significance.

These illustrations  

rendered in pencil and colored digitally

envelope you everywhere you look.  We immediately feel a tenderness for Lizzy.  We love seeing her small teddy bear resting on a pillow on her bed.  We wonder about a little girl who loves orchids, plants, and ferns.  We sense a security in her life with the walks she takes with her parents to the park, through their town, and on trips to the beach.

The Fan Brothers alternate their image sizes.  There are full-page pictures, double-page images, several smaller images on a single page with no words, and double-page visuals with no words.  Perspectives shift.  Sometimes we are given a panoramic view as when Lizzy and her parents enter the park or walk down Main Street in the evening.  Other times we are very close.  When Lizzy is reading

Caring for Your Cloud

all we see are her hands and the yellow piece of paper.  The choices by the brothers to use color or not are intentional and brilliant.  Knowing them, I savored every image looking for extra details.  (Hello, William.)  Oh, and their details are exquisite, simply stunning.

One of my many favorite illustrations is a two-page picture.  It is nighttime.  Outside one of Lizzy's bedroom windows we can see it is a full moon night.  Inside her room the cloud is darkening and there is a small bolt of lightning.  On the left side, Lizzy stands wearing her yellow rain gear.  She is looking up and holding a bucket as it begins to rain in her room.  Among her plants on the right side are pots, pans, and dishware ready to hold the rain.  There are also cups, bowls, and a glass on her bed.  Her teddy bear is sitting upright.  The use of light and shading in this image is excellent.


Whether this title is read by individuals or as a read aloud with a group, you will hear requests for "read it again."  There will be discussions about pets, friendship, care, and knowing when the right thing needs to be done.  I believe there will be an increased interest in clouds, too.  Lizzy and the Cloud written and illustrated by The Fan Brothers, Eric Fan and Terry Fan, is one to have in every personal and professional collection.

To learn more about The Fan Brothers and their other work, please follow the link attached to their name to access their website.  The Fan Brothers have an account on FacebookEric Fan has an account on Facebook as does Terry FanEric Fan and Terry Fan have accounts on Instagram.  The Fan Brothers have an account on Instagram.  Eric Fan has an account on Twitter.  At the publisher's website, you can view interior images.  There are more illustrations to see at The Fan Brother's website.

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Early Reader Extravaganza #2

As mentioned in a previous post, Early Reader Extravaganza, when we first learn to read our perceptions about our world change.  We gobble up words to quench a hunger.  It is a hunger to know, to understand, to explore, to travel to places real and imagined, to have sensory experiences, to laugh, to cry, to have our hearts warmed, broken and healed and to meet people like us and completely different from us.  We feed this hunger as early readers by bonding with what we find within the pages of books; whether it is information satisfying our curiosity or characters and their situations that actively engage us.

For lovers of canines, two new early reader series supply loads of laughter and the antics of dogs living their best lives.  Doggo And Pupper (Feiwel and Friends, March 23, 2021) and Doggo and Pupper Save The World (Feiwel and Friends, March 22, 2022) written by Katherine Applegate with illustrations by Charlie Alder take us into the home of an older dog living with a cat.  Their humans decide to introduce another dog, a younger dog, into the family.  The results are comedic to say the least.

Chapter One
Same Old, Same Old

Every night Cat asked,
How was your day,
Doggo?"

Every night Doggo said,
"Same old, same old."

Then he would wink at the 
smiling moon and say, "Could have
been worse."

In support of his same old, same old assessment, Doggo in rhyming two word phrases, seven couplets, describes his day.  He is quick to point out the value of quenching thirst and dispelling tiredness.  To up the funny factor, we discover what Doggo does when his humans are absent.

The subsequent six chapters reveal how Doggo's humans decide to add pep and purpose to his days.  Cat reminds and warns Doggo of the dire consequences of human intervention.  The presence of Pupper changes everything.  Doggo's days are wild because Pupper is wild.  Pupper needs to go to charm school.  He is not happy about this apparent requirement.

Upon his return, his humans are pleased with his behavior.  Doggo is pleased, too.  Cat is the first to point out that Pupper may have lost his wild ways, but he is hardly happy.  That night Doggo is the one with an idea.

His sleepy humans allow Doggo to take the car keys.  Road trip!  Pupper and Doggo play and play and play. Would you believe they went to a drive-in movie?  The duo silently sneak back inside their home.  Cat has a few things to say the next day.  Doggo replies with a familiar refrain.


Chapter One
Wonderful

In a sweet spot of sun,
Doggo dozed.
In a fine patch of dirt,
Pupper dug.
Life was good.

When Pupper spots a bird and her fledglings, he declares his desire to fly like Wonder Dog.  He also expresses his fear of giant squirrels.  Pupper believes he cannot be a hero because he worries.  Doggo says Pupper does not need to fly to be a hero.

When their humans leave, Doggo, Pupper, and Cat watch a hero show on television.  Pupper needs someone to save.  Doggo picks the next show reminding him of his days in a rock band.  Pupper decides being a hero might be less work than learning to be a drummer, but . . .

Pupper drums and drums and drums for more than a week.  Cat is not happy.  When Doggo announces a band is playing in the park the next day, Pupper can hardly wait to go.  He is also distracted by the baby birds learning to fly.

The next morning on their way to the park, Pupper hears a chirping in some nearby bushes.  Is it giant squirrels?  It is one of the baby birds.  It is all alone.  Pupper knows the baby bird needs saving.  The band is starting to play, but Pupper and Doggo wait until their work is done.  As the dog duo savor the remaining hours of the day, they understand several things about music and heroes.  We do, too.


Using a blend of short narrative phrases and sentences and lively canine/feline conversations, Katherine Applegate entertains readers from beginning to end.  The interactions between Doggo and Pupper (and Cat) convey bits of wisdom, each character informing the other through their personalities.  And in these short narrative phrases and sentences, conversations, and interactions, there is laugh-out-loud hilarity.  Katherine Applegate also uses rhyming and alliteration when it is appropriate.  This technique invites readers into the stories.  Here are two passages, one from each title.

"Watch out, Doggo," said Cat one day.  "I
think the humans have an idea."
She licked a paw.  "Remember the last time
they had an idea?

Doggo remembered.

It was not pretty.


They turned a corner.
The breeze was soft.

It smelled like ice cream.
It held happy voices.


Illustrator Charlie Alder using

a combination of collage and digital techniques

fashioned the full-color illustrations on the book case and throughout the book.  Doggo and Pupper are showcased in the center on the front of both books.  On the back of the book case, amid text you would normally find on the front and back end flaps of a dust jacket, Doggo, Pupper, and Cat are doing what they do best, enjoying each other and life.  The characters and title text on the front of both books are varnished.

The opening and closing endpapers in the first title are a darker shade of sky blue.  In the second title, the endpapers are the same darker orange we see on the front of the book case.  After the title and verso pages, a contents page is supplied in both books.  Small images are on these pages; a reflection of the characters and their activities in the chapters.

Opposite each chapter page is a full-page picture alluding to the chapter revelations.  Throughout the books, the illustrations vary in size to complement the pacing of the narrative.  There are two-page images, single-page pictures, edge to edge or surrounded by white space, groups of smaller images on one or two pages, framed and unframed, and there are vertical panels and horizontal panels.  We are usually close to the characters which makes us feel a part of the story.

The expressions on the faces of the characters depict their every emotion.  Some of the details, like Cat drinking through a long, striped curly straw, will have you giggling at the very least.  All we see of the humans are portions of their bodies.  We never see their faces.

One of my many favorite illustrations from Doggo And Pupper is a series of four images for the above-noted text.  In the first image, Doggo is dressed like a ghost for Halloween.  Cat, on top of a pumpkin, is howling with laughter.  Doggo is wearing a yellow and white polka-dotted raincoat and booties in the second scene.  In the third picture, Doggo's fur, ears, and tail are tied in a series of colorful bows.  Doggo has been trimmed to the max in the final visual.  Portions of Doggo's body are dyed pink to make it appear as if Doggo is a ballerina.  

One of my many favorite illustrations from Doggo And Pupper Save The World is a double-page picture.  It is a close-up of them finding the tiny bird, the fledgling, under the bushes.  Pupper is peeking through the bushes on the left near the bird.  Doggo has his head through the bushes on the right.  We feel as though we are a part of this moment with them.


These two titles, Doggo And Pupper and Doggo And Pupper Save The World written by Katherine Applegate with artwork by Charlie Alder, are stellar early reader books.  At the close of the first book is a list titled Doggo's Guide to Puppies.  These ten items speak simple truths about puppies.  At the end of the second book is another list of ten thoughts to guide readers.  They are titled Pupper's Guide to Being a Hero.  I highly recommend this series for your professional and personal collections.  You might want more than one copy of each.

To learn more about Katherine Applegate and Charlie Alder and their other work, please follow the link attached to their names to access their websites.  Katherine Applegate has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  Charlie Alder has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  At the publisher's website, you can view interior images for Doggo And Pupper and Doggo And Pupper Save The World.





This second series of books highlights a character older readers already know.  His name is Fenway, a Jack Russell terrier.  He made a name for himself in the upper elementary/middle grade novels, Fenway and Hattie, Fenway and Hattie and the Evil Bunny Gang, Fenway and Hattie Up to New Tricks, and Fenway and Hattie In the Wild.  With each title, readers are able to see the progress as Fenway and his human grow better together.  In Fenway And The Bone Thieves (G. P. Putnam's Sons, May 3, 2022) and Fenway And The Frisbee Trick (G. P. Putnam's Sons, May 3, 2022) written by Victoria J. Coe with illustrations by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff, Fenway is still offering his spot-on insights in his own voice about his next-door neighbor dog friends, his humans, sneaky squirrels, and the elusive Frisbee.

1
THE TREAT PLACE

Everyone knows that dogs are
better than squirrels.  Dogs make
humans happy.  Dogs live
in houses.  Dogs
ride in cars.
Squirrels do
none of these
things.

In this first of ten chapters, Fenway and his humans, Hattie, Food Lady, and Fetch Man are visiting the large store filled with special things for dogs.  All Fenway can think about is treats.  His humans steer clear of the treat section, adding yucky shampoo to the cart.  It is only through sheer perseverance on Fenway's part, that a bone is added to the cart.  Unfortunately, it ends up in the trunk of the car instead of his mouth.

Finally at home, with the bone in his mouth, Fenway shows his treasure to his neighbors, Patches and Goldie, two dogs enjoying their Dog Park next to Fenway's Dog Park.  Then, Fenway hears a horrible and irritating sound.  It is the chattering of not one but two squirrels.  They are plotting to take away his bone.  After successfully chasing them away, Fenway decides the only way to enjoy his bone is to hide it from the squirrels.

After lunch, the rain begins.  Fenway is inside without his bone.  Now he is thinking his big idea is not such a good idea.  Nothing, not a single toy or game, can take away Fenway's desire for that bone, buried in the garden, outside in the rain.

The next morning when the rain has stopped, Fenway can hardly wait to get outside and dig up his bone.  There are two huge problems.  He can't remember where he buried it and the pesky squirrels are back.  Many holes later, Hattie and her friend Angel, Patches' and Goldie's short human, discover the damage done by Fenway.  As they chase him, he initially thinks it's a game, but it is most definitely not a game.  

After a flowery shampoo, a nap complete with a squirrel nightmare, and another encounter with the sneaky squirrels in his Dog Park, Fenway makes a startling discovery.  His perspective on the several days of the events are destined to have readers laughing and laughing.  As he is finally chewing on his bone on the back porch, he gets a whiff of hot dogs.  Yum!


1
THE BIG PARK

Romping in the Dog Park behind
our house is pretty awesome.  But
riding in the car with Hattie and 
Fetch Man is even better, because
we're going to the Big Park.

Fenway is having a rousing romp with Hattie and Fetch man in the Big Park.  He loves chasing after the stick and returning it, sometimes reluctant to give it to Fetch Man.  But that is all part of the game.  Just when Fenway thinks the day can't get any better, he spots a Rottweiler leaping into the air to catch a Frisbee.

Fenway wishes with all his doggy heart he could do the same trick as Carmen.  She is amazing at jumping in the air at the right moment.  He tries to do her moves with a stick.  It does not work.  He needs a Frisbee.

No one seems to understand this need, not Hattie or Patches and Goldie.  What's a dog to do?  Several days later the Big Brown Truck arrives.  After Fenway barks it away, Food Lady, Hattie and Fenway gather around a box.  What do you think is inside?  

Fenway and Hattie rush outside so Fenway can catch that new Frisbee in the air.  He is so ready to perform a trick and receive the same praise as Carmen.  All of a sudden there are the sounds of 

CHIPPER-CHATTER-SQUAWK!

Later, a frustrated Fenway, who has not caught the Frisbee yet because of the sneaky squirrels, goes on a walk with his canine pals and their humans.  Back home, Fenway convinces Hattie to throw the Frisbee in the house where there are no squirrel distractions.  As you might imagine, it ends in disaster.  That evening is very somber, but Fenway fails to understand.  The next day at the Big Park, unintentionally, Fenway creates his own special trick.  Try to read this without laughing.  It is impossible.  Oh, Fenway.

I've said it before, but I'll say it again.  Author Victoria J. Coe knows dogs, especially this dog, Fenway.  Each of the ten chapters in each book flows flawlessly with the same energy as if the words were written by a Jack Russell terrier.  The chapters end with a sentence inviting us to proceed with anticipation to the next chapter.  The upbeat narrative, Fenway's thoughts and conversations and those of the humans are thoughtful, exuberant, and funny.  Here are passages from both titles.

CHIPPER-CHATTER-SQUAWK! sounds
behind me.
Uh-oh! The first squirrel is
headed this way!  I should have 
known the two of them were in this 
together.
I run faster.  "That bone is
mine!" I bark.
The big squirrel waits until I'm 
about to lunge.  Then he suddenly
hops up and scampers across the
Dog Park.
The chase is on!  "You don't
belong here!" I bark.  I follow
that squirrel 
to the wooden
fence behind
the giant tree.


I thrust my snout into the box.
Whoopee! It smells like a Frisbee
that no other dogs have played
with.  It must be my reward for
scaring away that truck.
Hattie reaches into the box and
pulls it out.  "Ready, Fenway?" she
says.
I back up.  "I'm ready!" I bark.
"I'm so ready!"
Hattie's elbow bends.  She's going
to fling the Frisbee!
I leap onto the couch, racing
back and forth.  Hooray!  Hooray!
I'm going to catch that Frisbee in
midair!

You cannot look at the front, right side, of the matching and open dust jacket and book case for either book without smiling.  Who can resist the happy-go-lucky look on Fenway's face?  In both of these scenes, it is as if the illustrator has frozen a moment from the narrative.  The back, left side, of both books features short descriptions of the books beneath the series title, Make Way For Fenway.  Hanging from those banners is a bone-shaped dog tag with the words:

A little dog with a
GIANT personality!

The opening and closing endpapers for both books are creamy white, the same as the interior pages.  Illustrator Joanne Lew-Vriethoff has filled this book with images of varying sizes done in black, gray, and white.  With the exception of only two, Fenway makes an appearance in all of them.

The vibrancy of Fenway's personality is reflected in the artwork.  Even when he is still, it is as if he is ready to burst into action.  Readers will pause at every illustration to appreciate the details included in the pictures.  The facial looks on Fenway, the squirrels, Carmen, Patches, Goldie, and the humans leave no doubt as to what any of them are thinking.  You can't help but smile, giggle, or laugh out loud.

In Fenway And The Bone Thieves, one of my favorite pictures is a double-page image with a phrase and two sentences placed in the upper, left-hand corner.  On the left side a big squirrel with a gleam in its eyes, protruding teeth, and a big fluffy tail is ready to pounce on Fenway's bone which extends from the left side and over the gutter to the right.  Toward the top of the right side in the Dog Park is Fenway.  Flowers border the wooden fence behind him.  He is aghast at the audacity of that squirrel.  He is ready to run.

One of my favorite visuals in Fenway And The Frisbee Trick is a smaller illustration.  It is a perfectly captured moment by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff. (I should know because it happens frequently at my own home.)  The family sofa is placed in front of an arched large window.  Fenway is on the sofa, standing on his hind legs with his front paws on the back of the sofa.  He is watching the man from the Big Brown Truck carrying a package and walking toward their house.  Fenway is barking in full security mode.


To have early readers based on a beloved dog character is, in the words of my canine companion, woof-tastic!  Fenway And The Bone Thieves and Fenway And The Frisbee Trick written by Victoria J. Coe with illustrations by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff are brimming with humor and non-stop action whether read by an individual or as a read aloud.  Readers will hardly be able to wait for another installment in the series.  You will certainly need one or more copies of both books in your personal and professional collections.

By following the link attached to the names of Victoria J. Coe and Joanne Lew-Vriethoff, you can access their websites to learn more about them and their other work.  Victoria J. Coe has accounts on Instagram and Twitter.  Joanne Lew-Vriethoff has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  At the publisher's website, you can view interior images and read an excerpt for Fenway And The Bone Thieves and Fenway And The Frisbee TrickThe cover reveal for these titles with author and illustrator interviews was hosted by educator Michele Knott at Mrs. Knott's Book Nook.

Monday, May 2, 2022

Evolving Into

It is not only determined by a date on the calendar.  The shift from standard time to daylight savings is not a sole indicator.  Its arrival is truly announced by a sound.  It is a sound absent for many months, then one day it returns.  The sound's melody greets the day, surrounds us, and lifts into the sky.

This sound is the chorus of birdsong.  These avian marvels are returning to their homes, some staying and others moving farther north.  They are the true heralds of spring.  To add to the fascination of their essential existence, author illustrator Deborah Freedman in her newest release Tiny Dino (Viking, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, April 19, 2022) explores the direct connection between dinosaurs and birds.

Long ago, there were many kinds of dinosaurs.

Stomp!
Clomp!
Tromp!

After these first few words, readers are asked a question.  A voice replies with

I'm a dinosaur!
I'm a dinosaur!

It is the voice of a hummingbird.

Hummingbird continues to joyfully declare kinship with dinosaurs.  When a turtle friend asks about the stomping and clomping dinosaurs did with their feet, the hummingbird points out the similarities between the toes of a Tyrannosaurus rex and the bird's toes.  Turtle and now friend frog point out the huge toe size and the huge bone size of the dinosaur.

Hummingbird proclaims that both have hollow bones.  Each time Hummingbird's friends suggest what they believe to be a difference, Hummingbird counters that said characteristic is shared.  When pals Turtle, Frog, and Mole state dinosaurs had claws and were fierce, the tiny avian verbally explodes.  Hummingbird is

FIERCE!

When a crocodile approaches, Turtle, Frog, and Mole flee.  With all this dinosaur talk, they believe Crocodile to be a dinosaur.  Crocodile says he is not a dinosaur.  Hummingbird agrees, but supplies all the physical features they share.  They are related.  Turtle asks one final question.  Hummingbird shouts out her refrain.


With absolute conversational clarity, author Deborah Freedman takes readers into the story of a hummingbird that proves his truth.  Each time Hummingbird declares he is a dinosaur, one of his friends counters with facts they believe disproves his statement.  He then shows they are wrong with supporting evidence.  In this manner, Deborah Freedman introduces an engaging cadence while providing information about dinosaurs, birds, and other animals.  There are also factual captions next to detailed drawings of relevant, enlarged characteristics.  Here is a passage.

But look---
I have scales
on my toes.

And you 
have scales on
your toes!

Crocodiles and birds have
similar scales, called scutes.
Researchers believe that
feathers evolved from scales!


The image on the dust jacket extends from flap edge to flap edge.  The body of the Tyrannosaurus rex continues over the spine to the far left.  On the left side of the jacket, the back, readers can see one of the dinosaur's feet is holding the ISBN.  The body of the Stegosaurus, similarly stretches to the right flap edge.  Hummingbird is already voicing his truth to the listening trio of featured prehistoric creatures.  The title text and front flap text are varnished.

Hues of light blue, softly textured, are the canvas on the book case.  The Tyrannosaurus rex is outlined in white in the same position as shown on the jacket.  A darker blue dotted loop-de-loop pattern indicates the flight of Hummingbird.  The bird is flying toward the right edge of the front of the book case.  The posture of Hummingbird mirrors determination.

The narrative begins and concludes on the opening and closing endpapers.  The images are wordless.  On the first set Crocodile, Mole, Frog, Turtle and a white bird are moving to the right edge.  A Brontosaurus, also moving to the right, fills both sides.  Above them in a faintly blue sky, a flaming asteroid falls from the left-hand corner.  They are moving through a grassy landscape. On the final endpapers with a faint blue sky and grassy area, Crocodile, Turtle, Frog, and Mole move to the right.  In the sky Hummingbird loops toward the right.  White outlines show us the three dinosaurs showcased on the dust jacket.

Prior to the title page, another illustration has two dinosaurs running as the asteroid gets closer.  On the title page, a question is asked.  Hummingbird answers, three times.  The third answer contains the title text.  Turtle is entering from the right edge.

With each page turn, readers will feel their appreciation growing at the presentation of the story and the information.  Set in pastel watercolor washes are different shaped speech balloons containing the conversations.  When physical traits are compared, those are done in white on blue.  They are intricate.

White space is masterfully used.  It creates pauses in the pacing.  Perspectives shift to furnish us with a sense of being a part of the story.  The majority of the images are double-page pictures.  

One of my many favorite pictures contains a lot of white space.  It spans two pages.  On the far left we see portions of Mole's, Frog's and Turtle's bodies peeking in from the left.  Above them, Hummingbird hovers.  On the far right, just one eye and the large mouth of Crocodile is presented.  (He is coming from the right edge.)  His mouth is open.  Some sharp teeth are depicted.  Crocodile is saying

Pardon me!
Did I hear that dinosaurs
still roam the earth?


Whether this book, Tiny Dino written and illustrated by Deborah Freedman, is read by an individual or as a group read aloud, you can expect to have it read repeatedly.  To have the facts woven artfully in the narrative and images is a gift.  At the close of the book are an author's note and a list of resources.  Even here, Deborah Freedman still educates us while continuing the story along the bottom of both pages.  I highly recommend this title for both your personal and professional collections.

To discover more about Deborah Freedman and her other books, please visit her website by following the link attached to her name.  Here is a link to Lesson & Activity Ideas, & Resources made by Deborah Freedman.  Deborah Freedman has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  At the publisher's website, you can view interior illustrations.

Friday, April 29, 2022

Early Reader Extravaganza

Do you remember when the ability to read first happened to you?  Have you seen that realization dawn on the face of a child? The feeling of knowing you can read is nearly indescribable. In that moment for you and others, the world shifts.  It is brimming with endless possibilities and discoveries. 

Some of the best books for early readers have engaging characters, characters who connect with us and charm their way into our collective hearts.  Their everyday lives are akin to adventures.  What they say and do is liberally enlivened with humor.

Author Jonathan Stutzman and artist Heather Fox have created an early reader series with sibling ghosts who are the best of friends.  We were introduced to the duo in Fitz And Cleo (Henry Holt and Company, May 25, 2021) and earlier this year their second book, Fitz And Cleo Get Creative (Henry Holt and Company, March 8, 2022) was released.  The exuberance of these characters will have you grinning from ear to ear and wishing to join them.

Something 
in the 
Attic

THUMP

Was that you?  No, I'm right next to you.

What do 
you think
it is?

I don't know.
It sounds
angry.

In this first of eleven delightful stories, Fitz and Cleo, finally explore the attic.  They find a stray kitty.  Cleo is thrilled and names the cat, Mister Boo.  Fitz is not so thrilled, especially when  Mister Boo's favorite place to sleep is on his head.  

Mister Boo stars in the next three tales as Cleo proclaims the cat's virtues, Fitz babysits Mister Boo, and subsequently discloses the lack of Mister Boo's desirable characteristics.  The trio next share a day at the beach and ice cream.  Star wishing and brain freezing might be involved. 

Fitz and Cleo try to beat the previous record of loop-de-loops via paper airplanes.  Mister Boo is not happy with the results.  Fitz questions the outcomes of a scientific theory and Mister Boo's baseball skills with conclusions not to his liking.  Who knew how cat tails were so useful?  Speaking of science, why can't Mister Boo be an astronaut and get shot to the moon on a rocket?

As the final hours at a day's end are presented, readers find Fitz and Cleo, brother and sister, peering through a telescope at the stars.  After one of Fitz's remarks, Cleo declares this planet the best planet.  Fitz does not understand how she could possibly know that.  Cleo's replies are entirely heartwarming and true.


Head
in the 
Clouds

Grr.
Sigh.
Don't you like the book?
NO!
I LOVE
the book.

That's the 
problem!

In this next series of lively narratives, they begin with Cleo's dissatisfaction with her life compared to what she reads in books.  Ever supportive, Fitz points out the wonderful imagination of Cleo per her love of the "cloud game."  That evening during a roller-coaster kind of movie viewing, Cleo has her best idea yet.  She and Fitz (and Mister Boo) are going to make a movie!

The successive episodes revolve around their creative endeavors.  The value of getting an idea in writing before it vanishes will resonate with a lot of readers as will the practice of writing versus procrastination to accomplish your goals.  Readers will find themselves laughing at an exercise in painting and the importance of winning rock-paper-scissors.  

When Cleo and Fitz look for cast members for the movie, we meet their friends who closely resemble a vampire, a werewolf, and a creature from the Black Lagoon.  The siblings shine in the next two stories, each doing what they do best.  Colorful creativity bursts forth, but does not last due to another type of burst. If only powerful spells and Rube Goldberg Machines really worked as they desire.

In one of the two final stories, readers are treated to an extraordinary movie production.  All the participants reveal their best talents.  We learn the finest gift they have is the gift of friendship.  Faithful to her sweet and wise nature, Cleo utters the final sentence.  And, that's the truth.


Author Jonathan Stutzman has written dialogue between these ghostly siblings certain to echo in readers' minds and hearts.  The personalities of both Fitz and Cleo are found in what they say and think.  Their honesty with each other and their shared love stands out.  Sometimes these disclosures will have you laughing out loud.  Here are passages from the first story in each book.

YAY! Spooky
attic!
Shhh . . .
We want the
element of
surprise.

Spooky attic.
Spooky spooks!
Might be a monster,
might be some kooks.

What are you singing?
It's called
"The Spooky Attic Song"!
It's my favorite.

You just made
it up, didn't you?
Yes, I did.

RUSTLE

SCRATCH
SCRATCH
SCRATCH

Some terrible beast is up
here with us!  It's coming
from over there---shine
your light at it!

GULP


You know that
game you like,
where you
find shapes in
the clouds?

You don't 
like that
game!

Yes! Because cumulus clouds
are not bunnies or dragons,
they're ---

I mean . . .well . . .
do you maybe 
want to play now?

You want to play 
the cloud game?
*sigh* . . .Yes.
What do you see?

OKAY!
Hmm.
That one . . .
. . .looks like me!

Personally, I think it looks like someone
who has exciting adventures inside
her head every day.  Someone who will be
more than ready when real adventures
come her way.


You cannot look at the front of the book cases of these books without smiling.  What Heather Fox has done with her black lines is fashion two ghosts we want as our friends.  The glasses and hat for Fitz and the big purple bow for Cleo are the finishing touches.  On the back of both books is information you would normally find on the front and back flaps of a dust jacket.  Fitz, Cleo and the title text are varnished.

The pattern on both the opening and closing endpapers in the books is a reflection of some of the stories.  On the first set, white outlines on lavender feature ice cream cones, balls of string, rockets, and paper airplanes.  On the second set, white outlines on turquoise spotlight paintbrushes, juice boxes, pencils, and microphones.  With a page turn, in both books, a pictorial interpretation, wordless, starts with the siblings engaged in an activity.  

A series of panels, bordered in fine black lines or wide white borders, full-page images, page edge to page edge and two double-page pictures, edge to edge, for dramatic effect created by Heather Fox invite readers to be participants in each narrative.  We want to jump into the images with Fitz and Cleo and Mister Boo and the other characters.  

Sometimes, you will stop to fully appreciate the extra details included in each image.  Is that an octopus as the ice cream vendor?  The similarity between Cleo's chalk art and Fitz's body as the Rube Goldberg Machine completes its task will not be lost on many readers.

One of my many favorite illustrations from Fitz And Cleo is three wordless vertical panels on a single page.  They are close-ups of the eyes of Cleo, Fitz, and Mister Boo.  It is after they have consumed too much ice cream too quickly.  Brain Freeze has attacked them.  We all know how that feels and their eyes replicate that feeling perfectly.
One of my many favorite illustrations from Fitz And Cleo Get Creative is a double-page picture.  It is a stage setting with shades of purple for the background and speakers.  The stage lights are turquoise.  On a raised light blue platform is Mister Boo on red drums.  On one of the drums is the group's name, Boo Fighters.  To the left of the gutter is Cleo looking gothic but still wearing her big purple bow.  On the right is Fitz wearing his glasses, playing an olive green guitar, sporting a chain around his neck, and instead of his hat, he has a yellow and orange spiked Mohawk. 

These books, Fitz And Cleo and Fitz And Cleo Get Creative, written by Jonathan Stutzman with artwork by Heather Fox, are pure happiness.  Readers will find themselves smiling, giggling, laughing, and sighing at the shared antics and inventiveness of these two ghosts and their Mister Boo.  They are wonderful for silent reading or as read aloud titles.  I highly recommend them for both your professional and personal collections.

To learn more about Jonathan Stutzman and Heather Fox and their other work, please visit their websites by following the link attached to their names.  They have a joint website for these titles linked here.  There are activities to download. At the publisher's website, you can view interior images for Fitz And Cleo and Fitz And Cleo Get Creative.  Jonathan Stutzman has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  Heather Fox has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  To introduce their series, Jonathan Stutzman and Heather Fox wrote a post at librarian and writer John Schu's site, Watch. Connect. Read.





There are several explanatory tales in folklore about why dogs chase cats.  You have to wonder if there is some veracity in these stories because it seems canines and felines struggle with compatibility even today.  If one or the other of them has been the sole companion of humans, they are wary of the introduction of the other into the family dynamics.  Frank and the Bad Surprise (an Arthur A. Levine BookLevine Querido, April 5, 2022) written by Martha Brockenbrough with illustrations by Jon Lau is about a cat that fails to understand what his humans were thinking.  Are they crazy?

CHAPTER 1
The Bad Surprise

Frank the cat had it good.

He had a nice house, lots of toys,
all the Whiskies he could eat, and a 
window that looked out at the world.

One beautiful morning Frank was looking out that window and saw his humans returning to the house.  He was excited to see them carrying a box, but the box was not good.  The box was bad.  Inside that box was a puppy.  Frank immediately went to the computer keyboard composing a letter to his humans. (Are you laughing yet?)

After mailing that letter, Frank fell asleep in the sun knowing his humans would comply.  His nap was disturbed by that rambunctious puppy.  This unruly canine did not understand basic rules.  Frank retaliated.  He found himself in his crate, but still able to type away on the computer keyboard writing a letter.

His humans forgot he was in "jail" until he meowed at the sight of the puppy eating his beloved Whiskies.  He did not forgive his humans and wrote another letter.  The next morning Frank did the only thing he could think to do, he ran away.  He felt sorry for his humans, but what else could a cat do when a puppy enters their domain?

Frank thought he knew the world from his window watching.  He did not.  It was too much of everything that was not good, loud yappy dogs, mean people, rain, thunder and lightning, and smelly garbage.  Soon he found himself sitting in the rain on the sidewalk outside his home.  The storm woke up the puppy.  It started barking.  Frank imagined it was laughing.  It was not.  Frank wrote one new letter.  (Yes, his humans noticed him and he was back inside.)


Using a blend of narrative, Frank's thoughts, his comedic letter writing and human commentary, Martha Brockenbrough, in seven short chapters, acquaints readers with Frank and the puppy, who he names at the book's end.  The letters written by Frank are full of hilarity.  You can tell his mood with each writing by his signature line.

As a human who shares her life with both cats and dogs, Martha Brockenbrough writes with the sure knowledge of their interactions. Through her words she deftly depicts the regality of this cat and joyful abandon of the puppy.  Here is a passage.

Chapter 2
The Rules of Naps

There is nothing bad about a nap.
A nap in a warm spot is cozy.  A nap
feels the way warm bread and butter
taste.
Frank loved naps more than any
other thing.
Frank's humans knew not to 
wake him from a nap.
They knew that was against the
rules of naps.
The puppy did not care about
the rules of naps.


As soon as you look at the front cover of the book case, you can see the contrast between Frank and the puppy.  Frank is moving with uncertainty, or perhaps total disbelief. The puppy could not be happier.  This is grim versus grin.  The sign hanging from the mailbox designating this as book one is a nice design touch. On the back of the case is text normally supplied on the front and back flaps of a dust jacket.  There are two small pictures of Frank doing his favorite thing and discovering the "bad surprise."

On the opening and closing endpapers with dark turquoise on lighter turquoise are rows alternating between a dog bone and a cat ball with a bell.  On the title page are Frank and his two humans sitting on the front porch of the house before the arrival of the "bad surprise."  The puppy and Frank sit in opposite corners on the verso and dedication pages.

These illustrations were rendered by Jon Lau

by painting the characters, objects, and backgrounds using poster color paints on sheets of BFK Rives printmaking paper.  He then scanned the paintings and assembled the illustrations in Adobe Photoshop, much like a digital collage.

The size of the images vary in accordance with the pacing and presentation of the narrative.  There are full-page pictures, edge to edge, and smaller pictures on a single page, sometimes several grouped together.  There is one atmospheric scene on two pages when Frank learns a valuable life lesson.  Toward the end of the book are more double-page visuals when the best lesson of all is understood.  Readers will readily be able to discern the mood of Frank, the puppy, and the humans by their facial expressions.

One of my many favorite illustrations is when the puppy is breaking the rules of naps.  Frank is still mostly asleep, curled in coziness.  The puppy has leaped on top of him, paws on his chest.  The puppy is licking Frank's nose.  This is a smaller image on a single page with a light spring green background, focusing solely on the puppy and the cat.


That Frank and the Bad Surprise written by Martha Brockenbrough with artwork by Jon Lau is the first book in this series is a GOOD surprise for all readers.  We can hardly wait to see what new adventures Frank and the puppy will celebrate together with their loving humans.  Who knows what surprises await this twosome?  You'll want to have a copy of this funny and fun title on your professional and personal bookshelves.

To discover more about Martha Brockenbrough and Jon Lau and their other work, please follow the link attached to their names to access their websites.  Martha Brockenbrough has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.  Jon Lau has accounts on Instagram and Tumblr.  At the publisher's website, you can view some interior pages with art and text.

Thursday, April 21, 2022

To What Extent

Sometimes before you open a book, it is like looking at a gift-wrapped present.  You know who the giver is, but you have no idea what is inside.  You speculate as to the contents aloud and in your mind, knowing the truth will not be revealed until the paper is removed and the box is opened.

This is exactly how it was with Big And Small And In-Between (Chronicle Books, April 12, 2022).  I knew of the considerable work of the creators Carter Higgins and Daniel Miyares.  They are both authors and illustrators.  In this collaboration, Carter Higgins is author and Daniel Miyares is illustrator.  Having previously not read any reviews or revelatory chatter, after pausing at the opening and closing endpapers and the image before the verso and title pages, with a growing smile I turned to the first page.  I gasped.

BiG
things

Those two words are only read after unfolding a cleverly made box topped with a bow and tag with the number one on it.  With a page turn we discover twelve big things tangible, felt, and imagined.  We realize the warmth of the sun and its power to begin a day, the feeling before jumping into a huge mound of autumn leaves, the courage of doing something for the first time, and how a day at the beach is big in more than one way.

A square becomes a rectangle with a dachshund to welcome us into the in-between portion of this narrative. Here thirteen thoughts disclose highly anticipatory instances.  We recall (or wish we could recall) being on a teeter-totter when it is neither up or down but balanced in the center or the line when a boat is above water but also reflected in the water under it.  How about the caterpillar that is no longer an egg, but is about to flutter wings as a butterfly? How about the moment just before you bite into a s'more when the marshmallow is the right kind of soft and the chocolate is melting to perfection?  

A partial stem and partial leaf of a dandelion about ready for wishes holds the number 3.  A teeny, tiny door opens with a single dandelion seed on it for our exploration of small things.  If you listen you might hear the sound of a single raindrop falling in a puddle, a puddle providing water for a butterfly to quench its thirst.  If you look carefully, you can see snails beneath the cover of leaves and grass. It is a small creature inside a small shell leaving an almost invisible trail.  The final small thing of twelve takes us back to the ocean.  We are there just as a hole is formed, a castle is built, and we stand gazing at the expanse of water.  What does this tell us about big, in-between, and small things?

Surprisingly, there is a number four. Here we read and see the majesty of big, small, and in-between working together.  We pause and ponder at what we have read and seen in each portion of this book.  It is a proclamation from and of the heart.  


When you read the words written by Carter Higgins, you are drawn into each moment with her sensory descriptions.  Her lyrical phrases are like a lullaby, but also an awakening.  She is asking us to realize and participate in each of the big, small, and in-between happenings.  She takes the everyday and shows us how it is exceptional.  Here is a passage from each portion.  Can you guess which one is for big, small, and in-between?

a handful of NICKELS
that fell out of a pocket
and got smushed in the sofa

the SUN right before it slips away
when it is going
                     going
                              gone

how QUIET it gets
when it's your turn onstage
and you're not sure
about your talent


The images by artist Daniel Miyares we first see on the book case give us an idea of the wealth we are to find within the pages.  On the front, right side of the open case, is a balance of elements big and small and in-between.  They depict a collection of possibilities.  

To the left of the wide and bright yellow spine, on the back, is an oval-shaped illustration.  It shows three of the children showcased in the book riding down a street on their bicycles.  It is autumn.  The sky is replete with the colors of a setting sun. They are riding toward it.  Some autumn leaves break the frame to draw our eyes toward the text.  This text invites us to be travelers in the big, small, and the in-between.

On the opening endpapers in warmer hues of sunrise and sunset, as a background wash, we see items one might have from being in the portrayed occasions.  To name a few, there are odd checkers, jacks, a playing card, an acorn, a bottle cap, a wishbone, crayons, seashells, and leaves.  On the closing endpapers, in cooler shades, more often found at dusk, we are shown a pocket watch, a jump rope, an origami crane, a pencil, pinecone and a baseball.  These are some of the featured items.

When you turn the page, after the opening endpapers, we see a seated dog, with a tail extending over the gutter to the left, a wagging tail.  We cannot see the entire face of the canine, but it is happy.  A tennis ball rests between its paws.  A tag hanging from its collar reads:

This book belongs to

These pictures

rendered in graphite, gouache, and digital collage

are intricately detailed, textured, and expressive.  They alternate in size from full-page images with wide white frames, to full-page pictures, edge to edge, double-page visuals, and small images together.  There is a vertical delicious double-page picture, and a dramatic gatefold at the conclusion.  

The same characters and their pet companions reappear throughout the book.  Sometimes one image ties to the next one.  Some of the perspectives and use of light and shadow will have you marveling at the skill of Daniel Miyares.  One word (okay, two) comes to mind when you look at each illustration, alive and splendid.

One of my many favorite illustrations is for one of the above-noted quoted passages.  It is a four square picture with wide frames on a single page.  In the first scene, a child is reading a book in a swing on their porch as the sun sets.  Their dog is standing and watching them holding its tennis ball in its mouth.  Hopeful. In the next scene, it is barely light enough outside to read, but the child keeps reading. His socks and shoes are off and on the porch. They are lying down more than sitting up.  The tennis ball is next to the dog, now resting.  In the third image, the child is reading under a blanket with a flashlight, still in the porch swing.  The dog is curled and sleeping.  In the final illustration, an adult is carrying the child inside as the dog follows.  In the final two pictures stars fashion pinpoints of light in the sky.


This book, Big And Small And In-Between written by Carter Higgins with artwork by Daniel Miyares, is a total sensory experience.  You savor every example, thinking about if it is one you've shared, and if it is not, what you have done that might be similar, or completely different.  You cannot stop thinking about this book, about how others will respond to it, and the wonderful conversations and activities it will promote.  I highly recommend you place at least one copy or two in your professional collections and one in your personal collections.

To learn more about Carter Higgins and Daniel Miyares and their other work, please access their websites by following the link attached to their names.  Carter Higgins has accounts on Instagram and Twitter.  Her blog is linked here.  Daniel Miyares has accounts on Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.  At the publisher's website, you can view interior images.  On Saturday, April 23, 2022, there is an Instagram takeover hosted by Weller Book Works highlighting this book with Carter Higgins and Daniel Miyares.