Tag Archives: chronicle books
“The cat walked through the world, with its whiskers, ears, and paws…”
So starts this genius picture book.
And then, different beings see that cat walking through the world. And they all see the cat differently according to their own perspectives, interpretations, and even the way their sense of sight works. Those whiskers, ears, and paws are not as fixed as they may first appear.
Brendan Wenzel has created a book that explores subjectivity and imagination through how one cat can contain multitudes and many disparate qualities depending on who’s doing the seeing. (And, by extension, how all the things and people and events in the world contain multitudes if you look from different points of view.)
Not to mention that the mediums and evocations of the art are as varied as the perspectives. I also love the furry endpapers.
(click image(s) to enlarge)
Let’s take a look. Is the seer up close or far away? In a bowl, like the fish? On its back like the flea? In the sky like the bird?
What does the seer see when it sees a cat? A friend or foe? Something innocuous or something threatening?
Does the seer see in pixels or in black and white? In infrared like the snake? Those are probably my favorite spreads: the bee, the snake, and the skunk. How fun to imagine how other creatures see the world! And how important to imagine how other humans see the world too.
In the end, the cat is all of these things.
What do you see when you see a cat? What do you see when you see this or that? What do you see when you see yourself?
Big thanks to Chronicle Books for images! A perfect publisher for this book as its motto is “see things differently”!
And you may want to check out the activity kit for the book too.
The setting: the back porch at Green Bean Books in Portland.
The stars: super sweet kids doing animal hand motions with panache.
The song: singable, hummable, even clappable!
Emily has such a special way of making a song that captures a book’s essence while elaborating on the elements that seem meant for music. This is no exception. Kids will love it.
Check out Emily’s full album, Storytime Singalong!
Today I’m pairing two picture books with strong girl characters—one mechanic and one ninja-in-training.
Interstellar Cinderella by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Meg Hunt (2015).
The rhyme really shines in this girl power book. It’s a Cinderella retelling of a character who dreams, not of a prince, but of fixing rockets. Yes!
No gown for her, but a bejeweled space suit and sonic socket wrench. And a mouse named Murgatroyd. Yes, again!
In the end, she does win the space prince’s admiration, but it’s by showing she can fix his ship. And the happy ending doesn’t involve wedding bells. Instead, the resolution is summed up in my favorite line of the book:
“She thought this over carefully.
Her family watched in panic.
‘I’m far too young for marriage,
but I’ll be your chief mechanic!'”
Thanks to Chronicle Books for images!
Little Kunoichi: The Ninja Girl by Sanae Ishida (2015).
The artwork in this one is what really gets me. Those watercolors are so sweet, dainty, and colorful; I want to live in this book! The illustrations match the whimsy of this story as well as its message of fun without rigidity or perfection.
Little Kunoichi goes to a secret ninja school but she is not a very good ninja (yet!). She meets a little boy who attends a secret samurai school and together they get better at their respective skills in order to wow everyone at the island festival. How do they do that? Practice.
Practice is really the message of this book. Referred to here as shugyo, these two characters become friends and spur each other in their “training like crazy.”
This kind of heroine is so relatable because she’s not perfect but is persistent (which is more important). She’s also not someone who goes it alone, but who learns from others and has a close friend—all great qualities. Plus, I mean, she’s training to be a ninja. Sooooo, there’s that.
Thanks to Little Bigfoot for images!
You might also be interested in my post on Rosie Revere, Engineer.
This Picture Book Life turns two this month!
To celebrate, I have two special giveaways to thank you for stopping by here and reading! THANK YOU!
Enter to win one of two sets of three picture books. One batch is three super sweet books published by Penguin; the other, three books from Chronicle that explore nature in some way.
3 SWEET PICTURE BOOKS published by Penguin:
Knit Together by Angela Dominguez.
There’s This Thing by Connah Brecon.
Little Baby Buttercup by Linda Ashman, illustrated by You Byun.
3 NATURE PICTURE BOOKS published by Chronicle Books:
Flashlight by Lizi Boyd.
Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt by Kate Messner, art by Christopher Silas Neal.
In This Book by Fani Marceau and Joëlle Jolivet.
I’ve got a lot of love for this one. It’s a manners book infused with fun and delightfulness and cakes! (And cyclopses!!)
One brilliant thing about this picture book (there are many!) is the use of the plural. “Rude cakes” goes the text while we see one particular pink rude cake doing all sorts of bad behaviors, from not saying please to never listening to its parents. It calls a cute marshmallow friend, “clumsy crumb” at one point illustrating just how rude a rude cake can be.
I love how the elder cakes have more tiers. How Rude Cake’s companions are a cupcake and a marshmallow. The muted color palette. The cyclops stuffed animal Rude Cake carries that comes into play in a BIG way in the story. And my favorite line?
“They also think baths are dumb and that bedtime is for donut holes.”
Oh but Rude Cake has it coming. A real, live cyclops plucks Rude Cake from its bedroom in order to wear it as a jaunty little hat. (Cyclopses love jaunty little hats.)
And thus, Rude Cake is on the other end of misfortune. Not because cyclopses are rude. Oh no, they are very polite.
But are they polite enough to listen to a jaunty little hat who finally asks nicely to be returned home, using that magic word, “please”? You’ll have to read the book to find out.
Thanks to Chronicle Books for images!
This book calls for a craft, no? You could bake a cake! Or you could make a cute rude cake craft, one that can be worn as a jaunty little hat or kept around on a bookshelf!
Looks like frosting, but it’s actually something that will last a lot longer (and is NOT edible). Spackle!
Here’s how my dude and I made Rude Cake: We used two differently sized plastic plant tray liners taped together to form the cake shape. Then we mixed up some lightweight spackling paste and red food coloring to make a pink frosting-like material. We spread it on with a knife, super simple! After adding more red for a darker pink, we applied that with a pastry bag and decorating tip to the top and rim! Some paper circles for eyes and two more lines of “frosting” for Rude Cake’s mouth and voila!
Isn’t Rude Cake (hat) cute?! Especially since it’s no longer so rude. Just ask cupcake and marshmallow.
And, hey! You might be interested in my Hooray For Hat craft as well.
These two are perfect summer activity books. Imagine the hours that could be spent combing each for all the details. All the stories and characters and subplots. They’re like Where’s Waldo but with intricate stories to follow and discover. (I’m super jealous of anyone who can enjoy these while riding in a car. They are well-suited for those not afflicted with motion sickness during road trips.)
click image(s) to enlarge
We follow a papa bear searching for his baby bear as we look for him too. All the way from the opera house of the first installment through the cold streets to a cruise ship that sails to a tropical island.
The search is the fun of the book, spotting big bear and little bear in every spread, wanting so badly for them to find one other like we’ve found them!
Thanks to Chronicle Books for images!
Welcome To Mamoko by Aleksandra Mizielińska and Daniel Mizieliński (2013).
In Mamoko, we’re introduced to a few kooky characters on the first page. Then, we follow one or two or all of those creatures on a wordless adventure.
You can pick an animal and basically discover a different story on every read through! My favorite character might be the cow in red heels, but it’s a tough call. I do love a romantic roller-skater!
Images via Big Picture Press.
This video will show you how it’s done:
I hope you know some kids who can have fun with these activity/story books this summer. And if you and yours are able to read them in a moving vehicle, then I super salute you!
I received a review copy of The Bear’s Sea Escape; opinions are my own.