Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sunday Review and Author/Illustrator Event

I finished this week listening to Will Hillenbrand, a picture book writer and illustrator at The Blue Manatee Children's Bookstore in Cincinnati. I loved what he said about picture book making.  He said the author and illustrator come together to make an incomplete circle, to be connected by the reader.  A picture book should look like it came from one mind.  Here are some pictures I took of the event:

Will Hillenbrand's autograph and whimsical drawing

Sharing the manuscript that came from Daniel Pinkwater

Sharing the illustrator's process of adding layers

Sharing the book Bear in Love

Some lucky kids getting a sneak peek of Hillenbrand's upcoming book Off We Go

Hillenbrand also shared the website We Believe in Picture Books, and his YouTube video in which he beautifully describes what picture books mean to him.
Now on to the books I read this week!  I seem to have an animal theme.

Bear in LoveBear in Love by Will Hillenbrand
animals, friendship, inference, picture-book, predicting

I thought this was such a sweet story.  It's a story of Bear who starts receiving mysterious gifts, and he wonders who the special friend might be. He tries to entice the mysterious gift-giver with gifts of his own. When the two friends come together at the end, they "sat side by side in the clearing, singing songs as the sun went down." Very young children would have fun inferring and predicting who the friend is before he is discovered
Sisters and Brothers: Sibling Relationships in the Animal World
  sisters & brothers by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

animals, nonfiction, picture-book, science

I love his books! This one is about siblins in the animal world. I thought it was fascinating. Nine-banded armadillos are always born as identical quadruplets, and New Mexico whiptail lizards have only sisters! Once again, the illustrations are awesome, and kids will have fun learning about animal families. It would be fun to use as a writing launch for their own sibling stories. Maybe as a companion to The Pain and the Great One?

Bear Has a Story to Tell  Bear Has a Story to Tell by Philip C. Stead, Erin Stead
animals, friendship, picture-book

A Sick Day for Amos McGeeThe Steads are a wonderful picture book duo, and I so wish I had gone to see them last weekend at the Blue Manatee in Cincinnati, but I missed it. This sweet story is about Bear who wants to tell a story before winter comes. However, each friend he meets needs to prepare for winter travels or hibernation, so he helps each one, and has to wait until spring to tell the story. Like A Sick Day for Amos McGee, the illustrations pull at your heartstrings.

  A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead, Erin Stead

animals, friendship, picture-book

The illustrations in this book are so endearing. I love the expressions and gestures of the animals. The story is about Amos McGee, a zookeeper, who makes time for his friends on his way into work every day. He plays chess with Elephant, races with Tortoise, sits quietly with shy Penguin, wipes Rhinoceros's nose, and reads to Owl, who is afraid of the dark. One day, though, Amos comes down with a bad cold and can't make it in to work. The animals gather together and decide what they need to do; they board a bus to visit Amos and give back to him what Amos gives to them every day. Great lessons about friendship and compassion!

  Dogs and Cats by Steve Jenkins

animals, nonfiction, picture-book, science
Dogs and Cats
Jenkins is my favorite nonfiction writer for kids, and I enjoyed this one, too. One of the reasons children will enjoy it is because of the design; halfway through you have to flip it over and start from the other side to read about one or the other. One of the funniest facts is that the world's fattest cat was a tabby tom at 46 pounds!!!!! There's a lot of information about cats and dogs that will help kids understand their household companions. I also enjoy his cut and torn paper collage illustrations.

  The Blessings of the Animals by Katrina Kittle
The Blessings of the Animals

book club, adult fiction

I liked this story of Cami Anderson, whose husband left her on a stormy March day, after she returned from an animal rescue. Cami is a veterinarian and probably knew her marriage to broody, unhappy Bobby had been unraveling for quite a while. In the aftermath of the divorce, she discovers her own strength and happiness without him, and explores new relationships with a new-found confidence. Cami also continues to raise her daughter, Gabby, trying to keep her faith in love and marriage so as to not jade Gabby's outlook on both. I liked the ending and enjoy Kittle's writing style.

  Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson

book, character-motivation, character-traits, death, friendship, historical-fiction, setting, strong-girl-character
Hattie Big Sky

I loved listening to the audio version of this story. Because I grew up loving Little House on the Prairie books, I had a strong connection to Hattie. The toughness of people who moved West has always amazed me, and Hattie is no exception. Hattie grew up being tossed around from relative to relative after her parents died, so she called herself Hattie Here-and-There. One day, however, she receives a letter from her late Uncle Chester who bequeaths her his homestead claim in Montana. At the extremely young age of 16, she jumps at the chance to make something her own. Because it has not been "proved up" yet, she has her work cut out for her. With the help of her neighbors, the Muellers, she faces the harsh Montana weather, illness, a grumpy cow, a scheming young man, anti-German sentiment because of WW I, and a terrible tragedy to try to turn those difficult 40 acres into a home. Throughout the trials on the farm, she cooresponds with a childhood friend, Charlie, who's fighting the war. The ending was not what I expected, and it makes me anxious to read the sequel, coming out in 2013. I look forward to it! Make sure to listen/read the Author's Note at the end. Larson based this story on her own grandmother.


  1. That event was such a treat, thank you for sharing these lovely photographs with us. Daniel Pinkwater, I think, is an acquired taste. I read his Lizard Music and couldn't decide how I feel about it until now. I didn't know about this picture book that you shared though, will look for this one. Hattie Big Sky and Bear has a story to tell seems to be receiving a lot of love this week - worth checking out. :)

    1. I really loved Hattie Big Sky - it was a refreshing story of hard work and community! I enjoy seeing authors and illustrators - they teach us a lot about creating stories!

  2. What a great event to see! I love all of your animal-themed picture books. Bear in Love looks so adorable and I just can't wait to get a hold of the Stead's newest book, too! I really liked Jenkin's Just a Second. I can see why kids love his books!


    1. I'm glad you enjoyed seeing pictures of this event. Loren Long is coming to the same bookstore in October, so I'll be posting about that as well! Jenkins is amazing and makes nonfiction fun! You'll LOVE the picture books I shared. Thanks for commenting!