April 2012

On Big Sister, Little Sister

“Sisters, sisters, There were never such devoted sisters…” So begins the famous and funny Irving Berlin song, which plays on in my head as though someone jammed the repeat button […]

On The Napping House

Naps are funny things. As children, we felt naps were a sort of punishment. You want me to stop constructing this fort out of the entire contents of your linen […]

Throw an extra dollop of whipped cream on your hot chocolate, snuggle up under your fleece blanket and get ready for some warm fuzzies (can you tell it’s raining at my house?). Because that is what is coming your way when you crack open the gorgeous picture book I have for you today. Liz Garton Scanlon’s text is so touching and the incomparable Marla Frazee’s illustrations are so perfect, and the book makes you feel “hope and peace and love and trust” as you marvel at finding both comfort in the sameness and wonder in the bigness that is ALL THE WORLD.


    • Publsihed By: Beach Lane Books (September 8, 2009)
    • Suitable For: All ages
    • Topics/Themes: Interconnectedness, Nature, Family, Wonder
    • Opening:
      “Rock, stone, pebble, sand
      Body, shoulder, arm, hand
      A moat to dig, a shell to keep
      All the world is wide and deep.”
    • Synopsis: (from Amazon) Following a circle of family and friends through the course of a day from morning till night, this book affirms the importance of all things great and small in our world, from the tiniest shell on the beach, to warm family connections, to the widest sunset sky.
    • Links to Resources: There is an impressive, 16-page Teacher’s Resource Guide on Liz Garton Scanlon’s website. It has a variety of exercises, from the most simple (comparing size and color), to the much more complex (defining the concepts of hope, peace, love and trust). I also found more great resources on the Teacher Think Tank website, where they developed writing templates to accompany this book. As a writer, I loved hearing the “story behind the story,” from both the author and illustrator, which I found on the Simon & Schuster website here.
    • Why I like this book: This is a book that just makes me gush. Liz Garton Scanlon has taken a mere handful of words, and crafted them into poetry that makes us feel connected in an intimate way to…EVERYTHING. How did she do that? I am in awe. And oh my, Marla Frazee. Her illustrations take us through both the personal and the universal. Again, how did she do that? This book won a Caldecott Honor and about a zillion other awards, and I am not surprised. In addition to gaining the admiration of adults everywhere, ALL THE WORLD is a favorite with kids, too. The lyrical text makes a great bedtime choice, and there are so many layers in the art, they will be finding new gems in it with every reading. This is a book you need to have in your collection!

Go see the other choices for Perfect Picture Book Friday over at Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog. It is a great resource for parents and teachers, especially if you are in search of books on specific topics. Check it out! 0

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When my daughter saw her name splashed across the cover of this book, she insisted we pick it up. Convinced there is but one Lily in the world, she couldn’t wait to get home and see how the illustrator had chosen to portray her. Nevermind that there is a cow featured prominently in the center of the art. Nevermind that this cow is clearly both prancing and dancing, as is referred to in the title. Nevermind that there isn’t a curly-haired, chubby-cheeked little squirt anywhere to be found in the entire book. It was about HER. So after my sweet, self-centered-as-all-three-year-olds-are, little girl got over her disappointment, she fell in love with THIS Lily…the independent, adventurous, dance-until-her-hooves-ache star of this captivating book, PRANCING DANCING LILY.


    • Published by: Dial (March 30, 2004)
    • Suitable for: Ages 4 and up
    • Topics/Themes: Individuality, Being Different, Independence, Self-Acceptance
    • Opening: “‘Come on in, Rose! Milking time!’ Farmer Gibson called across the pasture. Clang-a-lang. Clang-a-lang. All the cows fell in behind Rose. Except for Lily. Prancing, dancing Lily.”
    • Synopsis:(from the jacketflap) The cows in Lily’s herd are always dignified as they walk from the barn to the pasture.  But Lily would much rather prance and dance!  One day Lily decides to leave the farm and venture out on her own.All over the world-from New York City to Spain to Senegal-Lily learns new dances and makes wonderful friends.  But none of the dances are quite right for a cow, and soon Lily starts to miss home.  Will she ever find a place where she fits in?
    • Links to Resources: Marsha Diane Arnold has a number of suggested activities on her website. Kids can learn to write rhymes and make cow puppets, as well as design their own bookmarks. When I read this book with my kids, it always ends in some display of creative dancing. And I don’t want to give away the clever ending, but let’s just say that the last dance the cows do always requires the whole family to jump in for a demonstration!
    • Why I Like this Book: I just love the strength of the Lily character in this book. She recognizes that she is different from the herd, and isn’t afraid to explore those differences. The lovely Marsha Diane Arnold (side note: if you are in the kidlit world and have not had the chance to interact with her yet, you are missing out! She really is lovely) handles an important message in a witty, fun, and sometimes silly way. Lily goes off on her adventure and in the process recognizes that what was identified in the herd as weakness really could be a strength. She refines that unique “something” about herself and brings it back home in a way that benefits everyone. Okay, and a cow that belly-dances? How could you not love that?

Please take a moment to visit the blog of the also lovely Susanna Leonard Hill, the host of the wonderful Perfect Picture Book resource for parents and teachers! 0

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