Tuesday, February 9, 2010

10th February E.L.Konigsburg (1930) Lucy Cousins (1964)

I don't have any picture books by E.(Elaine)L.(Lobl) Konisburg in my library, but I couldn't not mention that it was her birthday because I love her novels. I read and loved Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinlay and Me, Elizabeth and then quickly followed it up with From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. I was hooked. The second of these titles makes a great serial for grades 3-6. The situation, the plot and the sibling relationship initiates fantastic discussions and creative writing. Her other Newbery Medal winner A View From Saturday fits well into any unit of work on the environment, turtles or lifecycles. In each of these books there are dynamic children as characters who are looking for answers to big questions and during their search they discover much about themselves and their own identities.

Now moving from America to Britain and from novels to picture books with illustrations that just explode with colour, it is also Lucy Cousins' birthday. She is well known for her Maisy books. Three year olds who visit the library rush straight to the Maisy box, yelling 'M
aisie' all the way from the door to the box. They are so excited to see her. She is like their very best friend. They know all the books well, know if you miss a page when reading and know all the characters so well. They sit on the mat or on the lounge reading them to themselves or to any teddy who'll listen. Their mothers say that we are not borrowing that one , we have it at home, but they still want to take it home!

Two of Cousins' books that you may have not discovered are Hooray for Fish! and Jazzy in the Jungle. They are both big and bright. Jazzy won the Smarties Book Prize for 5 and under in 2002. I'm sure that was for the paper-engineering as much as for the text, colour and size. The pages combine a variety of shapes, cutouts and foldouts to make a gloriously lush forest. Fish has amazingly beautiful fish which work well when doing a display or frieze for a sea theme.

P.S. I almost forgot her new collection of eight fairy tales, Yummy. This is different from her usual 'safe' artwork! Lucy says, "It’s brilliant to be able to pass on these stories like this, with all their drama, excitement, and comedy. They are such fun and they touch such deep emotions. My paintbrushes were practically dancing on the paper."

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