Sunday, January 26, 2014

26th January Ashley Wolff (1956)

Last year I bought a book called Baby Bear Sees Blue and was just 'blown away' by the illustrations. I love linoprints and they are probably my favourite form of artwork.  Many of the artworks in my home are linoprints. I wondered why I hadn't seen any other books by this illustrator, so went in search of other books by Ashley Wolff. Surprisingly there were quite a lot already in the library, but none had memorable illustrations like this one. I hadn't remembered that Wolff was the illustrator of all the books in the series about Miss Bindergarten. I love the illustrations in Compost Stew  but hadn't realised they were hers. So now I am on the lookout for more of her books. I was pleased to see that I need to buy Baby Bear Counts One  which was published at the end of last year. I went to Ashley Wolff's website to learn more about her and her techniques for the bear books. There I learned that her bear books were  inspired by the bear cub in McCloskey's Blueberries For Sal and I found this review

Wolff’s illustrations, black linoleum-block prints washed with watercolors, feature bold lines, strong
compositions, and sensitive uses of color that will draw readers into the pictures. Excellent for group
sharing…. The quiet text is made up of Baby Bear’s questions about the sensory wonders of his world and his mother’s replies, and given a chance, young children will be happy to supply the answers first. An engaging concept book with just enough narrative for its audience.

As well as linoblocks she uses collage and two books about grandparents interest me now - I Call My Grandpa Papa and I Call My Grandma Nana. These books explore the names various children and cultures have for their grandparents - just perfect for Grandparents' Day at school!

Happy Birthday Ashley Wolff. You are now on my radar!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

1st & 2nd February Tomato Festival

This morning I was reading the newspaper and was surprised to read that Sydney is hosting a Tomato Festival at the Botanical Gardens on the 1st and 2nd February. This got me thinking about tomatoes, a fruit that I feel is somewhat overrated in its raw state. Friends say that is because I never have really good ones straight from the garden. Recently though I did. A friend served up a salad that was just tomatoes of various colours straight from her garden with olive oil and a little basil and they were good, very good!

Next I thought about how there were tomatoes growing in the school vegetable garden and how I have never thought much about them as a display impetus in the library. What did we have about tomatoes?  I thought of the 'signature' book I Will Not Ever Never Eat a Tomato, the very first Charlie and Lola book by Lauren Child and then had to look in the catalogue. There was not much as I discovered. Here is the sum total!

Oh No, Monster Tomato!  a picture book about a tomato-growing competition by Jim Helmore and Beware! Killer Tomatoes, a short chapter book from Jeremy Strong's Laugh Your Socks Off series continue the fun tomatoes conjure up in fiction and then there are a few non fiction books that look at how to grow tomatoes and their lifecycles. Compared to apples, pumpkins, carrots and potatoes, tomatoes are certainly under-represented in children's books!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

21st January Squirrel Appreciation Day

It is very easy to appreciate squirrels when you have very little knowledge of them and for you they are lovely looking mischievous characters in children's picture books. But I get the feeling that for people who live with them they may well be like possums are for me where I live...pests! I have seen lovely big red ones in Switzerland,  very busy, but small red ones in England and  brown, quietly busy but not easily distracted ones in America, and I thought they were all gorgeous, but here in Australia we do not have squirrels, so I feel justified in appreciating them. I love Melanie Watts' Scaredy Squirrel books and so do the children who frequent my library. My timid and worried students can laugh at Scaredy while needing lots of reassurance themselves and they reborrow the same books from this series over and over again. I also love the squirrel series that starts with Those Darn Squirrels by Adam Rubin. Here the squirrels are brazen and pesty. But, my favourite squirrel in a children's book has to be the endearing one in Waiting for Winter by Sebastian Meschenmoser, who helps Bear work out what snow is.