Friday, June 26, 2009

Book Review: Cinderella from around the world

Wilson, Barbara Ker (retold by). WISHBONES: A FOLK TALE FROM CHINA. Ill. By Meilo So. New York: Bradbury Press, 1993. ISBN 0027931250.
According to the book jacket, this story is the oldest version of Cinderella. It has a motherless girl, a clueless but loving father, a wicked stepmother and stepsister, and a magical being that sends the heroine, Yeh Hsien, to the Cave Festival after her stepmother has made sure she stayed home. There is a lost slipper and a young king who searches for the slipper’s owner in order to marry her. Since this is an Oriental tale, though, the story varies slightly from the European version. The magical being that sends our heroine to the Cave Festival is not alive. Instead, it is the bones of Yeh Hsien’s pet fish which the stepmother killed for dinner, and Yeh Hsien fished out of the dungheap and wished upon (the “Wishbones” of the title). There is also an extra twist at the end. Instead of living happily ever after, Yeh Hsien’s husband uses up all the magic and the Wishbones stop granting wishes. Yeh Hsien and her husband bury the Wishbones in the beach where they are washed away into the sea, and the formulaic ending is “They have never been found to this day.”

From the very first lines, we know that this story took place “thousands of years ago,” and this is driven home when we learn that the people live in caves. The text and illustrations show a primitive society, with water drawn from “a mountain pool,” and Yeh Hsien being sent off “into the hills to gather herbs.” Transportation is by horse and wagon, even if the horses are decked out in finery. At the Cave Festival, Yeh Hsien is blinded by “the lights of a hundred lanterns.” All of these add up to a long ago time and place.

Meilo So’s illustrations add depth to the story, as we view the cave in which the family lives and the fine clothes of the stepmother and stepsister vs. the heroine’s patched and ragged jacket. So’s pictures of the magic Wishbones occur over and over, and in brilliant red and blue colors that jump off the page at us. On the very last page, not only does the text tell us that the Wishbones have lost their magic, but they have also lost their bright colors - the skeleton is only bleached white now.

This version of the age-old dispute between daughters and stepmothers has its normal assortment of archetypes. We have the innocent child, symbol of all that is good. We have the bully, symbol of all that holds us back from what we want or desire. Finally, we have the magical being, the Angel archetype, who answers our prayers or wishes (Meta Religion).

The story of Cinderella/Yeh Hsien has a global theme. If we live a good life, we will earn our reward despite what obstacles or people try to stop us. This universal theme is why so many diverse cultures have their own versions of a Cinderella story.

Dr. Judy Rowen (Children's Literature)
A Chinese folk tale, this is one of the oldest versions of the Cinderella story. Vibrant, colorful paintings enhance the story.

Jan Lieberman (Children's Literature)
This is a picture book version of the Chinese Cinderella. The title refers to the magic fish who is cruelly killed by Yeh Hsien's stepmother but the girl discovers that those bones will grant her every wish. The illustrations depict the text yet provide room for children's imagination. This is a good version for primary grades.

Horn Book (The Horn Book Guide, 1993)With the help of magic fishbones, Yeh Hsien, the Chinese Cinderella, dresses herself in finery to attend the Cave Festival. The inadvertent loss of her slipper results in her marrying the king. Rich in color, humor, and authentic details, So's brilliant illustrations give the old tale a refreshing and effective interpretation.
Show your students some other international versions of Cinderella. See if they can identify the common characters and elements in each story. Keep a chart or write their answers on the board for them to see as they go through the different versions.

Meta Religion. 2007. “A Gallery of Archetypes.” Accessed June 27, 2009 from

Book Review: Daniel San Souci

San Souci, Daniel. IN THE MOONLIGHT MIST: A KOREAN TALE. Ill. By Eujin Kim Neilan. Honesdale, Pennsylvania: Boyds Mills Press, 1999. ISBN 1563977540.
In this Korean story, a humble woodcutter saves a deer from hunters. In return, the deer tells him how to find a heavenly maiden to marry. It instructs the woodcutter to hide her clothes when she bathes in the moonlight to keep her earthbound. But the deer also warns the woodcutter to not give her clothes back until their second child is born. The woodcutter and the maiden marry and have a child, but the wife becomes homesick for heaven. To make her happy again, the woodcutter gives his wife her heavenly clothes back. The heavenly clothes possess the wife. She grabs their baby and returns to heaven. In despair, meets the deer again. This time the deer tells him how to get to heaven to rejoin his wife and daughter. Out of filial love, the woodcutter sends his mother to heaven instead of himself. The heavenly king hears about the woodcutter’s generosity and lets the woodcutter come to heaven where he joyfully rejoins his mother and family.
There is no overwhelmingly ‘bad’ character in this tale. The woodcutter and the heavenly maiden both at times do things that are wrong, such as the woodcutter hiding the maiden’s clothing, or the wife taking the baby back to heaven with her. But they love each other. The wife and her husband both work hard and care for the husband’s mother. In short, the 2 main characters have both human flaws and strengths. There is also a strong good character, though. The heavenly king makes a very short appearance to reward generosity and kindness. There is a universal theme at work here. No good deed goes unrewarded. The heavenly king, or whatever deity or power we believe in, will award us ultimately for our kind acts toward others.

Daniel San Souci maintains the traditional storyteller flow of this tale by telling his story through dialogue primarily, with over half of the text being dialogue. The dragon at the end of the story is a specifically Asian motif, since Asian dragons, unlike European dragons, bring good fortune and good luck. There is also the internationally traditional magic being who grants a wish in return for a favor.

In some rural areas, Koreans still wear the same traditional everyday and dress outfits as in this story, which makes it timeless. The landscapes are also ordinary. Combined with the text, however, Eujin Kim Neilan portrays uniquely Asian settings. The mother’s cook pot, the yard outside the couple’s house, the son’s devotion to his mother, and the rocks rising out of the water are all poignantly Asian. Even the dragon who conveys the woodcutter to heaven is painted as a Korean dragon. Having personally lived there for a few years, I experience a sense of homesickness for Asia when I view Neilan’s paintings.

Best Books:
Adventuring with Books: A Booklist for Pre-K-Grade 6 13th Edition, 2002 ; National Council of Teachers of English; United States

Jeanne K. Pettenati, J.D. (Children's Literature)

"The timeless message in this beautifully told story is that God, the "heavenly king," watches over all of us and that those who live for others will ultimately find joy. The illustrations are finely wrought. Faces are quite expressive; some haunting in their sadness. Hands are prominent in the illustrations--reaching, caressing, holding and explaining. The book's universal story is filtered through Korean eyes. It provides a window into the Korean culture and sensibility."

Janice Harrington (The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, April 1999 (Vol. 52, No. 8))

"The lengthy narrative opens with an extended introductory subplot, but the pace is fairly rapid, and patient readers will be carried along by the magical and romantic elements. Neilan’s acrylic paintings are a strong inducement for readers. The subtle tension between warm and cool colors and the balanced choreography of double-, two-thirds, and single-page spreads combine with eyecatching points of view and compelling compositions to provide a strong sense of movement and drama. Human and animal figures are well-drafted and realistically expressive; brush strokes, almost scraped across the illustrations, add texture and depth. Jacket notes refer to the story as “ancient” and “one of Korea’s most beloved,” but no specific sources are provided."


1. Have a Korean tasting party, Kimchi (pronounced kim-chee) is similar to sauerkraut. Bulgogi (pronounced buhl-go-gee) is similar to a sweet beef teriyaki. Mandu are Korean dumplings, similar to wontons or pierogi. Make sure that the children take only a very small portion of the kimchi, since this dish can be very spicy. All 3 of these common dishes can be purchased from Korean restaurants. Making kimchi is a very complicated and time consuming process, mandu only slightly less complicated, but bulgogi is easy to make in a home kitchen.

2. Yut is a very popular Korean board game. If possible, find a version of Yut and have it and the rules available for your students. For more information on Yut, see this website.

Book Review: Horse Hoovers and Chicken Feet: Mexican Folktales selected by Neil Philip

Philip, Neil, editor. HORSE HOOVES AND CHICKEN FEET: MEXICAN FOLKTALES. Ill. By Jacqueline Mair. New York: Clarion Books, 2003. ISBN 0618194630.

This book is a collection of traditional Mexican folktales. Neil Philip, the editor of this anthology, collected these stories from Mexico, Colorado, and New Mexico. Like Mexico, these stories owe a large part of their origin to tales from Spain, which in turn can be traced back to Moorish tales such as the Arabian Nights. The Endless Tale is a direct descendant of Scheherazade and her “One Thousand and One Nights.” Although many of the stories share themes with other folktales from around the world, these folktales have a uniquely Mexican twist to them. Mexican folktales have 2 special characteristics: 1) the ever-pervasive background presence of Roman Catholicism, and 2) Just like African folktales, these tales are filled with tricksters and storytellers.

Since Mexican culture is steeped in Catholicism, the traditional characters in these stories are Catholic – instead of a fairy godmother in the Cinderella version (The Two Marias), you have the Virgin Mary. In The Priest Who Had a Glimpse of Glory, the main character is a Catholic priest. Pedro the Trickster bargains with the Lord, St. Peter, and the Devil. As well as Catholic concepts, Mexican folklore contains many strong female characters. Death is portrayed as female. The protagonist of The Brave Widow is a mother who fights Judas, king of the underworld, for the sake of her son’s future. And in The Endless Tale, it’s the girl who tells the boy what to do to win her father’s contest.

The stories have very little in the way of setting. They take place in ‘a house,’ ‘a cantina,’ Heaven, Hell, or Purgatory, ‘the plaza,’ ‘the ship,’ and other very broad, general locations. The action could really take place anywhere, so the setting is irrelevant to the plot.

These stories have universal themes. In the title story, Horse Hooves and Chicken Feet, the theme is being alert since you never know where you’ll find evil. Other stories illustrate the theme of good ultimately conquering evil. There’s a Mexican flavored theme in Pedro The Trickster, of how persistence can win you heaven. In the story, The Priest Who Had a Glimpse of Glory, the theme is God’s might is more powerful than us puny mortals. It reminds me of a a story in a German book of my mother’s from when I was a child, of a monk who falls asleep in a garden one afternoon while reading the Bible. When he wakes up, a thousand years have passed because he was reading 2 Peter Chapter 3, verse 8 when he fell asleep: “But of this one thing be not ignorant, my beloved, that one day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”

Jacqueline Mair’s illustrations don’t add to the stories, but instead complement them. Almost every page number is accompanied by a red chili pepper. There are motifs of animals, dancers, cacti, Mexican feasts, traditional Mexican clothing, the sun and moon, and Día de los Muertos altars. They highlight the Mexican flavor of this anthology. Just like traditional Mexican folk art, the colors are bold and bright, and the drawings are primitive.

In his introduction, Philip explains how most of his stories came from storytelling sources. As such, the sentences are short and to the point, while packed with action. The Devil, magic, witches, and bargaining are prevalent elements throughout the stories. Unlike European traditional literature, the traditional opening of Mexican folktales is “Once there was a ____” or “There once was a ____.” During the course of the story, these phrases repeat themselves to introduce new main characters. However, each story ends differently, without a closing common statement such as “They lived happily ever after.”

As tales transcribed from storytellers, these tales can be read by both adults to children or by the children themselves. Some of them will be familiar, some will not, but all of them will be enjoyable even if you’re not of Mexican descent.

Best Books:
Best Children's Books of the Year, 2004 ; Bank Street College of Education; United States

Children's Literature Choice List, 2004 ; Children's Literature; United States

Notable Books for a Global Society, 2004 ; Special Interest Group of the International Reading Association; United States

Notable Children's Books, 2004 ; American Library Association-ALSC; United States

Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, 2004 ; National Council for the Social Studies; United States

Awards, Honors, Prizes:
Aesop Prize, 2003 Winner United States

Storytelling World Awards, 2004 Honor Storytelling Anthologies United States


Todd Morning (Booklist, Oct. 15, 2003 (Vol. 100, No. 4))

"…A solid collection that may also find an audience among readers who are older than the target audience. "

Joanna Wiley (Children's Literature)

"As Hispanic culture weaves itself into the American landscape with an ever-increasing saturation, this book of Mexican folktales proves to be a vibrant addition to the folktale genre to which children today are so rarely exposed. Philip has created a wonderful book that not only offers its readers an enjoyable fantasy experience but also insight into the imagery and symbolism utilized within the Hispanic community. While children may be familiar with the basic types and motifs of some of the stories in this collection, such as boy-eating giants, evil step-mothers and wicked witches, the overall presentation and detail included within these rich texts exhibit a distinct Hispanic flair. Particularly, the use of religious imagery proves to be a prevalent motif throughout the book. Mair’s illustrations are exceptionally alive with rich color and illumination. Her depictions of familiar Hispanic images such as the Lady of Guadalupe, the open-mouthed devil and even the chili pepper further enhance the cultural connections of each of these stories. At the end of the book, Philip provides details of each story’s origin and history."

Elizabeth Young (Children's Literature)

"Here is a delightful smattering of folktales from our neighbor to the south. These Mexican tales are enhanced by the exuberantly colorful illustrations of Jacqueline Mair, which are crafted cleverly enough to conceal details of each folktale. While it is evident many of these folktales are based on the country's solid Catholic faith, one needn't be Catholic to enjoy them, though it probably helps. "The Priest who had a glimpse of Glory" and "The two Maria's" are prime examples of their religious foundation. The title of this work refers to the symbolism for witches as described in the tale of the same name, blending deceiving beauty and attractiveness with evil and the demonic. Following the tales are notes on each story, complete with AT number classification. The notes include what source these folktales were taken from and any title variations. Though written for nine-to-twelve-year olds, folktales are ageless and appropriate for every age. Come and partake of another tradition and experience the wealth of another culture."

1. After reading the stories and seeing Mair’s illustrations, have your students illustrate one of these stories. Provide bright pastels, construction paper, and scissors.
2. Bring a piñata in to your class or library. Clear the desks away from the center of the room and let the kids take turns blindfolded trying to break it open.
3. Have your students either perform Readers' Theatre or take turns telling one of these stories in their own words.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Book Review – creators of children’s picture books

Talking With Artists by Pat Cummings

1. Bibliographic information: Cummings, Pat. 1992. TALKING WITH ARTISTS. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. ISBN 0027242455.

2. Plot: Cummings interviews 14 children's book artists. Following a "My Story" written by each artist, she then asks each artist the same 8 questions. Each artist presents him or herself in a totally unique style, just like their artwork. There are samples of childhood works and illustrations from their adult careers. At the end of the book is a glossary of art and publishing terms and a list of books by the artists.

3. Critical analysis: As an illustrator of children’s books herself, Pat Cummings understands the lifestyle of creating picture book illustrations. In her introduction she mentions that she visits elementary schools. She knows what kind of questions children ask, and these are the questions she poses to the artists interviewed. Readers of this book learn that it’s possible to enjoy your adult career, and make a living off a hobby (even obsession) to these artists since their childhood.

Each chapter is organized the same – first the artist speaks, in a 2 page article titled “My Story.” There are photos of the artist as both child and adult, then Cummings asks each artist 8 questions:

Where do you get your ideas from?
What is a normal day like for you?
Where do you work?
Do you have any children? Any pets?
What do you enjoy drawing the most?
Do you ever put people you know in your pictures?
What do you use to make your pictures?
How did you get to do your first book?

Interspersed throughout the 8 questions and their answers are childhood artistic creations and adult artistic creations.

Since each artist has his or her own style, each chapter is a different style. The artists' persoanlities come though, especialy Lane Smith, whose very tongue-in-cheek answers and illustrations drawn especialy for his "My Story" section are hilariously funny. Check out the drawing of 'this thing' that Smith says all children go through as a stage in their drawing, on page 73.

4. Awards and Review Excerpts:

ABC Children's Booksellers Choices Award 1993 - Winner Non-Fiction United States.

Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children. 1993 Honor Book United States

Horn Book (The Horn Book Guide, 1992)

Fourteen well-known children's book illustrators respond to questions about their lives and work in a lively interchange of ideas.... An inspired concept, executed with class.

Betsy Hearne (The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, April 1992 (Vol. 45, No. 8))

As inspiration for building artists or information for reports, this will make a natural companion to picture books by the award-winning subjects...

5. Connections: Any of this series would make a perfect gift to an art teacher or budding young artist. Give a set of paints, brushes, pastels, and paper along with the book.

Book Review - Illustrator Kadir Nelson

Hewitt Anderson's Great Big Life written by Jerdine Nolen and illustrated by Kadir Nelson
Bibliographic Data: Nolen, Jerdine. 2005. HEWITT ANDERSON’S GREAT BIG LIFE. Ill. By Kadir Nelson. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. ISBN 0689868669

Plot: Even though Hewitt Anderson’s parents are giants, Hewitt can fit into the palm of his father’s hand. His parents decide to give him lessons on how to survive in their giant world. But the lessons invariably go haywire until finally one day, Hewitt rescues his parents and a visiting doctor from a locked room by climbing through the keyhole. In doing so, Hewitt finally convinces his parents that even if he’s small, he’s just the right size for him.

Critical Analysis: Hewitt has a difficult time persuading his loving parents that his size is not a deterrent to him being able to survive in their world. This story of a boy proving himself to a world where he seems too small to be safe will appeal to small children whose world must sometimes appear almost as giant as Hewitt’s world.

The Anderson family lives a simple lifestyle. Mrs. Anderson does her own cooking and cleaning, and their family outings consist of singing sessions, morning, or afternoon walks. In keeping with their simple lifestyle, their clothing is simple, even when company comes for dinner. Ironically, we learn when their company comes over that the Anderson family has a collection of golden eggs of all sizes. It’s not that they can’t afford to live an expensive lifestyle, they just choose to live simply instead.

This story about a family of (almost all) giants has many indirect reference in it to “Jack and the Beanstalk.” Nolen mentions golden eggs and climbing up and down beanstalks but never anybody named Jack. Nolen does mention Mr. Anderson’s great-great-great grandmother Ida, who came to the valley “after that business with the beanstalk.” All of these references serve to give the story a hidden depth.

Nolen frequently uses words such as enormous, impressive, vast, and gargantuan and then contrasts them with words such as teeny-weeny, pint-size, and miniature to contrast Hewitt’s size with his parents’ sizes.

Nolen also mentions repeatedly how much the Andersons love Hewitt. Not only is this shown by Nolen’s words, but Nelson’s depictions of Hewitt’s mother constantly smiling at him (well, except for the day Hewitt fell into the flour vat).

While Nolen’s storyline has scattered mentions of the Jack in the Beanstalk story, Nelson’s illustrations reinforce these elements by having a giant beanstalk growing in the middle of a field on the dedication page. The first page shows that beanstalk again, but now we’re at the top of the beanstalk which is growing right next to a cottage on top of a hill. The cottage appears fairly normal, with a town far off in the distance. But as we look closer at Nelson’s illustrations, the trees lining the front walk are smaller than the front door. And there’s a gargoyle on the top of the house.
In another illustration, we see a room filled with golden eggs and a harp at the back of the room. Nolen never mentions a harp, but there it is in Nelson's illustrations, connecting this tory even mor ewith Jack and the Beanstalk.

When we first meet Hewitt and his parents, Hewitt is standing in his father’s palm, right under an anchor that is serving as Mr. Anderson’s suspenders button. Nelson uses perspective here to show us Mr. Anderson’s size – he is so big that his head appears very small in proportion to his hands, giving the illusion that his head is a very long way off indeed.
My favorite illustration is the one of Hewitt taking a nap. He’s sitting, apparently stark-naked, in the middle of a pillow that, in relation to Hewitt, is the approximate size of a small bedroom. Hewitt is grinning from ear to ear. According to Nolen’s text, “To Hewitt the world was big and wonderful and wide.” The text combines perfectly with the illustration on this page to show that Hewitt is a boy in love with life.

There are many themes in this book. Some of them include the love of family and the unimportance of having money to be happy. The strongest theme though, and the one that will appeal most to younger readers, is that no matter how big or little you are, no matter what you look like, you’re just right.

Awards and review excerpts:
Best Children's Books of the yEAR, 2005: Bank Street College of Education; United States
Capitol Choices, 2006: The Capitol Choices Committee; United States
Children's Catalog. Nineteenth Edition, 2006: H.W. Wilson; United States
Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, 2006: National Council for the Social Studies NCSS; United States

Kirkus (Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2004 (Vol. 72, No. 24))Low on suspense but high on sheer feel-goodness…. Nelson's burly, monumental, brown-skinned giants positively glow with beneficence, and Nolen writes, as always, with a distinctive mix of humor and formality… Here's proof that, when it comes to heart, physical size isn't the whole story.

Timnah Card (The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, February 2005 (Vol. 58, No. 6))This tall tale is told in warm, intimate tones sure to make listeners feel a part of the family. Recurring images in the text and the illustrations of little Hewitt being lovingly cared for by his oversized parents build an impression of security, while the sheer size of Hewitt’s surroundings creates an intoxicating feeling of freedom.

Read this story along with Jack and the Beanstalk by Paul Galdone.

Book Review – Caldecott award winning book

Joseph Had a Little Overcoat by Simms Taback
Bibliographic information: Taback, Simms. 1999. JOSEPH HAD A LITTLE OVERCOAT. New York, NY: Viking. ISBN 9780670878550.

Plot: Joseph’s overcoat is too worn to use as an overcoat anymore, so he puts it to good use over and over again until there’s nothing left of it but the memory of his frugality. As Joseph’s overcoat grows smaller and smaller, the reader is left to wonder what will happen when the overcoat is finally too worn to cut down anymore. True to character, Joseph still finds use for what’s left of the overcoat – He puts those memories to good use also by creating a book about them.

Critical analysis: Joseph and his overcoat live in a Jewish Eastern European farming community. Even though the pictures are filled with colorful details, the fields and town, as well as Joseph and his neighbors have a simple look to them. As Joseph goes about his daily activities and interactions with others in his town, we get a glimpse of a simpler time of life when items weren’t discarded at the first sign of wear because it was too wasteful and material goods cost dearly. Joseph and his neighbors dress colorfully but simply. Joseph is shown in the town, in his synagogue, going about his farming duties, and in his house. His house is warm and comforting with pictures on the walls of other famous Jews, and books and newspapers with Jewish themes - more than one of them a sly reference to the movie “Fiddler on the Roof.” Joseph’s lifestyle is very close to the lifestyle portrayed by “Fiddler on the Roof.” Scenes of a Jewish wedding, Sabbath synagogue worship, and Joseph’s homespun clothing and household furnishings all contribute to the feeling of authenticity of Taback’s portrayal of the Yiddish culture of approximately a century ago.

Taback’s bold colors and simple lines add to his simple storyline by the lack of chaotic detail. Since the story is set in a time when life was also less chaotic but still colorful, the illustrations enhance the story. The background details such as the cobblestone streets and the crops in the fields contribute to the setting while not detracting from the storyline. The background also contains portraits, books, and newspapers which appeal to the adult reader since younger children would probably not catch the allusions in these, such as the previously mentioned references to “Fiddler on the Roof.”

One of the unique features of this book is its die-cutouts. On each 2 page spread, there’s a die-cut. Each time Joseph’s coat gets smaller, the die-cuts get correspondingly smaller. As the reader turns each page, the die-cuts are then revealed to show Joseph’s new use of his ‘overcoat.’ Searching out the die-cuts on the pages before they are revealed as the next item in Joseph’s wardrobe is challenging and offers a hands-on activity to the younger (and older!) reader. The back cover of this book is a photograph of buttons, all types, shapes and colors, and as far as I could tell, each one unique from the others.

The last 2 page spread clearly states the theme – You can always make something out of nothing. Taback leads up to this theme by having his character repeatedly find many simple ways to make something out of what in today’s profligate society might be discarded as trash. This book is based on a favorite childhood song of Simms Taback, “I Had a Little Overcoat,” words and lyrics of which comprise the last page of the book. Joseph’s simple lifestyle, the bold lines and colors of the pictures and the repetitive nature of the storyline all contribute to the appeal of this book.

Awards and Review excerpts:
National Jewish Book Awards, 1999 Winner Illustrated Children’s Book United States
Randolph Caldecott medal, 2000 Winner United States
Sydney Taylor Book Awards, 1999 Honor Book Younger Readers United States

CCBC (Cooperative Children's Book Center Choices, 2000)The Yiddish folksong about resourcefulness and resilience is brought to life in Simms Taback's wonderfully inventive watercolor, gouache and collage illustrations. Taback cleverly uses die-cut pages to show each bit of the garment in its new form and style. Set against the backdrop of an Eastern European village, the paintings are filled with Yiddish cultural references that add depth and humor to the story overall.

Horn Book (The Horn Book Guide, Spring 2000)Clever, humorous, visually engrossing, poignant, this tribute to a vanished way of life is worth holding on to.

Connections: Preschool children love matching activities. After you are finished reading the book, bring out a button collection and have the children match the buttons to the colors inside the book. Then have them try to match the buttons to the back cover buttons.

You can also encourage logical thinking by having the children guess what Joseph does next based on the shape of the die-cutouts.

Monday, June 8, 2009

New semester, new class

OK, I've taken a month off from school and now it's time to get back to work again!

This summer semester, I'm taking another class at TWU with Dr. Sylvia Vardell. The class is LS 5603, Literature for Children and Young Adults.

For those of you who have been following my blog, I've had to use a new template because the old one stopped working for some reason - hence the new look.