Now that our 30 Days of Picture Books series is over, you may have noticed it's been a bit quieter here on the Bookshelf. It's not that we've stopped reading -- far from it -- but more that I took a bit of a break over the weekend to focus on end-of-the-semester projects. I so enjoyed doing the 30 Days writing that I was tempted to keep on with one post a day until the end of the year, but sanity prevailed when I realized how much research and writing looms ahead for school. So while I might be posting a little more infrequently over the next couple of weeks, rest assured that I'm still here.
In the meantime, we have been busily working on some other projects. First are our Pinterest boards. If you haven't jumped on the Pinterest bandwagon I really commend you, but I've jumped in with both feet. I love this site for creating booklists -- so much more visual and interesting to look at than a list of linked titles! Our most recent additions include boards for Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, and Christmas, as well as a board of Kidlit for Global Citizens. It's been so much fun compiling these lists, and I encourage you to use them to build a library list or as gift ideas. And as always, we'd love to hear what your favorite holiday reads are, so we can pin those as well.
Last year I did a very popular project called 12 Days of Christmas Picture Books. Each day we shared a Christmas favorite, many of which were multicultural titles. The idea for that series came about when Sprout and I were (where else) at the library, and I overheard someone mention that "It's so hard to find Christmas stories from other countries." That of course got me to thinking about the need for diversity in holiday literature, so I began to dig deep and come up with some excellent books. We're planning to continue the tradition this year, and I've been keeping a list of candidate titles for the past 12 months. If your favorite multicultural Christmas title wasn't covered in last year's posts, please pass it on so we can work it in for this year's 12 Days.
And so, you may ask, have I been reading anything besides picture books for the past 30 days? Well as it happens, I have, and not just required reading for class either. Partway through the month I started reading Leonard S. Marcus's book Show Me A Story: Why Picture Books Matter, which is a title that's been on my TBR list since it came out in the spring. Folks, if you love kidlit, you HAVE to track this book down (if it's not in your library, suggest it as a purchase: your local librarians will love it too!). Sprout's a little miffed every time he picks it up because he thinks it's written by Mo Willems (reference the cover art) and then he says, quite disappointed, "This is just a grown-up book."
Marcus is well-known in kidlit circles as a researcher and writer, and he's penned some incredible books about the creation of children's books. In Show Me A Story, Marcus compiles his interviews with more than 20 of the world's best-loved children's illustrators. Many of our favorites are here: Ashley Bryan, Kevin Henkes, Jerry Pinkney, Robert McCloskey, Yumi Heo, and others too. After reading through so many picture books in a month, it was especially fun to read these revealing interviews about the art and craft of creating books for children. This is the kind of book you dip into from time to time, for inspiration or to connect with a favorite creator. I'm not an especially creative person myself, but I'm fascinated by the creative process, so this kind of voyeuristic read is right up my alley (really need to make sure Santa knows that!).
One of the best quotes I came across (and there are tons), is one from Kevin Henkes: "I love having something for the adult who is reading to the child. But I try to keep in mind at all times that the book is for the child. I don't want any of that extra layer to interfere with the main objective, which is to make an entertaining book for a kid." Beautifully said, Mr. Henkes! And I dare say it's why we love to read his books as well.
Show Me a Story by Leonard S. Marcus, published by Candlewick Press
Sample: From the Foreward by David Wiesner "And nowhere is visual humor explored more fully than in the picture book. Possibly only Charlie Chaplin or Buster Keaton could equally run the gamut from gentle kidding to sophisticated wit to pie-in-the-face slapstick to anarchic postmodernism."