Wow! It's awesome to have had such a positive response to my last post, which was a brim-ful list of terrific diverse board books for babies and toddlers. Thanks to all who shared this list. Stay tuned for more such lists in the weeks and months to come, to help all of us color our bookshelves just a little more deeply.
Tonight's pick, while not a board book, is similarly pitched for the younger kiddos in the bunch. I've blogged before about concept books, and about how hard it can be to find unique titles in this area of kidlit. (Not to mention that it's downright impossible to find diverse concept books!) Granted, concepts by their very nature are building blocks of larger life, so right there you have a basically elemental nature. But for kids who are ready to move on beyond colors and numbers, well, it can be tough to find books that are less than didactic. Which is strange when you think of it, because there's plenty of room for humor where things like the English language are concerned.
Take homonyms, for instance -- the subject of today's pick, Where Do You Look? by Marthe & Nell Jocelyn. I mean, homonyms are arguably the biggest troublemakers of spoken word in America. Having no facility for languages at all myself, I can't imagine how much confusion these sound-alike, mean-different words cause to non-native English speakers. The mother-daughter Jocelyn team have taken a really fun approach to this topic, by posing questions: Where do you look for a tongue? for instance (Answers: In a shoe? Or in your mouth?). The dichotomies posed here are all kinds of silly, and kids who might be picturing one thing will laugh when they see the other, like Sprout, who was absolutely picturing ocean beaches rather than departing passengers for the keyword "wave".
Even better, the collage style illustrations by Nell Jocelyn add a sense of whimsy to the word pairings. I'm a big fan of collage for picture books - I love the depth that the varying textures and layers add to the pictures. I also think it encourages kids to look at materials (fabrics, papers, yarn, etc.) in their world and consider adding such items to their own artwork. The pictures in Where Do You Look? are pitch-perfect for the text, and best of all they are very inclusive. Most of the word-pairing elements are woven into the final spreads, which gives a nice sense of tying everything together. Plus, not only are there lots of people of color here, there are quite a few wearing glasses, which makes me happy. :)
Add this to the shelf in your classroom or library and prepare for some awesome discussions about sound-alikes coming your way. Then you'll have to ask yourself, Where Do You Look?!
Where Do You Look? by Marthe & Nell Jocelyn, published by Tundra Books