Thursday, May 28, 2015

Tell Me What To Dream About


There was a time when Big Sis would lull her sister to sleep by telling her what to dream. I don't know if they still do this - I'm guessing not. It was such a sweet thing.

Giselle Potter is better known as an illustrator - one of my favorites! - but this is one she wrote. Tell Me What To Dream About is about two sisters, and yes, the scenario is very familiar to me.

Tell Me What To Dream About by Giselle Potter.
Schwartz & Wade, 2015.

Two little girls are in their beds. The youngest turns to her older sister. "Tell me what to dream about or I won't be able to fall asleep," she pleads.

The older sister is full of darling suggestions, each playfully depicted on the page. Yet the little sister turns each one on its head, already certain how each dream could become a nightmare.



Eating waffles for breakfast is a boring dream, so the sister suggests "having teeny-tiny waffles with teeny-tiny animals." The little girl imagines animals stampeding across her plate.


Wouldn't frolicking about with teeny-tiny animals be fun? No, thinks the little girl. She doesn't want to be a giant!

What about a furry world, where everything is furry? Their house, their clothes, their friends. No, says the little girl. Furry friends are scary.


The older sister comes close a few times, but the little one is a bit of a contrarian.

[Sooooo familiar to me... ]


In the end, we're back to waffles for breakfast. And two very sleepy sisters.


You can read a bit more about it on Giselle Potter's blog. It's an enchanting book, and one we obviously relate to very much.

I also wanted to share one more favorite bedtime book with you. I adore Eugene Field's gorgeous poem "Wynken, Blynken, and Nod." [See here and here.]  Little Sis turned one in 2008, and for her birthday, she received the loveliest new picture book of the poem. This was my introduction to the art of Giselle Potter.

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod by Eugene W. Field,
illustrated by Giselle Potter.
Schwartz & Wade, 2008.





Sadly, Penguin Random House has the book listed as "Out of Stock," and the Amazon listing leads to me to believe it's out of print. Such a shame, as it's so beautiful.

I have one more "dreamy" book to share with you tomorrow, and because I missed Monday, I may have a little something for Saturday, too.


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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Dream Animals and Day Dreamers


I love Emily Winfield Martin's dreamlike art. If I had the extra money (and wall space), I would cover my house with whimsical prints from her Etsy shop. (I'm thinking about getting this one. Or this one...) I love Inside A Black Apple, her beautiful blog, and I still miss Some Girls Wander, her blog about old things. (Those vintage dresses!) I loved Oddfellow's Orphanage, and her paperdoll primer.

I am a fangirl. 

So now that I have her second picture book, Day Dreamers: A Journey of Imagination, in my possession (finally!), it's time for me to gush.

Because these picture books are beautiful.

Dream Animals: A Bedtime Journey by Emily Winfield Martin.
Random House Books for Young Readers, 2013.

Little Sis received Dream Animals for Christmas 2013. In fact, I think she unwrapped it at the same time I was opening this one!


This is such a special book for bedtime. I love the idea of children dreaming about riding giant animals through the sky.


And that's really all there is to it. The gentle rhyming text sings you to dreamland, with visions like these filling your head. What could be more perfect?





The old-fashioned art reminds me of 1930s color cartoons, like Ub Iwerks's "Humpty Dumpty" or Fleischers' "Somewhere in Dreamland." I think it's the color palette.



As I said above, I'm a little slow, but this week, we finally read the second picture book. I might like it better than Dream Animals.

Day Dreamers: A Journey of Imagination by Emily Winfield Martin.
Random House Books for Young Readers, 2014.



In this book, we see children first in the real world, inspired by something - a cloud, a painting - that makes their imagination take flight. The following page shows them in their daydream.





Once again, the simple text and premise is a catalyst for some spectacular art.

Is that gushy enough for you? I'm not a reviewer so much as an enthusiastic person happily showing you things that make her happy. And these make me happy.

There are some fun activities over at the Random House Kids page: printables, ecards, a storytime kit. Martin's third picture book comes out this August. She talked about it here. She also posted about editing a proper novel, larger than Oddfellow's, so I'm looking forward to that, as well.

More dreaminess tomorrow, this time courtesy of another favorite of mine, Giselle Potter.


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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Florabelle


Florabelle by Sasha Quinton, illustrated by Brigette Barrager,
with photographs by Michel Tcherevkoff.
HarperCollins, 2015.

This week is Dream Week on Silver Shoes & Rabbit Holes, for no other reason than I have a stack of books with a dream vibe going on. Isn't this cover lovely? I love Brigette Barrager! Florabelle is about a little daydreamer whose daydreaming gets her into trouble.


"Keep your head out of the clouds!" her mother always tells her.
But Florabelle was much too busy dreaming to listen. "I bet it's beautiful up there..."
 

Florabelle's daydreaming makes her miss breakfast. It makes her miss the bus to school. It makes her family very, very mad.


Her parents threaten to take away their trip to the beach, but Florabelle promises to be serious. She is much too excited to see the ocean for the first time.

The family heads to the beach, but suddenly, Florabelle isn't excited anymore. The sea isn't what she expected. She prefers to stay on the sand..



In the end, however, it's Florabelle's wild imagination that helps her overcome her fears.




This is such a sweet book. I think the message is important for grown-ups: Sometimes your little dreamer may drive you crazy, but those dreams just may help them someday. It's all about balance, right?

And these illustrations! Brigette Barrager is quickly becoming one of my favorites. Her glorious art is collaged with Michel Tcherevkoff's flower photographs, and the result is daydreamy magic. Kirkus called it "candy-coated," which is an apt description.  


I'll have more dreaminess for you tomorrow! Hope to "see" you then!


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Saturday, May 23, 2015

Summer Reading and A Little Link Love


And just like that, it's officially summer vacation!

School ended on Thursday. Yesterday, we woke up to rain and highs in the low 60s. Which is fine by me, since Taskmaster Mommy has decided we must reorganize their bedroom and playroom before any fun can be had this summer.

We took a break from our work, however, to visit our favorite branch of the Wichita Public Library system, in order to sign up for the Summer Reading Program. We are so excited! In previous years, the girls would set their own reading goal, then keep a log of all the books they read. This year, instead of a log, they just have to check a box every time they read for 20 minutes. Additionally, they must complete four book-related activities. They have already checked their first box: "Ask a grown-up what they liked to read as a kid." Both girls plan to "Read a cookbook and make a recipe." Little Sis found a book called Japanese Cooking for Kids. Big Sis thrilled me by grabbing Roald Dahl's Revolting Recipes. Audiobooks make the activity list, too. Little Sis grabbed an audiobook of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, read by Michael York. Big Sis checked out City of Ember, which she plans to follow along with as she reads the book. (I own the whole series.) Little Sis wants to "Dress up as your own superhero and take a picture," draw a picture about a book, and "Read a graphic novel." Big Sis would be happy to attend a library program.

And now for some link love:


And if you haven't had a chance, please check out the rest of my posts this week: three days of Japanese folktales (one, two, three) and a bit of moony whimsy.

I hope the weather is fine where you are, and no matter what,

Merry Weekend! Happy Reading!


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Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Boy Who Drew Cats

The Boy Who Drew Cats by Margaret Hodges, illustrated by Aki Sogabe.
Holiday House, 2002.


I wasn't planning on devoting three days in a row to Japanese folk tales. It just turned out that way!

It is the last day of school. Last week, I had a reading date with Big Sis's third grade class. There are only 3 or 4 kiddos who were in her class last year, so I decided to bring out the Fairy Tale Comics again. They were a huge hit last time, and once again, they did not fail to entertain. The kids who heard me read last year called out requests.  I picked the opening story, however. My favorite comic is Hildafolk-creator Luke Pearson's take on the Japanese fairy tale, "The Boy Who Drew Cats." You can see the whole thing at his website. [When I read it, I do voices. My "boy" voice is one of my favorites. I really missed my calling. I should have been a voiceover artist.]

On a lark, I decided to see if there were any other versions of the story at the library. It isn't in any of the folktale collections we own or have  checked out. Sure enough, I found this lovely picture book from 2002.

Kudos to Mabel for deciding to photobomb my lead picture. She likes to get in my way, but I didn't mind this time.


The story is simple. A farmer's youngest son isn't as tough or strong as his brothers, so he is sent to be an apprentice at a temple. The problem is, all he wants to do is draw pictures of cats. Everywhere.




After he defaces the temple, the old priest sends him on his way. He gives him one important piece of advice: "Avoid large places at night; keep to small."





He wanders until he finds an old temple. He stops to inquire about a place to rest, not knowing that the place was abandoned because a giant goblin-rat lived there. The goblin had killed many brave warriors.

Not knowing a bit of this, the boy goes inside. There are blank screens inside, perfect for cat pictures. He sets to work.


Night falls. He is about to settle in for the night, when he remembers the old priest's warning: "Avoid large places at night; keep to small." Finding a small cabinet, he crawls inside to sleep.


During the night, a loud ruckus takes place in the temple. The noises are terrible and frightening, but the boy stays in his cabinet, until the first hint of daylight streams in through a crack in the cupboard. All is quiet. He opens the cabinet...


and finds a gigantic goblin-rat, dead on the floor. There is blood everywhere. Looking at his drawings, he notices something new: there is fresh blood on the mouths of his cats.


This picture book concludes with the boy becoming a famous artists. Specifically, he grows up to be Sesshū Tōyō, as you can read in the author's note at the end.




I love the illustrations in this version. Count the kitties! There is at least one cat on almost every page.

Unfortunately, this one has gone out of print, but used copies do not seem very expensive. Or you can do as I do, and check your local library!


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