on your way past my desk.
from: “Dear Ms. Back Row:”
in Love Letters
written by Arnold Adoff
illustrated by Lisa Desimini
No Water River spotlight on Arnold Adoff (6/8/21)
It was the
best soup ever…
and we can
grow it again
from: Growing Vegetable Soup
written and illustrated by Lois Ehlert
Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1987
“Do you want to be my friend?”
“Yes!” said a mouse
with a small gray
tail. “I will be your friend.”
And the two ran off to a big tree,
and just in time.
from: Will You Be My Friend?
written and illustrated by Eric Carle
I don’t remember the time before I could read. I don’t remember learning how to read, either. I have other memories from when I was very young: the time a fly slipped down my throat when I was riding my tricycle; the times my sister and I dressed up our baby brother and took him for walks in our toy baby buggy; the times my gram sat me on her lap on the bouncy, green metal porch chair and sang to me. She did not have a good singing voice, but it didn’t matter. She might have only known one English song, “When It’s Springtime in the Rockies.” I didn’t know what the Rockies were, but that didn’t matter either.
I grew up in a house with lots of books. Magazines, too. The newspaper came every afternoon. But I don’t remember being read to. I must have figured out how to do it along the way to Kindergarten. What I mean is I don’t think I lost that memory of learning to read. The process must have been more organic than methodic.
My parents had a small library that included Cheaper by the Dozen, Around the World in Eighty Days, Gulliver’s Travels and lots of volumes of Reader’s Digest Condensed Books.
Mom took me to our public library. Most of the time, I checked out books from the Children’s Fiction section. I read Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle’s Magic, Charlotte’s Web, Curious George Rides a Bike. Lots of what would become classics.
But I don’t remember a favorite author. I didn’t go out of my way to find another book by someone whose work I liked. I don’t know why I didn’t pay attention to the authors’ names until I was much older.
I have favorite authors now. My girls have favorites, and so do my grandkids.
As a children’s librarian I studied picture book authors and illustrators and those who are talented enough to create the words and the art. Some authors and illustrators stand out for their style or their prolific body of work or their wisdom, humor, and ability to speak to young children where they are. The best combine many of those elements.
The world of children’s literature lost four giants last month (May, 2021). They were all geniuses in their field.
Arnold Adoff (7/16/35 - 5/7/21) crossed the color line when he taught seventh grade social studies in a classroom full of kids with diverse backgrounds. He realized their textbooks reflected racist views and they didn’t have access to books and magazines that accurately described their environment. In an article for Something About the Author Adoff explained, “I began writing for kids because I wanted to effect a change in American society.” He continued, “I write for children because the child in me is still very much alive.” He is best known for his picture book Black is Brown is Tan and an anthology he edited, I Am the Darker Brother: An Anthology of Modern Poems by Negro Americans, published by Macmillan in 1968. In 1988 he received the National Council of Teachers of English Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children, in recognition of his body of work. Since 2016, Kent State University has awarded The Arnold Adoff Poetry Award “to highlight the power of poetry, encourage publishers to publish works of poetry from a variety of perspectives, commend poets for various student populations, and encourage the reading of poetry.” KSU Arnold Adoff Poetry Award
Lois Ehlert (11/9/34 - 5/25/21) is known for the bright colors she used in her paper collages. She created the art for Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. Here’s a list of Lois Ehlert's books. She wrote and illustrated Color Zoo which won her a Caldecott Honor and my favorite, Feathers for Lunch. The kids loved Growing a Rainbow and Growing Vegetable Soup when I used them in Storytime.
Eric Carle (6/25/29 - 5/23/21) published The Very Hungry Caterpillar in 1969. It’s been translated into 66 languages and has sold over 50 million copies. He illustrated over 70 books. Most have become best selling classics. He wrote most of them, but only illustrated Brown Bear, Brown BearWhat Do You See? That came from a collaboration with Bill Martin, Jr. On his website Eric Carle says, “I believe that children are naturally creative and eager to learn. I want to show them that learning is really both fascinating and fun.”
Carole Calladine (? - 5/9/21) passed away this past Mother’s Day. She was a devoted wife, mother, and grandmother. I learned everything I know that is useful about the craft of writing from Carole. She was my friend, mentor, and source of inspiration. She left behind many fiction and nonfiction picture book manuscripts and manuscripts of two young adult novels. She will always be my role model.
A couple of months ago, I decided to give myself a blog vacation. As this is my sixth blog-aversary, I thought it an auspicious time. I will continue my blog each Tuesday morning with re-posts of my favorite pieces. I’ll pop back live if something piques my curiosity and interest enough that it jumps off my perpetual list and on to these pages.
-—stay curious! (and stay tuned!)