Friday, March 26, 2010

Happy Birthday, Mr. Wildsmith!

Growing up, my siblings and I knew that a box from our paternal grandparents meant that there would be new books. I can’t say they ever disappointed us with that. From wordless picture books to thick, serious novels, we devoured them all. Regrettably, a few books we enjoyed then have been forgotten over the years, but the ones that have stuck with us have all held up as truly remarkable works.

Happily for us, these books included titles by Brian Wildsmith.

While his name isn’t bandied about in the United States with the likes of Eric Carle, his work immediately recognizable and is equally beloved. I clearly remember turning the pages of his books back and forth, diving in to the colorfully splashed illustrations, marveling at both the fine lines and slapdash splotches that define his work.

This week, The Illustration Cupboard (a London gallery specializing in children’s book illustration) is opening an exhibit showcasing twenty-five pieces of his original art. Until now, his work could only be seen at the museum that bears his name outside of Tokyo.

While we may not be able to view the works in person, The Illustration Cupboard does have all of the pieces included in the show available to view online—and Star Bright Books has produced a website with some additional favorites.

In addition, the children's book museum, Seven Stories (also located in England) is sponsoring a special exhibit called Wild With Wildsmith. This exhibit will feature interactive exhibits that will bring his books to life.

But what’s the reason for all this brouhaha? 2010 Marks the author-illustrator's 80th birthday. And from our offices in New York, we chime in to say, Happy Birthday, Mr. Wildsmith and here’s to many more.

Friday, March 12, 2010

You Are What You Eat?

We’ll admit it; our weekly ‘Donut Meeting’ probably indicates that we work in the kind of office that might overlook the fact that March is National Nutrition Month. But now that we do know, there are a few books that seem to be leaping off the shelves, custom written reminders that we should pause and think about what we’re eating.

In TOO MANY PEARS, Pamela the cow's favorite food becomes an obsession. One pear? Fine. Two pears? Maybe. But when this cow starts eating every pear within reach, no one in the farmer’s family is happy. After some trial and error, they come up with a solution. Why not let her eat all the pears she wants? Will too much of a good thing be what finally stops this pear-crazy cow?

When the gumball machine delivers a ring instead of bubble gum, Peggy can’t hide her disappointment. After turning the ring round and round her finger, a genie appears and grants her one wish— and she asks for THE SWEET TOUCH. At first a chocolate rug and a licorice jump rope are a dream, but what to do when you’re ready for bed and all you have are taffy blankets and cotton candy pillows? And will her inexperienced genie be able to turn off this candy generating touch?

While doing some research on National Nutrition Month, we ran across a familiar phrase. The American Dietetic Association suggests 'Eating the Rainbow' as a family activity. As it turns out, we have an award-winning book with that title! Why not let your toddler use EATING THE RAINBOW as a guide for choosing healthy snacks?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

In Like A Lion...

lion image by Brian Wildsmith

Despite the recent snowstorms we've faced here in the Northeast, a walk through the park the other day convinced us that Spring is finally on the way. There were the smallest of buds on the trees and the earliest of flowers were starting to poke through the soil. Maybe March really will "Come in like a lion and go out like a lamb!"

This month is full of opportunities to read and share books. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Read Across America Day

‘Read to me and plant the seed,
Make me want to learn to read.’

-Judi Moreillon, READ TO ME

Every year, on March 2nd, the National Education Association sponsors Read Across America Day. In honor of the birthday of Dr. Seuss, this is a day to celebrate and share the joy of reading. You can make a declaration as to how you’ll observe the day here and we encourage you to make a pledge and share the day with the emergent and fluent readers in your life.

Women’s History Month

As mentioned previously, Melanie Hope Greenberg organized a month’s worth of events for Women’s History Month. One last minute addition to the schedule was an invitation for the participating authors and illustrators to be interviewed by Barbara Ehrentreu on the blog radio program, Red River Writers. The interview has been archived, and you can listen to it here. (Our ladies are featured about a half-hour in.)

And don’t forget, if you’re in the New York City area, the launch party for this month-long series of events is Thursday, March 4th at Superfine. The full schedule of events can be found here.

St. Patrick’s Day

It’s time again to look at your family history, find out if there’s any Irish ancestry, and then (regardless of your heritage!) make sure that you’ve got something green to wear on March 17th. From what we hear, it also can’t hurt to read a book that depicts leprechauns as the witty, intelligent, clever beings they are. Our personal favorite is Lorna and Lecia Balian’s LEPRECHAUNS NEVER LIE. After being captured by the lazy Ninny Nanny and her foolish Gram, a clever leprechaun persuades the ladies to perform all the tasks that they’d thought he would take care of.

The First Day of Spring and National Nutrition Month

March is also National Nutrition Month and the perfect time to set a family goal of a planting a garden. The first day of Spring might be the ideal day to stop by the gardening center, pick up a bag of soil and some seeds, and get your window boxes or garden ready for planting. If you need some inspiration, here are some titles that will remind you what the dirt under your nails today will bring you in the months to come! WHAT'S IN MY GARDEN? allows young readers to pull tabs and discover what colorful vegetables are growing as they wander through a garden. Color by color, fruits and vegetables are depicted in the award-winning EATING THE RAINBOW, a nutritious, photographic look at the food we eat.