Showing posts with label Amy Krouse Rosenthal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Amy Krouse Rosenthal. Show all posts

Monday, November 18, 2013

! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld

Technically, I guess, the title of this book is !. That’s all there is on the cover, anyway. A picture of a smiling exclamation mark. (To be fair the spine of the book does say exclamation mark, but I like the idea of a book having just punctuation as a title.)

What do you do if you stand out? What if, in a lineup of periods, you stand taller than the rest? That’s the question facing our main character, an exclamation mark. At first his response is to conform. Can he smoosh that tall thing above him? Flatten it into, I don’t know, some sort of squiggly hat or home-perm-looking-hairdo? Can one change who they really are?

The answer should be clear to us all. No. We are who we are, and we should be happy with that. Unfortunately many of us - adults and children - aren’t satisfied with our uniqueness, let alone amazed and thrilled by it, choosing rather to fit in with those around us.

And sometimes it takes a question mark to help us see why our uniqueness should be celebrated, not hidden.

After being bombarded by questions from this new questions mark acquaintance, he finally has enough. “STOP!” he screams, providing the final punctuation himself. His exclamation is surprising. He tries a “Hi!” and a “Howdy!” followed by a “Wow!” This new-found skill - or newly appreciated uniqueness - was amazing.

“It was like he broke free from a life sentence.”

And off he goes, to share what he can do with the world, including his old friends, the periods.

Even if the title of the book isn’t clear (Is it words? Punctuation?), we are sure of the author and illustrator. It’s the dynamic picture book team of Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld. They’re the team behind books like The OK Book, Duck! Rabbit!, and It’s Not Fair!, and ! (or exclamation mark) is an equal addition to their impressive list of titles.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Wonder Book by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Just past the title page of Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s latest book, readers see “10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 … Wonder Book” and get a glimpse of the creativity in the following pages. The Wonder Book is made up of a healthy dose of poetry, a dash of lists, a pinch of puns, the occasional story, all boldly seasoned with Paul Schmid’s illustrations.

The Wonder Book's humor, childhood wonderings, and simple black and white illustrations are reminiscent of Shel Silverstein’s work, but not in a “Boy-I-Think-I’ve-Read-This-All-Before” sort of way. It’s got more of a “This-Is-Great-New-Stuff-That-Reminds-Me-Why-I-Love-Where-The-Sidewalk-Ends-So-Much” sort of feel to it.

There’s parodies of famous verses, from “Tinkle, Tinkle, In the sea” to “Mary had a little lamp” to the story of five little piggies, my favorite of which “was a toast thief.”

There’s lists of “What you can’t run with” (including sharp pointy things and twin porcupines) and “What you can run with” (which naturally include a bag of marshmallows and a really small baby giraffe).  Adding further clarification, there’s “What grows on trees” (acorns, tree houses, the most important part of apple pie) and “What doesn’t grow on trees” (money, mittens, sausage).

Readers meet "Prince sdrawkcaB", whose poem begins at the bottom of the page with “Once upon a time” and ends at the top with “And to that we say, bye-good, The End.”

Readers also take a trip to “Brat City.”  (And being from Wisconsin, I feel it necessary to point out that Brat City is not Milwaukee.  Not in this sense, anyway.)  It’s brat, like spoiled child, not brat, like this guy:

Kids will love poems that feature kid-favorite topics.  “A Rose by Any Other Name” features something referred to as a pedo, fing, onara, and pud.  Regardless of who you are, where you are, or what language you speak, we read, “It’s just really really funny to hear a tushy squeak.”

The Wonder Book closes with “Rhyming Summary of the Universe.”  Sagely bits of advice for readers include:

“Stand up for your sibling or some picked-on first grader.”
“Go jump in a puddle, just bring extra socks.”
“Despite you best efforts, your goldfish may stop swimming.”
“64 crayons you do not really need.  To be happy with three is to be happy indeed.”

Unfortunately, one important bit of advice is not included in the final poem, so as a service, I’ll include it here.

For fun writing for children, you need no further look,
Just head out and get Amy’s The Wonder Book.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

I read this one by myself as soon as I got it and thought, “Oooo-kaaaay. Maybe on the second time through…”

Then I called over the resident 7-year-old. “Hey, Bud! Read this with me?”

Magic. Giggles. “Again, again!” Here’s how it went:

The Boy [reading]: “Hey, look! A duck!”

Me [reading]: “That’s not a duck. That’s a rabbit!”

The Boy [not reading]: Huh, huh, huh-huh, huh.


The Boy [reading]: “Wait. Listen. Did you hear that? I heard duck sounds. Quack.”

Me [reading]: “That’s funny. I distinctly heard rabbit sounds. Sniff, sniff.”

The Boy [not reading]: Huh, huh, huh-huh, huh.

And that’s how it went. He read the duck arguments, then I read the rabbit arguments, then he giggled. (Then I giggled.) Grown-ups are … we’re just so … grown up! Grown-ups don’t get it, or so my unscientific observations seem to indicate, but kids do, and that’s what matters. We’ve read it numerous times now, he keeps laughing, and his reading keeps getting more and more expressive. When he reads, “There, see? It’s flying!” he means it.

Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld have created another winner for the classroom. Duck! Rabbit! will work great as a partner read (just like Elephant and Piggie books). It also could lead into some great art projects centered on optical illusions or even entirely new books. Imagine this:

Kid One [reading]: “Hey, look! A vase!”

Kid Two [reading]: “That’s not a vase. That’s two kids lookin’ at each other!”

Kids One and Two [not reading]: Huh, huh, huh-huh, huh.

And finally, to wrap it all up (and really, would you expect anything less from me?), the all-time, greatest ever, classic Duck! Rabbit! debate:

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Little Oink by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Just like eating vegetables (Little Pea) and bedtimes (Little Hoot), cleaning the bedroom can be a major point of contention between parents and children.  As Little Oink grumbles, “When I grow up, I’m going to let my kids clean up their rooms as much as they want."

His friends are allowed to clean their rooms.  Socks neatly folded and organized by color.  Blocks alphabetized.  But not so in his house.  Proper pigs know how to make a proper mess.  His father can paint a picture and leave paint all over the floor.  His mother can water the plants and manage to spill water and potting soil.  There are half eaten sandwiches and piles of dirty laundry on the floor in Little Oink’s house.

He’d better get after it before his parents get angry.  Bed?  Unmade.  Clothes?  Unfolded.  T-Shirt?  Stained.  He even dragged in some mud for good measure.

Good enough?  “I still see toys in their bin, mister,” says his dad, “Please – Not another word until this room’s a total pigsty.”

Finally, finally, Little Oink manages to make a complete mess of things – to the great delight of his piggy parents.  And finally, finally, he’s able to do what every little piggy wants to do:

Get out the broom.  Get out the scrub brush.  Don’t forget the wash basin.  It’s time to play house.

While Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Jen Corace’s latest book probably won’t have kids organizing their sock drawers or scrubbing the floor, they will certainly get them (and their parents) giggling as they read the antics of Little Oink and his parents.  And really, which one’s more important?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The OK Book by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Upon first glance, the cover seems clear. The OK Book by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. Got it. Simple enough.

Open to the title page and the title has been rotated, now written vertically. Time for a second glance. Hmmm, you think. Vertical. Why's that? Ah, well. On to page one.

"Hi, how are you? I'm OK."

That's it. Page one. It's now, finally, with the third glance, that readers realize they've been looking at the main character all along. There he is, right there on page two, and yes indeed, he certainly is OK.

See? He wasn't lying. He's OK.

Which the main character goes on to explain. It's fun to try things even if you aren't great at them. You might even be just OK at them. This guy is OK at a lot of things. He's an OK skipper, an OK marshmallow roaster (ahh, crispy...), an OK kite flyer (look out for that tree!), and even an OK tug-of-war-er. He's an OK sharer,, get the smaller half of the PB&J, OK?

In the end OK realizes that even if there are more lightning bugs outside the jar than inside, and even if your toes are the wettest part of your body when you go swimming, and even if there's a boot instead of a bass on the end of your fishing line, someday we all grow up to be excellent at something.

"I don't know what it is yet," he adds, "but I sure am having fun figuring it out."

We had a better-than-OK time with this book in fourth grade. Thanks to the reproducible activities on illustrator Tom Lichtenheld's website, this one especially, we shared our own OK abilities. Here's two examples. One belongs to a student, and one belongs to a grown-up. Or, quite possibly, someone (that'd be me) simply masquerading as a grown-up. Can you guess which is which?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Little Hoot by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

So after you get your Little Pea to choke down his candy, what challenge could yet remain for the evening? You've already gotten him to finish his dinner - welcome to the clean plate club! - what more could be coming?


Now Little Hoot doesn't give his parents any grief about school. He enjoys playing hide-n-seek with his buddies. He even practices his pondering and staring like a good little hoot ought. But bedtime is a different story.

To parents, bedtime is set. Big hand here + little hand there = bedtime. That's just the way it is. Little Hoot is like little hoots everywhere. Bedtime means negotiation. Out come the tactics, tried and true. "All my other friends get to go to bed so much earlier than me! Why do I always have to stay up and play? It's not fair!"

His parents remind him about being a wise old owl and the importance of staying up late. "And besides, I don't give a hoot what time your friends go to bed," his father says while pouring his evening coffee. "Stay up and play for one more hour and then you can go to sleep," says his mother.

A whole hour?!? Before getting to go to bed?!? Life is so unfair.

Playing swords, climbing on the jungle gym, building forts, jumping in piles of leaves, jumping on the bed - Little Hoot can only take it for so long! All this playing, playing, playing! Finally, woo-whooooo! It's bedtime. Before his parents can come with a glass of water and a pile of bedtime books, Little Hoot is out.

Amy Krouse Rosenthal's Little Hoot will match Little Pea in giggles as kids recognize how Little Hoot's bedtime is the opposite of theirs and learn that no matter when bedtime comes, it is always a struggle.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Little Pea by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

This is a book for families with their own Little Pea.

Little Pea likes rolling down hills super fast. He hangs out with his pea pals. In Little Pea's life there are swings and snuggles and stories and cries of "Again! Again!" when Papa Pea sends him sailing through the air from the end of a spoon.

And just like most little peas you know, there's one thing he doesn't like. It comes at dinner time. There it is on the plate. What is it that your little peas absolutely, positively don't want to eat? Every night threats of "You're not leaving the table until..." and "If you don't eat what you have I'll give you more..." fly across the table. What could this nastiness be?


Every day of the week, Monday through Friday, weekends too, it's candy for dinner. Grow up big and strong? Dessert? Not without your candy. What?!? FIVE pieces?!? Just like little peas across the country, this Little Pea chokes them down, squinty-eyed and not without a running commentary on how icky it truly it is. Blech! Candy.

Readers will giggle all they way through once they recognize this nightly struggle through different eyes. And it will certainly make all the little peas out there eager to eat their vegetables every night without complaint.

Ah, who am I kidding? That'll never happen. However, Amy Krouse Rosenthal's book may help all little peas, just like Little Pea in the book, finish that detestable food so they can finally enjoy the best part of the meal. mean, DESSERT!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

It's Not Fair! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal & Tom Lichtenheld

“It’s Not Fair!” A phrase so unique it can be statement of perceived fact, an expression of outrage, and a demand for justice. Three simple words that, when put together, have as many meanings as kids who whisper, whine, or scream them.

Or it could just mean your sister got the bigger half of the cookie.

Declarations of faulty fairness start with more recognizable complaints, things like that smaller cookie and not getting your desired pet. “Why can’t I have curly locks?” asks a straight haired girl. “Why can’t I have my own box?” asks a boy standing enviously next to a pony-tailed girl peeking out of her own box. “Why now, chicken pox?” asks the birthday girl as her party continues in the yard, sans birthday girl.

“It’s not fair,” is the only appropriate response to all three situations.

Apparently the phrase is more universal that originally thought. A spider complains that a neighbor gets more flies. A little green alien complains about his red friend having more eyes. Planets complain about all Saturn’s rings. After every rhyming litany of complaints, kids will join with the characters in demanding, “It’s not fair!”

Pay close attention to the end pages. There’s a lawsuit. The plaintiff, Sibling No. 1, seeks judgment against the defendant, Sibling No. 2 for causing “grievous emotional trauma and malnourishment” by deliberately giving a smaller half of the cookie despite a promise to break the cookie equally and distribute said cookie properly.

The best “It’s not fair!” comes at the end of the book, and it’s something I’ve wondered myself: “Why can’t books go on and on? No more endings, only Once Upons…”

“It’s not fair,” whisper the books from their shelf.

I agree.