November 28 – It’s Picture Book Month

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About the Holiday

There’s still time this week to celebrate one of the best months of the year—Picture Book Month! If you’re in shopping mode, be sure to put plenty of picture books on your list for the kids in your life. You know what they say—and it’s really true: A book is a gift you can open again and again!

The Visitor

By Antje Damm

 

Elise sat alone in her gray house day after day and night after night because she was too afraid—of everything—to go out. To spend her time and because she liked a neat house, she cleaned it every day. Sometimes she opened a window to air it out. “Then one day something unbelievable happened.” A blue paper airplane came zipping in through the window.

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Copyright Antje Damm, 2018, courtesy of Gecko Press.

She looked at it lying on the floor in front of her and decided it did not belong in her tidy house, so “she scooped it into the fire.” But as Elise tried to sleep that night, the plane flew here, there, and everywhere circling through her house—or did it? “She was too scared to sleep.” The next day, someone came to the door. Elise didn’t know who it could be and was not about to open the door, but the knocking continued.

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Copyright Antje Damm, 2018, courtesy of Gecko Press.

Finally, a bit perturbed, Elisa opened the door and stared at the boy standing there. “‘I’m here for my plane,’” he said. Then he urgently needed to use the bathroom. Elise was surprised to hear herself telling the boy he’d find the bathroom upstairs. As he came back downstairs, he spied a portrait on the wall and asked Elise who it was. She told him that it was her on the day of a special dance. “‘I wore my prettiest dress,’” she said. “‘Cool!’ said the boy and he looked around some more.”

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Copyright Antje Damm, 2018, courtesy of Gecko Press.

He found a bookcase loaded with books and asked Elise to read him one. It had been “a long time since Elise had read to anyone,” but the boy was attentive and wanted to hear all the stories in the book. After that he wanted to play hide-and-seek. When the game was finished, the boy was hungry, so Elise gave him a slice of buttered bread. Then she told him it was probably time for him to go home. Elise found that she felt sad.

Before he left, the boy asked Elise what her name was and told her his. Emil said goodbye to Elise and told her he’d had fun. “‘Bye for now, Emil,’ she said.” That night Elise got out some blue paper and began folding. It took her many tries, and crumbled paper began to pile up at her feet. But at last she did it just right, and she smiled at the new paper airplane on her table.

The Visitor was translated from German by Sally-Ann Spencer.

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Copyright Antje Damm, 2018, courtesy of Gecko Press.

Antje Damm’s story, played out in stunning photographed 3D dioramas, is a triumph of light and color conquering shadow and isolation. As the story opens, Elise sits alone at her table, bowed by fear and the gloominess of her closed-up house. But when the blue airplane flies through the open window, things begin to change. A yellow glow appears outside the panes of glass, brightening the room and beginning to dispel the murk. The next morning the light is a fiery orange, and with the knock at the door, the light seeps underneath, seeming to want to come in. Will Elise let it?

When she opens the door to Emil, dressed in red and yellow, the light spreads across the floor. A red path follows Emil up the stairs while details of Elise’s home assume depth and definition. As Emil notices Elise’s youthful portrait, her apron and cheeks turn pink to mirror her picture. Similar to an Impressionist painting, the walls, floor, and furnishings take on a colorful, stippled beauty as Elise reads to Emil, and readers can see on the shelf above her bed toys left there long ago perhaps by her own children. The vivid intensity of the colors that linger after Emil leaves hints at the rich life Elise may once have had and may reenter thanks to Emil.

With mystical overtones that will delight children, The Visitor is a thought-provoking and uplifting tale of the difference one person can make. The unique mixed-media art makes this a captivating choice for home, classroom, and public libraries.

Ages 4 – 8

Gecko Press, 2018 | ISBN 978-1776571888

Picture Book Month Activity

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Follow the Story! Maze

 

Can you find your way through the story from beginning to “The End” in this printable Follow the Story! Maze?

Follow the Story! Maze | Follow the Story! Maze Solution

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You can find The Visitor at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

October 11 – It’s Positive Attitude Month

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About the Holiday

Things are good! Really, they are! Sometimes it’s kind of hard to think this way, but Positive Attitude Month encourages people to see the bright side of things. A positive attitude can give you more strength and resources to face the hard stuff while letting you enjoy the good stuff. Because there is good stuff out there just waiting for you—really!

Waiting for Goliath

By Antje Damm

 

Bear is patiently waiting at the bus top. He’s been there since the sun came up. It’s no bother because he’s expecting his best friend, Goliath. While Robin builds her nest, Bear tells her about Goliath. He’s stronger than Bear and smart too. “‘He can count to eighteen!’” Bear exclaims proudly. Nighttime comes, but Goliath doesn’t. Bear curls up on the bus stop bench and goes to sleep.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-Waiting-for-Goliath-waiting-at-bus-stop

Copyright Antje Damm, 2017, courtesy of Gecko Press.

Another morning dawns and as Bear inspects a spider web and Robin’s babies peep, peep for food, Robin suggests some bad news: “‘Your Goliath isn’t coming.’” Bear is positive his friend will arrive, though. “‘He is definitely coming. You’ll see,’” Bear counters. Later, while Bear has left his post for a minute, the robins announce that someone has come. Bear has a foolproof sniff test to determine if it is Goliath. When the answer comes back that this creature does not smell nice, Bear growls, “‘Then it’s not Goliath.’”

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Copyright Antje Damm, 2017, courtesy of Gecko Press.

Finally, a bus arrives but no one gets off. Bear is starting to get lonely because the robins have all flown south for the winter. To keep himself occupied, Goliath sometimes dances or plays with the snowflakes that begin drifting down. Sometimes he even forgets what he’s there for. As winter settles in, Bear grows more and more tired. He lies down under the bench and goes to sleep. He awakes to warm air and sunshine.

Suddenly, “he hears a faint noise like a hand sliding slowly across paper. Goliath is coming!” A little snail slithers up full of apologies for being so late, but Bear is just happy to see him. He has big plans for the two of them. After so much time spent on the ground, they take to the swing at the park and soar.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-Waiting-for-Goliath-dancing-in-snow

Copyright Antje Damm, 2017, courtesy of Gecko Press.

As an avid reader of Samuel Beckett’s work, I couldn’t help but smile when I saw the title of Antje Damm’s new book. As in the play Waiting for Godot, readers of Waiting for Goliath wonder “who is the mysterious visitor?” Unlike Vladimir and Estragon, though, Bear does finally meet up with his friend—much to the delight and surprise of little readers.

Some expectations may be set when Bear describes his best friend as stronger than he is, very smart, and nice-smelling; there’s also the matter of his name. Put these all together and most kids may imagine a big, friendly giant of a buddy. On the other hand, time seems a bit wonky. It’s been a year since Bear first took a seat at the bus stop. What could be taking this enormous creature so long to get there? So maybe readers will adjust their guess. Just like Bear, kids are also waiting to discover who is coming.

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During that year, readers are treated to Damm’s very original collage-diorama photographs. With unending patience Bear, whose head, body, and legs seem articulated from separated bits of paper, sits on a red cardboard bench. The paper bus stop sign and trash can are attached to a thin wooden skewer. Cardboard grass springs from the ground, and the tree takes center stage through a year of seasons demonstrated by the robin’s building a nest, raising a family, flying away for the winter, and returning once more. Along the way, colors change, new creatures enter and leave, and Bear changes position. Goliath’s appearance comes as a cheerful surprise, and as the two go off to play together, readers will feel that the wait was definitely worth it.

Waiting for Goliath would be an adorable addition to children’s home libraries for happy story times and times when waiting gets…..long.

Ages 3 – 5

Gecko Press, 2017 | ISBN 978-1776571413

Positive Attitude Month Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-Smile!-It's-a-Positively-Fun-Word-Search

Smile! It’s a Positively Fun Word Search Puzzle

 

Positivity makes you smile! And this puzzle is full of positivity! Can you find the twenty upbeat words in this printable Smile! It’s a Positively Fun Word Search Puzzle? Here’s the Solution.

Picture Book Review