Friday, January 11, 2019

Picture Book Friday

Once Upon A Snowstorm by Richard Johnson is a charming picture book with a twist. The tale is told entirely without words, inviting young readers to imagine their own interpretations of the events that flow across the beautifully illustrated pages.

The story begins with a lonely father and son enjoying the beauty of the falling snow. When the boy becomes lost, he’s discovered by woodland animals and finds refuge and friendship among the forest creatures.  Eventually, his longing to be reunited with his father inspires a kindly bear to undertake the long journey home. Father and son are reunited, but now the bear is in danger of being shot until the boy steps in and becomes the rescuer by explaining the bear’s presence to the father.  The father’s understanding and acceptance of the bear opens a path to friendship with all the other animals and puts an end to the father’s and son’s solitary existence.

The illustrations are detailed and imaginative. The snow scene is engaging with the flakes transforming into racing deer, rabbits, foxes, and birds. Clever snapshots that focus on small details: the hands of father and son as they lose touch with one another, the astonished faces of each animal that mirror the boy’s surprise are juxtaposed with richly-colored double page spreads.

There is a thoughtful use of perspective employed throughout to emphasize individual plot points such as the minute image of the boy in the blizzard’s field of swirling white or the huddled form of the exhausted boy lit by the faint light of starry animal constellations spread across a double page spread of inky night.

Young readers will find much to discover as they identify details to incorporate into the narrative. Once Upon A Snowstorm offers a delightful opportunity for parents and children to collaborate on storytelling as they discuss the various images and explore their meanings.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Nonfiction Monday

Oliver’s Otter Phase by Lisa Connors with illustrations by Karen Jones follows Oliver
as he spends a day trying to live like an Otter.

But what does that mean? Otters arrange their food on their stomach. Otters secure their babies with kelp to keep them from floating away. Otters hold food in an underarm pouch. Otters hold hands when they sleep. Oliver delights in finding out what life as a pretend otter is all about. Try as he might, he also discovers that in the end, he’s more successful being a boy.

As with other books by Arbordale, this story contains a Creative Minds section that includes factual information to provide points of discussion for parents and lesson options for teachers. Marine Mammals defines the characteristics of mammals in general and the specializations of sea otters. Sea Otters and You compares and contrasts otters and humans. Sea Otter Tools provides an opportunity to test knowledge by matching otter skills with the ways in which Oliver uses tools. Sea Otters and River Otters creates a Venn diagram to examine the characteristics and behaviors of these two related species.

Recommended for home and school libraries. Great discussion starter for STEM studies.

The Gingerbread Cowboy Book Trailer