Category Archives: picturebooks

Where Is Walrus? by Stephen Savage

  •  Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press (Feb. 1 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0439700493
  • ISBN-13: 978-0439700498

I admit that, when I first got a copy of this wordless picture book, I  did not expect it to hold my (and my grandsons’) interest for long. Very simple, stylistic art, no text. OK, I thought I could make up a story but it would soon get boring.
That was about three years ago. Now, I admire this book more than most picture books. It works on so many levels, for so many ages. And even though the art is very minimalistic, we discover new things all the time.
The story works for a restless 2 year old, who delights in outsmarting the zoo keeper who can’t find walrus anywhere. It also works for a story savvy 4 year old, who still discovers new angles.
As the bored walrus sneaks out of the zoo, he blends into city scapes. The zoo keeper follows and looks along streets. But walrus hides in a cafe, or in a building, on a stage with dancers, even disguised as a firefighter.
When walrus finally steals the show in a diving competion, the zoo keeper get the brilliant idea to give him a larger pool and a dive board. No one in the zoo is ever bored again.
My two grandsons both love this book and we get hours of storytelling fun out of it. Hope you do, too.

I Stood Upon A Mountain by Aileen Fisher

I Stood Upon A Mountain, a picture book by Aileen Fisher

This relatively unknown book is one of my all-time favorites. It’s older, and may not be readily available anymore – but you can still find it online. And it’s worth a search.

Standing on top of a mountain, a young child wonders about the creation of the world. How did it all happen?
One old man tells her it all started with an egg.
“Can it be true” she wonders.
“It all came from a word!” someone else tells her.
But what was before the word? How did oceans and deserts begin?

“With fire!” knows a native man.
“An explosion!” thinks someone else.
In the end, she realizes there are many answers. But does it really matter how it all began? Being filled with wonder if the most important thing as you gaze upon creation.

ISBN 0-690-03977-8

Edward the Emu, by Sheena Knowles, Ill by Rod Clement

“Edward the emu was sick of the zoo,
There was nowhere to go, there was nothing to do,
And compared to the seals that lived right next door,
Well being an emu was frankly a bore….”

Tired of his life as an emu, Edward decides to try being something else for a change. He tries swimming with the seals. He spends a day lounging with the lions. He even does a stint slithering with the snakes.

But Edward soon discovers that being an emu may be the best thing after all. And so he returns to his pen, only to find a big surprise awaiting him. .
I love Sheena Knowles’ rhyming text but Rod Clement’s amazing illustrations really make this a fabulous picture book. Right now I am in Australia and see this book everywhere. I’ve used it for years with both kids and teachers.

The fun continues with Edwina the Emu by the same two creators.

Paperback, 32 pages, HarperCollins ISBN
0064434990 (ISBN13: 9780064434997)

Lesson Plan:…/EdwardTheEmu.pdf

The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest by Lynne Cherry

The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest by Lynne Cherry

The rain forest is full of amazing animals, trees, vines and flowers. But one day a man enters the forest and the animals hold their breath. He is told to cut down the great kapok tree. The man tires and naps. While he sleeps the creatures take turns whispering in his ear what the tree means to each of them. When he wakes up, he gathers his axe and leaves. The forest can breath again.

This book – which looks at what the Kapok tree means to the creatures that live in it, and what rain forests mean to the world’s ecology – was at the forefront of the ecological movement and continues to resonate profoundly with children everywhere.

Beautifully written, with a strong message, this book can be enjoyed as a picture book and used in classrooms on many different levels.

Paperback, 40 pages, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt ISBN
0152026142 (ISBN13: 9780152026141)

Lesson Plan:

Something Else by Kathryn Cave, illustrated by Chris Riddell

Something Else by Kathryn Cave, illustrated by Chris Riddell

Sometimes a book is based on such a simple yet brilliant idea, that you think ‘why didn’t I think of that?!’.
Something Else is like that.
Have you ever told a kid that he is ‘something else’? Well, Something Else is like that. He tries hard to be just like everyone else. But everything he does shows how different he is. Just when he is feeling very different, and alone, Something shows up.
Has Something Else finally met someone just like himself?

This story is perfect for every child who feels different. Also great to discuss differences and acceptance in school.

Paperback, 32 pages Mondo Publishing
ISBN 1572555637 (ISBN13: 9781572555631)
Winner of the first UNESCO Prize for Children’s Literature in the Service of Tolerance (under 8s).

Lesson Plan:

Window by Jeannie Baker

Window by Jeannie Baker 

It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. In that case, the picture book Window equals a thick novel! A wordless picture book with story telling possibilities for all ages, this is a book of environmental awareness.

One window frames an ever evolving view. First of a green back yard. But as the baby inside the home grows up, the yard has its own story. Diapers on the clothes line give way to toys and bikes, then a VW beetle. The walls show their age, trees disappear to make way for a new subdivision, stores and roads.

Eventually the boy is a grown up and moves into his own home, with his own family – to enjoy the view from a new window: of green and the promise of a more natural environment for his new baby.

Endless possibilities to discuss urban expansion, growing populations, preservation and threats to the environment! Combine this with Jeannie Baker’s wonderful collage art, and this book is a must for all classrooms.

“The effect human beings have on the landscape around them is the theme of Baker’s most recent tour de force….The artist’s multimedia collage constructions are, as ever, fascinating in their realistic detail and powerfully convey the dramatic message..”– Horn Book.

Hardcover, 32 pages, Greenwillow Books
ISBN 0688089186 (ISBN13: 9780688089184)

Lesson Plans:

ZOOM to your library!

Zoom by Istvan Banyai

Here is a picturebook that is for almost all ages! The book is wordless and takes you onto an amazing journey: from farm to ship to city streets to a desert island. You will go by any mode of transportation, around the entire globe.
But if you think you know where you are, guess again. For nothing is ever as it seems in Banyai’s mysterious landscapes of pictures within pictures.
Like a photographer with a zoom lens, the illustrator zooms out from a close-up, surprising you at every turn of the page.
You can ‘read’ the colorful images with young children, make up elaborate tales with others and have interesting discussions with readers right into high school.

If you like this book, try part 2: Rezoom.
Paperback, 64 pages, Puffin Books  ISBN 0140557741 (ISBN13: 9780140557749)

Lesson Plan:

Hooway for Wodney Wat by Helen Lester

Hooway for Wodney Wat by Helen Lester, Lynn Munsinger (Illustrator)

This is my favorite picture book about bullying. Great to use with students of all ages.
Poor Rodney Rat can’t pronounce his R’s and the other rodents tease him mercilessly. Wodney is shy and mostly hides inside his jacket.
But when Camilla Capybara joins Rodney’s class and announces that she is bigger, meaner, and smarter than any of the other rodents, everyone is afraid. It seems she really is bigger, meaner, and smarter than all of the rest of them.
Until Wodney Wat, catches Camilla out in a game of Simon Says. Read along with Wodney as he surprises himself and his classmates by single-handedly saving the whole class from the big bad bully. Children will delight as shy Rodney Rat triumphs over all and his tiny voice decides the day.
Paperback, 32 pages, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt ISBN
061821612X (ISBN13: 9780618216123)

Lesson Plan:

First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg

First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg
remains one of my favorite picture books ever. It’s one of those books I wished I had thought of and written! 🙂

We all have had those first day jitters as the first day of school approaches, especially if it’s the first day at a new school. Sometimes you have to be dragged there after long summer holidays.

In this funny story you will love the surprise ending! Guess who is being dragged to school, who doesn’t want to go? Guess who’s afraid no one will like her and she won’t know anyone?!

Gotta read the book to find out!

Paperback, 32 pages, Charlesbridge Publishing  ISBN
158089061X (ISBN13: 9781580890618)

Activity Guide:

The Fabulous Song, Don Gillmor

The Fabulous Song, Don Gillmor
The next installment in my ‘Bucket Book List” is a picture book that I just love. Not being terribly musical, I was given the only speaking part in a musical when I was a child. Maybe that’s why this story really appeals to me.

Sarah Pipkin’s little brother is named Frederic, after Chopin, and his parents are sure he will be musical. But Mr. Stricter, the piano teacher, and Mrs. Lumply, the clarinet teacher, can’t do a thing with him. Even leaving his clarinet on the bus doesn’t save Frederic from subsequent trials with an oboe, a violin, and a banjo. However, when Frederic attends Sarah’s youth orchestra concert, the conductor captures his fancy. When the house fills with relatives for his seventh birthday party, Frederic makes music by conducting them all in a song he hears in his head. The illustrations, with their exaggerated figures, limpid watercolors, and nervous line, are full of great touches: Mr. Stricter’s dog barks allegro vivace; Mrs. Lumply’s pets wear earplugs and earmuffs when carroty-haired Frederic plays; the conductor, and later Frederic himself, produce great ribbons of musical notation that reach out to touch the audience. (Picture book. 5-8)