Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Funny Little Woman

The Funny Little Woman won the Caldecott some years ago.
It's a retelling of a Japanese folk tale that reminded my nine
year old of Strega Nona with its theme of a magical cookery
implement (A rice paddle rather than the Strega Nona pasta pot).
The battered little paperback has been sitting unloved and unread
in my house for years, and I decided it was time for it to seek 
a new home. But first I coralled the boys on the couch for
a read aloud. As usual, both protested. I threatened my neurotypical
child with an electronic device ban and told my son with autism
that even though he hadn't "planned to read" we were reading. 
It's a good read aloud. 
You may know some of my touchstones by now.
The Funny Little Woman includes:
1) illustrations that are clear and relate to the story
(they're also next to the words they illustrate)
2) minimal subtext
(adults may find some here, kids are unlikely to and the
story doesn't need it)
3) humor (giggling woman, dumpling chase, rescue by prat fall)
4) repetition (my dumpling)
 Here's another description of this book 
from a blogger who read Caldecott winners with her
girls and had them journal afterwards. She provides
a list of Caldecott winners through 2010. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

I saw a Peacock

"I saw a peacock with a fiery tail
I saw a blazing comet drop down hail
I saw a cloud with ivy circled round
I saw a sturdy oak creep on the ground
.  .  . "
Ramsingh Urvel chose to illustrate this lovely and puzzling 
poem written in 17th century England to create a book
that may have special appeal for children with autism.
First of all, it rhymes.
Next, the illustrations combine simple and complex
elements in an interesting way that intrigues those
who like to study lines and repetitive patterns. 
Lastly, the whole poem is a play on words. 
The illustrations include strategically placed holes, 
which are both fun and a bit problematic for some
readers. Don't get this one if ripping a page bothers
you or your child.
The illustrations present puzzles of their own. 
Despite their simple black/white contrast and
simple outlines, they contain complicated 
repeating patterns. The shaped holes reveal
portions of both text and pictures.
From the description inside:
"Even the youngest of readers will delight in
The overturning of logic, and the 'trick' with
which meaning can be made to return . . .
Is the difference between fantasy and reality
largely grammatical?"