Sunday, March 18, 2018

A THAI LULLABY


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The Recycled Story I share with you today is the 1997 Caldecott Honor Book Hush! The story is a Thai Lullaby by Minfong Ho with pictures by Holly Meade. I hope my collage evokes the energetic persistence of the dutiful and caring mother who requests that a small mosquito, a long-tailed lizard, a lean black cat, a fat gray mouse, a bright green frog, a muddy fat pig, the glossy white duck, a loose-limbed monkey, an old water buffalo and a great big elephant be quiet so that her baby can sleep. The rhyme and repetition are great for preK/K story time. 


“Gray mouse, gray mouse,
don’t come squeaking.
Can’t you see that
Baby’s sleeping?”


Holly Meade’s illustrations capture the beauty and simplicity of the Thai home and the many “neighbors” that could disrupt the sleeping baby. Ultimately there is quiet and mother dozes off in the stillness at the windowsill.
Collage is in a brown frame, 16" x 20" not pictured here to avoicd glare from glass.



“Nothing’s stirring,
not a breeze,
As the moon drifts
up above the trees.
There is no noise now,
there is no sound.

Only Baby’s wide awake,
his eyes bright and round.”



Saturday, March 10, 2018

GIVE MY REGARDS TO BROADWAY

The collage I am sharing with you today is  on a small suitcase for a display I made for the annual Broadway Musical at my school. Using poster art, I created the collage to showcase some of the popular broadway musicals. Putting on a musical offers so many opportunities for learning but you don't need to put on a musical to enjoy the benefits of reading and learning about everything Broadway. Don't know where to start? PBS has a great 6 part series Broadway: The American Musical hosted by the one and only Julie Andrews. The series includes a teacher's guide and offers resources, recommended reading and standards based ideas across the curriculum. Or maybe my collage inspires you to embellish an existing poetry unit by including T.S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats! Need some inspiration for a younger audience? How about Lights on Broadway, A Theatrical Tour from A to Z by Harriet Ziefert comes complete with a CD. There's just so much to read and know - get going!
Visit your library or shop your local indie bookstore.
Visit your library or shop your local indie bookstore.



Wednesday, February 14, 2018

BE THE CHANGE YOU WISH TO SEE IN THE WORLD

"Did I say that?"
Inspired by the quote attributed to Mahatma Gandhi “You must be the change you want to see in the world.” Also often seen as “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” I ask you, did he really say that? Certainly for many of us he did practice what he preached. But let's use the possibility that history and the capturing of truth does have elements like the “telephone game” and can change to suit the needs/rhetoric of the time.

I ask you to consider this possibility because the next collage that I am sharing with you is a collage that almost didn't happen. Sometimes it seems that there are so many injustices in our world. How do we right the wrongs of the past and make changes that bring about fairness and equity to all? The good news is that there are many ways. For the time, forget about the small amount of people that don’t believe in this ideal and start this minute in positive ways to make changes in the life you lead.

Visit your library or shop your local indie bookstore.
In my post today, I talk about a major way educators, caregivers and parents can present and use materials to be that change (regardless of who said it). I will use my collage of the damaged book Brother Eagle, Sister Sun by Susan Jeffers as an example. The illustrations by award winning illustrator Susan Jeffers are stunning. She has created many memorable picture books and her artwork is nothing short of amazing. Brother Eagle, Sister Sun is beautifully illustrated and topical in its environmental message. Released in 1991 by the American Division of Dial Books, it received the ABBY Book of the Year Award given by the American Booksellers Association. 

Well intentioned to be sure, the criticisms that follow the book are to be considered, debated (in an upper elementary, middle or high school classroom) and help form your own benchmark for what makes meaning going forward. Let’s start our discussion with Chief Seattle and his words as they are presented in Jeffer's book. These words were translated and rewritten over time and while the Suquamish Indian tribe and Chief Seattle undoubtedly did not agree with the non-natives' intrusion and destruction of the land, the original words of the great chief were thought to be much more about the desecration of the Indian people’s way of life in a land that no one could own. As further evidence of a common misconception and rewriting of the Chief's oration, I have pictured a greeting card that I purchased some years ago. Jeffer’s is criticized further for her after note claiming that “The origins of Chief Seattle’s words are partly obscured by the mists of time. “ Seattle is an important person to study and we can learn much from the Suquamish People today. You may also want to read the 1854 Oration version 1. Chief Seattle was not talking about environmentalism.

Other areas of criticism are the pictures themselves. Jeffers is accused of perpetuating racial stereotypes. A few of the claims include; Chief Seattle wearing a Sioux headdress,  subsequent photos that tell the “story” are of indigenous people on horseback (click here for history and culture), and in addition to the Caucasian boy featured on the cover, a Caucasian family rescues the destroyed forest by planting a tree. 

16 x 20 (frame not shown)
There are many teachable moments in Brother Eagle, Sister Sky that I challenge you to not cast this book aside but rather raise your awareness by it’s use. Some present day sites continue to suggest using the book for "environmental awareness" but I'm not so sure that is appropriate. I selected to share this collage at a time when we as a society are questioning truth. There were quite a few times while researching this book that I thought I should not make this collage. Ironically, in all my years of teaching it was a book on my shelf but I never taught with it. Now, I offer a solution that we not destroy and hide our mistakes, but rather learn and grow by properly vetting and
Identity Close Up
discussing our own prejudices, historical inaccuracies and pledge to “right the wrongs” of our collective pasts. While it is difficult to capture in a photograph the nuances of my collages, you will hopefully see that I deviated from some of my "rules" to finish this collage. In this collage I did not use a "
précis" of the book but rather found words and sentences that described how indigenous people were victimized, persecuted and betrayed. My main focus however was identity. I found a wonderful VIEWPOINT in Native Peoples magazine (NOV/DEC 2001) written by Taffy Gallagher on the theft of one's identity. In her piece, Ms. Gallagher recounted a grade school encounter with another student that claimed, "You're Not Indian." Ms. Gallagher's green eyes and light skin did not add up to "Indian" for her classmate. I have woven some of the sentences from her piece in to the collage as well as other words from Native Peoples magazine and a 1991 edition of National Geographic which featured "1491 America Before Columbus." 

American Indians in Children's Literature is a great resource. If you have specific questions or issues with my piece, please inbox me. This was one of the hardest collages I almost didn’t do. 

Saturday, January 13, 2018

ZOMO THE RABBIT GAINS WISDOM

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Shop your local indie bookstore.
Zomo!
Zomo the rabbit.
He is not big.
He is not strong.

But he is very clever.

Zomo The Rabbit is a trickster tale from West Africa by Gerald McDermott. McDermott was an award winning author, illustrator and film maker who specialized in mythology. Zomo The Rabbit is one of my recent recycled story projects featured at the end of this post. It was a trickster tale and a tricky collage to put together. I truly enjoyed saving this book and it also made me think about ALL of the wonderful stories that McDermott adapted. I also took the opportunity to reread several and I encourage you to read them as well.

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One of his most well-known trickster tales is the 1973 Caldecott Honor Book Anansi the Spider. He adapted many tales and won the Caldecott in 1975 for Arrow to the Sun a Pueblo Indian Tale. He also made a film version that is linked in the Horn Book Review above (click on Gerald McDermott!). 
There are so many ways to use these books in your classroom or as a family read. Teachers can inbox me for lesson plan assistance or google Gerald McDermott and you will find a mountain of materials. These books also make an amazing themed gift or you can visit your local library and read them for free!

16" x 20"




Monday, January 1, 2018

COLLAGES



Green Eggs and Ham Collage
In case you missed some of my earlier posts and you're looking for something to do on this cold January 1st day why not take some time to view some of the collages I made over the last two years in my archived posts. 

ALL of my collages except Green Eggs and Ham are for sale. My RECYCLED STORIES are one-of-a-kind and are made from a single damaged book. I detail my "process" in my first RECYCLED STORIES Blog post origin of my recycled stories. 

I have been making collages for many years but only recently decided to share. 2017 was the year I took my first step in sharing my work on this BLOG and by participating in a POP UP MUSEUM at Westerly Public Library where I shared my collage of The Rainbow Fish. The participants were gracious with their compliments. I have been making different types of collages for many years but only recently decided to share my picture book collages. The books I have shared on this site are generally well known and I used them in my own classroom. I thought I knew everything about them but in the process of making the collages I find out so many more interesting things about the story and the illustrations that further reinforces my belief that picture books are for every age. I hope when you view one of my collages it will inspire you to read and re-read the books with someone you love. Happy New Year.

The Rainbow Fish Collage







Friday, December 15, 2017

NEVERTHELESS, SHE PERSISTED

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I have always been a fan of both Amelia Earhart and Eleanor Roosevelt but I learned so much more about both of them while making my collage of Amelia and Eleanor Go For A Ride by Pam Munoz Ryan, pictures by Brian Selznick. I also absolutely love both of these authors and have followed Brian’s unique style of illustration as well. What resonated for me as I worked on this collage was that Ryan and Selznick conveyed the friendship, admiration and love that Earhart and Roosevelt had for each other. Ryan created the dialogue in the story almost exclusively from newspaper accounts, book transcripts and diaries. Selznick researched the illustrations for six months and lived in Washington, D.C. If you have time and want to learn more about his process check out his visit with students from Capitol Hill Day School on C-Span.

As a library media specialist, I always pulled this book as a resource for biography units
More information from the Smithsonian here.
and/or women’s history month e
ven though it is categorized as “fiction” or "juvenile picture book." The story is actually based on several factual events; Earhart speaking in Washington D.C. and sleeping at the Whitehouse and a night flight that Earhart and Roosevelt took together (in picture). Mrs. Roosevelt also had the distinction of logging more passenger miles than any other woman in the 1920s and 1930s. 


In my collage you will notice that I included a reporter’s notebook entry that reads, “Amelia and Eleanor were birds of a feather...” Both women challenged stereotypes but it was more than that. Amelia Earhart was a famous aviator and the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. She was outspoken against war and an advocate for women’s rights. Together these women were “birds of a feather.” Eleanor, originally a very shy, introvert, she thought driving was practical, loved to fly and cared about dignity for every human. Watch this interview with Frank Sinatra and where he asks the first lady if she had only one word to share with the world what would it be.


Amelia and Eleanor Go For A Ride was published in 1999 and as sad as I was to see this book damaged, I hope I have piqued your interest about reading the book. One final note, in my collage I added the “pink” on their desserts (difficult to see in the photo). It’s a recipe that appears at the end of the book known as Eleanor Roosevelt’s Pink Clouds on Angel Food Cake. According to Ryan, (a fact she confirmed), angel food cake was Eleanor's favorite dessert. 


There’s only one collage and it’s for sale, but everyone can read the book! I hope you enjoy the book and the collage as much as I did.



(Note: computer images do not properly show the 3D collage. The photo was taken outside the glass frame to prevent glare. This collage is framed in a black 1 inch frame 16" x 20")

Friday, November 17, 2017

GREEN EGGS AND HAM!


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My Green Eggs and Ham collage is one of my favorites. I'm sorry, but it's not for sale. The collage is actually made from a book that my sister and brothers shared when we were young. We didn't have much but we did belong to a Dr. Seuss Book Club that sent books once a month. Each month one of us would get to "own" the book that came in and that included opening it after dinner. I remember the excitement of the moment when the book of the month was revealed. At this point I believe I have all or most of the books that were delivered to us and they are all in less than ideal condition to hold and read, but perfect for a recycled story. 
In an apparent bet with his editor, Dr. Seuss (aka Theodor Seuss Geisel), created Green Eggs and Ham with just 50 different words to tell the story. The Cat in the Hat uses 225 words. Our cover, published in 1960, promotes the 50 word vocabulary as a feature. As an educator I loved reading this book with my students and would use "You do not like them so you say. Try them! Try them! And you may. Try them and you may I say." as a callback to encourage students to try new things. Green Eggs and Ham is a wonderful edition to your personal library. 
I've taken the collage out of the frame so you can see the detail. Hope it  makes you want to read the book!