Sunday, June 28, 2015

Henry's map by David Elliot

In Henry's Map, Henry decides he needs a map as a way to get a little order into the farm.  He trots off with his pencil and a large sheet of paper and beginning with his own sty he draws the farm and its inhabitants. Even the youngest reader will pick up on the complication with this. Henry draws the sheep beside their wool shed then they follow him across the meadow to a shady oak tree where Henry adds Abigail the cow to his map. The journey continues and now Maisy, Daisy and Clementine - the sheep - along with Abigail all follow Henry over to the stable and Mr Brown the horse.

Finally the farm map is complete and all the animals stand on a nearby hillside to compare the map with the scene in front of them. "All the animals looked at the farm. Then they looked at the map. And then they looked at the farm again."

This book has echoes of the wonderful concept books by Pat Hutchins such as Shrinking Mouse.  Another book to explore in our library is As the crow flies by Gail Hartman which explores the idea of perspective.  Little Henry himself also reminded me of two favourite characters - Toot and Puddle. If you want to explore the topic of maps and map making even further make sure you look for My Map book by Sara Fanelli. We have five books in our school library illustrated by David Elliot including the wonderful anthology The Word Witch by Margaret Mahy.  We now need to add the sequel to Henry's Map - Henry's stars.

One more thing - do take a minute to compare the end papers.  Young readers will enjoy finding all the differences between the morning and afternoon scenes.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The storm whale by Benji Davies

I have been away from my blog for about one month while I traveled to the Shetland and Orkney islands.  The storm whale has a lighthouse on the front cover.  I adore lighthouses and I saw some important and impressive examples in Scotland.  The setting for this book is an island and I have just visited some very remote island and even though I didn't see a whale on my trip we did keep a look out.

The best picture books leave room for the reader to 'join the dots.'  The storm whale certainly allows for this.  "Every day, Noi's dad left early for a long day's work on his fishing boat. He wouldn't be home again till dark."

What can we imply from this?  Noi has no mum, Noi is young but needs to be quite self sufficient and Noi might feel lonely since he spends so much time alone.

One day a tiny whale is washed up on the shore near Noi's home.  He rescues the whale pulling it home on his small cart and depositing this precious creature in their bath.  "Noi did everything to make the what feel at home.  He told stories about life on the island. The whale was an excellent listener."  The whale becomes his friend but a whale is a wild creature which needs to be returned to the sea.

It is the final illustration that is the most important in this book.  Make sure you take a look.  It is also worth spending time with the end papers which show our tiny whale falling behind the group at the beginning of the book and a happy reunion with all the large whales at the end.

Here is a terrific review.  You might also like to dip into Benji Davies web site where you will discover that this is his first picture book.  You can also see some preliminary sketches for this book here.  I was happy to discover The storm whale received a star from Kirkus. The storm whale was a winner of Oscar's First Book Prize which is aimed at books that a child under five can pick up on his or her own.  The perfect partner for this book would be Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers and with an older child I would pick up The Whales' Song by Dyan Sheldon.  If you want to read another picture book about rescuing a whale take a look at The Smallest Whale by Elisabeth Beresford.