Posts Tagged: picture books

I AM A WITCH’S CAT

Posted by | July 24, 2014 | No Comments

We’re so excited to share with you I AM A WITCH’S CAT, available this week, written and illustrated by Harriet Muncaster.

I Am a Witch's Cat

We in the HCCB School & Library department are pretty huge fans of tiny things (dollhouse food, figurines, these amazing things . . . you name it), and we couldn’t be more delighted to have found a kindred spirit in Harriet Muncaster. Harriet’s book tells the story of a little girl who believes that her mother is a good witch and that she is a special witch’s cat, and it’s illustrated with photographs of handmade miniatures—characters, furniture, accessories, and details, all lovingly crafted and composed into scenes. We just love it to pieces.

Harriet was kind enough to give us a behind-the-scenes looks at her process for creating the fantastic art from I AM A WITCH’S CAT.

Harriet Muncaster:

I have always been fascinated by tiny things. When I was young I spent my time making miniature houses and clothes and writing minuscule fairy letters. That love of tiny things has never left me, and so, when I took illustration as my degree at university, it felt almost natural to start making my pictures in 3D. I create dollhouse-sized scenes (or sets, as I call them) out of cardboard and fabric and then photograph them to make a flat picture.

In these photos, you can see some of the process I go through to make the scenes. If it is a room, I usually start with a box-like shape and then put in the flooring and wallpaper. I either paint the wallpaper on or make it on the computer and stick it on as you would proper wallpaper (like in the bedroom scene below)!

Beginnings of the bedroom scene

Beginnings of the bedroom scene

 

The furniture is made from card stock. It gives me a lot of freedom to make everything from card because I can literally make it into any shape I like. I can use the card to make something really fancy or really plain and in whatever style I like.

I also like the way one can use lighting when creating a 3D picture. It is possible to really set the mood by using different sorts of atmospheric lighting. My favourite bit of lighting in the book is the scene where Witch’s Cat is saying goodbye to her Mom at the door and the coloured glass in the door is shining against the wall in a rainbow pattern. I got this effect by using coloured cellophane sweet wrappers and then shining a light behind them.

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Experimenting with some lighting filters made from coloured cellophane chocolate wrappers as seen in the hallway scene

 

The hardest thing to make in the book was the trolley in the supermarket scenes. It took me absolutely ages and was extremely difficult and fiddly to make! It’s definitely the most delicate thing in the whole book.

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The checkout scene in full, with trolley

 

One of my favourite things to make in the book was the patchwork quilt on the bed. I just love the colours in it, which are quite autumnal. I tried to incorporate a lot of autumnal colours into the room scenes, as it is a Halloween book.

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Trying the mom character for size, with close-up of patchwork quilt

 

It feels very magical when a scene becomes finished and you can look right into it and touch it. It’s a real, tiny little world of its own with its own atmosphere and feel to it. I love how tangible it is!

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Kitchen scene in the early stages

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Food boxes all ready to be put into the scene.

Thank you so much, Harriet!

Check out Harriet’s great blog for a whole lot of miniature inspiration, including a post about how she created the cover art for I AM A WITCH’S CAT. And in case you haven’t quite had your fill of tiny for the day, here are some bonus photos:

Hallway wallpaper design

Hallway wallpaper design

Design for some of the the food boxes in the shopping scene ready to be printed, cut out and folded into 3d boxes

Design for some of the the food boxes in the shopping scene ready to be printed, cut out, and folded into 3D boxes

Mom character. Checking everything is good with her position and the way she is holding the vacuum cleaner

Mom character. Checking everything is good with her position and the way she is holding the vacuum cleaner

Characters, furniture and accessories all neatly boxed up to be transported for exhibition

Characters, furniture, and accessories all neatly boxed up to be transported for exhibition

COMMON CORE SPOTLIGHT: GALAPAGOS GEORGE

Posted by | March 31, 2014 | No Comments

GALAPAGOS GEORGE is the story of the famous Lonesome George, a giant tortoise who was the last of his species, lived to be one hundred years old, and became known as the rarest creature in the world. This incredible evolution story by renowned naturalist and Newbery Medal winner Jean Craighead George gives readers a glimpse of the amazing creatures inhabiting the ever-fascinating Galápagos Islands, complete with back matter that features key terms, a timeline, and further resources for research.

Galapagos George

Here are some Common Core objectives that GALAPAGOS GEORGE can help meet:

Identify the main purpose of a text, including what the author wants to answer, explain, or describe. Use information gained from the illustrations and words in a book to demonstrate understanding of its characters, setting, or plot. Describe the overall structure of a story, including describing how the beginning introduces the story and the ending concludes the action.

And you can use the following questions to help start a specific discussion about this book or a general discussion about informational texts and/or literature:

  1. How does a reader determine the genre of a particular book? What characteristics apply to GALAPAGOS GEORGE? RI.2.5, RL.2.3
  2. What elements of a book help the reader determine the main idea? What details support the main idea? RI.2.2, RL.2.2
  3. How do the illustrations contribute to the text (characters, setting, and plot)? RI.2.7, RL.2.7

GALAPAGOS GEORGE will be available next week!

 

Math Skills are Life Skills: Early Math, the Common Core, Visual Learning and MathStart

Posted by | March 5, 2014 | No Comments

 

Math is everywhere! That’s a message I always try to get across to kids, teachers and parents in my MathStart books and presentations. Too often, when students leave math class, I hear them say, “I’m done with my math.”  Yet they never say “I’m done with my words” after reading and language arts. Well, just like words, you can’t do much without math. Math is an integral part of sports and music. You need math to go shopping, check on the time and count the number of candles on your birthday cake!

mathstart1START EARLY

“Who Says Math Has to Be Boring?”—that was the eye-opening question posed in a recent New York Times editorial headline. Several improvements to math education were listed in the article, with early exposure to mathematical concepts singled out as a particularly rich area for improvement. In fact, new research suggests that children as young as three may be math-ready. It turns out we are wired for math!

The interest in early math is part of a larger movement to support universal Pre-K in the US—a rare non-partisan issue with the President and Congress as well as governors and mayors in dozens of states declaring their support. Over just the last year, 30 states have increased funding, while Congress has budgeted $1 billion for programs. The US military is also on board in a big way through Mission Readiness, an effort spearheaded by a who’s who list of retired generals and admirals.

THE COMMON CORE

Another important trend in education is the adoption of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) currently being implemented in 45 states, the District of Columbia, four territories and the Department of Defense schools. Teachers, librarians, parents, and caregivers of children are clamoring for ways to effectively address the broad-reaching goals of the CCSS. These goals require elementary school educators to develop a new mind-set regarding their role in advancing mathematics education, as well as a new skill set for facilitating the teaching and learning of mathematical concepts.

VISUAL LEARNING

Visual learning describes how we gather and process information from illustrations, diagrams, graphs, symbols, photographs, icons and other models. Since visual learning strategies build on children’s innate talent to interpret visual information, they can play an important role in reaching the goals of the CCSS for Mathematics. Visual models help students understand difficult concepts, make connections to other areas of learning and build mathematical comprehension. They are especially relevant for the youngest learners, who are accomplished visual learners even as pre-readers.

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

“Math Skills are Life Skills!” That’s the motto of the kids in the Main Street Kids’ Club  a musical based on six MathStart stories.

mathstart2

A good grounding in math from an early age is critical and visual learning strategies can play an important role. Children who are comfortable with mathematical concepts and understand that they use math all the time are more likely to do well in school and in everything else, too. It is a formula for success!

sjmurphy_5941Stuart J. Murphy is a Boston-based visual learning specialist, author and consultant. He is the author of the award-winning MathStart series (HarperCollins), which includes a total of 63 children’s books that present mathematical concepts in the context of stories for Pre-K through Grade 4. (Over 10 million copies sold.) He is also the author of Stuart J. Murphy’s I SEE I LEARN (Charlesbridge), a 16-book series of storybooks for children in Pre-K, Kindergarten, and Grade 1 that focus on social, emotional, health and safety, and cognitive skills. Most of all, Stuart is an advocate of helping our children develop their visual learning skills so that they become more successful students.

COMMON CORE SPOTLIGHT: FOUNDING MOTHERS

Posted by | March 3, 2014 | No Comments

The recently-published FOUNDING MOTHERS, by Cokie Roberts, presents the incredible accomplishments of the women who orchestrated the American Revolution behind the scenes.

Founding Mothers

In this vibrant nonfiction picture book, Roberts traces the stories of heroic, patriotic women such as Abigail Adams, Martha Washington, Phillis Wheatley, Mercy Otis Warren, Sarah Livingston Jay, and others through their personal correspondence, private journals, ledgers and lists, and even favored recipes. The extraordinary triumphs of these women created a shared bond that urged the founding fathers to “Remember the Ladies.”

Here are some Common Core objectives that FOUNDING MOTHERS can help meet:

  • Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
  • Describe the overall structure of events, ideas, concepts, or information in a text or part of a text.
  • Explain how an author uses reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text.

And here are some questions you can use and build on for a Common Core-ready lesson:

  1. How does the structure of nonfiction text affect how we understand the material? RI.5.5
  2. What composite structure does the author use to shape events, ideas, concepts and information? RI.5.5
  3. What is the author’s purpose for writing this book? Do you think the author is a reliable source? Discuss. RI.5.8, SL.5.1d, SL.5.4

We’ll be highlighting lots more titles and how they can be used to support the Common Core in the coming months, so be sure to check back often for our Common Core Spotlight feature!

RESOURCES FOR OUR AWARD WINNERS

Posted by | February 5, 2014 | No Comments

We’re so proud of our award-winning authors, and we’d love for you to be able to use these great books in your classroom right away (if you aren’t already, of course)! Read on for some teaching resources to help jump-start discussions and lessons centered around these stellar titles . . .

billy miller

penny and her

Here’s a downloadable Kevin Henkes Author Study that includes Common Core-aligned teaching guides for THE YEAR OF BILLY MILLER, PENNY AND HER MARBLE, and several more Kevin Henkes titles.

PBbeELEVEN_HC_Ceps

Here’s a downloadable Common Core-aligned discussion guide for Rita Williams-Garcia’s P.S. BE ELEVEN, and one for ONE CRAZY SUMMER, as well.

nelson mandela

Here are a handful of images from NELSON MANDELA that you can use as visual inspiration for lessons or projects on history, politics, biography, or even just to print and hang in your classroom or library.

Mandela image 1
Mandela image 2
Mandela image 3

Don’t forget to check out our Common Core Resources page for lots more teaching guides, discussion guides, lesson ideas, and more!

TAP THE MAGIC TREE VIDEO AND TEACHING GUIDE

Posted by | August 22, 2013 | 12 Comments

Looking for a fun, interactive picture book to use for story time (or any time)? Christie Matheson’s debut picture book, TAP THE MAGIC TREE, fits the bill perfectly. TAP THE MAGIC TREE combines the magic of the changing seasons with the magic of turning a page as the reader taps, pats, claps, and wiggles to make leaves grow, blossoms bloom, apples appear, and leaves swirl away with the autumn breeze.

Tap the Magic Tree
Here’s a little demo of how much fun can be had with one page turn!

You can have a sneak peek up-close at the first several pages here, and you can download a Common Core-aligned Teaching Guide here. Tap away and make magic happen!

BACK-TO-SCHOOL BOOKS FOR YOUNGER READERS

Posted by | August 13, 2013 | 1 Comment

Who’s ready for September? No one yet? That’s alright. We still have plenty of summer left. Whenever you’re ready, though, we want to help you start the school year off right with a little bit of inspiration. There are so many great back-to-school books out there that it’s difficult to choose just a few, but here’s a small sampling of some of our favorites!

PICTURE BOOKS:

My New Teacher and MeThis follow-up to “Weird Al” Yankovic’s bestselling debut picture book WHEN I GROW UP will get your students (and you, too) laughing out loud. The irrepressible Billy returns in this hilarious back-to-school tale filled with wordplay and energetic rhyme.

Amelia Bedelia's First Dayof SchoolHow could you not love Amelia Bedelia and her charmingly mixed-up view of the world? We bet you can guess what happens when Amelia Bedelia is told on her first day of school to “hop on the bus.” And it only gets funnier from there! You can visit www.ameliabedeliabooks.com for all kinds of fun downloadable activities and teaching resources.

BEGINNING READERS:

Lulu Goes to Witch SchoolKids will love this clever spin on a starting-school story by Jane O’Connor (yes, THAT Jane O’Connor, author of the beloved Fancy Nancy books!). First published in 1990 and just released with adorable new illustrations by debut illustrator Bella Sinclair, this is a perfect book for any kid who might be a little nervous about heading off to school for the first time.

Fancy Day in Room 1-AGet some ideas for fancy-ing up your class from everyone’s favorite Fancy Expert, and make this school year the most glamorous yet!

CHAPTER BOOKS:

The Year of Billy MillerKevin Henkes’s newest novel, due out September 17, is a humorous, heartwarming school and family story for young middle-grade readers. Kids will see a lot of themselves in Billy Miller, whose second-grade year includes such universal experiences as homework (dioramas!), school shows (original poetry performed at microphones!), canceled sleepovers, and epic sibling temper tantrums. Visit www.kevinhenkes.com for more information, teaching guides, and more!

MWS #8: Dr. Nicholas Is RidiculousAre your students hungry for more of Dan Gutman’s wacky My Weird School stories? Book #8 in the My Weirder School series, DR. NICHOLAS IS RIDICULOUS!, is the most recent installment, and you can look for book #9, MS. SUE HAS NO CLUE! this October. Don’t forget, you can always head over to the My Weird Classroom Club website for all kinds of great teaching resources, including downloadables, for all of the My Weird School books!

Coming soon: Back-to-school books for older readers . . . stay tuned!

Teaching JFK

Posted by | August 12, 2013 | No Comments

JFK Jonah WinterOnce upon a time in America, there was a man who mattered to a lot of people. His name was John F. Kennedy.

This is a story about how a little boy grew up to be a President. It’s a story of hope and courage. It’s a story about the power of words. And it is a story that has been told many times, in many voices.

Acclaimed picture book biographer Jonah Winter offers his own voice and memories about JFK and his significance in this heartfelt personal profile, illustrated in vibrant detail by AG Ford.

Looking for extra materials to go alongside this book? Check out the printable Author’s note and a JFK Timeline!

VIDEO! PETE THE CAT: THE WHEELS ON THE BUS

Posted by | June 14, 2013 | No Comments

If you love Pete the Cat as much as we do, then, boy, do we have good news for you! Pete is back in THE WHEELS ON THE BUS, with his own very groovy version of the popular song. The book will be available on June 25th, and in the meantime, here’s a little treat for you and your students to enjoy on this lovely summer Friday:

VIDEO: AMELIA BEDELIA’S 50TH ANNIVERSARY RETROSPECTIVE

Posted by | June 6, 2013 | 1 Comment

As you may have heard, 2013 marks 50 years of the beloved, mixed-up housekeeper Amelia Bedelia. Our celebration continues with this heartwarming video featuring Herman Parish, footage of Peggy Parish, illustrators Lynne Avril and Barbara Siebel Thomas, Gretchen Siebel, editor Susan Hirschman, and everyone’s favorite dressed chicken. Hear about the history and evolution of Amelia Bedelia from the people who created her and those who have continued her legacy, and reminisce about your favorite moments from the books. (Dressing the chicken? Stringing the beans? Hitting the road? It’s tough to choose, but our favorite might be the “surprise shower.”)

In case you’d like to share the video with students or others whose attention spans are more suited for brevity, here’s a shorter (but equally warm and fuzzy) version:

Don’t forget to download an Amelia Bedelia Party Kit and join the celebration! Here’s to 50 years of hilarity and delicious baked goods.

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