Tag Archives: picture books

(story)time: I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More!

I’ve mentioned this before, but some of my favorite places to shop for books are the gift shops in museums and attractions around town. More often than not, the selections are well curated gems that relate directly to the experience of the place. My favorite bookshelf is the one at the garden – I think they do a wonderful job of selecting well written and beautifully illustrated books about the natural world. The zoo, the history museum, the art museum – all of them offer relevant subject matter.  I used to be bothered by the presence of gift shops at these places, but now I look at them differently. The girls don’t need a souvenir of every trip they make inside, but I never say no to at least looking at the bookshelves. They know me well, and have learned that I might say ‘no’ to lots of things, but rarely for a good book.

F put this theory into action on a trip to the art museum with her grandparents last fall – they are even easier sells than me. She chose this book – I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More by Karen Beaumont, illustrated by David Catrow. The girls loved it the first few times they read it, but now they find it completely hysterical. The little boy (or girl? we disagree on this in our house) gets his/her hands on some paint, and the body art begins. Despite very clear instructions from mother, page by page, another body part is embellished with great strokes of color and pattern, dripping remnants around the room and throughout the house. 

The structure of each page leads with a rhyme such as “Like an Easter egg, gonna paint my…” and the page is turned to the “Leg!”, drenched in even more color than the last appendage. The child vows again and again to be done with the paint, but the bare canvas of skin proves to be too much. Oh, the joy there is on our couch when we reach an almost fully painted kid with the exception of the still clean, slightly hard to reach rear end. “Well, I’m such a nut, gonna paint my…”

What?!” interrupts the mother, as she discovers the mess in front of her. How delightful it is to almost nearly yell “Butt!”… but not quite. Resting right on the edge of inappropriateness is far more exciting than just plowing right through the thick of it.

Funny, funny, funny. It’s funny to say ain’t over and over again. It’s funny to watch the dripping messes swirl around the pages. It’s funny to rhyme the parts of the body throughout. It’s a funny book for any kid, especially those kind that battle daily between the rules of the house, and the irresistible temptation to break them – just a tiny bit, or with big, broad brushes. I might just know one of those.

Find these titles at your favorite local independent bookstore. Happy reading! 

(story)time: I Have a Dream

We were in the bookstore on Saturday when the girls spotted this book (with CD) and asked if they could have a copy. E said the cover reminded her of the book Nelson Mandela that is sitting on top of one of the library shelves in her school – and then I made the connection when I saw that the paintings for this book were done by Kadir Nelson. Did you see his cover painting for The New Yorker of Mandela? He also wrote and illustrated the children’s book about Mandela that E was referring to – I really love his work. The paintings in this book give visual references to the day of the speech. On the first page, King’s face is close to the reader, and F asked why there were four microphones in front of him. E told her to wait a minute, and then we turned the page and took in the vast National Mall, with the Lincoln Memorial in the far distance, and the reason for the microphones became clear. After reading it on our own, we could put the CD in and listen to a recording of King’s speech. The entire transcript is in the back of the book.

E’s favorite part of the book is the collage of various mountaintop landscapes that blend into one another, and I have to agree with her. When I think of Kadir Nelson, I think of his stunning portrait work, but when I listen to this speech, it’s the mountaintop imagery that speaks to me. F traced her finger along the changing line of peaks as they rose their way across the page to the “snowcapped Rockies of Colorado”, commenting on how different they all looked. E told her this country is so big that things can look very different depending upon where you are. F added “and sometimes people can too,” tracing her finger along the circle of children on the playground. I suggested that perhaps the really great speeches are the ones that can meet people on their own mountains, and then challenge them to shift their perspectives; “every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low. The rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight”.

This edition of Martin Luther King, Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech contains a CD with a recording of King’s speech and Nelson’s gorgeous paintings.

Find these titles at your favorite local independent bookstore. Happy reading!

(story)time: The Secret Science Project That Almost Ate My School

It’s second semester time and you just might have a science fair project in your near future. In case you are searching around on the internet for project ideas, I thought it might be best to recommend this read first – so you turn a critical eye towards any too-good-to-be-true science fair project kits. It’s The Secret Science Project That Almost Ate My School.

E checked this book out years ago from the library, one book in a stack of others. The night we read it we were hooked, reading it several times over, and then again each night until the books had to be returned. We have since purchased the paperback version, and the other night E chose it from the shelves. Perhaps F has heard it before, but she didn’t remember it, and so we were excited to share.

This is one of those books where the story by Judy Sierra (brilliantly rhyming and slightly dark and extremely hilarious) pairs perfectly with the illustrations by Stephen Gammell. The main character is sitting in class, struggling with her lack of science fair inspiration, while all around her, brilliant classmates are churning out Nobel Prize worthy productions. In a moment of desperation she orders a kit off the internet, barely skimming over the fine print. The box arrives, and it (the contents inside) begins to grow, ingesting pets and then people in its path. Havoc ensues before the mess is finally contained, and then slowly, stickily cleaned up again. It’s one of the funniest books that we own.

I would put this book firmly in the category of ‘Kids Books that Parents Never Tire Of” – an important category indeed, especially since F came home from the library yesterday with an unedited pile of eleven Dora or Diego books. Fabulous.

This book is perfect for kids ages 4-12. Fantastic illustrations, not too terrifying (I mean, the swallowed are eventually set free), and just the right read before you dive into your own project this spring.

Find these titles at your favorite local independent bookstore. Happy reading!