Ballet for Martha shares the story of how dancer Martha Graham, composer Aaron Copland, and architect Isamu Noguchi collaborated to create the renowned dance performance, Appalachian Spring. Readers encounter the entire process of creating Appalachian Spring, from the its origins in Graham's imagination, to its adaptation and expansion in light of Copland's completed score and Noguchi's set design, to the night of the first performance. Greenberg doesn't shy away from portraying collaboration and the process of creating art as difficult. We learn that all of the artists involved in the project struggled to bring the project to life. Despite being 2-D and static, Floca's excellent water color illustrations manage to capture the exuberance of the original performance. Source notes, a bibliography, and biographies of Graham, Copland, and Noguchi are presented at the book's end. An excellent introduction to Appalachian Spring as well as the careers of three indispensable American artists.
A freak accident turns ordinary Kiki Kitty into Fashion Kitty, a superhero dedicated to righting fashion wrongs the world over.
Aimed squarely at the Babymouse demographic, Fashion Kitty's silly humor is likely to win over even the most reluctant reader. The pink and gray color scheme, glittery cover, cartoon illustrations, and girl friendly subject matter will pique young girls' interest, even if they do not usually read graphic novels. Parents and educators will appreciate the "clean" subject matter. The book's length would be perfect for a single Sustained Silent Reading (SSR) session. An eight page panel in the center of the book allowing the reader to mix and match outfits adds interest.
Although not marketed as a "children's album," Natalie's Merchant's 2010 album Leave Your Sleep was inspired solely by poetry written for children or by children. Merchant, who began the project as a way of documenting her "word-of-mouth tradition [...] to delight and teach" her young daughter, collected a diverse set of poems that span several centuries and cultures.While some subject matter might prove too mature, frightening, or dense* for young children, older elementary through high school students should be able to enjoy the album in its entirety. The album would be well used in schools to teach poetry as a genre. Public libraries are advised to add the album to their World or Folk collections and provide metadata that indicates its relation to children's literature. The album consists of two compact discs (1 hour, 53 minutes) along with a companion hardcover book that provides the complete poems and brief author biographies. (iTunes sells the digital edition with a PDF version of the book.)
*"Spring and Fall: to a Young Child" explains death, "The Sleeping Giant" talks about little boys being eaten whole, and "Nursery Rhyme of Innocence and Experience" concerns the inevitable loss of innocence as we age.
An enthusiastic lizard named Max seeks the advice of an artistic lizard named Arthur (whom Max calls "Art") in the hopes of becoming an artist himself. Although at first all is well, Arthur soon finds himself overwhelmed by his quixotic student. The story serves as an allegory for the creative process while serving up a visual tour de force through different illustrative media.
As with Wiesner's other books, narrative is secondary to the illustrations. There is not a plot per se and what plot there is primarily exists as a framework for (very clever) sight gags. The book would be a good starting place for helping children think about the purpose of art, in light of Max and Art's divergent perspectives.
The winner of the 2010 Boston Globe - Horn Book Award, I Know Here is the story of a young girl who will soon move from rural Saskatchewan to Toronto because the dam her father was helping to build has been completed. The girl is scared of moving to a big city where she does not know anyone or anything. To help herself come to terms with leaving, the girl draws a picture of everything she knows and loves about her home. She plans to take this picture with her to Toronto to help her remember.
This touching book will speak to children, even if they aren't familiar with the rural setting described. After all, moving house or traveling far away is a universal theme, no matter where we call home. Although the protagonist is in third grade, the book could appeal to teens as well. The book's small size and longer text make this a better one-on-one read aloud for younger children. James's sketchy, painted illustrations imitate a child's drawing style and are a perfect partner for the text. I Know Here would be a good inspiration for a writing assignment in school classrooms. Using the text as a model, have children describe the sights and sounds that they love on their street. Perhaps they could illustrate their prose.