Posted in picture books

Magnificent Creatures: Animals on the Move!

Magnificent Creatures: Animals on the Move!, by Anna Wright, (July 2018, Faber & Faber), $17.95, ISBN: 9780571330683

Ages 5-10

If you have readers who love beautiful illustration, this is a book for them (and you). Anna Wright’s Magnificent Creatures: Animals on the Move is all about beautiful design and illustrating movement and texture. Featuring 12 animals, from sea turtles and springboks, to Monarch butterflies and fireflies, each spread contains a brief explanatory paragraph on each animal, but the real star is the pen and ink illustration, enhanced with textiles to create stunning art. Springboks roam the African plains with striped and floral fabric bodies; checkered, chevroned, and polka dotted zebras spread out in search of food. Southern Carmine bee-eaters have a hint of gold crowning their feathered heads, and fireflies dance with gold leaf wings.

The art is beautiful and begs kids to use their own imagination, plus any scrapbooking paper, fabric, yarn, or ribbon you may have in your craft boxes, to create animals of their own. Could be a fun Summer Reading challenge! The text is easy to read and would be a nice, eye-catching addition to an animal storytime. There are some great, unique facts about each animal, too: every zebra’s stripe pattern is unique, like a human fingerprint; herring can swim in a school of up to 3 billion!

Pair this one with Helen Aphornsiri’s Drawn from Nature to let readers explore nature through artwork – from nature. Pair paper with leaves, flowers, sticks, and fabric to come up with 2-D and 3-D creations. Let your minds run wild! Get some more inspiration from Anna Wright’s website.

Posted in Preschool Reads

Pepper’s perfect pattern

A Pattern for Pepper, by Julie Kraulis, (Aug. 2017, Tundra Books), $16.99, ISBN: 978-1101917565

Recommended for ages 4-8

A young girl needs a dress for a very special occasion; her mom takes her to a dressmaker to have one specially made, and together, Pepper and the dressmaker search through patterns until they find the perfect one for Pepper’s dress.

This fun story about the search for a perfect fabric pattern also provides some background on patterns both popular and exotic; from Houndstooth to Ikat, Seersucker to Argyle, Pepper relates each pattern’s history to her own life: Seersucker, for instances, comes from the Persian words for milk and sugar, to describe the bumpy textures; Pepper prefers her tea strong, without milk or sugar, so she passes. When she finally finds her perfect pattern, the dressmaker allows her to help out, and we get a glimpse at the pattern-making process; pieces pinned onto fabric to be cut out and sewn together. Pepper’s dress is done, and we learn the special occasion: tea with her grandmother, who is wearing a dress made from her own perfect pattern.

The oil and graphite art, rendered on board, gives a textured feel to the story. Subdued colors make this a relaxing read, and visuals related to each pattern’s history – a bagpiper for Tartan, a hound and his Houndstooth-wearing master, a photograph of Pepper’s grandmother in her Dotted Swiss wedding dress – are superimposed over each fabric, provide further meaning and connection to each pattern’s history.

This is a sweet, beautifully rendered book about fashion and history, and a loving multigenerational tale, woven through the main story.  Extend a storytime by adding a textile component; bring in different fabrics to have kids look at, touch, and identify, like cotton t-shirts, fake fur, wool, and denim; if you have any patterned fabric, bring them in to let the kids get an up-close look at them, too, and ask them what patterns are familiar to them.