Books We Love: The Noisy Paint Box

Noisy Paint Box Book CoverThe Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky’s Abstract Art by Barb Rosenstock is about the artist Vasily Kandinsky, or Vasya as he is known in the book. When young Vasya is given a box of paints by his aunt, the paints began to hiss and sing when mixed together! Vasya’s reserved family never knew what his paintings were supposed to look like (was it a house or a flower?), but to Vasya it wasn’t representation, it was about the music that the combinations and arrangements of different colors made. Vasya eventually uses his talents and creativity to paint the first completely abstract painting. It is thought that Kandinsky had synesthesia, a rare condition where the senses are blended, which is why he could hear the colors. Kandinsky turned this possible challenge into a gift which gave him unique perspective on his art.

Throughout the book, Vasya tries to do everything that is proper and expected of him, but in the end he listens to the sound of paints and follows his dream. This book is a great conversation starter for a variety of different topics, such as taking chances, the senses and abstract art. Continue reading

2015 Missouri Building Block: Down By the Barn

Down By the Barn bookIn “Down by the Barn” by Will Hillenbrand, a dog happily drives a clunky blue tractor around a farm. Hitched to the tractor are two wagons, which the dog uses to collect a scarecrow and an array of baby farm animals. When the wagons are packed full of critters, the dog makes a stop at a school bus full of excited children. The story ends on a sweet note, with the scarecrow reading a book aloud, sharing a story with all of the children and animals.

The text is simple and contains repetitive phrases (Puff puff, clank, clank, moo, moo, and OFF WE GO!), adding new sounds to the end of each phrase as baby animals hop into the wagon. “Down By the Barn” is bursting with cheery art and onomatopoeic text that begs to be orated by all, making it a wonderful read aloud.

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2015 Missouri Building Block: Hooray for Hat!

Hooray for Hat bookHooray for Hat!” is a fun, brightly colored picture book that follows animal friends as they go from being grumpy to being happy, all thanks to wonderful hats! The simple text and the animals’ facial expressions let us clearly know the animals’ moods throughout the book. Brian Won, both the illustrator and author, begins the book with a gray elephant waking up grumpy. What will change his mood!? Why, a stack of fun hats of course! Elephant then wants to show his friends his hats and share the joy.

As a gal who hosts lots of story times, I think this book is fantastic! It’s perfect as a read-aloud, boasting large bright illustrations, simple text and the message that it’s the little things in life that can brighten a grumpy mood. Continue reading

2015 Missouri Building Block: This Book Just Ate My Dog

This Book Just Ate My DogIn “This Book Just Ate My Dog” by Richard Byrne, a girl named Bella takes a walk with her dog. During their walk, her dog disappears into the gutter of the book (the center seam where the pages come together). Friends and various vehicles come to the rescue only to be eaten by the book.  Bella goes in after them but then sends out a note to the reader asking for some help. Continue reading

“Mix It Up” With Interactive Picture Books

Hervé Tullet, author of the 2012 Building Block Award Winner “Press Here,” has written and illustrated a new book that is a must-read for families who love to break out the paints and get creative.

Mix It Up” is an imaginative exploration of color and creativity that follows the pattern of “Press Here” with an interactive story and simple, colorful illustrations. Readers learn to mix different paints to create new colors, dabbing a bit here and splattering a bit there to bring a new masterpiece to life. Continue reading