Friday, December 7, 2012

Otis and the Puppy

One of my favorite things about NCTE's annual convention is getting down to the exhibits.  Though finding time to get there is challenging, it is interesting to have time to visit the booths of publishers to see what new picture books are on their way to the world.  This year one of my favorite finds was at the Penguin table.  There I found Otis and the Puppy by Loren Long scheduled to arrive on shelves March 12, 2013.

Our class had just read, Otis, before I left for NCTE.  When I arrived with a sneak peek at the newest book about Otis my students were absolutely thrilled.  Young readers enjoy seeing the same character return in new picture books.  My class had fallen in love with Otis in his first book, and couldn't wait to see what adventures were ahead in this new story.

In, Otis and the Puppy, Otis lives happily on a farm where he busily helps the farmer and plays with his friends.  One day the farmer introduces a new puppy to everyone.  The puppy is supposed to be living in his doghouse in the front of the barn, but he is sad and lonely being there all by himself.  Otis the tractor comes quickly to the rescue.  The puppy and Otis become fast friends.

Days later the two are playing hide-and-seek near the woods.  The puppy becomes distracted by a butterfly and is soon lost.  Everyone is looking for the puppy, but he cannot be found.  When night falls, Otis is worried about his friend being out in the dark all alone so he decides to leave the barn to find him.  Will Otis be able to help puppy this time?  Will Otis be able to overcome his own fears of the dark to help his friend?

As you would expect, the illustrations in Long's book complement the story.  Long's story moves from full page illustrations to small scenes arranged within the text.  I always think these small pictures sprinkled within the text move the story along nicely and work well with the longer pauses of larger illustrations.  The way he moves from the bright colorful pictures of two friends playing together to the darker colors of night creates an unsettling feeling as young readers hope these two friends find one another again.

Our class loved this book, and cannot wait until it's March arrival so we can get a copy everyone can check out to read at home.  We also look forward to being able to add it to our Shelfari shelf of books we've read.  (You should have heard the students when the book wasn't even on Shelfari yet.)

A Note:  What?!?!  So I'm busily writing this post and linking to sites when I realize Loren Long has another Otis book recently released.  How did I not know this?  Do I live under a rock?  Anyway, I am on my way to search for a copy.  I think I'll surprise my students with it.  Oh, I can't wait!  #nerdybookclub comment for sure!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Telling Your Story in Pictures: A Visit from Christopher and Jeanette Canyon

"A journal gives us a place to explore our thoughts and develop our ideas in many ways." Christopher Canyon
On Monday illustrators, Christopher and Jeanette Canyon, visited our school to share their work.  It was interesting to get a glimpse into their process and learn about the very different way they both tell stories with pictures.

My students were fascinated by the work of Jeanette.  I think she had them at, "I use kitchen tools to make my illustrations."  Jeanette then showed the students her studio and the myriad of kitchen tools she uses to work with polymer clay.  It was interesting to see how she works with color and shape to create her illustrations.  It was interesting to watch her blend colors, sculpt shapes, and then create a page.

Jeanette Canyon also shared her research process for illustrating her book, Over in the Ocean:  In a Coral Reef.  Since she needed to know about a coral reef to create her illustrations she started by reading.  Then she went to the coral reef to study the creatures that live in this habitat.  She took pictures and then came back to decide how to best make these creatures for the pages of the book.  You can learn more about her process here.

Christopher also shared his work as an illustrator.  He talked about how he uses his notebook to practice his ideas and drawings.  He showed students how he draws a character in many different ways before beginning to work on the pages in a book.  Christopher Canyon, in addition to other work, illustrated a set of books based upon the songs of John Denver.  He talked about how he sketched his pages and using watercolors in his illustrations.  He shared how he experimented with different papers, different types of paints, and different techniques to find the best way to illustrate the books.

The Canyons reminded students to have fun creating and sharing stories.  Reminding students to share stories in all kinds of ways.  My students decided they wanted to add a post about the visit to our class blog.