Featured books by author and illustrator Chris Raschka
Charlie Parker Played Be Bop
Inspired by jazz great Charlie Parker, rhythm and repetition are woven together to create a musical effect. Animated watercolors and lively text combine in a story that begs to be read aloud.
Crabby Crab is not happy with its claws or legs — but "we love you just the way you are, even when you're crabby!" Readers will also appreciate the title character's silly ideas in Cowy Cow. Childlike humor in simple text and line and wash illustrations on colored pages are used in the appealing "Thingy Thing" series.
Daisy Gets Lost
The small, slightly frumpy but charming dog named Daisy is separated from her mistress when she chases her blue ball (acquired in A Ball for Daisy). Few words are needed to communicate their concern as they search for one another clearly seen in the expressive wash illustrations.
Everyone Can Learn to Ride a Bicycle
Learning to ride a bike requires lots of practice and perhaps even more encouragement as the girl and her father (or grandfather?) demonstrates. Open, animated illustrations combine with textual reassurances to the child, memorably presenting this recognizable experience.
Five for a Little One
Introduce children to the five senses in this delightfully offbeat book, with a flop-eared bunny as your guide. Snappy, rhythmic language and expressive, jaunty illustrations create a book ideal for sharing.
Hip Hop Dog
A mutt tells reveals a "doggy allegory" and how he went from "the saddest and the baddest" to being a hip hop dog. Jazzy language swirls around and with fresh, loose art to create a sense of music in many forms. While rappers may just call it 'freestyle,' this zippy book is howling good fun.
John Coltrane's Giant Steps
"Giant Steps," the music piece written by John Coltrane is performed by "a box, a snowflake, some raindrops and a kitten." Color and line bring the sounds of music to paper in a sophisticated, jazzy, and intriguing visualization of music, mood, and a jazz great.
Vibe, rhythm, beat! There have been many tributes to the great jazz composer and performer Thelonious Monk, but none so arresting and surround-sound-appealing as this small, unassuming book.
The Purple Balloon
"Dying is hard work." It's hard for friends and family when an older person dies, but it's even harder when it's a child. Inspired by staff at Children's Hospice International, this simple yet expressive look at death and dying in which balloons are the characters, concludes that "good help [family, friends, teachers, doctors, etc.] makes dying less hard" and could provide a way to talk about it with children and those around them.
Two boys meet and develop a friendship. Readers will gain meaning and be able to read expressively from the animated presentation (in typeface and color as well as placement) of simple words which are ideal to read aloud in tandem. (Children can describe not only plot but attributes — characteristics and characterization — of the 2 boys. A discussion of language and how we greet our friends as well could take this into a social skills direction.)
Books illustrated by Chris Raschka
A Child's Christmas in Wales
First published in book form in 1954, this haunting memoir of the poet's childhood Christmases is back in a well-designed package. Creating the art with ink and gouache on torn and textured paper, Raschka reflects the spirit of this read-aloud favorite without always adhering literally to descriptions in the text. Appearing on nearly every page, the pictures are alight with color and express an almost musical sense of movement.
A Poke in the I: A Collection of Concrete Poetry
In this creative collection, words are used as objects to create images — both on the page and in the reader’s mind. These literal representations make poetry and imagery accessible even to very young children.
A Song About Myself
Spritely, translucent watercolors jaunt across the pages of a poem by romantic poet, John Keats. The nonsensical adventure begins: “There was a naughty Boy,/A naughty boy was he,/he would not stop at home,/He could not quiet b—“ and ends with the boy still a’wondering. This poem was written by — and about — Keats in a letter to his sister as he traveled, now illustrated and presented for others to delight in its fancy.
Happy to Be Nappy
Exuberant language and jaunty illustrations seem to jump off the pages to celebrate "girlpie" hair, soft and billowy. With encouraging individuality, these girls love and accept themselves just the way they are.
If You Were a Dog
Effervescent language and lively illustrations ask readers what kind of dog, cat, fist, bird, bug, frog, or dinosaur they’d be — but since they are not, they can "arrooo! like a dog, hiss! like a cat," or even "chomp, stomp, roar! like a dinosaur" in this playful, imaginative book.
Little Treasures: Endearments from Around the World
Journey around the globe to learn some of the affectionate names children are called. The terms appear in English and the native language (with pronunciation provided) accompanied by charming illustrations that suggest cultural diversity.
Peter and the Wolf
The symphonic story of a boy who captures a wolf and saves his fowl friend is told as a stage play. Energetic illustrations enhance the vivacious language and its satisfying, albeit slightly altered ending (the wolf goes to a zoo); engaging with or without music.
Sourpuss and Sweetie Pie
Grandparents love their grandchildren no matter what mood they're in — sweetie pie or sourpuss. This charming sequel to Juster's The Hello, Goodbye Window (with Raschka's lively illustrations once again) perfectly captures the mercurial nature of a young child.
The Death of the Hat: A Brief History of Poetry in 50 Objects
An introduction presents an overview of the collection's unique perspective: poetry from different historical periods connected by poems about objects. A range of poets and places are presented, each illustrated by loose watercolor illustrations. An opening poem by Eloise Greenfield entitled "Things" provides a lively start to this appealing collection.
The Genie in the Jar
A mother encircles her daughter like a bottle around a genie, and teaches her the craft of weaving and the world of possibilities before letting her out on her own. The lyrical poetry envelops the reader like the mothers arms, and offers gentle protection and loving support.
The Hello, Goodbye Window
The window at Nanna and Poppy's house looks like a regular window, but it's really a doorway to the child's world and a celebration of the special bond between grandparents and grandchildren. Celebrate family with this 2006 Caldecott Medal-winning book.
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