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Authors & illustrators

April is a notable month

April has been called the "cruelest month" (what else might one expect from a T.S. Eliot poem entitled "The Waste Land"?) but it is filled with wonderful surprises.

Not only is it month to celebrate poetry (even Eliot would be pleased). Poet Marilyn Singer has a lot to say about poetry and her new form called the "reverso."

Making the world a better place one tree at a time

I get to meet lots of people, travel to distant places, and often learn things I never even thought could be in the least bit interesting. I've just met another intriguing man in a place I've only heard of, and found out about an idea that's working to improve the lives of people who live in arid climates.

Signs of spring

Winter doesn't seem to want to end. March came in with a roar and seems to be leaving with one, too.

Unlike the month that we're having, Marion Dane Bauer's In Like a Lion Out Like a Lamb (Holiday) with Emily Arnold McCully's effervescent wash and line illustrations provides a lively and quite literal look at March's changing weather. You can see the book here.

Coping with disaster

The images from Japan's earthquake and tsunami continue to pour in and over us and there's the specter of further disaster. What can we offer our children to help them cope?

Hope. Hope that the actions of an individual can have a positive impact. Hope that better things will come.

Starting early with science and math

Lots of schools are trying to get children ready for standardized tests. Science and math are usually a focus though the skill and drill approach doesn't do much to cultivate lifelong learners.

Over 100 but still young

This 1984 Pulitzer Prize winner authored more than 40 books. Three of these books were Caldecott Honors. His work has been made into award-winning movies and videos, inspired memorable music, and has become synonymous with childhood.

And because of his lasting contribution — creating books that engage and delight readers of all ages (and especially for what he did for emerging and newly independent readers) — this author/illustrator now has an award named in his honor.

Books + preschoolers = magic

I spent this morning with an astute group of art critics who judiciously examined several picture books, noting specific tools and techniques used by various illustrators. The evaluators were able to gain nuanced meaning from the use of line, color, and even the placement on the page.

Not one of the critics was older than 4 years. You see, I had been invited to a preschool classroom to talk about the Caldecott Medal.

Flat Stanley goes to the gym

A while back, a child mailed a Flat Stanley to me. I took pictures of the intrepid traveler at local landmarks and with college students before mailing the paper thin guy back home.

Even more recently, Flat Stanley made the Sports section of The Washington Post.

Hearts & flowers

It's right around the corner — that lovely touch of color in an otherwise drab winter month: Valentine's Day.

And it's a good excuse for a class party or an extra special reason for a celebration at home.

Making valentines for classmates and family is a fine activity; it can be easy but creative and memorable. (I still have some of the homemade cards that my son gave me over the years and memories of making them with doilies and red construction paper.)

Boys and books

A friend of mine (the assistant director of a premier early childhood program) and I were talking about the key role of books in the schools and the way literature stimulates not only a child's interest in reading but also the family's interest. Books are used to connect children, parents, and the school.

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"There is no substitute for books in the life of a child." — May Ellen Chase