Ready to Dream

Ready to Dream by Donna Jo Napoli and Elena Furrrow, illustrated by Bronwyn Bancroft.

Ally and her mother take a trip to Australia together.  Ally carries her backpack filled with art supplies, drawing all that she sees.  At Alice Springs, she meets Pauline, an older Aboriginal woman who is also an artist.  Throughout the month she is there, Ally shares her art with Pauline.  Pauline notices small touches that Ally considers mistakes or accidents.  Pauline shows her how each of these ties into the nature of what she is drawing, more fully expressing it.  As the month progresses, Ally takes more risks with her art, looking for media that will really explore the essence of what she is trying to capture.

I am a fan of books that get children thinking about art, media and expressing themselves in that way.  This book takes it one more level by having Aboriginal artist, Bronwyn Bancroft do the illustrations.  Her art lifts this book to another level, making it mystical, sensual and eye-opening.  Napoli and her daughter, Furrow, have captured that same feeling of freedom and expansiveness in their words that is represented in the illustrations.

Share this book with art teachers, artists and others who will appreciate its take on creativity and connectivity.  Recommended for children ages 5-8.


Trudy by Henry Cole.

Esme’s grandfather takes her to the farm auction where she is going to pick out an animal to take home.  Her grandmother is allergic to feathers, so the ducks, roosters and pigeons are out.  The pigs are too stinky and the cow is too big.  Esme picks out Trudy, a goat who is being given away free at the auction.  Trudy is given a small red barn to live in with her own fenced yard with an apple tree.  Trudy goes out every morning to her favorite spot.  Until one morning when she heads out, smells the air and returns to the barn.  That day, it snowed.  This happens again and again.  Trudy returns to the barn, it snows.  Crowds begin to gather to see the weather-forecasting goat.  But then, Trudy returns to the barn and it doesn’t snow.  What could that mean?

This book has many of the same charms as Cole’s On Meadowview Street.  Cole’s illustrations once again capture a feeling, a setting, a mood.  The setting here is especially clearly done for a picture book, with the feel in each and every picture of modern but small farm life.  The book reads aloud very nicely, with touches of repetition, moments of revelation, and its own pace.  I appreciate a book that shows a child living with her grandparents as matter-of-fact and unexplained.  Just normal and factual. 

This book is a charmer.  You may have to create a goat story time just to share this one.  Oh, and who wouldn’t want to pair it with a very different but equally great goat story – Gregory the Terrible Eater by Mitchell Sharmat.

Waterstone's Children's Book Prize

The Thirteen Treasures by Michelle Harrison has been awarded the Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize.  The prize is meant to recognize new and emerging children’s authors who are writing for ages 7-14.  It is unique because it is decided by booksellers across Britain.  Authors have to have written two fiction titles or fewer; this is Harrison’s debut novel.

Thirteen Treasures will be released in the US in September of this year.