Spreading Joy with Scribble Stones this Perfect Picture Book Friday

While most kids grew up painting pictures on paper, my mother inspired me to paint on other surfaces. I sense some of you envisioning me brushing the walls with my art. You’re not wrong. Sure, I did that. But in my defense, everyone knows that walls set aside for paint or wallpaper are free game for self-expression. There was another surface I liked to paint.

Stones.

Before you envision me leveraging boulders into a wheelbarrow with sturdy sticks, the stones I painted fit on the palm of my hand. My mom showed me how to soak them in sudsy water, scrub off the dirt, dry them, and paint them according to their shape. Think of it as finding animals in the sky when you gaze at clouds. To me, the stones resembled things like ladybugs, sleeping cats, cottages, and hearts. If they didn’t bring anything specific to mind, I painted colorful designs on their surfaces.

Apparently, I’m not the only one who paints stones. Today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday author and illustrator, Diane Alber, wrote a book in which the main character becomes a painted stone.

At the end of this post, I shared photographs of stones painted by my mom when I was a child and stones that my daughter and I painted. I hope you find enough inspiration in this post to set out in search of stones to design with your art.

Title – Scribble Stones

Written and illustrated by- Diane Alber

Suitable for ages – 4  – 8

Topics/theme – Finding a purpose, embracing change, and spreading joy.

Opening – 

This story is about one happy stone,
who was gray and round and rarely alone.
He lived with the others, all stacked in a pile,
and waited calmly with a large, firendly smile.

Synopsis from Amazon HERE. A heartwarming story about a little stone who was able to spread kindness to the world!

This story starts off with a little stone who thinks he will be become something amazing but then soon realizes he had become a dull paper weight. He’s on a mission to become something greater and in the process meets scribble and splatter and they all come up a creative way to bring joy to thousands of people. If you loved I’m Not just a Scribble… then you’ll love Scribble Stones! And you’ll even be inspired to make some scribble stones of your own!

Why do I like this book? The story is about a gray stone that believes his purpose is to make others happy. Being chosen to become a paper weight feels like a mistake. “This just can’t be my skill,” Stone says. But then…he meets some new friends that love to splatter and scribble paper with their bright colors, lines, and designs. It doesn’t take long before Stone realizes how he can make others happy. No spoilers here. You’ll have to read the book to learn his grand plan. Diane Alber’s colorful illustrations are energetic, bold, and extremely playful.

Learn more about Diane Alber HERE.

If you’re interested in painting stones, I included some links to get you ispired and started.

Diane Alber wrote a companion book, Scribble Stones Art Guide: Step by Step Painting Techniques and Tricks HERE.

Pinterest stone painting ideas HERE.

Rock Crafts for Kids HERE.

Many thanks for visiting.

Until next Friday.

Perfect Picture Book Friday Looks at Extra Yarn, plus a little ‘yarn’ of my own.

With my right hand still mending from surgery (and taking longer to function properly than I’d care to wait), I found myself standing in my art room yesterday, looking with longing at my stacks of fabric, piles of paintboxes, jars of paintbrushes, and boxes of fuzzy yarn. Right now, buttoning my shirt or turning a doorknob poses a challenge. (Thankfully, typing is doable.)With creative outlets in mind, the book I chose to share for Perfect Picture Book Friday was published ten years ago and goes along with my desire to knit. Yup! I’m talking about Mac Barnett’s book, Extra Yarn.

But first, a story from my past to pair with my review.

When I was twelve, my mother decided I was old enough to learn how to knit. After receiving a wardrobe of patterned ski sweaters, pants, and jackets for my dolls over the years, I was eager to learn at her side. I watched Mom quickly cast on. My desire to learn grew as her fingers made the needles dance. Shortly, the piece took shape and draped over her hand. Eager to create something equally extraordinary, I took up the knitting needles and tried to duplicate my mother’s movements. Two hours later, you could classify my creation somewhere between a cobweb and a hairball. Mom gave up.

Years later, I passed a yarn shop that advertised Saturday knitting classes for beginners. I decided to give knitting another chance. Since the teacher would be paid to teach me, maybe she’d have more patience…

The process was different from my mother’s. I learned there are many ways to knit, and the method taught in this class made sense. Before long, I knit scarves for my friends, knit and felted purses, house slippers, and stuffed animals, too. My husband, who often sat beside me, surprised me one day.

“I’ve been watching you,” he said, “and I think I know how to knit.”

“Sweetheart,” I said, choking back laughter, “don’t get discouraged if your first attempt looks like a cross between a cobweb and a hairball.” I gave him yarn and a set of knitting needles. He cast on like a pro, and before the week was out, my darling husband had knit himself a beautiful scarf. Quickly bored by basic knitting, he checked out a book from the library and learned how to cable knit and make a sweater.

And now it’s time for my Perfect Picture Book Friday review.

Title – Extra Yarn

Written by- Mac Barnett

Illustrated by- Jon Klassen

Published by- Balzer + Bray,  2012

Suitable for ages – 4  – 8

Topics/theme – Sharing, determination, and friendship

Opening – On a cold afternoon, in a cold little town, where everywhere you looked was either the white of snow or the black of soot from chimneys, Annabelle found a box filled with yarn of every color.

Summary  – With a supply of yarn that never runs out, Annabelle knits for everyone and everything in town until an evil archduke decides he wants the yarn for himself.

Synopsis from Amazon Here Extra Yarn, a Caldecott Honor Book, Boston Globe-Horn Book Award winner, and a New York Times bestseller. It is the story of how a young girl and her box of magical yarn transform a community.

With spare, gently humorous illustrations and a palette that moves from black-and-white to a range of color, this modern fairy tale has the feel of a new classic.

Why do I like this book? 

This is a story about a girl named Annabelle who takes an ordinary box of yarn (Okay, it’s not so ordinary. The magical box holds a never-ending supply of yarn) and does something extraordinary with it, like knitting sweaters for everyone and everything in town. Annabelle isn’t your average character. Instead of allowing the negativity of others to crush her enthusiasm, she stays true to her beliefs, never letting anyone drag her down or steal her joy…even an archduke!

Author – Visit Mac Barnett’s web page here.

Illustrator – Visit Jon Klassen’s here.

Many thanks for visiting.

Until next Friday.

The Monday Poems Embrace the Purification of Gold and Friendship.

Not that many years ago, I hung out with a group of friends in a restaurant. Someone brought up a topic that set off one of the worst, heated debates that threatened to tear us all apart. Two of my friends were on the verge of walking away and never looking back. Every group of friends seems to come with one neutral individual who refuses to take a side, remains quiet, and listens. James was that friend. He interrupted the tense moment to ask us a question.

“Does anyone know how gold is purified?”

The question had nothing to do with what we were arguing over. James had, no doubt, learned this random piece of information, found it fascinating, never knew what to do with it once he had it, but needed to unload it.

We were the chosen ones.

“Gold,” he began, “is filled with impurities. To make it pure, it must enter into a complex process.” His visible passion for this topic held our interest.

What followed sounded like an essay he might have written in college. He listed places around the world where gold is mined, what it looks like in its raw state, and, most importantly, how a refinery removes impurities to transform the raw gold into pure and beautiful metal. What none of us realized was that his topic fit our situation as flawlessly as that purified gold.

Here’s a brief explanation of the purification process he shared with us.

  1. Gold is melted in a furnace.
  2. Chlorine is bubbled through the liquid.
  3. The chlorine attaches to impurities in the gold.
  4. The impurities move toward the top.
  5. Next, they are skimmed off,
  6. Leaving the gold more pure.

“Cool,” someone said, “but what does that have to do with our debate.”

“EVERYTHING,” James replied.

“The purification of gold isn’t different from the journey of a friendship,” he said. “In the beginning, while we’re getting to know each other, we come up against complications that heat us like the first step taken to purify the gold.

We bring our issues into the open, much like the impurities rising to the surface of heated gold. Here, problems must be dealt with. Once we have resolved those problems, we can skim them out, making our friendship more pure and beautiful and more valuable. Work through this moment,” he said. “because friendship is always worth it.” James walked out and left us to finish our debate.

That evening four friends grew closer to each other because of their renewed understanding.

Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

THE ALCHEMY OF FRIENDSHIP

So it begins
with questions and interests,
common ground,
and new ground.
Smooth and perfect,
the path before the friends
meanders around bends,
runs straight, and then
takes a turn.
Without warning,
an object lies in the path
between them,
daring to be touched,
easier to avoid.
One by one,
complications ignite,
and the fire consumes the impurities–
burns them to ashes
they sweep away.
What remains is a friendship that
holds stronger,
and shines
bright and true.

by

Leslie Leibhardt Goodman

Inclusion Meets Perfect Picture Book Friday

I waited on the bleachers, wedged between a competitive jock, an energetic cheerleader, and other eager students to play volleyball. The gym teacher called up two students to be team leaders.

“Take turns,” he said, “calling out the names of the classmates you want on your team.” Without saying these exact words, the basic translation goes something like this… Choose the most popular kids first, and work your way down through the least desirable ones. By the way, this statement isn’t open for debate; it’s a sad fact.

I watched as classmate after classmate dashed down bleachers to stand with their team leader. Soon, I had ample space around me. Space enough to stretch my legs and arms, flail them if I was in the mood, and not touch anyone because I was the only student left, and both teams had a matched number of players. Go ahead and dab at your eyes with the nearest tissue or your sleeve. I’ll wait.

At this point, everyone turned toward the bleachers. Their eyes bored into me as if I were a strange ingredient that would destroy their perfect recipe. Does anyone out there know what it’s like to hear, “We don’t want Leslie on our team!” or “Well, neither do we!” Anyone???

[Okay, straight off, I duck when a ball flies at my head. It’s instinctive. I don’t fight the impulse or make apologies for it. I know I do this, and everyone in my class knew this about me, too.]

The gym teacher, confident I wasn’t the make-it-or-break-it player to help either team win or lose, assigned me to one of the teams. I walked past the cheering group and over to the bunch that couldn’t contain their groans.

As you might have guessed, I ducked when the ball flew at me or sidestepped it every chance I got. In the last minute of the game, when both teams were tied, the opposing team went in for the kill. One of the big guys hefted the ball straight for my head, accompanied by a derogatory remark. I got mad, raised my hands together in a hard fist, and BAM! I scored the point that changed how everyone looked at me.

A bunch of my teammates started swearing in that good way that meant they couldn’t believe what just happened. The teacher shook his head in disbelief. “I didn’t think you had it in you,” he said, writing an A after my name in his grade book.

The takeaway from this story is that the small and meek can make a difference when given a chance (or when angered), which leads me to my second autumn-perfect picture book review of The Littlest Pumpkin.

Title – The Littlest Pumpkin

Written by  –  R.A. Herman

Illustrated by  – Betina Ogden

Published  – Scholastic – 2001

Suitable for ages – 4 to 8.

Topics – Dreams and inclusion

Opening – It was Halloween, and there were 18 pumpkins left at Bartlett’s Farm Stand. The pumpkins looked their very best, because they all wanted to be taken home and made into jolly jack-o’-lanterns.

The Littlest Pumpkin had the biggest dreams of all. She saw herself shining in the dark, with ghosts, monsters, witches, and fairies gathered around her singing a Halloween song. And today was the day when all her dreams were going to come true.

Amazon Review HERE – When Bartlett’s Farm Stand closes for the season, the Littlest Pumpkin, who longs to make someone happy for Halloween, is devastated to be the only pumpkin left, but when a group of mice come along, they make the Littlest Pumpkin the happiest pumpkin in the world!

Why do I like this book? How could I read this book and not connect with the Littlest Pumpkin? Her dreams were just as big and valid as the dreams of the other 17 pumpkins gathered together at Bartlett’s Farm Stand. And despite her wish to be chosen by a child that Halloween, she was passed over again and again until… The heart-hugging ending which I won’t give away. This story offers hope, and proof that dreams can come true.

Learn more about R.A. Herman HERE.

Learn more about Betina Ogden HERE.

I invite you to visit me next week for The Monday Poems.

Leslie