Selfless Acts of Kindness Come to Perfect Picture Book Friday.

Carmine the Crow has been a favorite picture book of mine for years. I find hope, not in the largest part of the story, but in the book’s heart-hugging ending. The story introduces us to an ordinary crow by the name of Carmine who, like other crows, lives in a tree and feels a strong attraction to objects with a glint or a glimmer.  However, Carmine’s extraordinary heart is revealed when he saves the life of a swan and is rewarded with a rare gift for his kindness.

Carmine the Crow

As is true for all literary characters, when given the gift of something astonishing or when placed in a stressful situation, their true nature is revealed by their actions, words, and choices. The gift the swan gives to Carmine is a small box filled with ancient stardust–powerful enough to make any wish come true.   Any wish.    Instead of using the powers of the stardust to grant his own impossible wishes, Carmine sacrifices his dreams to help others. He gives away pinch after pinch of the sparkling stardust until he has no more to offer, not even to himself.

Carmine the Crow-2

With all the compassion both words and illustrations can hold, Heidi Holder delivers an unforgettable ending as brilliant and promising as the magic stardust.

Title – Carmine The Crow

Written and illustrated by- Heidi Holder

Published by- Farrar, Straus and Giroux – 1992

Topics – Selfless acts of kindness, friendship, and dreams.

Opening – Carmine the Crow was a very old crow and he lived in a very old tree. He loved to collect shiny objects and had masses of glittery things in his attic: thimbles, beads, keys, anything with a glint of a glimmer. He was especially fond of his tinfoil collection.

Find the book, Carmine The Crow, on Amazon HERE.

Learn More about Heidi Holder HERE.

Interesting facts about crows HERE.

Until next Friday.

Let’s Be Honest this Perfect Picture Book Friday.

I finished my writing day and headed into the kitchen toward the whirring sound of the blender.

“If that’s a banana smoothie,” I asked my daughter, “I’ll take some… If you made enough.” 

“It’s not a smoothy,” she said.

I closed in on the blender and examined the milky, chunky, pulpy contents. “What IS that?”

She gave the contents another pulse. “I’m making homemade paper.” 

“I don’t think so,” I said. “I made paper years ago, AND I visited a paper mill when I was a kid. Trust me when I say you’re not making paper. Try adding more water. And by the way, are you using my special paper making screen?”

“No, it was too small, I needed something lots bigger.” She led me outside.

Gasp! “WHERE DID YOU GET THAT BIG SCREEN?”

“The living room window,” my daughter said, as if it were the obvious choice.

“Ingenious.” I forced a smile and reminded myself that she was exploring exciting, creative outlets while hoping I was winning a heap of “cool mom” points for staying calm. 

“So,” I asked, “what kind of paper did you shred to make the pulp?”

“My homework,” she replied.

And, this moment of honesty leads me to today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday review about a little boy named Ping who discovers that telling the truth brings great rewards.

Title – The Empty Pot

Written and illustrated by – Demi

Published by – Henry Holt – 1990

Suitable for ages – 4-8

Topics/Theme –  honesty, courage, and rewards

Opening – A long time ago in China, there was a boy named Ping who loved flowers. Anything he planted burst into bloom. Up came flowers, bushes, and even big fruit trees, as if by magic!

Amazon Review – The Empty Pot is Demi’s beloved picture book about an honest schoolboy

A long time ago in China, there was a boy named Ping who loved flowers. Anything he planted burst into bloom.

The Emperor loved flowers too. When it was time to choose an heir, he gave a flower seed to each child in the kingdom. “Whoever can show me their best in a year’s time,” he proclaimed, “shall succeed me to the throne!”

Ping plants his seed and tends it every day. But month after month passes, and nothing grows. When spring comes, Ping must go to the Emperor with nothing but an empty pot.

Demi’s exquisite art and beautifully simple text show how Ping’s embarrassing failure is turned triumphant in this satisfying tale of honesty rewarded.

Why do I like this book? I couldn’t be more impressed with Ping’s strength of character. When his efforts to grow a beautiful flower from the emperor’s seed lead to failure, Ping acts with honor. He gathers up his strength, stands before the emperor with his empty pot of soil, and confesses. One of the first lessons I taught my daughter was to accept full responsibility for her actions, which she clearly did while making paper the other day… And, instead of getting upset, I helped her make finer pulp and praised her amazing results. And the living room screen? It’s shot.

Learn about Demi HERE. (It’s quite impressive!) 

Until next Friday (or sooner when I share my second post for “The Monday Poems.”)

A Dash of Heartache this Perfect Picture Book Friday

For my memory that ties into today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday review, you’ll be traveling back with me five years to an art store in an unnamed town, in a state that shall remain nameless to conceal the identity of my irksome shopping companion.

But first… a necessary fact for the story: I have loved to create art since I could hold a paintbrush.

I credit much of my passion for art to my mom who was a scientific illustrator for the Field Museum in Chicago. The moment I showed an interest in drawing, Mom taught me how to hold a pencil, how to angle it to thicken the lines, how to alter my pressure to change the intensity. I branched out from painting and drawing to sculpting and printmaking and photography. I have a small room set aside just for art that is draped and stuffed with folded fabrics, pans of paint, ceramic jars of brushes, stacks of art books, and one comfy chair by the window for dreaming.

Let’s return to the art store in that unnamed town, in a state that shall remain nameless…

While out on a walk, I noticed a quaint art store. The colorful window display seemed to whisper, “Leslieeeeeeeee, come inside. We have many, pretty art supplies…” I crossed the street with my disinterested companion and stepped inside the magical (to me) store. Sheets of marbled papers lay lose upon a table, showing off their colors and patterns like the fanned tail of a peacock. Paintbrushes and pads of watercolor paper full of promise beckoned to me. I didn’t have the money for much, but I did have enough to bring home a few irresistible treasures. I carried my items toward the cash register and dreamed about the next piece of art I would create. Soon, my shopping companion came over, looked at the items I held, and said in a cold tone…

“What do you need that stuff for?”

I explained about the imaginative art I hoped to create and received this comment…

“What are you going to do with it when you’re done? It’ll just clutter up your place.”

I looked at the items I had treasured a moment earlier. Suddenly, they no longer brought me happiness. If I bought them, each time I held them, they would remind me of this moment. I put back the watercolor block, the paintbrush with bunny-soft bristles, and the small spool of blue, silk ribbon, and left the store. When my companion expressed great pleasure that I hadn’t wasted my money. Something broke inside of me.

A long time passed before I picked up my favorite paintbrush again. That day I experienced a jolt of pure joy and decided no one would ever steal happiness from me again.

Time for the picture book review I promised you.

Title – The Room of Wonders

Written and illustrated by – Sergio Ruzzier

Published by – Francis Foster Books – Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, New York 2006

Suitable for ages – 3-7

Topics/Theme –  collections, confidence, and inner happiness.

Opening – Pius Pelosi was a packrat, and he collected things. On long walks through the forest, he found twisted roots, interesting twigs, leaves, feathers, and sometimes a skin left behind by a snake.

Amazon Review – Pius Pelosi, a young pack rat, is a born collector who fills a
room with his marvelous findings, attracting curious visitors. His very favorite item, a plain gray pebble, is given a place of honor, which baffles everyone. They all ask why he would keep such an ordinary stone. Bowing to public opinion, Pius gets rid of it, but in doing so, he discovers he’s lost much more than just the pebble.

Why do I like this book? At the moment when Pius, the main character, hears the harsh words against his most prized treasure and throws out his entire collection, no one cheered louder during the story’s applause-worthy climax than me. I hope that children, listening to this story, will learn the value of standing up for what they love, believe in, or treasure. Hopefully, they will never allow the negative opinions of others to overshadow their precious feelings.

Learn about Sergio Ruzzier HERE.

I’m adding something new to my blog this Monday. I hope you’ll follow along to find out what it is. 

Take care.

Take Time to DREAM Today at Perfect Picture Book Friday.

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday! The topic today is dreaming.

I was five years old in this memory, sitting at my desk in Mrs. Nelson’s kindergarten class, letting my imagination control my crayon as I colored my picture. That part of the school day fell someplace between Reading and Gym class. The noisy room grew still, and I was grateful that my classmates had all settled into their own art projects so I could color in peace and quiet.

Sunshine found my desk and lit my art in warmth. As I scribbled in the outline of my father’s trousers and my mother’s dress, Mrs. Nelson broke the silence.

“Leslie! what are you still doing here?” Continue reading