Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Author/Illustrator Spotlight: Peggy Rathmann

Getting to know Peggy Rathmann's books has been a complete accident. It was a word-of-mouth recommendation that led us to Good Night, Gorilla. That was about a year ago. Two weeks ago, at the library, the boys and I happened to see 10 Minutes Till Bedtime on the shelf. This QUICKLY became a favorite in our house, leading me to look up her other books. I then ordered Officer Buckle and Gloria, sight unseen, because I was hooked. Check these out for yourself!

Good Night, Gorilla - The premise is simple: a zookeeper says good night to the animals in his charge. But the illustrations tell a different story. This book will appeal to any child who has ever left his bed for that of his parents. And it thrills a child's silly side to see zoo animals in that role! Rathmann's illustrations are never as straightforward as they seem. Don't forget to look in the background for some fun details!

10 Minutes Till Bedtime - Rathmann's nearly wordless picture book is the familiar story of a bedtime routine. Only it has the not so familiar element of hamsters joining in the evening rituals! Her illustrations are intensely detailed. The boys and I sit, pouring over the pages, noticing things we haven't seen in the previous 50 reads. 10 Minutes Till Bedtime is highly entertaining in this regard. The hamsters wear numbered shirts and each has an obvious personality. "2" befriends the boy, "7" is a photo bug, and "9" likes high places. Ironically, only the baby of the family, "10", speaks. Other visual elements drive the story and tickle the reader, such as the boy reading the book we are reading! If you get the hard cover version, you are in for a treat, as the endpapers are the photos taken by "7". This book is a fast favorite. (Can you find Gorilla, Officer Buckle, and Gloria among the pages?)

Officer Buckle and Gloria - The wordiest of the three, Rathmann's storyline still depends on the silent story going on in the illustrations. Her use of clever names add to the humor of this sweet and silly story of teamwork and friendship. Ultimately, the "biggest accident ever" leads to the revelation of 'Safety Tip #101: "Always stick with your buddy!"' Once again, the endpapers are a treat.

My next library request? This!

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