A Gift of Nothing

It’s almost Christmas!!! What will you be finding under your Christmas tree? Exactly what you always wanted? A surprise? Christmas is full of Wonder and Mystery. It’s all a little beyond my small canine brain, but I know that it’s a time of year full of excitement and activity. There is tension in the air all around. Some good and some not so good. The Mom Person always seems to be scurrying around here and there. The house fills with boxes and paper and gifts and cards and all kinds of Christmassy stuff all over the house. We see a lot more of the mail lady, bringing packages and more packages. It all makes my head spin. I want to tell everyone to slow down and chill!! Settle. Like my Mom Person is always saying to Electra. Just settle. Quiet.

I shared a couple of little quiet books with some 2nd graders recently. It was a nice quiet morning listening to happy voices. Both books are by Mr Patrick McDonnell. He, and the characters in these books are quite famous in the funny papers. You might have seen his comic strip – MUTTS. It’s a favorite around here. And Mr McDonnell has created several fabulous picture books as well. I have mentioned a couple of them HERE and HERE.

IMG_1953First book up is
MUTTS
A Shtinky Little Christmas
by Patrick McDonnell

Published by Andrews McMeel in 2012

This is a very small book – as you might can tell from the pictures. My Mom Person has a big thing for little books. This one is written much like a comic strip. It’s a story about the stars of the MUTTS comic strip, Earl – a dog, and his best friend, Mooch – a cat. In this tale, Mooch finds a new friend in the garbage can. A little lost kitty. They decide to call the kitty Shtinky Puddin and they go in search of the owner. When it starts to snow, they all three head back to Mooch’s house. Much mayhem ensues after this. They all get lost in a blizzard and found by SANTA!! Then the owner is found and rewards are rewarded and everyone lives happily ever after!

IMG_1954It’s a heart-pounding tale! With tension and mystery and OH My! what is going to happen?! All in this tiny little book! It’s all about being a good friend and taking care of each other. It’s a lovely tale with a big heart. A Christmas tale of giving and loving.

IMG_1950The 2nd book is
The Gift of Nothing
by Patrick McDonnell
published by Little, Brown and Company in 2005

It’s a special day. It might be Christmas, or a birthday, or Wednesday. We just are told that it’s a special day. And Mooch wants to give his best friend Earl a gift. But Earl already has everything that he needs. What do you get someone who has everything?! That can be a big problem.

IMG_1951Mooch decides that if Earl has everything – Mooch will get him Nothing! And he goes in search of Nothing, which is actually very hard to find! His pursuit is quite hilarious and profound. But eventually he gets a big box and fills it with Nothing and presents the present to Earl. Earl is quite surprised by all his Nothing!! So now they both have Nothing except their friendship. And that is Everything! I don’t think my little readers quite “got” this story, but they thought it was kind of funny and cute. I thought it was brilliant!!

So, you should go check out both of these little books and spend some of your holiday time doing Nothing with your family and friends. Taking some time to be still and quiet.

And here’s a little treat for you – It seems that The Gift of Nothing has been made into a play!! How cool is that! And if you happen to be in New York you can go see it at the Kennedy Center! Right now!!

Here’s a little preview for you –

 

 I hope that you find a bit of Nothing under your tree this Christmas!
Your wishful friend
Rhythm
Copy of img311

Gone to the Apes

As you may (or may not) know, I have a particular fondness for Apes. Gorillas in particular. My sleeping buddy when i was a wee pup was a cuddly gorilla who kept me safe at night.

IMG_3871I have talked about apes and ape books on several occasions. HERE. and HERE. and HERE. and HERE. One of my most favorite author/illustrators is Mr. Anthony Browne who is quite famous for his depictions of apes. Do you know the difference between apes and monkeys? Apes don’t have tails!

IMG_6017Today for Perfect Picture Book Friday, I have two, yes TWO, Perfect Picture Books about Apes. One is non-fiction and one is considered fiction but is actually a biography. I get so confused about these things sometimes!

IMG_6020APE
by Martin Jenkins
illustrated by Vicky White
published by Candlewick Press in 2007
a non-fiction book about the five great apes
suitable for pre-school and up

It begins —
There are five kinds of great apes in the world.
Each of them is different from the others …
but not so very different.
They’re all part of the same family.

Mr Jenkins goes on to tell us about the great apes of the world. The Orangutan of Borneo and Sumatra, the Chimpanzee of central and west Africa, the Bonobo of central Africa, the Gorilla of central Africa, and ….. Humans who are found all over the world.

Mr Jenkins tells us about each ape family’s habitat and habits, what they eat, and what their personalities are like. This is all accompanied by the most unbelievably beautiful artwork by Ms White. Publisher’s Weekly says about these illustrations – “White makes an intense emotional connection between subject and reader. …. The great apes have found their John Singer Sargent.”

IMG_6019At the back of the book is a world map showing where the Great Apes are found, and links to some conservation organizations who are working to save the great apes.

This is a most incredible book! You can read Publishers Weekly’s review HERE.

IMG_6021Me … Jane
by Patrick McDonnell
published by Little Brown and Company in 2011
a fictional biography of Jane Goodall – champion of chimpanzees
suitable for pre-school and up

It begins —
Jane had a stuffed toy chimpanzee named Jubilee.
She cherished Jubilee and took him everywhere she went.
And Jane loved to be outside.

This is an exquisitely joyful look at Jane Goodall as a wee young girl. She spends her time immersed in the world around her. She is a watcher of nature – the plants and animals that fill her habitat. She studies and keeps detailed notes in her journals. Jane reads about Tarzan of the Apes and dreams of being in Africa herself living a life “with, and helping, all animals.” And Jubilee is with her always.

IMG_6018The illustrations in this book are the cute, sweet pictures that Mr McDonnell is famous for. But there are also some of Jane’s own artwork from her journals. And pages of subtle realistic nature pictures.
At the back of the book is a brief biography about Ms Goodall and links to her websites. You can get to those HERE. and HERE. There is also a message from Ms Goodall herself.

Besides learning about chimpanzees at Ms Goodall’s website, you can find more about gorillas at the Gorilla Organization. More about orangutans at the Orangutan Foundation. More about Bonobos at the Bonobo Conservation Initiative.

Here is a link to some activity sheets and a cool gorilla mask.
A great lesson plan about apes with crafts and activities can be found HERE.

And now you might want to visit Susanna Hill’s blog where you’ll find a great list of Perfect Picture Books and helpful resources to go with.

Ms Jane Goodall recently celebrated her 80th birthday. Here is a video tribute to her —

Now go out and do something good for your neighborhood!

Your ape watching friend
Rhythm
Copy of img311

Art Loves Art!!!

Since I’m on kind of an artsy roll right now, I thought I would share with you a magical book called ART by Patrick McDonnell. Mr McDonnell is also the creator of the comic strip “Mutts”. He is a very clever gentleman.

IMG_5765ART was published in 2006 by Little, Brown and Co. It is suitable for every age. It has 39 pgs. and 154 words. Very sparse, but lots of art! And Walker thinks the art looks very much like his art! Walker loves this book. He likes a book that is mostly pictures.

Art is a little boy who loves art. He spends all his time drawing and painting and doodling. He paints zigs and zags and scribbles and squiggles. Dots of all colors and splotches and blotches and curly cues. He is a busy, imaginative boy.

IMG_5766

This is a book about the pure joy of creation. What makes art art? Perfect lines and dots? Or chaotic splatters and splotches? Is art in the eye of the beholder or the brush ( or tail!) of the artist? This is a simple little book with some big thoughts to ponder. It is a real treasure!

Now go pull out your paints and brushes and have some fun! Have a party! Create some fabulousness!  And check out ART! You’ll be glad you did!