Friday, November 12, 2010

Picture That! Picture Book of the Week

Last week the New York Times released its annual list of Best Illustrated books (you can see them here). In honor of that, this week I wanted to share one of my favorite picture books that was a choice of the New York Times in 1999 and demonstrates an aspect of Picture Books that I haven't discussed yet...the blending of nonfiction facts and whimsical story.

Emeline at the Circus by Marjorie Priceman
(Knopf 1999)

On a trip to the circus with her class, second grader Emeline gets more than a front row seat when she's unsuspectedly snatched into the action by an elephant craving her peanuts.

Emeline's teacher is determined to make the circus a learning lesson for her students. Never glancing up from her book of facts, she reads off information on each new attraction that enters the ring. She's so involved in teaching that she doesn't notice one of her students has become the hilarious star of the show.

The majority of the text consists of facts on popular sights at the circus, covering everything from elephants and tigers to acrobats. What really makes this book special is the story told in the delightful pictures and the interactions between the two. The whole time, the reader feels like he or she is in on the joke with Emeline. There's also a beautiful little message hidden in this interplay; sometimes learning is better done through living.


  1. I just love picture books. You should check out The Carnival of the Animals. Mary GrandPre is the illustrator. Its a poetry book that was written to accompany the orchestra of the same name.

    The kindergartners I have right now LOVE it. Everyday we listen to the poems and the music during snack time. Of course their favorite is the Donkeys (they are naughty and like getting into things) and they have memorized The Lion. Its cute listening to them recite the poem along with the author and its not a short one either.


  2. I've seen that book, it's well done. Though I must confess to not being a fan of her art. However, I am a fan of kids reciting poetry :) I used to read an animal rhymes book a lot to first graders back when I used to volunteer. They also loved it.