Friday, December 17, 2010

Picture That! Picture Book of the Week

Welcome to the obligatory Holiday edition. 'Tis the season when the Picture Book shelves in stores are overtaken by good cheer, magical snowmen, and Santa, the most loved man in human history. This week, I felt obligated to choose a holiday story. Mostly because I'm pretty much a sucker for a good secular Christmas tale and always have been. But in addition to the holiday nod, I wanted to spread some joy to the neglected genre of Beginning Readers, which in my mind are essentially picture books since the images tell the stories in these books, leaving the text to narrate the action. This week's selection is two gifts in one.

The Littles Have a Merry Christmas
Based on the books by John Peterson
Illustrated by Jacqueline Rogers
(Scholastic 2002)

Adapted from the popular novels from the '70s, this reader visits in on The Littles as they get into the holiday spirit. As a special surprise for their uncle, Tom and Lucy journey to Trash City to bring some of his friends together for Christmas.

The appeal of The Littles stories is same as in stories about fairies. The idea of little people living unseen lives all around us is irresistible. Naturally, the visual interpretation of this world can be equally irresistible. In my opinion this series brings that world to life in a wonderful way. I've always loved Jacqueline Rogers' work. She's done many amazing books in the begging reader genre and there's something about her watercolor style that really reminds me of early elementary school.

Personally, I enjoy the art of writing primers. It's one of the oldest styles of children's writing, using direct sentences with high frequency words to tell a story. Sure, many of them can be dry and dull (I'm talking to you Dick and Jane). But a well written one can be just as fun to read as anything else (I'm talking to you Cat in the Hat). I've written several books in this genre and really enjoy it. There's something special knowing that kids will remember these books for being the first books they read by themselves.


  1. What a fun looking book. Lots of delicate detail.

  2. I was part of the team that oversaw the publishing for a whole bunch of these, I think we did ten or so titles. The illustrator has a really nice touch. And I loved The Littles from my childhood.