Local Teachers Create Original Book and Puppet Play

Local Teachers Create Original Book and Puppet Play: The Hollyhock Dream

Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner School early childhood teachers (L-R) Beth Oakley, Jo Valens, Trice Atchison, Michelle Kuzia and Somer Serpe, with their original storybook of The Hollyhock Dream, to be performed as a puppet play Saturday, March 15, 11am at Mason Library in Great Barrington.

Early childhood teachers from the Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner School have created an original story book, The Hollyhock Dream, about a girl and her little brother who venture through the forest in search of the flower their mother dreams will make her well. The fairy tale debuted as a puppet play at the school’s Holiday Handcraft Fair in November, and teachers will perform it again for the community at Mason Library in Great Barrington, Saturday, March 15, 2014, at 11:15am.

The Hollyhock Dream was written by teachers Trice Atchison, Beth Oakley and Jo Valens. “We went to a workshop led by author and storyteller Nancy Mellon last spring and, as part of the evening, wove together a story on the spot,” says parent-child teacher Trice Atchison. “We were so inspired by the process, we decided to collaborate on a new fairy tale puppet play.”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Writing a new story allowed the teachers to consider themes such as how there can be more than one right way to a destination—sometimes with the least likely person leading the way; how benevolent help can show up during moments of confusion; and how the natural world is full of wonders, including plants that heal…  Read the rest of this entry »

12 Picture Books to Celebrate Chinese New Year

Oprn Drdsmr: Kid Lit Musings and Review by Cheli Mennella

A Dozen By Demi: Books to Celebrate Chinese New Year

A recurring subject Demi's large body of work is that of ancient China. Many of her books are steeped in Chinese art, history, folklore, and tradition. Here are a dozen titles written and illustrated by Demi that celebrate Chinese culture.

With over 140 children’s books published to her name, the author/illustrator known simply as Demi has given readers dozens of stories to savor over the years. From the many picture book biographies she has created to the retellings of different cultural folktales, Demi provides a visual feast every time. Her authentic and original work shows a reverence toward her material and strives to uncover universal truths in both stories and pictures. Her books are not only good reads but also leave you with something to ponder.

Demi has a distinct artistic style, characterized by vivid color, exquisite detail, and the use of gold leaf, which makes the illustrations glitter and shine and imbibes them with a kind of magic. Tiny, lively figures populate her books, and intricate patterns, often resembling rich brocade, adorn clothing, furniture, buildings, even the end papers.

She is said to use the “four Chinese treasures” in every book: Chinese paintbrush, ink, ink-stone, and paper. Her commitment to traditional methods and materials is evident in The Dragon’s Tale. On the copyright page she wrote about the colors used in mixing her paints, and how “To all, powdered jade was added for good fortune!” She also noted, “The brushes were made of sheep, rabbit, goat, weasel, and wolf hairs picked in autumn for pliancy. A brush of one mouse whisker was used for extremely delicate work. Changes were made by applying the juice of the apricot seed.”

A recurring subject in her large body of work is that of ancient China. Many of her books are steeped in Chinese art, history, folklore, and tradition. Here are a dozen titles written and illustrated by Demi that celebrate Chinese culture. Happy New Year! Kung-Hsi Fa-Ts’ai!

The Dragon’s Tale and Other Animal Fables of the Chinese Zodiac   — Twelve fables rendered within circular motifs tell stories about the animals of the Chinese zodiac. Each fable leaves the reader with a morsel of wisdom to chew on. (Published by Henry Holt & Co., 1996.)

Happy, Happy Chinese New Year!  —  A simple, but charming introduction to the rituals and ideas behind Chinese New Year, from the last fifteen days of the old year spent cleaning and preparing to the first fifteen days of the new year spent celebrating. (Published by Crown Books for Young Readers, 2003.)

Happy New Year! Kung-Hsi Fa-Ts’ai!  —  A look at the traditions, zodiac, symbols, and foods associated with Chinese New Year, and illustrated with vibrant double page spreads. More information than her other new year book, but this edition is harder to find. (Published by Dragonfly Books, 1999.)

The Boy Who Painted Dragons  —  Ping paints dragons all over his house, not because he loves them, but because he is scared of them. The Heavenly Dragon gives Ping three pearls of wisdom. But in order to gain the wisdom of dragons, Ping must confront his greatest fears. (Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2007.)

The Girl Who Drew a Phoenix —  When Feng Huang  attempts to draw a phoenix to attain its magical powers, she is met with ridicule. The Queen Phoenix intervenes, however, and sends Feng Huang on a journey to discover powers that enable her to draw a phoenix that comes to life off the page. (Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2008.)

The Empty Pot  —  In order to choose his successor, an emperor challenges every child to grow the most beautiful flower from the seed he gives to them. Not one flower impresses the emperor. It is Ping’s empty pot which holds the truth. (Published by Henry Holt & Co., 1990.)

The Greatest Power  —  Young emperor Ping sends the children of his kingdom on a year-long quest to find the greatest power in the world. At the end of the year, children present Ping with money, weapons, beauty, and technology, but none are as great as the tiny gift a young girl gives to the emperor. (Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2004.)

The Legend of Lao Tzu and The Tao Te Ching  —  An artistically stunning introduction to the legendary Chinese figure, Lao Tzu, accompanied by twenty verses from the Tao Te Ching. (Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2007.)

Su Dongpo: Chinese Genius —  With rich and elaborate illustrations, Demi tells the story of the 11th century Chinese genius, Su Dongpo, whose many talents include being a great statesman, poet, philosopher, painter, architect, engineer, and humanitarian.Lee & Low Books, 2006. (Published by Lee & Low Books, 2006.)

The Magic Pillow  —  Based on a Chinese folktale about a boy who is given a magic pillow able to grant his wishes for fame, power, and wealth. But after a night of sleeping on the magic pillow, the boy is grateful for his humble life. (Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2008.)

The Emperor’s New Clothes  —  A retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale, set in old, provincial China. An emperor who loves to dress in new clothes is shown who is clever and who is a fool when he walks into the province wearing what he believes are magical robes. (Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2000.)

Liang and The Magic Paintbrush  —  Liang, who longs to paint, finds a magic paintbrush which can bring his subjects to life. When the greedy emperor tries to use the brush to paint treasures for himself, the magic fails, giving Liang a chance to free himself and oust the emperor forever. (Published by Henry Holt & Co., 1980.)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Cheli Mennella

Cheli has been involved with creative arts and education for most of her life, and has taught many subjects from art and books to yoga and zoology. But she has a special fondness for kid’s books, and has worked in the field for more than 20 years. She is a freelance writer and regular contributor to Valley Kids and teaches a course for adults in “Writing for Children.” She writes from Colrain, where she lives with her musician-husband, three children, and shelves full of kid’s books.

14 Stories Reveal the Mysteries of Harris Burdick

Oprn Drdsmr: Kid Lit Musings and Review by Cheli Mennella

The Mysteries of Harris Burdick Revealed

"Is there any author more mysterious than Harris Burdick? Modesty prevents me from answering this rhetorical question, but the fact remains that Harris Burdick has cast a long and strange shadow across the reading wolrd..." - Lemony Snicket

More than twenty-five years ago, writer and illustrator, Chris Van Allsburg, introduced readers to the strange and mysterious drawings of Harris Burdick. The picture book titled, The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, published by Houghton Mifflin in 1984, opens with a short tale about a curious meeting between Peter Wenders and Harris Burdick. While working in his office one day, Wenders, who worked for a book publisher, was visited by Harris Burdick, who had written and illustrated fourteen stories. Burdick brought one picture from each story to see if Mr. Wenders was interested in publishing his work. Wenders was fascinated by the drawings and asked to read the stories right away. Burdick said he’d bring the stories the next day, but was never seen again.

The fourteen black-and-white illustrations, each with a title and caption, are full of intrigue, surprise, and magic. For years, readers have imagined stories to go with these puzzling images.

Now, fourteen writers reveal the mysteries behind each of Harris Burdick’s fascinating drawings. The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, published this fall (2011) by Houghton Mifflin, includes an introduction by Lemony Snickett, the original drawings, titles, and captions by Chris Van Allsburg, and fourteen short stories by fourteen extraordinary writers. The stories are every bit as peculiar, haunting, magical, strange, surprising, creepy, and unpredictable as the original images. From mystical harp music and a levitating nun to intelligent caterpillars and a house taking off like a rocket, these stories are sure to ignite the imagination and leave you spell-bound.

The Mysteries of Harris Burdick illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg, stories written by Tabitha King, Jon Scieszka, Sherman Alexie, Gregory Maguire, Cory Doctorow, Jules Feiffer, Linda Sue Park, Walter Dean Myers, Lois Lowry, Kate DiCamillo, M.T. Anderson, Louis Sachar, Chris Van Allsburg, and Stephen King. – Published by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2011. ISBN: 978-0-547-54810-4


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Cheli Mennella

Cheli has been involved with creative arts and education for most of her life, and has taught many subjects from art and books to yoga and zoology. But she has a special fondness for kid’s books, and has worked in the field for more than 20 years. She is a freelance writer and regular contributor to Valley Kids and teaches a course for adults in “Writing for Children.” She writes from Colrain, where she lives with her musician-husband, three children, and shelves full of kid’s books.

%d bloggers like this: