June 1, 2018

Bloom by Kyo Maclear, illustrated by Julie Morstad

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 4:38 pm by suebe2

Bloom: A Story of Fashion Designers Elsa Schiaparelli
by Kyo Maclear
illustrated by Julie Morstad

I have to admit that I had no clue who Elsa Schiaparelli was when one of my students recommended Bloom. No idea.

But in just a few sentences I was pulled into the story of a little girl whose parents wanted a boy and hadn’t even chosen a girl’s name. No big deal.  A lot of parents have been caught in such a situation.  But a lot of parents don’t call one daughter beautiful and the other ugly.  Right away I wanted this little girl to show them what true beauty was.

Granted, some of her ideas don’t succeed. At one point, she tried to plant flowers on her face.  This girl had a vibrant imagination!  Fortunately she has an uncle who is an astronomer and he encourages her ideas.  She discovers that when she dresses up, she can be many things.

She discovers dress making and she and her baby daughter move from city to city, settling in Paris. Soon Elsa has made friends with the group of visionary artists that include Picasso and Salvador Dali.

Her first big success is a sweater with a trompe l’oeil design.  It looks like a black sweater over a white blouse with a large bow at the neck.  It is really a sweater of two colors.  Women can now look fancy while riding their bikes through the city streets!  She encourages them to use their imaginations and they encourage her.

She combines materials – leather and lace, decorates her dresses with bold images, and even encourages a chemist to invent a new color just for her clothes.

Whether or not you are into clothing, Kyo Maclear has created a story about a visionary artist who did not let other people’s harsh words hold her back.  The story is enhanced by Julie Morstad’s illustrations.  I especially love the one where the chemist is inventing a new pink dye.

Elsa Schiaparelli is definitely someone who could inspire a young artist.  She was wildly creative, even wearing a shoe as a hat.  Hopefully children will also look at her photo in the back of the book and realize that hurtful words are so seldom true.

Share this book with your young visionary.  Give it a place in your home library and your classroom library.  Young readers need internalize the message.



February 13, 2017

Bloom by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by David Small

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 9:12 pm by suebe2

by Doreen Cronin
illustrated by David Small
Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

“Once upon a time in a beautiful glass kingdom, there lived an unusual fairy named Bloom.”  It seems that everywhere Bloom walked, she left a trail of muddy boot prints. Ladybugs clung to her wings.  She could spin sand into glass, turn a trickle of water into a river, and weeds became blossoms.  But she also had a heavy foot.  In addition to leaving mud, she often left tiny cracks.

As the kingdom grew larger and more shiny, the people no longer noticed Bloom’s abilities.  All they saw was the mess she left behind. Gripe, gripe, gripe.  A fairy can only stand so much and one day she left.

As you can imagine, a glass kingdom is a fragile thing and without the fairy that could spin glass, it fell into disrepair. The king remembered Bloom and rode out to find her.  Then the queen rode out.

Let’s just say that it didn’t work.  It wasn’t that they couldn’t find Bloom, but that she refused to help. They decided that the problem was that they were royalty and, as royalty, sure to intimidate a quiet, little fairy.  So they chose Genevieve, the most ordinary girl in the kingdom, and sent her to find the fairy.

Before long, Bloom is teaching her all that she needs to know to build.  Along the way Genevieve also learns to speak out, get her hands dirty and that there is no such thing as an ordinary girl.

I have to admit that at first I shrank back from this book.  Oh, no.  Another special snowflake story.  But this isn’t about being special in spite of the fact that you do nothing.  This is a story all about a girl who is quiet and shy and proper and altogether typical but still accomplishes what the king and queen could not.  She, quite literally, saves the kingdom and she does it in an all new way.

You may recognize David Small’s illustrations and that isn’t surprising.  He is the winner of the Caldecott Award–winning illustrator of So You Want to Be President? by Judith St. George.  He also illustrated Sarah Stewart’s The Gardener, one of my favorites, One Cool Friend by Toni Buzzeo, and Elsie’s Bird by Jane Yolen.

Share this book with your class and get ready for a great group discussion on how to solve a wealth of problems.


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