July 20, 2017

The Quickest Kid in Clarksville by Pat Zietlow Miller, illustrated by Frank Morrison

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 6:38 am by suebe2

TThe quickest kid in clarksvillehe Quickest Kid in Clarksville
by Pat Zietlow Miller
illustrated by Frank Morrison
Chronicle Books

In Clarksville, Tennessee in the 1960, a group of girls are determined to be the next Wilma Rudolph.  Alta is dreaming about what it would feel like to wear Gold medals and have a parade just like the one set to welcome Wilma home the next day.

Then she meets the new girl.  Charmaine’s shoes have a fast pink stripe.  And they’re new.  So new that Alta knows that no one but Charmaine has ever worn them. But Alta’s having none of it and soon she and Charmaine are racing down the sidewalk. Alta wins the first race but in the second race her feet tangle and she takes a spill.

Alta and her sisters are ready to run their banner to the parade but Alta soon realizes she has a problem.  The banner is bulky and she can’t do it on her own. But her sisters are awfully small.

Then Charmaine grabs the other end.  She points out that Wilma won the relay with three other runners.   The four take off running and pass the banner back and forth.  Soon they are perched on the curb waiting for that special convertible to pass by.  When Wilma waves at them, they know that together they are the quickest kids in Clarksville.

This is a fast-moving text as befits a book about a fast moving woman.  The girls are oh-so realistic, competing to be the fastest and save the day.  But their joy at working together is just as realistic.  Frank Morrison’s water color illustrations are full of life and personality, just like the kids he depicts.  I may not have been in gradeschool in the 1960s but Alta reminded me of the quickest girl in my fifth grade class.  Charmaine could sail around the track like everone else was at anchor.

Read this to launch a discussion about team work, sportsmanship, or Wilma Rudolph.  It has all of the qualities of a sure-fire read aloud and young character who is hard not to love.



April 23, 2015

I Got the Rhythm by Connie Schofield-Morrison, illustrated by Frank Morrison

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , at 1:37 am by suebe2

I Got the Rhythm
by Connie Schofield-Morrison
illustrated by Frank Morrison

A young girl walks along with her mother taking in the rhythms all around her.  She hears a drummer drumming, sees a butterfly opening and closing its wings, and sings along with a group of kids listening to music at the playground. From their front stoop where they enter the sidewalk to the playground, more and more people join in the joyous dance that is this young girl’s life.  As the kids stomp and beat their way across the playground, it reminded me of an impromptu dance number in a piece of musical theater.

The text for this picture book is super simple with short sentences followed by rhythmic pairs of words like snap snap and shake shake.

For me, it was Frank Morrison’s oil paintings that brought the story to life with the rich color of life on a busy city block.  I loved the combination of street musicians, ice cream cart and urban playground brought to life through the textured color of oil paints — nothing else would have been this rich or alive.

Notice that the author and illustrator have the similar names?  That’s because they are a husband and wife team.  This book is also an excellent example of what both text and illustration bring to the picture book story telling process.

Technically this is the story of one small girl and her lively approach to the world but it is a story that will appeal to a wide range of children who love to move.  This definitely is not a bed time book; there’s just too much going on.  Use this book as a launching point for discussions on sound, rhythm, movement and neighborhoods.  Add this to the library shelf if you are looking for books that represent a diversity of characters.  If you read it as story hour, don’t be surprised if an impromptu chorus lines wends its way through the library.



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