The swirling genius of two picture books

The gift of a book is something that can last a lifetime. One of these books, The House in the Night, was a gift for The Wizard of Why. He liked the story and the pictures and I think it’s absolutely wonderful. The whole book is printed in yellow and black. The style of the illustrator is so unique that when I saw Swirl by Swirl on the bookshelf at our local store (Parnassus) I knew it had to be the same artist. We had to have it! Activities I talk about below include drawing and hiking–perfect for alternately rainy and sunny Spring days!

Title: The House in the Night
Author: Susan Marie Swanson
Illustrator: Beth Krommes
Genre: Picture Book
Ages: 2 – 7

Summary: This book won the Caldecott, and it’s easy to see why. The illustrations are beautiful and uniquely done in only yellow, white, and black. The story is a bedtime one of a young child who takes a fantastical bedtime journey with everyday objects children will both relate to and be excited by. It’s really a wonderful metaphor for the journey of going to sleep. I would read it every night if I could, but there are so many good books out there!

Title: Swirl by Swirl
Author: Joyce Sidman
Illustrator: Beth Krommes
Genre: Picture Book, Science and Nature
Ages: any!

Summary: They teamed Krommes up with a Newbery-Honor winning poet to make this wonderful book that celebrates the beauty of the natural world in all of its swirly forms. Really fun to read and look at. While typing this post, the Wizard of Why looked over my shoulder and said, “Oh you are publishing The House in the Night and Spirals?” I asked him what his favorite part of the books were, and he said the tornado from Swirl by Swirl. Which just goes to re-emphasize the origin of his blog-name, I suppose. :)

Follow-up with the kids: I’m going to focus on the art for this one, as I think it is just so amazing. For The House in the Night, it would be fun to have your kids draw pictures with only black and one other color. Ask older kids to justify their color choice. (And for another example of a book with a lot of the same color in it, although not exclusively, see the equally-gorgeous-in-blue, The Longest Night.) It would make for a fun comparison to see how one illustrator conveyed nighttime so perfectly using the color blue and another one did it using the color yellow.

For Swirl by Swirl, your kids could draw their own pictures of familiar items with a swirled shape. Or they could take items that don’t have a swirled shape and see if they can draw them with swirls anyway. Another fun activity would be a morning hike or walk with the family for a “swirly scavenger hunt.” Have the kids pick up, point out, or photo things with a spiral shape. I bet you can find a lot more than you think! And that gets them outdoors and exercising, too!

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2 Responses to “The swirling genius of two picture books”

  1. I love the sound of swirl by swirl. Although i love reading fun silly pbs, I woud really like to write a poetic one. Thanks for sharing!

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