Author Focus: Peter H. Reynolds
Peter H. Reynolds is an author, illustrator and ambassador for creativity whose most famous books include The Dot, Ish and The North Star. He has illustrated such well-known characters as Judy Moody and the latest editions of Judy Bloom books. He is best known for his simple, yet poignant stories that teach deep life lessons using ink and watercolor illustrations. His books have been turned into animated films, and even converted into theatrical productions! He’s one of my favorite author/illustrators because of his strong support and advocacy for story writing. Check out his Tips for Making Your Mark, ways to spark and nurture creativity at home.
Peter was born in Canada, but moved to Massachusetts at the age of three, where he still resides. He has a twin brother named Paul who is his best friend and business partner. He was interested in illustration from an early age. The brothers began publishing their own newspapers and comic books at the age of seven. Then in middle school, Peter had a wise and insightful teacher who challenged him to use his artistic talent to explain a math concept. This turned into a comic book, which his teacher recognized as a storyboard for a potential film as well. Thus began Peter’s career as an illustrator and animator.
Now, the brothers work together at Fablevision, an educational animation and media company. As part of that vision, Peter has created Fable Library, a site with free eBooks and an invitation to create your own online story.
Peter states, “If we want kids to learn, to read, to write, then we should invite them to play. Play with words. Fill an empty page. With words. Drawings and even just doodles and marks. Let them discover first-hand the joy of returning to the page a day later, a week later, and rediscover the page filled with their own thoughts and creations.”
Sky Color This book is the third in a series about the creative process (aptly named the ‘Creatrilogy’) which also includes The Dot and Ish. (If you have a budding artist, make sure to check out all three!) Marisol is an artist who loves to paint and share her work with all those around her. When the class undertakes a project to paint a mural for the library, Marisol volunteers to paint the sky. She feels stuck when she finds there is no blue paint to use. She looks for answers in the changing evening and night skies, and eventually finds the answer in a dream. In the end, Marisol creates her own ‘sky color.’
It’s easy when teaching children about the world to slip into the trap of ‘traditional rules:’ apples are red, dogs bark, the sky is blue. However, children are often whimsical, creative, and think outside those rules—mostly because they do not even realize they exist yet. They may wish to paint a purple cat, or make up a story about a glowing neon orange apple. We can foster this type of ‘outside the box’ thinking by avoiding the temptation to criticize early art and stories as incorrect. Instead, ask follow-up questions and get your child talking about the brilliant blue grass, or lilac sky. It might turn into a fantastic story!
Rose’s Garden Rose is an adventurer who travels the world in her fantastic teapot collecting flower seeds. Once the teapot is full, Rose chooses a “forgotten stretch of earth” in a “bustling city by the sea” to plant her seeds. Although some birds eat lots of the seeds while she’s preparing the ground, Rose plants the few that are left and waits patiently for them to grow. After many changes in seasons, not even one plant has sprouted. But word of her patience and faith in the garden spreads, and Rose receives a garden of a different kind.
This is a great read to help teach your child the value of faith and persistence. Try planting a seed after reading this story, and discussing the waiting period for the plant to sprout. What other things are ‘worth waiting for?’ For more ideas/conversation starters on this topic, check out our blog post on perseverance.
The Best Kid in the World Sugar Loaf is celebrating her brother Spoke’s birthday when Gramma pulls out a Remembering Box. Spoke proudly holds up a “Best Kid in the World Award,” to which Sugar Loaf asks, “But what about me?” Her mom and dad assure her that the award was given to Spoke before she was even born. Sugar Loaf decides she wants to earn her own award, and sets off on a variety of tasks which all go differently than planned. In the end, Sugar Loaf learns a very important lesson: trying with all your heart is what counts most.
This book is the perfect read when your little one is struggling with sibling envy. You can talk about the ways Sugar Loaf responded when she felt jealous and whether that helped. In addition, creating a Remembering Box for each of your children can help them each feel special. You can create your own ‘Remembering Box’ from a shoe box or other small container. Choose 1 item per month (or even per year) to add to the box. When adding a new item, review the contents and ask your child about why the items are special as well as how your child has grown or changed in the past few months/year.
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Bringing Books to Life
Bringing Books to Life helps educators and parents find fun and innovative ways to inspire children to read.
Elizabeth Atack, Program Coordinator