Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Picture Book Read-Alouds, Inspired by Folk Tales

Lucia and the Light
Written by Phyllis Root
Illustrated by Mary GrandPre
Picture Book, Ages 4 and up
Published by Candlewick Press in 2006

Inspired by a Norse folk tale, this is the compelling story of a little girl who bravely journeys up the mountain to rescue the sun, in order to bring light and warmth back to the land.
My girls loved this story, so much so that they asked if we can check it out of the library again. (It's due back today, and we're on our second renewal, so we can't keep it longer.) Even Susanna sat completely enthralled by the story. (She was the first one to spot the shadow of a troll, a portent of things to come, made by the shadows cast from hanging baskets in the family's cabin.)
The pictures are luminously beautiful. The medium looks like pastel, but I'm not sure. However they're done, they have an ethereal softness to them that is very dreamy. The way GrandPre captures light is amazing. The book is a beautiful marriage of art and text.
This is our first encounter with both Phyllis Root's and Mary GrandPre's work, and we will definitely check out other books by these talented women.

Written and illustrated by Demi
Picture Book, Ages 4 and up
Published by Scholastic Press in 1998

Inspired by a Chinese folk tale, this is the story of two fathers, a poor one who enjoys life, and a rich one obsessed with his money. Baffled, annoyed and perhaps a tad bit envious of the seemingly care-free life of the poor family, the rich man decides to give the poor man some money to worry about. This is a wonderful allegory about finding balance.
My girls were familiar with the so talented Demi from her book The Empty Pot, which they love and frequently request to be read.
They liked this story too, maybe not quite as much as The Empty Pot, but they have asked it to be read several times since we checked it out from the library.
(I want to get her books about Gandhi, Muhammad, Buddha, and Mother Teresa next.)

Both these books were checked out of the library.


  1. Your kids have excellent taste. Phyllis Root is one of my all-time favorite picture book writers.

    Morzant interviewed her on our blog a month or so ago. If you’re interested, an extensive bibliography follows the interview. Pick any book from that list and you won't be disappointed. My personal favorites are BIG MOMMA MAKES THE WORLD, ROSIE’S FIDDLE, and AUNT NANCY AND THE BOTHERSOME VISITORS.

    She also has two middle grade novels. The most recent, LILLY AND THE PIRATES, came out last fall. Good stuff.

  2. Thanks for that. It gives us a place to start.

  3. We also love Phyllis Root's books. My son's favorite Root book is Toot! Toot! Zoom! We haven't read the one you mentioned though.

  4. These look great! I'm familiar with Demi, but not the other author (or at least I don't remember her if we've read something by her). I'll keep these in mind when we embark on more cultural journeys! :-)

    Thanks for linking up to RAT!

  5. We read Lucia and the light as part of St. Lucia Day this past Dec. I really love picture books inspired by Scandinavian tales.

  6. Brimful - (Sorry it has taken so long to respond.) We are making our way through Phyllis Root books now. My girls are loving all of the ones we've read. I'll add this one to the list.

    Amy - It turns out that she writes quite a variety of picture books. We're still on hold for the ones Bigfoot mentioned, but we now have a bunch of others. My 7 year old's favorite book of the batch we got is The Rattle Trap Car, over which she giggled constantly as she read it to herself.

    Storied - How fun! We (my family)needs to incorporate more multi-cultural celebrations.

  7. RATTLETRAP CAR is so much fun to read. I love that book.

    Root is such a versatile and talented writer. It’s an extra bonus that her stories get paired with awesome illustrations.

    Thanks for the update.

  8. megan...are you in the midst of all these storms?

  9. Yep, we were. We spent a lot of time hunkered down in our storm shelter a.k.a. the master closet. Fortunately, we didn't get much damage in our area, just some flooding from the almost constant rain for three days.
    And 'though we got our share of tornados, Mississippi and Alabama got the worst of it, by far.