Monthly Archives: September 2020

PPBF – KHALIDA and the Most Beautiful Song

As I remember the events of nineteen years ago and reflect on the crises the world faces today, I find solace when I read picture books such as today’s Perfect Picture Book that reminds us of the power of creativity and the arts.

Title: KHALIDA and the Most Beautiful Song

Written & Illustrated By: Amanda Moeckel

Publisher/Date: Page Street Kids/2018

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: music, piano, creativity, determination, unscheduled moments, the power of art

Opening:

Perhaps it was the twinkling of a bright star or the wings of a high-flying owl that awoke the song one night.

It was time.

Brief Synopsis: An elusive song awakens a young pianist, but she struggles to capture it as the demands of everyday life get in the way.

Links to Resources:

  • Carve out some space and time to be creative, with musical instruments or art supplies;
  • Try to schedule some unscheduled “me” time each day or week and let your inner artist loose;
  • Read, or reread, Peter H. Reynolds’ The Dot, and join in the fun of International Dot Day 2020.

Why I Like this Book:

KHALIDA and the Most Beautiful Song is a lyrical, joyous celebration of creativity and a reminder that we need to step back from everyday tasks, schedules, and concerns to enable our creativity to flourish.

I was hooked from the opening, as the song mysteriously found young Khalida. As Moeckel notes in the opening scene, neither the song nor the reader knows why the song was awakened. But once awakened, and once it “tickled” Khalida’s “fingers and dipped into her ear”, Khalida knew that she had to recreate it on the piano, and share it with others.

I think even young children will relate to the obstacles that Khalida faces as she tries to express the creative impulse growing inside her. And I think everyone will appreciate the results of her determination as listeners “forgot everything else,” including meetings, being bullied, and a sick relative.

Moeckel rendered the illustrations in graphite, watercolor, and digitally. I especially loved how the song, depicted as graceful swirls, weave through the pages and become more colorful as Khalida performs them for an audience comprised of a diverse group of listeners.

A Note about Craft:

Moeckel begins this story not with Khalida, the over-programmed, talented pianist, but with the song that struggles to be played. By doing so, Moeckel encourages young children to think of their creative output as a character – a “thing” that needs to be out in the world. Switching the perspective in this way helps readers understand that creative individuals need to create, that society benefits when they are able to do so, and that we need to break down barriers to creativity.

I love the lyrical name, Khalida, and, because it is an Arabic name, I think this adds a multicultural layer to this beautiful story.

See a blog post about the creation and publication of this picture book at Writing and Illustrating. Note that Khalida finally plays the song in a park, where she performs it on a piano set there. In New York City, where Moeckel resides per the jacket flap, a not-for-profit, Sing for Hope, sets up artist-embellished pianos in public spaces for all to enjoy and donates pianos to city schools. Although this isn’t mentioned anywhere in the book, I’d like to think that Khalida is playing one of these pianos.

This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!

 

PPBF – One Earth

Welcome dear readers! It’s good to be back as the scent of pumpkin spice and the feel of dewy grass on chilly mornings remind us that fall is on its way.

Today’s Perfect Picture Book, a collaboration between an American author and a Brazilian illustrator, stars something that we all share: our beautiful earth. Enjoy!

Title: One Earth

Written By: Eileen Spinelli

Illustrated By: Rogério Coelho

Publisher/Date: Worthy Kids, a division of Hachette Book Group/2020

Suitable for Ages: 3-8

Themes/Topics: environment, concept book, counting, rhyme, low word count, multicultural

Opening:

One wide, sweeping sky.

Two honeybees.

Three bunnies in a nest.

Four redwood trees.

Brief Synopsis:

In this rhyming picture book, a diverse group of children count up to 10 to celebrate some amazing things about our one world, and then count down from 10 to share some simple steps to preserve this earth.

Links to Resources:

  • Spend an afternoon in your garden or a park and try to count groups of natural things that you find there (ie, one sun, two butterflies, etc.);
  • Make a list of simple steps you can take to help preserve the earth, and practice one or more of them with your family, friends, or classmates.

Why I Like this Book:

This simple, rhyming picture book encourages young children to experience the beauty of nature and to reflect on the ways even one person can help preserve it.

I love that Spinelli uses simple, rhyming text to create so many layers: One Earth functions as a counting book from 1-10 and back again, a reminder to explore and enjoy the beauties of nature, and a call to preserve our earth.

For those cooped up at home who are yearning to travel, Spinelli’s rhymes take readers from farm fields, to redwood forests, and to the beach where seagulls cruise. And the ideas to save the earth are simple things that young children can do themselves or with their families, like picking up trash and turning in deposit bottles.

Coehlo’s bright, detailed, and whimsical illustrations will appeal to young listeners, I think. I also love the diversity depicted, including varied locations and a multicultural group of children.

A Note about Craft:

One Earth is a rhyming poem without a clear story arc or main character, but it works on so many levels to draw readers in and encourage us to take action to save our earth. And with the multicultural cast of characters which Coelho includes, it’s a vivid reminder that, despite our different situations and abilities, each of us can take action to make the world better.

This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!