The end of November brings the close of what was both Michaael Morpurgo Month and Picture Book Month. I hope you have spent time reviewing and enjoying your favourites of both.
Kaspar, Prince of Cats; the incredible story of Johnny Trott, bellboy at the Savoy Hotel who is entrusted with the care of Kaspar, Countess Kandinsky's cat and their worldwide journey together that ultimately leads the onboard the Titanic. Enthralling stuff! But then, all of Morpurgos' books are enthralling... he is truly one of the most gifted storytellers of our time.
As we come to the close of Picture Book Month, I want to mention the last two author/illustrators to share Why Picture Books Are Important.
Yesterday, the delightful Mercer Mayer (and his Little Critter) shared a few brief words on the importance of picture books. Mercer Mayer is an old personal favourite of mine. I loved his books as a child and when my children were children. Since 1966, he has published over 300 titles of the most enthusiastic creatures and the daily, ordinary adventures (which, of course, are not so ordinary) to which everyone can relate. Just For You was read and reread so many times in my house that I can still remember, not the words so much, but the pictures page by page! I hope the Picture Book Month folks don't mind, but I've just copied his entry here.
As for the final thoughts on Why Picture Books Are Important,
these are offered today by Jerry Pinkney. Pinkney is one of the most lauded illustrators of our time. He has the unique distinction of having 5 Caldecott Award honours, including being the winner of the 2010 Caldecott Medal Winner for The Lion & The Mouse; a stunning wordless picture book that children and their grown-ups spend hours over, pondering, dreaming and absorbing this story told only through the artwork.
Here's a brief quote from Pinkneys' thoughts on picture books:
"Children learn to read pictures before they learn to sound out words or
read full sentences, and for the very young, the partnership between
pictures and text helps them take in and find pleasure in a narrative.
It also stimulates a child’s desire to read words, and in this way,
deciphering and understanding art becomes a small victory on the path to
becoming a reader."
That small victory is probably the most significant step on that path. The gift of visual literacy is something that stays with you throughout your life; enriching and enhancing any other skills you attain along the way. I have always felt that we remove picture books from our childrens' lives far too early. These books aren't just for pre-readers, they are for us all, enchanting and delighting us while gently encouraging a greater understanding of what we see around us; giving us the opportunity to develop an interpretive skill that serves us well.
I hope you have re-approached Michael Morpurgo's work with a greater enthusiasm and an increased number of picture books have entered your lives this month. And that you continue to do so!