Monday, December 10, 2012

Red Knit Cap Girl - a beautiful, quiet picture book (ages 3 - 7)

There are times I just want to run my fingers over a picture book's page, wondering in the beauty of its artwork. Red Knit Cap Girl, by Naoko Stoop, drew me in right from the start, with the beautiful grains of wood surrounding the sweet little girl. My 2nd graders and I read this as part of our Mock Caldecott unit, talking about some of the best new picture books this year.
Red Knit Cap Girl
by Naoko Stoop
Little, Brown, 2012
ages 3 - 7
Amazon and your local library
Red Knit Cap Girl wishes more than anything that she could talk to the moon. She and her animal friends wonder how she can reach all the way to the moon - no matter what they do, it seems so far away. But the wise old owl tells her, “The Moon is too far to reach, but if you want, she will bend down to listen to you … You will find a way.”

My students found Stoop's artwork enchanting in a quiet, soothing sort of way. They noticed the way she uses many different shades and gradations of color. Sometimes the grain of the plywood shows through the soft, transparent paint, and other times the color is rich and vibrant. The story spoke to them, reminding them of other stories they love, like Kitten's First Full Moon, by Kevin Henkes. Young children are enchanted by the moon, the way it changes each night but is always there. The way it seems so close and yet so far away.

I like the way Mrs. Heise notes the way Red Knit Cap Girl's friends all come together as a community to help her. I agree with her that the language is not as fluid as the artwork; the name Red Knit Cap Girl is a bit choppy to keep saying over and over again. Over at the wonderful Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, Jules describes Stoop's artwork as "elegant in its simplicity," noting that she uses simple shapes, comforting curves and minimalist facial details to convey a magical, comforting tale.

This year, I am reading four different books to each 2nd grade class. At the end of the four weeks, they will vote on their favorite book. Then we will share our favorites with the other classes. Throughout the process we will talk about what makes wonderful picture books, how we need to think about the story and the illustrations.

In the meantime, our 1st graders are reading a wide range of Caldecott Medal and Honor books (you can see the whole list here). They are sharing with each other, practicing thinking and writing about books. Then our 1st graders will share their favorites with our Skype buddy class in Lynnwood, Washington through the help of Mrs. Valerie Stein. We're very excited to be reading such wonderful books and having an authentic way to practice our public speaking skills!

The review copy was kindly sent by the publishers Little, Brown. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you!). Thank you for your support.

Review ©2012 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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