Sunday, May 11, 2014

What Do You Do With an IDEA?

Author:  Kobi Yamada
Illustrator: Mae Besom
Published: 2013
I was visiting a school for training.  As I sat there listening to the speaker, I took the moment to look around at the classroom.  I love seeing what other teachers are doing and trying to find new things I can use too.   I was excited when I realized that she had a large display of award-winning books and that I had read many of them because of my class at William & Mary.  The cover of one of her books caught my eye and I had to get up to look at it.  I hadn't seen this book before and I don't recall anyone in class talking about it, but I was drawn, as I usually am, to the cover.  The cover is very simple, white, and it has a very soft look to it.  It looks like it was drawn with a pencil in a sketch book.  The words seem to be pencil drawn and there is a yellow egg (watercolor?) with a golden crown and bird legs. 

As I read the book I thought of The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore because of the bit of color on the pages with mostly black and white drawings that transition to a world of complete color.  I can actually easily imagine an app that would bring this book to life, like the app for The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.

The endpapers are completely black and white with little birds that look like fish flying through the air over branches, leaves, and clouds.  The endpapers in the front and back are exactly the same except that they are flipped.  I wish that the endpapers at the end of the book had been in color to show the growth in the story.

The story is about a child speaking to the reader about an idea he has.  (I say he, but the character could also be a girl.  I could not identify the child's gender.)  So this child gets an idea, but does not know what to do with it.  It seems like a strange little idea because it is shaped like an egg and has bird legs along with a crown.  Since it has a crown though, I think that it has to be a good idea!  The child doesn't know what to do with the idea so he doesn't pay attention to it, but the idea follows him.  The child worries what others will think of his idea, but he realizes that he is happier when his idea is around.  The idea seems to be growing the more the child accepts that he has this idea.  (I took a picture of this page myself and my pictures really do not capture the beauty of the art, but I wanted you to see the idea frolicking in a stream.)

As the child accepts the idea not only does the idea seem to grow, but the child's life becomes more and more colorful.  He doubts his idea though because of others, but realizes that this is his own idea and he is the only one who really understands it.  It is up to him to care for it and help it grow.  Once he comes to this realization, it is not only the child's life becoming more colorful, he becomes more colorful.  Then one day the child's whole world changes because he took the time to grow his idea.

I know my students will love to analyze the pictures in this book.  The story begins with the child and his idea on the left of the page.  The idea is small, the world is black and white, but the child is keeping the idea small and to himself, he is safe.  We see the child moving away from his idea and the picture shows movement with the diagonal lines taking the boy away from his idea.  He leaves to the right side of the page where there is uncertainty.  What will the boy do with this idea?  The idea and it's little patch of green grass under its feet follow the boy and its diagonal lines across the page.  Once I turn the page, the boy and the idea are on the left again, but the boy is trying to bury his idea in all of the diagonal branches and leaves.  The idea then is frolicking in a stream with frogs, but the boy has a smile.  He is realizing the worth of his ideas.  I know that my students will understand this better than I do and I cannot wait to see what they tell me.  I want to know why the branches that direct the boy away from his idea are at the end of the book above the ground since they've been along the lower half of the page all along.  Why is there a hibernating bear in the picture?  What does the clock symbolize?  I'll ask my kiddos and let you know!

This will be a great book to start the school year to show that we need to support each other no matter what our ideas are and how different they might be.  I will also use this book to teach about reading a book and reading the pictures.  (Of course I'll use The Fantastic Flying Books too!)  I read some reviews by readers on Amazon and found that one teacher was giving her students a wooden egg with the word IDEA written on it.  I love that.  I'll probably do it too.  I know that will definitely impact many of my students and hopefully they will always have that memory tucked in somewhere and will do big things in their futures!

Find this book at your library.  (I checked on WorldCat and there aren't any local libraries with this book, so you might just have to buy it!  You won't regret it!)