As an author and his dog, Wednesday, walk through their neighborhood, they look at sunflowers, say hi to Frank, a turtle, who makes quick for the water and disappears, and watch a train rumble by as they walk uphill to a big purple house that belongs to their friend Barbara.Read more...
As an author and his dog, Wednesday, walk through their neighborhood, they look at sunflowers, say hi to Frank, a turtle, who makes quick for the water and disappears, and watch a train rumble by as they walk uphill to a big purple house that belongs to their friend Barbara. Wednesday chases squirrels while the two friends discuss fishing and war and how back before the neighborhood was there enormous woolly mammoths roamed where houses now sit.
Thoughts open up to other thoughts, and ideas are born and carried forward, often transforming into other ideas until he finds that ideas really are all around, you just have to know what to do with them. This title has Common Core connections.
- ISBN-13: 9781626721814
- ISBN-10: 1626721815
- Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
- Publish Date: March 2016
- Page Count: 48
- Reading Level: Ages 5-8
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-01-04
- Reviewer: Staff
Children’s book creators are often asked where they get their ideas. What if they run out? “I have to write a story today,” Stead (Sebastian and the Balloon) starts. “But today I don’t have any ideas.” Instead, he takes his dog, Wednesday, for a walk, recording his journey in an unassuming collection of drawings, prints, and snapshots in Polaroid-style frames. There’s no drama, yet the pages are filled with incident. He and Wednesday see a turtle and some ducks. Stead exchanges greetings with his friend Barbara, whose wise voice warms the pages. (“It’s such a waste,” she says when the subject of war comes up. “We could all go fishing instead.”) He notices the line at the church’s food program. Animals are drawn in close-up, vivid detail (excepting, perhaps, a horse made of blue paint), while the people are small and roughly drawn; they might be anybody, anywhere. Stead’s thoughts come to life in lines structured like verse, the animals he sees and words he hears merging into dreamy half-stories. A long, rich visit with Barbara follows: “Did you know that ten thousand years ago this spot was the bottom of a lake?” she asks. As Stead and Wednesday return home, the things they have talked about and the animals they have seen—all the ideas he’s collected—follow them in a somber parade. Stead’s bits and pieces of drawing and observation, his willingness to lay bare his uncertainty, and his rough sketches of the natural world don’t form a polished or seamless whole. Yet their very fragmentariness tells an important truth about the way artists begin to create. Ages 4–8. Agent: Emily van Beek, Folio Literary Management. (Mar.)
Strolling and brainstorming
BookPage Children's Top Pick, March 2016
The warm yellow endpapers of this picture book bring to mind the sun, a symbol of a new day filled with new inspirations. That’s the subject of Philip C. Stead’s new book, Ideas Are All Around, but it’s also so much more.
Dry on story ideas, Stead goes for a walk with his dog. The two see a shy turtle, listen to birds and visit Barbara, who owns a house the author once lived in upstairs. Stead has coffee with Barbara, and they discuss the fact that 10,000 years ago, the spot where they now sit was the bottom of a lake. I can imagine children talking back enthusiastically to this book: There are ideas for stories everywhere you look! This is, of course, the author’s point.
But there’s more. This is also a book that embraces imperfections: Stead tells readers he once spilled paint at Barbara’s house and left “a big blue blob on the sidewalk.” Barbara rejoiced in the blob and saw in it the essence of a blue horse. Stead also writes about his beloved typewriter, which he bought from a man who repairs broken things. On his walk, Stead sees a line of people waiting for the soup kitchen to open, one with a cane and one in a wheelchair. Stead and his dog follow the railroad tracks—“You should never walk on train tracks . . . but we do it anyway”—because that can lead to adventure. In the book’s opening spread, Stead even sees a sunflower, noting it was only one of many seeds that grew. “Planting a seed is always a risk,” he writes. One for sorrow, two for joy.
The book includes Polaroid photos (be sure to remove the dustjacket) and text from the author’s typewriter. The mixed-media, collaged illustrations are spare and evocative. It’s a book that finds joy—and, yes, ideas—in this messy, beautiful world.
The year is young. I can already tell you this is one of its best books.