I met Bryan Collier at the PA SCBWI Fall Fest. I sat next to him in the audience and got a delightful shock when he introduced himself. If you aren't familiar with Mr. Collier's work, go find it NOW. He has illustrated more than twenty-five picture books, including the award-winning Dave the Potter and Fifty Cents and a Dream, won three Caldecott Honors and four Coretta Scott King Awards
Lucky for those of us at the conference, Mr. Collier had copies of his newest project available for sale, before the official release date (December 17, 2013). The project was the illustration of actor, singer, writer, composer Daniel Beaty's first picture book, Knock Knock. If you are familiar with Mr. Beaty, you may have seen his Youtube recitation of a poem by the same name. The profoundly personal poem addresses Mr. Beaty's feelings of growing up with his father in prison. The picture book addresses the broader issue of growing up with an absentee parent, not necessarily one in prison. When I sat next to Mr. Collier and read this book for the first time, it brought tears to my eyes.
Title: Knock Knock
(I don't usually include a link to the title, but in this case
Mr. Beaty's other works using the same name come up pages before
the book if you search the title)
Author: Daniel Beaty
Illustrator: Bryan Collier
Publisher: Little Brown and Company, 2013
Themes: Absentee parents, loss, self-esteem
Audience: 3+ (note: serious subject matter)
Every morning, I play a game with my father.
He goes knock knock on my door
and I pretend to be asleep
till he gets right next to the bed.
Synopsis: A young boy goes through feelings of loss and grief when his father is no longer in his life. A letter from his father helps the boy find strength in himself.
Activities/Resources: Although this book isn't officially released until next week. Elizabeth Bird did an advance review in the School Library Journal during her Caldecott/Newbery predictions (yes, it's that good!). The Horn Book also reviewed the title on November 13, 2013. Teaching books.net has several author/illustrator resources, although nothing specific to this book. Little Brown and Company Books for young readers has the book posted on their site, but I didn't find any curriculum guides for it yet.
I believe this book is a perfect way to explore the topic of emotions--any emotions--through collage. Using a sheet of plain paper, glue and cut-out pictures from magazines, or just shapes torn from colored paper, a child can explore one way to express emotion non-verbally. Talk about other ways to express emotion (good ways and not so great ways like throwing things or yelling). And in the spirit of the holidays, perhaps go pick out a present for a local toy drive.
This review is part of Perfect Picture Book Friday where writers share their reviews of recommended picture books. Perfect Picture Book Friday was the brainchild of talented author/writing mentor Susanna Hill. Her blog keeps a list of the recommended titles.
Thanks for visiting. I'd love to know what you think in the comments. What other books have you seen on this topic?