Tag Archives: PYP Learner profile

#365PictureBooks Day 38 Flashlight

Inside a tent it’s cozy. But what is going on outside? Is it dark? Is it scary? Not if you have your trusty flashlight! Told solely through images and using a spare yet dramatic palette, artist Lizi Boyd has crafted a masterful exploration of night, nature, and art. Both lyrical and humorous, this visual poem—like the flashlight beam itself—reveals that there is magic in the darkness. We just have to look for it.Publisher.

You might have to be from my generation or vintage to remember the drawings we did as children, where after painstakingly drawing a rainbow pattern on a piece of cardboard the child artist then coloured over the drawing from edge to edge with the thickest black crayon possible. We then had fun exposing the drawing underneath by scratching away at the black crayon wax. I am pretty sure Crayola came out with a ready produced version – it wasn’t nearly as much fun as making it from scratch! The pages in this book remind me of that technique. The page is dark with black and grey  imagery but as the flashlight is turned to an object or area and it’s illuminated, we discover so much more about the creatures of the night and the surrounding environment. We are also teased with glimpses through cut outs to the next pages.

This is just the sort of book to encourage children to get out and explore – especially at night. It would be a great provocation for an activity to do as a family or even on a school camp (if the area had been scoped out first!). It could also be used to talk to a child about fear of the dark, especially if used with Lemony Snicket and Jon Klassen’s “The dark”.

This is another book that I read about and was completely in love with before even seeing it in real life – thanks to this ‘illuminating’ article via BrainPickings.org

See this review from Margie Culver at Librarian’s Quest blog. Margie reviews a fabulous variety of picture books, narrative non-fiction and junior/MG fiction and I have grown to trust her opinions implicitly.

Bibliographic details:

Flashlight / Illustrated by Lizi Boyd

Published by Chronicle, 2014.

32 pages.


NZ RRP $30.00. I bought our library copy at TimeOut Book Store in Mt Eden – where they helpfully provided a complimentary dust jacket.


#365PictureBooks Day 17 Nana in the city

“In this magical picture book, a young boy spends an overnight visit with his nana and is frightened to find that the city where she lives is filled with noise and crowds and scary things. But then Nana makes him a special cape to help him be brave, and soon the everyday sights, sounds, and smells of the city are not scary—but wonderful. The succinct text is paired with watercolor illustrations that capture all the vitality, energy, and beauty of the city”. Publisher: HMH Books

A little boy arrives in New York City to stay with his beloved Nana in her new apartment. The boy finds the city busy and loud and new things like the subway, buskers, the homeless and graffiti scary.  Nana explains that she finds the city “wonderful – bustling, booming and extraordinary” and says “it is the perfect place for a nana to live” She promises to show him how wonderful the city is. The next day Nana presents him with a red super-hero cape that she has made overnight. The cape makes him feel brave and is he is more confident about leaving the safety of the apartment to explore and see the city through Nana’s eyes. Soon enough he sees the city is filled with extraordinary things! A great example of someone having a perception that something is scary, but finding the courage to face their fears. 

The production of this book is gorgeous – beautiful paper, rich colours  within black outlines and an almost retro feel. The pages are sometimes busy reflecting the busy city life – but provide lots of details for inspection and conversation.

There is a time of year when we invite the grandparents of our Junior School students to come and see their grandchildren in the midst of their learning at school.  I usually read picture books that feature grandparents, (grandmas, grandpas, nonas, poppas, nanas and all the other cultural & family variants) to my students in the lead up to the day as well as a few chosen by the students for the day.

Looking at my collection of picture books around grandparents, I think I need some fresh titles. Nana in the city has been reviewed and featured prominently in many, many ‘best of’ lists. I decided it was definitely worth a request from Auckland Libraries and now that I have read it I believe the combination of a hip and active Nana plus a good example of the PYP Learner Profile “Courageous” – means that this book is a ‘must have’ for my School Library.

Highly recommended.

Bibliographic details:

Nana in the city / Written and illustrated by Lauren Castillo.

Published by Clarion Books (An imprint of HMH)


NZ RRP $33.50

Available from independent booksellers, library suppliers and to borrow from Auckland Libraries


#365PictureBooks Day 2 – Little Eliott, big city by Mike Curato


“What’s better than a cupcake? A friend to share it with!

The big city holds many new and challenging experiences for Little Elliot, the polka-dotted elephant. But Elliot is about to find out that life is full of sweet surprises that come in the smallest of packages.” [Back cover]

This picture book is delicious in many ways. Elliot is a character that young readers will be wishing would come to life or at least be available as a very tangible plush toy. From the gorgeous cover, the stunning cupcake covered end papers and the sweet, sweet story there are so many delectable aspects to this story about getting lost in the crowd and finding a friend. Elliot is small and different and life presents obstacles, but his resilience and perseverance is heartening – wonderful subtle messages for little people. I love how the story and illustrations are soft, subtle and not at all preachy – many children will identify easily with Elliot.

It is always lovely to find another picture book title to add to those used at the start of the school year in the younger levels in a primary school. Teachers often request books that discuss friendship, acceptance, uniqueness, identity, kindness, courage and many more virtues and feelings. In addition to encouraging good social skills in our students one of the PYP Trans-disciplinary themes students inquire into throughout the year is ‘Who we are’ and this can cover these concepts:

An inquiry into the nature of the self; beliefs and values; personal, physical, mental, social and spiritual health; human relationships including families, friends, communities, and cultures; rights and responsibilities; what it means to be human.

Elliot also reflects the PYP Learner Profile ‘Caring’ and Learner attitude ‘Co-operation’.

Bibliographic details:

Little Elliot, big city / story and pictures by Mike Curato.

Published in 2014 by Five Mile Press (part of the Bonnier Publishing Group). 32 pages


NZ RRP: $20.00

Available at Auckland Libraries

Publisher and other resources:

The Macmillan website has more information about this book including a downloadable PDF activity guide, links to the author website and more.

Lovely review of this title and a few others on the theme of friendship that would be wonderful for the start of school via the New York Times here.

There is a wonderful interview with Mike Curato on the Teach mentor texts blog here.

P.S. The author has announced that Elliot will be available as a plush soft toy in February 2015! Even better, this book is the first in a series with the next book Little Elliot, big family due out October 2015.