Discovering our World in Picture Books PART 3: Tree: Seasons Come, Seasons Go by Patricia Hegarty

When we go for a walk in the country, what do we see?  How does it make us feel?

Perhaps we admire the view like a picture of beauty held static in time and capture it on our iPhones as a keepsake. Or maybe we’re aware of the footprints in the soil,  the leaves falling to the ground or a bird chirping above us on a branch. Yet somehow life seems to slow down in the country. The air feels calmer and our hearts more serene as we march through the fields and weave among the trees at a purposeful pace. Suddenly it’s like the world around us is standing still as we rush across its living surface. A mere cursory glance could trick us into thinking that it’s only us who is changing, moving and interacting with our surroundings and nothing else …but then we look again.

The miracle is that everything around us is in a constant state of change. Everything is reacting and adapting to its surrounding environment. Everything is growing, developing and regenerating into something new. All living things are connected within this continuous cycle and nothing more clearly demonstrates this than our ever changing seasons.

Book Review on Tree: Seasons Come, Seasons Go by author Patricia Hegarty

Tree

What’s it all about?

A striking picture book which depicts the changing seasons through the life cycle of a tree. The concept is simple and brings the descriptions of each season to life with rhyming text. It starts in winter and follows the seasons full circle back to winter again. We learn about how the tree interacts and changes with the weather, animals and surrounding plants throughout each season.

Which age group is it aimed at?

This book would capture the interest of the younger end of the picture book market, age two to five years. Young children will find that the bright illustrations and rhythmic text clearly and simply demonstrate the changing seasons and make them fun and easy to recognise.

Conclusion

The look and feel of this book immediately draws you in with its vibrant pictures and cute little owl peeping out through the cut out hole. This is a book you would be proud to have on your bookshelf. Both informative and enchanting. Although I found the rhyme a little clunky in places, overall it added to the magical atmosphere created within the book.

Author: Patricia Hegarty

Illustrator: Britta Teckentrup

Publisher: Little Tiger Kids, Sept 2015

Our Rating: 5/5

CLICK TO BUY Tree: Seasons Come, Seasons Go

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Source: Own copy

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Discovering our World in Picture Books PART 1: The Story of Life

Discovering our World in Picture Books PART 2: The Adventures of Water

Why Children’s Books Matter

The Infinite Playground

I love it when I find a blog which instantly throws my mind into chatter overload. Words, images and sounds start to explode. It gets noisy in there!

Middle Grade Strikes Back – #coverkidsbooks published one such blog concerning the limited media coverage assigned to children’s books and why we should be seeing more about children’s books in the press. One of the main reasons I started blogging about children’s book reviews, events and crafts was because as a parent I found I was struggling to find a variety of books for my children to try. I was always being exposed to the same limited selection which we’d either already read or they just didn’t appeal to my children. Of course since launching my blog, now I actively seek out alternative books and look in other places to find new ones but still it often takes some digging. Coupled with the recent disappointing news that the Guardian will soon no longer be adding to their online children’s books web page (aimed at children), I knew the only way to quieten my mind on why books are so important for children was to take on Middle Grade Strikes Back’s challenge and write a response. My little voice wanted to join the crowd to help it cheer louder and ideas started to leak out…

“Books are like people.”

I think books are like people. They each have their own personality and ultimately, it’s not what’s on the outside of a book that matters it’s what’s on the inside. The content of a book offers every child a paradox. On the one hand they have the opportunity to discover the world beyond their front door by absorbing the plentiful fresh ideas and opinions spread across the pages; whilst on the other hand they’re drawn into exploring the world within themselves through the questions and thoughts triggered every time they read a new book.

It was at this point as I wrote my blog that it became clear I needed something much sharper to express the enormity of the value books can add to children’s lives. I was looking for a perspective changer. Something children and their parents could relate to.

Why do children’s books matter so much?

So the best way I knew how to translate these feelings about why children’s books matter to me was to write this rhyme.

the-infinite-playground-2

 

A wider coverage of children’s books can only mean a greater choice is more readily available, making it easier to find the perfect fit for each child so they too have the opportunity to learn, experience and understand our world and who they are. I’d like to see not just the big names getting coverage but also new authors, niche authors, non-fiction authors and without doubt the illustrators as major contributors to many children’s book sales.

So thank you to Middle Grade Strikes Back for reminding me what drives me to keep persevering with writing children’s books and why I started blogging about children’s books in the first place.

 

The Picture Book Melody

Four Ways to Explore Picture Books With Music.

I’ve discovered that when I’m working on my picture books no matter how hard I try, my initial ideas always insist on clinging onto some sort of melody. When I say that, I don’t necessarily mean every sentence rhymes, it is more that the rhythm or patter of each word is in sync or that the internal words within the sentence or letters within a word rhyme. My brain just seems to require the sentence to flow lyrically for it to make sense. This might sound impressive but in fact sometimes it makes it appear awkward or overwritten in places and be incredibly annoying when writing a book in prose! However I’ve come to accept that it’s my way of writing – the first part of my process if you like. Invariably everything I write always gets adjusted, re-written, printed out, scribbled on, re-typed, torn up, re-printed, maybe ten, twenty even thirty times or more. Probably not the most environmentally friendly way of working! These changes usually involve taking out the noise, simplifying it and trying to pin point that all important beautifully crafted sentence that looks like I wrote it in two seconds! Writing is melodic. We can use short, sharp staccato sentences to create drama or long, slow sounding words to pace suspense. There have been various studies and articles regarding the positive effects of music on reading and language ability so I’ve put together four fun and interactive ways of combining the two to help our little ones recognise the music in language.

Farmyard JamboreeSinging: Song picture books combine a story with singing. They are usually accompanied by the CD of the song written and illustrated as a story. The announcement of Pharrell Williams’ picture book called “Happy” has got to be up amongst the most exciting examples of this and soon to be published in September 2015. However one of my first favourites was The Farmyard Jamboree by Margaret Read McDonald (author) & Sophie Fatus (illustrator). Children naturally enjoy making up songs as part of their expression through pretend play. By first hearing the words spoken and then sung the children can learn to repeat them as an enjoyable and memorable sequence. A study in 1997 by Jalongo & Ribblett showed that song picture books encourage better reading, writing and music development (reference: Jeehea Baek’s published dissertation, 2009, p15). Here is a list of the Goodreads song picture book recommendations.

Written music: Combine a simple demonstration of the relationship between sounds and written music, with the sounds of written words in a rhyming picture book. Books with rhyming verse have become an increasingly popular choice with children and parents. It is often their lyrical predictability that makes them seem easier to read and more pleasing to the ear. Poetry and rhyme are the written word’s equivalent to music and have many characteristics in common such as syllables providing the beat and stress patterns. Rhyme focuses the children on how words sound; whether the word is long or short sounding for example, it helps the children to recognise the similarities in groups of words and isolate one word sound from another when spoken. Engaging with rhyme helps children identify with the words phonetically (see The Benefit of Rhymes from Bookstart). Maracas

Percussion Instruments: Getting to grips with emotions is one of the toughest things a child has to learn. In fact very few of us as adults have completely mastered this one! Introducing the use of percussion instruments with picture books is a fantastic way of exploring and understanding the feelings words and stories can evoke. By talking about the emotions expressed in a book, children can be asked to demonstrate these feelings with their instruments by shaking, blowing, tapping, strumming, plucking at different speeds, beats and pitches. This helps them associate the word with the experience. A greater understanding of what words mean can make them easier to remember and use.

Maracas image courtesy of Kittikun Atsawintarangkul at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Girl JumpingActions and Dance: By reading picture books and encouraging children to dramatize the story to music using related actions and dance movements, the children are able to identify the pattern, rhythm and length of sound in words by jumping, clapping, stamping and tapping, flowing or swaying. They are able to act out verbs like looking, stretching and walking, hopping, riding and make silly faces to express emotions. Girl jumping image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net Please take a look at these other articles about the benefits of music on reading.

Music Lessons Were the Best thing Your Parents Ever Did for You by Tom Barnes. Science Daily – Music Education Can Help Children Improve Reading Skills. BBC News – Musical Training Can Improve Language and Reading.