Skip to main content

#AuthorApril: R is for Eric Rohmann in our #AtoZChallenge

Dear Kim,

There are a million reasons to love his illustrations, inventive design, and playful language. Let's make it a million and one... R is for Eric Rohmann.

R is for Eric Rohmann.
Master printmaker sharing his passion with fellow illustrators at the Highlights Foundation.

In addition to his books, Eric is a gifted and generous teacher of illustration and writing. I've been lucky enough to hear him talk about children's books at various workshops. In one, Eric said something that will stay with me always.

He said, "Children don't read books, 
they inhabit them."

I can't tell you the number of times I've used that quote, specifically when talking about the art and design of a picture book.

His work receives the highest praise from the most critical eyes in publishing: KIRKUS kindness, School Library Journal starred reviews, a Caldecott medal and honor, and more. But what I love to see, especially as an early childhood teacher, is the way children critique his work. Eric was right. Children inhabit his stories.

Press play.


See that little reader in the video? That's my guy at age two. He loved reading My Friend Rabbit every morning in that secret spot behind his chair. I love the way he turns the book at the end, the sound of surprise in his voice, though he's "read" the book a hundred times. (And heard it at least as many.) He becomes part of the book.

Rohmann made My Friend Rabbit so engaging with surprising page turns, animals facing this way and that, a line to trace the flight of the plane. All so engaging. All so thoughtful. A gift from Rohmann to his youngest readers.


Each book he creates is a gift. Publisher's Weekly once said, "Eric has perfected the art of letting the pictures tell the story." Praise from another critical eye, but I believe, with all due respect, that PW was selling Rohmann's genius a bit short. It is not just the pictures. It is the package. The way he delivers story from cover and front matter, to words and images, to the satisfaction his reader gets at his perfectly placed "The End".


Kim, I'd like to share with you how I might use one of Rohmann's books as a read aloud. It happens to be my favorite Eric Rohmann book, Bone Dog



Take a look at that cover. What do we know about the book just by looking at the front image? What more does the image on the back tell us? I'm not saying to "judge a book by its cover" however, in thinking about presenting the book to our youngest readers, let's show them how the cover can help to provide context for the story. 

In sharing this cover with my students I had a child say, "Well the dog must be dead because he's bones all over but his tail is moving. Maybe he comes back to life?" You can imagine, in a room full of 4-year-olds, the kind of discussion that came next.





Rohmann designs a surprise for his readers in the front matter. Another chance for us to slow down and learn more about this book and our character. The title page tells us the title, yes, but in Bone Dog, it also shows us that Ella, our old dog, will go through a change. Flesh to bone. 

As my students flip from furry Ella to boney Ella we talk about that change. 




Let's gush a bit over some text. Rohmann writes, "A promise under a full moon cannot be broken." 

The moment is amplified by Rohmann's use of a double-page spread, gutter be damned, which brings our reader into this intimate moment. Rohmann let's the words and pictures depend upon each other, just like best friends, Gus and Ella.



Rohmann plants a twist mid-story that I do not want to give away. I'll skip ahead a bit.



This is not the way a book works, you might think. Things are to run from left to right. That Eric is a tricky one! With the implementation of this visual device he sets an uneasy mood in the book, and as a result in his reader. The kids beg for the page to turn. What could they be running from?



Talk about an image that speaks volumes. No words needed on this page. Reading this picture with students is a real joy. In addition to the children's laughter, I can assess a mountain of inferencing skills based on this one illustration. 

Soon after this image, Bone Dog ends. (Well, I should say, my storytime ends. And then grabby little hands pull Bone Dog onto their own laps to start the story all over.)

Eric Rohmann always creates a book that his readers can inhabit. From My Friend Rabbit to Bone Dog to Oh!No! we are pulled from our seats and into his illustrated world.



Eric will be back at the Foundation this fall. His workshop is just days before Halloween. I know he has plans to carve pumpkins, work on spooky printmaking, and critique picture book dummies and portfolios. I hope he finds time to read Bone Dog to his guests too. I can only imagine he will open our eyes to more of the magic hidden in Bone Dog's pages.

Until T.
Happy #AuthorApril!
Much Love,
Alison

To learn more about Eric's workshop click here. To read more about exploring picture books with kids, check out Megan Dowd Lambert's Reading Picture Books with Children.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

FIRST SNOW by Bomi Park: Classroom Activity and Review

Dear Kim,


Let it snow!
Let it snow!
Let it snow!

We had fun with Bomi Park's gorgeous FIRST SNOW last week. We used the book as a mentor text to explore personal narratives and poetry.  We also explored watercolor resist techniques. (We also made a mess-- which is kind of my modus operandi during writing workshop. Sorry, Kelley!)

I used the sentence starter from the jacket copy:
Look up. One flake falls, then another. And just like that—it's __ __ __ __ __ __ __ .

The kids worked cooperatively at their table groups to discuss what word might fill in the blank. I love hearing them chat. 
"Well it is a snowflake because 'one flake'." 
Followed by: "No. It has seven letters, snowflake has nine." 
And: "It is an action. A-- what's that called-- a verb because it is something falling." 
Eventually we filled in the blank by using spelling clues to check our thinking, which might not sound like a whole lot of fun, but spelling is awesome and totall…

New Adult Scavenger Hunt: Team Green's Lynn Stevens, Author of Full Count

Dear Alison and friends,It's that time of year again...Time for the New Adult Scavenger Hunt!!!!! 

Welcome to the New Adult Scavenger Hunt! This bi-annual event was inspired as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors…and a chance to win some awesome prizes! 
**KIM BONUS: I included my own RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY at the bottom. Don't forget to enter to win some free books!! 
At this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for our prize–one lucky winner will receive one book from each author on the hunt in my team!But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online for 96 hours!
Go to theNew Adult Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt. There are TWO contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! I am a part of the Green Team–but there is also a Blue Team for a ch…

Found Poetry with Kwame Alexander's BOOKED

Dear Kim (and friends!!),



Our students are nearing the finish line (teachers too.) A quick sprint to the end is all that we have left.

At our school, the students literally speak in terms of "finish lines", "touchdowns", and "goals". Not because of the annual field day, but because of the new reading program. The final unit in the American Reading Company's curriculum is SPORTS FICTION.

No SPORTS FICTION unit would be complete without a poem from Mr. Kwame Alexander. But, what Kwame book to discuss? CROSSOVER? BOOKED? THE PLAYBOOK?


Since many students are shin guard-deep in soccer right now, I picked BOOKED. In this verse novel, Kwame Alexander uses a variety of poetry styles to bring his main character, Nick Hall, to life. Nick is obsessed with soccer. When he becomes sidelined, books are his new game.

The lesson:

After reading from the book, we "borrowed" one poem and used it as a seed for our own poetry. Students were able to highlight up …