Wednesday, October 04, 2006


PUMPKINS by Ken Robbins (Roaring Brook)
Sigh. Oh, that Ken Robbins. He really gets it. He knows that when people pick up a book with photographs, they are looking for something real, something captured from life, and something with brevity, letting the pictures be worth a thousand words. He perpetually achieves a graceful balance between his evocative, clear photographs and a minimal amount of equally clear and direct text; a teacher's dream, folks. This season, squash is on the menu, and he serves it up from flower to fruit, with close-ups and wide angles, and always a sense of the farm from whence it comes. Big pumpkins, little pumpkins, pumpkins carved into jack-o-lanterns on a spooky, out-of-focus Halloween night, and pumpkins dilapidated and rotting, but full of the seeds that will sprout the story all over again.

I never regret a Ken Robbins purchase, and read his books aloud again and again to children five and up with pleasure. They are perfect for integrating non-fiction into a storytime, or for pictoral reference and inspiration on any topic that he chooses, such as the following titles also of interest:
SEEDS (Atheneum)
AUTUMN LEAVES (Scholastic) (Why do my favorites go out of print? Worth the hunt, because it doubles as a much-needed primary feild guide.)
APPLES (Atheneum) (6 and up)
THUNDER ON THE PLAINS: THE STORY OF THE AMERICAN BUFFALO (Atheneum) (Especially moving, and a departure from the author's frequent science forays.) (7 and up)

Who are some of your favorite authors who use the photographic form? Nina Crews? George Ancona? Share in the comments section! Do you like the content-rich Dorling Kindersley style of "museum in a book," which revolutionized publishing with their groundbreaking photographic "Eyewitness" series? Don't just stare, take a picture, it'll last longer...especially if it's in a book!

Links are provided for informational use. Don't forget to support your local bookseller.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for suggesting a new pumpkin book. I think this one will update my copy of Pumpkin People, which is old and seen better days.

Anonymous said...

I really enjoy the work of photographer Bianca Lavies, too, particularly her books on garter snakes, armadillos, and "tree trunk traffic." Seymour Simon, of whom I first read in YOUR book, is another author my son and I enjoy. Marine biologist Sylvia Earle's works are wonderful, too. (To the best of my recollection, she doesn't take the photos herself.) We liked last year's "Sea Critters" a lot. Beautiful, informative book. Another beautiful picture book using photography is "Dance! With Bill T. Jones," by Jones and Susan Kuklin--just right for preschoolers.


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