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The Study of Poetry and Literature for Children & Young Adults

Book Analysis

Book Analysis: Comparing & Contrasting

I chose three very different books of Anna Grossnickle Hines’ to analyze. First, I will describe the plot and art work, and then analyze the author's style and approach. Finally I will compare and contrast the books to each other and the established criteria for the genre.

 

Grossnickle, Anna Hines. 2001. Pieces: A Year in Poems & Quilts. Ill. Anna Grossnickle Hines. New York: Greenwillow Press. ISBN 0688169643

 

Pieces: A Year in Poems & Quilts is both a work of art and a delightful book for all ages. The poetry and quilt illustrations are intertwined while creating a journey through the four seasons both audibly and visually. The quilts display texture, color and variation from the stitching. Each quilt was hand created by the author to perfectly match the selected poem, also written by Hines. The poetry is in lyric or free verse form and contains rhyme, rhythm and sound. Autumn’s poem is concrete in format, the words taking the shape of leaves gently falling to the ground, mirrored on the opposite page with leaves on the quilt echoing the pattern.

I especially enjoyed one of the winter poems---

 

Magic Show

 

Sometimes in winter

while I’m sleeping

through the night

inside the house

all snug and tight,

outside

the world is turning

white.

 

It reminded me of when I was small and would wake to all the fields around my house covered in a white blanket of snow. It was so magical, that the world could change so much while I slept.

Kate McDowell, reviewer for Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books sums up the book with, “Despite some unevenness in the poetry, the visual appeal and detail of the quilt work will engage young viewers.”

 

Grossnickle, Anna Hines. 1997. Miss Emma's Wild Garden. Ill. by Anna Grossnickle Hines. New York: Greenwillow Books. ISBN 0688146937

 

Miss Emma's Wild Garden is about a little girl attracted to her older neighbor's backyard garden. "Your garden is wild, Miss Emma, not all in rows like my papa's," Chloe said. Chloe and Miss Emma explore the wild garden finding cardinals, skinks, groundhogs, deer and rabbits. The adventure continues until the last wild thing is discovered and that is.....

"Me!" Chloe said. I'm in your garden."

The acrylic illustrations brightly illustrate the vividness of a wild untamed garden filled with shadows, and a variety of animals, birds and bright blossoms. The paintings are so realistic that Chloe's tousled blonde hair and impish grin set against flowering bushes tells a story in itself.

The author uses characters that are believable; it is easy to identify both Chloe and Miss Emma with relatives or neighbors. The short quick questions of Chloe are mirrored in her ever present state of motion shown in the illustrations. Every page shows Chloe jumping, pulling, climbing and of course standing on her hands, up-side-down like the squirrel and the nuthatch. The illustrations also echo the happy inquisitive mood of the book as Chloe strives to discover all she can about this wonderfully messy garden.

Marianne Saccardi, reviewer for School Library Journal states, “Young Chloe …like the butterflies that flit among the flowers, brings spark and energy to the otherwise tranquil scenes.”

Pat Matthews, reviewer for Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books does not agree, “Acrylic renderings of Miss Emma’s Eden show it flourishing in lush green tones with delicately drawn blooms in a summer bouquet palette but Chloe and her friend have unnaturally peachy flesh tones, are stiffly drawn, and often seem awkwardly plopped into the foliage.”

I do recommend this book for K-3 audiences; the reading could be combined with gardening or wildlife watching activities. Children are by nature curious and this book with its bright pictures and lively sentences is well suited for them.

 

Grossnickle, Anna Hines. 1995. When the Goblins Came Knocking. Ill. by Anna Grossnickle Hines. New York: Greenwillow Books. ISBN 0688137369

 

Patricia Pearl Dole, reviewer for School Library Journal states that this Halloween story is about a little boy reflecting on last year's trick or treaters and his fear and uncertainty in trying to understand the holiday. The text is in an easy flowing verse while the two page spread layout reflects the interior and exterior of the front door. Outside the mother gives candy to small monsters and ghosts, while inside the little boy looks worried and frightened.

"When the goblins came knocking, tricking and treating...last Halloween...I was too scared to join in the fun."

As the rhyming verses continue throughout the book the little boy reflects on each set of monsters that came to his door and his mixed feelings regarding them. By the end of the book, he comes to realize that it is a fun thing to do and plans on wearing a big scary dragon costume this year.

"But this Halloween.....I'm the scariest one!"

The author approaches the story from the child’s voice and point of view. The illustrations done in Prismacolor pencils on black paper, accurately reflect the uncertainty of the preschooler in dealing with the goblins and ghosts that visit on Halloween.

Susan Dove Lempke, reviewer for Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books credits the illustrations in telling the story even better than the verses.

“…the pictures succeed better than the words in conveying the message that the spookiness of Halloween is part of the fun.”

 

Throughout the three books mentioned above the author’s voice maintains a sense of innocence and yet purpose. The text whether verse or sentences is easy to understand and flows with a sense of rhythm. The illustrations, whether quilted, in colored pencils or acrylic paint are vivid and add to each story or poem with details of their own. Not only complementing the text but by being present making it a better book. Both Miss Emma’s Wild Garden and When the Goblins Came Knocking are told realistically through the eyes of a child. Pieces, though a technically a child’s book could easily be also given as a gift for an adult. The poetry is multi layered so both an adult and child would enjoy listening or reading it. The quilts, enjoyed by children for their bright colors and easy to understand patterns would also greatly impress an adult with the attention to piecework and detail, the different fabrics chosen to coordinate could be studied for their own artistic effect.

 

The contrasts between these three works are readily apparent, if the reader didn’t know it was the same author and artist, she probably would not have guessed it. The simple verse in When the Goblins Came Knocking varies greatly from the ones used in Pieces.  For example, the summer poem Misplaced uses large words children wouldn’t know.

Misplaced

In a mass of wild confusion

flowers bloom in great profusion,

brilliant dazzling bold infusion,…

 

And Encore, also a summer poem uses onomatopoeia to strengthen the comparison between the words used to describe the hummingbird and the action it takes as it flits around the flowers.

Encore

A hummingbird is

darting

zip zip

flitting

zip zip

dipping

sip sip…

 

The styles of writing are different, the illustrations vastly different from acrylic paintings to quilting to colored pencil on black paper and yet each book has a wholesome appeal with a sense of adventure that is fun for a small child to read and enjoyable for an adult.

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Dole, Patricia Pearl.  1995. When the Goblins Came Knocking.  (book review). School Library Journal. September 1995, p. 178.

 

Grossnickle, Anna Hines. 1997. Miss Emma's Wild Garden. Ill. by Anna Grossnickle Hines. New York: Greenwillow Books. ISBN 0688146937

 

Grossnickle, Anna Hines. 2001. Pieces: A Year in Poems & Quilts. Ill. Anna Grossnickle Hines. New York: Greenwillow Press. ISBN 0688169643

 

Grossnickle, Anna Hines. 1995. When the Goblins Came Knocking. Ill. by Anna Grossnickle Hines. New York: Greenwillow Books. ISBN 0688137369

 

Lempke, Susan Dove.  1995. When the Goblins Came Knocking.  (book review). Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books. September 1995, p. 16.

 

Matthews, Pat.  1997. Miss Emma’s Garden.  (book review). Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books. May 1997, p. 324.

 

McDowell, Kate.  2001. Pieces: A Year in Poems & Quilts.  (book review). Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books. February 2001, p. 223-4.

 

Saccardi, Marianne.  1997. Miss Emma’s Garden.  (book review). School Library Journal. May 1997, p. 100.

 

 

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Programming Ideas

missemmmacov.jpg

I read Miss Emma's Wild Garden to a kindergarten group that came to the library. They loved finding the birds, insects, animals and different flowers in the brightly colored acrylic paintings. In the spring, the teacher agreed to bring them back to the library and we would read the book again and plant seeds in styrofoam cups to take home to make our own gardens.