Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Little Bird

The picture book Little Bird by Germano Zullo, published this year, has few words and many colorful, vibrant illustrations. It tells the story of a truck driver who, coming to the edge of a cliff and unable to go any further, opens the truck's back door and out fly a flock of birds. As the man watches them fly off, the text tells us, "One could almost believe that one day is just like another." But then the man observes that left in the truck is one little bird. Tiny, the text notes.

"Most of the time we don't notice these things.
Because little things are not made to be noticed."

The man and the little bird spend the day together. Eventually all the other birds return as well.

"When we take the time to look for them . . .
the small things appear."

By the end of the book the man is flying, carried by the birds.

"There are no greater treasures than the little things.
One is enough to enrich the moment.
Just one is enough to change the world."

What does it mean for something to be little? Is anything ever truly insignificant? Are our realities made up of only the things we notice? How does the way we see affect what there is to be seen?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Infinity and Me

Infinity and Me is a new book, written by Kate Hosford with illustrations by Gabi Swiatkowska, that explores the nature of infinity. Uma, an eight-year-old girl, begins wondering, as she looks up at the sky one night:

How many stars were in the sky?
A million? A billion?
Maybe the number was as
big as infinity.

I started to feel very,
very small. How
could I even think
about something as
big as infinity?

Uma tries to understand the concept of infinity by asking people - friends, her grandmother, and other adults - how they imagine infinity. Along the way she considers the concept of "forever" and thinks about what she would want to do forever, if anything. She imagines having recess forever, for example - and then reflects, "But if there's no school before recess, and no school after recess, it it really recess anymore?"

The story is captivating and can provoke, in addition to discussions of infinity, conversations about time and space, numbers, imagination, friendship and love, and, I expect, many other topics!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Horton Hears A Who

Horton Hears A Who! by Dr. Suess tells the story of Horton the Elephant who, while splashing “in the cool of the pool,” hears a small noise, like a very small yelp, but sees nothing except a “small speck of dust blowing past through the air.” Horton speculates that a very small creature must be on top of the dust speck and imagines that the small creature is afraid that the dust will blow into the pool. Concerned, “because a person’s a person, no matter how small,” Horton gently lifts the speck with his trunk, places it on a clover, and tries to protect it.

The other animals in the jungle make fun of Horton, conjecturing that he is “out of his head.” Eventually the voice on the clover confides to Horton that he is the Mayor of a town called Who-ville, and that Horton has saved all the Whos and their buildings. As the other animals chase him and ultimately threaten to imprison Horton and boil the dust speck, all the small Whos make enough noise to finally be heard by the other animals, who finally recognize that there are indeed very small persons in the clover.

Readers of all ages can appreciate Horton’s story, which inspires questions like: Did Horton know there was a person on the dust speck when he heard the sound? How did he know it? Why didn't the other animals didn’t believe him? Do you have to see, hear, or touch something yourself in order to believe it’s there? Can you think of something you know exists even though you can’t see, hear or touch it?