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Polka Dot Penguin Pottery
     

Polka Dot Penguin Pottery

by Lenore Look
 

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Aspen Colorado Kim Chee Lee likes writing stories about monkeys, elephants, and aliens, but these days writing hasn't been much fun. It's like her characters are on vacation. Her pages are blank and she's blocked. Luckily, her grandparents know that a trip to the local paint-your-own-pottery studio is exactly what she needs to feel creative again. Lenore Look's

Overview

Aspen Colorado Kim Chee Lee likes writing stories about monkeys, elephants, and aliens, but these days writing hasn't been much fun. It's like her characters are on vacation. Her pages are blank and she's blocked. Luckily, her grandparents know that a trip to the local paint-your-own-pottery studio is exactly what she needs to feel creative again. Lenore Look's charming story and Yumi Heo's mixed-media naive-style illustrations create a warm and childlike book for young artists and writers.

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 1–3—Aspen is a young writer who hasn't been able to compose for awhile now; though she climbs to her tree house, dons her writing clothes, stuffs her pockets with crackers, and sits quietly awaiting inspiration, ideas just do not come. Her grandparents attempt to allay her stymied imagination by taking her to a pottery-painting studio. The child finds she also has the same aggravating problem getting started with this new form of creativity. Only after another studio participant imparts gentle words of wisdom does Aspen allow herself to be willing to make a mess, which ignites her imagination for both painting and writing. Naïve-style oil, pencil, and collage illustrations are unpredictably laid out in a top-to-bottom format rather than side-to-side. The girl's frustration and eventual pleasure as she works through her writer's and painter's blocks are revealed in single-page and full-spread pictures. Good motivation for children who need to activate their artistic side.—Maryann H. Owen, Racine Public Library, WI
Publishers Weekly
This spirited story from the team behind Uncle Peter's Amazing Chinese Wedding (Atheneum, 2006) is narrated by Aspen Colorado Kim Chee Lee (her nom de plume), a seasoned author who favors pigtails and bright A-line dresses. Aspen opens by describing her writing process, lining up words "like a fruit seller who chooses her best mangoes and pomegranates and bananas and puts them on display." But lately she's had writer's block. Thinking Aspen needs inspiration, her grandparents, GungGung and PohPoh, take her to a paint-your-own pottery studio, where she selects an egg to decorate. At first, Aspen just stares at the egg, but as she acclimates to the unfamiliar activity (and the partylike atmosphere that's building in the store) she finds that getting unstuck can be as simple as trying something new. The book is oriented vertically, with pages that open calendar-style, and Heo's illustrations feature creamy surfaces, peppy patterns, and swirling collages that include a miscellany of art supplies, cupcakes, balloons, and polka-dotted penguins displayed in playfully skewed perspectives. Creatively inclined readers may be similarly inspired to explore new methods and media. Ages 4–8. (May)
Children's Literature - Barbara L. Talcroft
Aspen, with her pert pigtails sticking out on both sides, is a writer—she even has her own tree house where she works on her stories. Lately though, the words just will not come. Is it writer's block? Her grandparents take her downtown to Polka Dot Penguin Pottery, a welcoming workshop where kids can choose an unglazed ceramic form to decorate. It looks like fun; other children rush in and paint, but poor Aspen (who has chosen an egg) cannot get started. How the relaxed atmosphere, encouraging friends, and a messy accident lead Aspen to release her energy and create a satisfying design makes for an upbeat tale of creativity and its sources. The book's design is full of energy, too, since readers open the pages vertically instead of horizontally, and many can be viewed from more than one angle. The studio, for example, is pictured in one spread with the busy worktable in the center, chairs all around, people coming and going, talking and working, as a birthday party arrives with balloons. Fun! Heo's bright, flat illustrations in pencil, oil, and collage keep the focus on Aspen and show her egg from its first green squiggle through her improvisations and additions to its much admired completion. As they watch Aspen pick up her pencil again in her red and green tree house (yes, her writer's block is gone), kids will agree with friend Ivy's cheerful advice, "You can only make a masterpiece if you're willing to make a mess." Heo's large, stylized pictures help make an entertaining read-aloud, but the most enjoyment will come from sitting down with a friend to examine the pages, turn the book, and relish the many fascinating details from all perspectives. Reviewer: Barbara L. Talcroft

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780375963322
Publisher:
Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
05/24/2011
Pages:
40
Product dimensions:
10.10(w) x 9.50(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

LENORE LOOK is the author of the popular Alvin Ho series; in a starred review Kirkus called Alvin "refreshingly original [and] endearing." Lenore is also the author of several acclaimed picture books, including Henry's First-Moon Birthday and Uncle Peter's Amazing Chinese Wedding, both of which received three starred reviews and were named ALA Notable Books.

YUMI HEO is the author-illustrator of many acclaimed books for children including our own Ten Days and Nine Nights, a Christopher Award winner. Among the books she has illustrated are Knopf's The Lonely Lioness and the Ostrich Chicks by Verna Aardema and Henry's First Moon Birthday and Uncle Peter's Amazing Chinese Wedding, both written by Lenore Look and selected as ALA Notable Children's Books.

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