Violet and Winston

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Violet the swan is brash and bighearted; Winston the duck is bumbling and sweet. They are the best of friends despite being very different birds. Through the three episodes in this endearing picture book, their fondness for each other helps them overcome some terrifi cally silly challenges.

Husband-and-wife team Sonya Sones and Bennett Tramer loosely based Violet and Winston on themselves, and they then recruited their friend Chris Raschka to create their avian alter egos. The ...

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Overview

Violet the swan is brash and bighearted; Winston the duck is bumbling and sweet. They are the best of friends despite being very different birds. Through the three episodes in this endearing picture book, their fondness for each other helps them overcome some terrifi cally silly challenges.

Husband-and-wife team Sonya Sones and Bennett Tramer loosely based Violet and Winston on themselves, and they then recruited their friend Chris Raschka to create their avian alter egos. The result is a joyful kid-pleaser in the tradition of George & Martha and Frog & Toad.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

She's a swan, and he's a duck. She tries to be polite; he's clumsy. But even though they bicker, their friendship is rock-solid. Three short but overwritten sketches are built around misunderstandings or breaches of buddy etiquette that are warmly resolved by the final page; the last, "The Garage Sale," in which Violet convinces shoppers not to buy any of Winston's merchandise because each piece is a memento of their friendship, is husband-and-wife team Sones (What My Mother Doesn't Know ) and Tramer's funniest, albeit in a Disney Channel kind of way ("That mug is... um... cursed!" Violet tells a potential purchaser). Caldecott Medalist Raschka's (The Hello, Goodbye Window ) watercolor-and-ink pictures bloom with lush, bright colors and dense detail, but as comedic vignettes, they fall short. The soft outlines and pastel-like textures not only blunt the humor but also blur the focus-Violet and Winston seem to disappear into their environments, as if they've been camouflaged. Ages 3-5. (Mar.)

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Booklist
In the tradition of James Marshall's George and Martha and Arnold Lobel's Frog and Toad come Violet and Winston, an outspoken swan and a resolute duck, fast friends who get up to some workaday adventures, peppered with the occasional quarrel. Indeed, the three stories here feel immediately familiar, presenting recognizable conflicts and resolving them simply, to the satisfaction of the characters, as well as the reader and listener. Raschka paints his protagonists against backgrounds as bright and colorful as the characters' personalities, and he outlines them in a muted grey, resulting in a series of vibrant, abstract images that echo the story's sense of fun, even as they require some visual interpretation. This stark contrast between the linear simplicity of the text and the colorful abstraction of the illustrations is inviting, and children will happily enter this opulent world of fanciful fowl play.
—Thom Barthelmess
Horn Book
Violet the swan and Winston the duck are old friends with much in common. They both enjoy café society and picnics in the country, but they encounter some sticky patches in their friendship in this trio of stories. Easygoing Winston chews too loudly, annoying the more genteel Violet. Violet's go-girl competence is challenged by Winston's absent-mindedness. Then, lest we start thinking that this is a clichéd case of a high-powered, demanding woman choosing a gentle, bumbling man, we are surprised by a third story in which Violet reveals her sentimental attachment to the possessions that Winston is trying to unload in a garage sale. Raschka's jazzy visual rhythms, fauvist palette (or perhaps Violet really does turn magenta when she's angry), and odd background details (Is that long-footed bird racing along the sidewalk an escapee from Edward Lear?) lend verve and originality to the classic theme of the trials and satisfactions of friendship. s.e.
Children's Literature - Mary Bowman-Kruhm
The three brief stories in this book develop the theme of compromises friends make for each other and the tolerance for foibles that accompanies friendship. All three are quiet stories of friendship. The endings are fun but not surprising; the stories are charming and delightful, not gross or shocking. Raschka's illustrations create broad swaths across the pages as Violet the Swan and Winston the Duck enjoy each other's company and ultimately appreciate quirkiness in the name of friendship. For example, when Violet sticks her fingers in her ears to drown out Winston chomping his food, she cannot hear him ask why her fingers are in her ears. The three tales can be read separately or all three can be combined to encourage youngsters to answer the questions: How are Winston and Violet alike? How are they different? What is friendship? An engaging read-aloud book. Reviewer: Mary Bowman-Kruhm, Ph.D.
School Library Journal

K-Gr 2

In this gently comic collection of three easy-to-read tales, Winston, a tweedy, absentminded duck, and Violet, a swan fond of red high-top sneakers and stylish hats, are longtime friends who find their differences both exasperating and endearing. Whether the characters are searching for missing glasses, chomping noisily on picnic fare, or running a garage sale, their dialogue bears witness to their steadfast devotion to one another despite the inevitable little aggravations that crop up in their life together. Raschka's swirling, impressionistic watercolor and ink illustrations, with vibrant color and thick strokes of energetic line, humorously convey the affectionate give-and-take of these old friends. These tender fables, illustrated with Raschka's signature verve, will find a broad audience with both newly independent readers and young listeners.-Kathleen Finn, Winooski Memorial Library, VT

Kirkus Reviews
Add Violet the brash, big-hearted swan and Winston the bumbling, sweet duck to the venerable list of picture-book odd couples-Laura Vaccaro Seeger's Dog and Bear, James Marshall's George and Martha or even the boys in Raschka's Yo! Yes? (1993). The book's three stories, equally suitable for beginning readers or for reading aloud, show the friends at turns helping and exasperating one another, with the last piece sweetly cementing their special bond. After sabotaging Winston's garage sale ("Oh you mean that haunted one?" Violet asks someone interested in a dollhouse), she explains, "I have too many fond memories . . . " Touched, Winston repels another customer by charging $2,000 for a conch shell. The accompanying illustration perfectly resolves the visual storytelling. While other spreads include multiple ink-and-watercolor illustrations of the bespectacled Winston and the ever-hatted Violet, this solitary, closing, verso-page close-up is held in a rounded, rosy background against the white of the page. The friends' locked eyes speak of memories made and a future imagined, and the picture itself has the warmth of a hug from a friend. (Picture book. 4-7)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803732346
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 3/5/2009
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 3 - 5 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.10 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Sonya Sones is the award-winning author of several young adult novels-in-verse; Bennett Tramer is an Emmy-nominated television writer. They live near the beach in Southern California.

Chris Raschka won the Caldecott Medal for The Hello, Goodbye Window. He lives in New York City.

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