Tag Archives: Ehsan Abdollahi

World Make Way / Thinker: My Puppy Poet and Me

World Make Way
New Poems Inspired by Art from The Metropolitan Museum of Art
ed. Lee Bennett Hopkins
Abrams Books for Young Readers

Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen.” so said Italian Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci who was also a poet.

Award winning poet Lee Bennett Hopkins and the Museum asked a number of poets to look at and respond to classic art from the Museum’s collection and create poems that reflect their feelings.

The outcome is this collection of eighteen poems in many different styles by poets some of whom are completely new to me, as are some of the wonderfully diverse works of art from artists including Gustav Klimt, Mary Cassat, Henri Rousseau, the contemporary Kerry James Marshall whose Studio painting inspired Marilyn Nelson’s ‘Studio’ poem.

and Han Gan whose handscroll painting is dated c.750.This was the inspiration for Elaine Magliaro’s ‘Night-Shining White’.

Hopkins has included brief notes about both the artists and the poets at the back of the book.

It’s a beautiful book to savour both visually and verbally, and equally, one to share and discuss with both primary and secondary age children.

Thinker: My Puppy Poet and Me
Eloise Greenfield, illustrated by Ehsan Abdollahi
Tiny Owl

Eloise Greenfield is a well-known poet in the USA and I was fortunate to come across some of her books when travelling in the States many years ago and still have them in my collection. Her poems are not however, well known in the UK so it’s wonderful to see that Tiny Owl are publishing this as part of their programme to ‘promote under-represented voices and cultures in literature’ and have Iranian artist Ehsan Abdollahi (When I Coloured the World and A Bottle of Happiness illustrator) to provide the art work for the book.

The book comprises sixteen poems, which focus on a boy named Jace, his dog aptly named Thinker and the friendship between them. Many are penned from Thinker’s viewpoint; in one or two, dog and boy converse while others – also conversational – have Thinker and Jace writing on the same topic.

There’s a sequence beginning with You Can Go wherein Jace tells his dog about the next day’s event at his school. Next comes ‘Pet’s Day’.

This gives Thinker’s musings on being in the classroom for the occasion; it’s followed by Jace’s ‘That’s My Puppy when his proud owner talks thus:
I thought Thinker might / shame me, but I am proud / of him. I pat him on the back’ …
The dog’s response ‘Thinker’s Rap’ is the grand finale– a dog poet that can create rap – how cool is that!

This is a delightfully quirky poetry book with each poem different in style, some very brief including

‘Birds Fly’ and this ‘Weather Haiku’,: ‘Cool out here today, / but I don’t need my sweater. / My hair is enough.’

It’s most likely to appeal to animal loving children and may well motivate readers to take up the author’s suggestion to ‘take some time, now and then, to write a poem or two.’

Inspired by Ehsan Abdollahi’s wonderful collage style illustrations, readers may also emulate the book’s artist and create their own collage pictures.

I’ve signed the charter  

A Bottle of Happiness

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A Bottle of Happiness
Pippa Goodheart and Ehsan Abdollahi
Tiny Owl
A Bottle of Happiness – now that’s something we could all do with from time to time; but how could it be caught and then put into a bottle? Well the first part’s easy: we can infect people with our own happiness; but bottling it? That’s altogether different. It is however the challenge young Pim is faced with in this neo fable when, accompanied by Tiddle, his dog, he crosses the mountain.
Now Pim and his people lived on one side of this mountain: they worked hard and shared what they had – stories in particular. On the opposite side lived the rich people who were traders, intent on getting richer: they didn’t give, they sold things to one another at a big market. Pim decides to go over that mountain in search of a new story and it’s there in the market place he finds himself looking at a basket of mouth-watering fruits. The seller of same doesn’t give things away though and so Pim, a perceptive and thoughtful lad, agrees to bring him happiness, the one thing his own people have more of, in exchange for some of the fruit.

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Back he goes and collects song, laughter, music and love from his fellow villagers. With all this safely stored in a bottle, back he goes; what comes out when he removes the stopper however, is total silence – but not for long …

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Now how could that be, and how does Pim manage to bring about an amazing transformation in the relationship between the sellers and the givers? That would be telling; and I think I may already have. For the rest you’ll need to get hold of a copy of this book and savour the delights of Ehsan Abdollahi’s intriguing peasant style patchwork illustrations.
This is a book that demonstrates that rather than being just for the vey young, picture books really are for all ages.
I asked some children what they would put in a bottle of happiness. Here are some responses:
A trampoline, a diving board, my brother, my family’ James 8
‘My family, a smiley face, a tennis court, a football pitch’ Daniel 7
‘Smiles, hugs, music, books, tortoises, love, flowers, art’ Rosa 7
‘Friendship, love, snow, sweets, beaches, Easter, sunshine, mice’ Nina 10
‘Love and respect’ Dolci 5
‘Mummy and Daddy’ Elena 3
‘Swimming with friends on holiday’ Gracie 7
Food for thought …

When I Coloured the World

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When I Coloured the World
Ahmadreza Ahmadi
Tiny Owl
I tend to discourage the use of erasers – in school at least – and especially for the very young who all too easily become obsessed with using them, needlessly rubbing out their so called ‘mistakes’. Not so the child narrator of this beautiful fable wherein we see how colour can change the world and the way we look at it. Her judicious use of a single eraser and her box of crayons makes the world a place of joy and peace, hope, playfulness and much more, filling it with red roses, yellow lights, blue sky to play beneath,

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silver rain and drizzle to eliminate the floods, wheat growing green, peaceful light blue, orange spring filled with scented blossom, dark blue for song and dance, purple laughter, gentle breezes of violet, healthy glowing pink for healing, orange for people whose age is immaterial …

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and finally, with another wielding of the yellow crayon …

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I love the way the author has captured the child-like innocence of this wonderful, empowering book. It’s one I can envisage being shared and discussed widely in schools as well as being enjoyed at home and it’s a great starting point for children’s own colourful, world changing artistic creations.

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Fern rubbed out sadness and wrote happiness in yellow “For sunshine so children can dance and sing outdoors.”

 

 

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Beth rubbed out despairing and wrote celebrating in red.

 

Ehsan Abdollahi, the book’s illustrator too has captured that special child-like simplicity in the uplifting scenes that are aglow with wonderfully patterned, richly hued images.
What riches Tiny Owl is bringing to the UK with the publication of such truly beautiful books from Iran. I hope they achieve the wide audience they merit.

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Bing Paint Day
Ted Dewan
Harper Collins Children’s Books
Anyone who knows Bing (and that is countless preschoolers and their parents and carers) will anticipate the outcome of letting the young Bunny loose with a paintbrush, paints and a pot of water. As usual with Bing, things begin fairly calmly and he is busy producing a colourful scene

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but then a tornado hits and …

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It’s a good job that there’s a single colour left and it just happens to be Bing’s favourite orange; so all ends happily in true Bing fashion because as we know “It’s a Bing Thing”.

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