Sing a Song of Randolph Caldecott…Or how to turn a nursery rhyme into a picture book

Randolph Caldecott, an English illustrator born in 1846, created 16 picture books from nursery rhymes. Minimal text and pictures working together, page after page.  Perfect.

Maurice Sendak introduced me to his work in 1976. He called him the “Father of Picture Books”

My version of Sing a Song of Sixpence was published by Dial Books for Young Readers in 1985.

I studied with Sendak while I was a student at Parson’s in NYC.  It took me a few picture books before I was brave enough to try my hand at illustrating this nursery rhyme used by Caldecott and also admired by Sendak. The challenge:  Be true to the words while creating a different story and a different picture book.

I dedicated the book to Maurice and to Jane Bierhorst (who taught with Maurice and was also the designer for this book)

Here are a few pages from both books:

In my version, we have the courtyard kids. Their parents work for the king and queen. The child with the blonde hair and clean white shirt, is new to the neighborhood. They bet him a sixpence that he can’t snitch a pocket full of rye.

We now have 24 blackbirds.

The princess watches it all unfold. She really wants to play with the courtyard kids.

And she does. The children sprinkle rye while the cook has her back turned. They put the apples back in the bag.

Now, instead of apple pie, we have blackbird pie. The reader knows what’s happening. The cook is clueless.

“Wasn’t that a dainty dish to set before the king?”

The kids and the princess think it’s all great fun. The King, Queen and the cook aren’t so sure.

The cook chases the children. The blackbirds join the King in the counting house.

The Queen shares her bread and honey with the kids and the blackbirds.

She was modeled after my grandmother who had a sweet tooth. I remember her giant sugar cookies.

The cook is still in pursuit of the children.

This spread was inspired by a childhood memory of wandering through fresh laundered sheets hanging on the clothes line. A fun place to hide. I loved the fresh smell!

(When I visited the Tower of London, I saw Henry VIII’s armor and discovered it was short and wide. Just like Henry! The clothes on the clothesline must fit the king and queen.)

In some versions of this nursery rhyme, including Caldecott’s–after a blackbird snaps off the maid’s nose–a  jenny wren “pops” it on again. My tribute to Caldecott’s version had to have a jenny wren! I must be true to the words.

First, the blackbird needs to do his job.

Can you find which one has the nose?

(I love hearing kids squeal with delight when the find it!)

In a picture book, the pictures and text create a dance. Two different illustrators can take the same words and create a different dance and a different book.

One decision that an illustrator makes that has a huge impact on the story, is what the characters will look like. Will they be children or could they be rabbits? Bears?…

Sometimes the illustrator creates and introduces new characters that aren’t even in the written text! They still need to work with the story. She still needs to be true to the words. (I better have all 24 blackbirds!) But, these other characters can add an extra layer to the story. I introduced the courtyard kids, the queen’s dog (a bulldog), the cat that’s after the blackbirds, the cook and the princess. You won’t find any of these characters in the written poem.

As for my princess…Another tribute to Caldecott who often added a twist at the end.

My king and queen do not want their princess hanging out with the courtyard kids. She joins in with the courtyard kids while her parents are busy doing what kings and queens do. On the last page, the king makes the princess return to the castle. She doesn’t go quietly!

 

 Caldecott ends his Hey Diddle Diddle with the knife and fork taking the spoon away and leaving the poor dish is shattered.

Subtle. Brilliant.

The goal is always to create a book that a child will want again and again and hopefully discover something new in the art each time she reads it.

If you want to make a picture book, starting with a poem in public domain a is a great place to begin.

What do you do after you pick out a poem? How do you turn those words into a 32 page book? I’ll talk more about about the process in a future post. Until then there are many helpful of resources on the internet.

Here are two of my favorites:

Society of Children’s Book Illustrators and Writers:

www.scbwi.org

Highlights Foundation:

www.highlightsfoundation.org

For fun activities and information about all of my books…visit my website:

www.traceycampbellpearson.com

Have fun!…tcp

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Humpty Dumpty sits on a wall…or your shelf!

Humpty Dumpty is just one of the Mother Goose characters in my picture book,

GIRLS AND BOYS COME OUT TO PLAY.

He is also one of my “Shelfies”. My answer to social distancing.

*He can sit on your shelf too.

Download him. Print him. Cut him out and he’ll keep you company.

*Don’t worry if he falls! Help is on the way in my next post!

Until then….

 

Baby it’s cold outside!!!…Here are some warm clothes for Humpty Dumpty.

Save room on your shelf for his friends!

You can find Mother Goose in the previous post.

Honk-Honk!

For more activities for many of my books visit the FUN STUFF section on my website:

www.traceycampbellpearson.com

Have fun!…tcp

Girls and Boys Come Out To Play by Tracey Campbell Pearson
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A star for Mother Goose…a “shelfie” for you…

Honk-Honk! MG loves her star. Thank you, SLJ…

★ “Pearson’s pen-and-ink and watercolor illustrations easily convey the exuberance of her characters be they human or animal. Her dynamic scenes are full of details that keep the story zipping along with the text. . . . this clever book will delight all readers.”—School Library Journal, Starred Review

.

Meet Mother Goose. MG for short.

She’s featured in my picture book,

GIRLS AND BOYS COME OUT TO PLAY.

She is also one of my “Shelfies”. My answer to social distancing.

She can sit on your shelf too.

Download her. Print her. Cut her out and she will keep you company.

Save room on your shelf for her friends!

Look for more “shelfies” on future posts here on my blog and on my website.

Honk-Honk!

 

 

For more activities for many of my books visit the FUN STUFF section on my website:

www.traceycampbellpearson.com

Have fun!…tcp

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Hey Diddle….Wilbur!!!

Hey Diddle, Diddle.

The cat and the fiddle.

The cow jumped over….

…Wilbur!

Wilbur here…Do you like my crown?

I had fun at my first Virtual Story Time with TCP.

Thanks to Michele and Kristen at Phoenix Books in Essex, VT for hosting.

Thanks to all who joined us virtually in her studio.

She read.

She drew pictures.

She shared pictures.

Kids drew pictures and shared them from home.

Me…I sat on the floor of her studio and watched…

…I did not bark.

I did not beg for cookies.

I did not get into her trash.*

…Zoom-Zoom.

*Disclaimer: I did find part of a bagel in someone else’s trash on the way to her studio. It was delicious!

She said I was a good boy.

So, I’m invited to her next Virtual Story Time!!!

And you’re invited too!

Saturday, April 3, 2021 10:00 ET

The Briar Patch Bookshop, Bangor, ME

https://briarpatchbooks.square.site

 

Girls and Boys Come Out and…..Celebrate!

You too can have a cow jumping over you…

"Girls and Boys Come Out to Play" by Tracey Campbell Pearson Crown activity

My Hey Diddle Crown is just

one of the activities on her website. Explore. Have fun!

She’ll post future virtual EVENTS on her BLOG on her WEBSITE.

And MORE ACTIVITES as we get close to our book birthday!!

 

*APRIL 13,2021 GIRLS AND BOYS COME OUT TO PLAY BOOK BIRTHDAY!

 

WHEN BOOKS WILL BE AVAILABLE WHEREVER BOOKS  ARE SOLD!!

YOU CAN  PRE-ORDER!!

THANK YOU FOR SUPPORTING YOUR INDIE BOOKSELLER!

Let her know your favorite indie bookseller and she’ll send them autographed bookplates when you purchase a book.

*If you can’t wait until April 13th, you can get an autographed book, early by attending her event at The Briar Patch

Honk-Honk!…tcp

Contact her through the contact section on her website:

www.traceycampbellpearson.com

Keep reading!

Have fun…woof-woof…Wilbur

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Girls and Boys Come Out and READ!!!

Girls and Boys Come Out and…..Celebrate!

Saturday, March 27th 11:00 ET

I’m joining my local indie bookseller, Phoenix Books in Essex, VT from my studio for a Virtual Story Time!

It will be the first public reading of my new book Girls and Boys Come Out to Play.

I’ll read, draw and share my process…while celebrating all things Mother Goose!

I’ll be signing their in store copies of my books. Let them know if you want one personalized.

You can register through their website. Here’s a link:

https://www.phoenixbooks.biz/event/story-time-tracey-campbell-pearson

 

In honor of Mother Goose…to celebrate my new book…and just because it’s fun…I’ve put new activities on my website. Here’s a link:

Girls and Boys Come Out to Play

 

Flying Mother Goose..

…one of the activities on my website. Explore. Have fun!

I’ll post future virtual events on my blog on my website.

THESE ARE HAPPENING SOON!

Saturday, March 27, 2021 11:00 ET Phoenix Books, Essex, VT.

https://www.phoenixbooks.biz

Saturday, April 3, 2021 10:00 ET The Briar Patch Bookshop, Bangor, ME

https://briarpatchbooks.square.site

*APRIL 13,2021 GIRLS AND BOYS COME OUT TO PLAY BOOK BIRTHDAY!

WHEN BOOKS WILL BE AVAILABLE WHEREVER BOOKS  ARE SOLD…

WHERE YOU CAN ALSO PRE-ORDER!!

THANK YOU FOR SUPPORTING YOUR INDIE BOOKSELLER!

Let me know your favorite indie bookseller, I’m happy to send them autographed bookplates when you purchase a book.

*If you can’t wait until April 13th, you can get an autographed book, early by attending one of the above events.

Honk-Honk!…tcp

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Mother Goose lands in bookstores…Soon!

 

“While letting the traditional phrases work their magic, Pearson captures the spirit of the nonsense in lively ink drawings with watercolor washes. . . .  With plenty of intriguing characters and visual details to discover, here’s a lively interpretation of a classic nursery rhyme.”Booklist

 

My new book, Girls and Boys Come Out to Play will be available at your local indie bookstore

or wherever books are sold on

April 13th!!!

Mother Goose wants you to know that early copies will be available when you attend one of my virtual book events.

Join us for some silliness…reading…drawing…and fun!

 

SIGN UP AT:

PHOENIX BOOKS, ESSEX,VT

Saturday, March 27th 11:00-12:30

https://www.phoenixbooks.biz

(802) 872-7111

 

BRIAR PATCH BOOKSHOP, BANGOR, MAINE

Saturday, April 3rd 10:00 am

https://bookshop.org/shop/briarpatchbooks

(207) 941-0255

 

Hope to see there!…HONK! HONK!…

 

…Thank you, Margaret Ferguson! Thank you to everyone at Holiday House Books!

Thank you, Phoenix Books , Briar Patch Bookshop and All Indie Booksellers!

…It takes a team to make a book!!

 

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Valentine Bob…and Wilbur…

Happy Valentine’s Day from Wilbur and Bob!

 

Wilbur’s wearing his Bob crown. He replaced the yum-yum bugs with hearts for Valentine’s Day.

You can download the crown from the Fun Stuff section of my website.

I made Valentine Bob using press sheets from his book. You can make your own Valentine Bob! Just download the pattern in the Fun Section of my website. Have fun!

x

Happy Valentine’s Day!

tcp…Bob…and Wilbur

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Peace. Love. Books. Elephants.

Elephant Alphabet…Elephant Words…Gracie is thinking of words for the new year…

Think of a word…or your name…or the name of a friend.

Print Elephant’s Alphabet and color and cut out your words.

Glue or tape them to a piece of paper.

Make a word. Make a herd. Share them with a friend.

Have fun!…tcp

Elephant's Story by Tracey Campbell Pearson

Elephant’s Story

written and illustrated by Tracey Campbell Pearson

Published by Margaret Ferguson Books, Farrar Straus Giroux (BYR)
Hardcover ISBN 9780374399139

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NOTES FROM MOTHER GOOSE…

Look what’s New for Spring 2021…

It’s my book…honk…honk!

Girls and Boys Come Out to Play published by Margaret Ferguson Books, Holiday House.

Thank you, Margaret Ferguson! Thank you, Holiday House!

Where would a goose be without you?

Just a peek. More to come…

Honk-honk…MG

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WILBUR and George….hop…hop…

My studio is getting crowded.

Wilbur is our 100lb Bernese Mountain Dog.

He needed company when I’m busy at my drawing table.

Meet George the rabbit.

Cut him out.

Glue his front and back together.

Bend him at his feet and tell him to stand.

George’s vision is a little fuzzy. You can make him some glasses out of wire…

…and put them right over his nose.

Or if you would like…you can Color George.

Then, cut him out and glue him together.

Bend him at his feet and tell him to stand.

You can add glasses by drawing them…

any color…any shape!

Speaking of coloring…

…Here’s a bunny coloring page.

It’s made from the endpapers that I drew for TUCK-IN TIME…written by Carole Gerber.

…and paper bunny dolls!

Print and color!

There are more activities for many of my books.

Just visit the FUN STUFF section on my website:

www.traceycampbellpearson.com

Have fun!…tcp

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