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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Cover Reveal!! New Picture Book!! GIRLS AND BOYS COME OUT TO PLAY

Put copy here

It’s a book!

Mother Goose invites a group of children “up the ladder and down the wall”.

Who will they meet on the other side?

GIRLS AND BOYS COME OUT TO PLAY

By Tracey Campbell Pearson

Published by

Margaret Ferguson Books,

Holiday House

ISBN 978-0-8324-4713-8

Available wherever books are sold!!!

 

I can send autographed bookplates to any indie bookstore!

Contact me: info@traceycampbellpearson.com

Thanks for supporting your local indie bookseller!

For information about the book, including summary, reviews, images and activities:

Girls and Boys Come Out to Play

Honk-Honk!…tcp

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WILBUR and George….hop…hop…again.

I’m joining The Briar Patch Bookstore in Bangor, Maine this morning for a virtual story time.

It’s Easter weekend.

I’m reading my new book, Girls and Boys Come Out to Play, which features Mother Goose.

Wilbur said…Don’t forget George!

Just in case you need a rabbit for your basket..

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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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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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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MY FUNNY VALENTINE…

Make your own Bob Valentine…

 

 

Bob Valentine cut paper collage.

BOB

2020 and still in print!!!

 

Originally published in 2002 by Farrar Straus Giroux.

 

Have fun with Bob…Happy Valentine’s Day…tcp

Bob

written and illustrated by Tracey Campbell Pearson

Published by Farrar Straus Giroux (BYR)
Square Fish Macmillan
Softcover ISBN 978-0-374-40871-8

  • NCTE Notable Children’s Book in Language Arts
  • School Library Journal, starred review
  • Arkansas Diamond Primary Book
    Award Master List- Grades K-3
  • Oppenheim Gold Award
  • Maine, Raising Reader Book for 4 year olds
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