Friday, April 10, 2009

Black and White

The colors black and white create such visual delights when presented on paper. As someone who enjoys art, but don't ask me any questions, I am drawn to black and white photography and will often play with the many digital photographs I have of Emmy changing them from color to black and white and back to color again. Research tells us that babies prefer to look at high-contrast edges and patterns which explains the many baby mobiles made in those two colors. When Emmy was a baby she didn't have a mobile like that, but she did have three books by Tana Hoban which she really enjoyed: Black on White, White on Black and Black & White. In board book form with one picture on a page, these books are so visually appealing and great conversation starters.

Now that Emmy is older we've discovered a few more black and white books that we love to read. Published in 1980, the book Goodnight, Goodnight by Eve Rice is a favorite choice at bedtime. As night settles over a town, we watch as all of the people go about their nighttime activities including a kitten on the rooftop who is looking for someone to play with until he is found by his mother. "But all over town, Goodnight was creeping slowly with the dark."

Another favorite at bedtime is a book published by Peter Pauper Press titled Whoo's There A Bedtime Shadow Book. Grab your flashlight and get ready! Emmy loves to shine the images on her bedroom wall. Her favorite image is the little girl holding the kitty cat. It's amazing what adding a flashlight can do to your bedtime routine. Don't forget to try out some hand images on the wall! "I sat and I waited, and then I could see, all the nighttime creatures waiting for me."

The most recent addition to our night-night books is The House in the Night by Susan Marie Swanson. The story follows a cumulative pattern (think Hush, Little Baby and This is the House That Jack Built) based on the nursery rhyme This is the Key of the Kingdom which dates back to 1897. Maybe you remember it:

This is the key of the kingdom.
In that kingdom there is a city.
In that city there is a town.
In that town there is a street.
In that street there is a lane.
In that lane there is a yard.
In that yard there is a house.
In that house there is a room.
In that room there is a bed.
On that bed there is a basket.
In that basket there are some flowers.

Flowers in a basket,
Basket on the bed,
Bed in the room,
Room in the house,
House in the yard,
Yard in the lane,
Lane in the street,
Street in the town,
Town in the city,
City in the kingdom.
Of that kingdom this is the key.

With her own twist on this classic rhyme, Swanson succeeds in giving it a modern update that enables our imaginations to soar along with the girl as she travels into the world of a book. The illustrations in this book are stunning! Using scratchboard and watercolor, Beth Krommes creates a nighttime world of wonder. "Here is the key to the house, the house in the night, a home full of light."

While researching the beginnings of the original rhyme, I came across this fingerplay found in the book What'll I Do With the Baby-O by Jane Cobb that I think, with a bit of practice, I could successfully do with Emmy. In case you'd like to give it a try, here it is:

This is the Key to the Kingdom

This is the key to the kingdom.
(key—thumb/ kingdom—arms wide)
And in the kingdom there is a town,
(hands a foot apart)
And in the town there is a hill,
(hands curled over)
And on the hill there is a street,
(arms out parallel)
And on the street there is a house,
(hands peaked)
And in the house there is a room.
(Room—palms turned outward, thumbs touching)
And in the room there is a bed,
(one hand with the palm out flat flat, one hand up at a right angle)
And on the bed there is a basket,
(basket--cup hands together)
And in the basket there is a blanket,
(one hand over the other)
And under the blanket there is a BABY!
(hold out cupped hands as if something precious were inside)

Then, do the whole thing backwards:

Baby under the blanket,
Blanket in the basket,
Basket on the bed,
Bed in the room,
Room in the house,
House on the street,
Street on the hill,
Hill in the town,
Town in the kingdom,
And THIS is the key to the kingdom.

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