Today on PPBF I’m featuring another author participating in the WOW retreat.
Jill Esbaum, a rhymer, hits age-old childhood themes in new and creative ways.
Title: Teeny Tiny Toady
Written by: Jill Esbaum
Illustrated by: Keika Yamaguchi
Sterling, 2016, fiction, 40 pages
Suitable for ages: 4-7
Themes/topics: problem solving, siblings, rescue
(Opening spread – mother toad yells for help. Teeny watches.)
Hopping faster than she ever
in her tiny life had hopped,
hurry-scurry, wild with worry,
Teeny flopped and plopped and slopped,
Dodging spiderwebs and mushrooms,
leaping bugs and sluggy mothers,
till she skidded through the door – at last! – to grasp…
(from worldcat.org) When a giant hand scoops up her mama, Teeny the tiny toad hops like lightning to her big brothers: “Mama’s stuck inside a bucket! Help!” “Don’t you worry, kid. We’ll save her!” the boys promise. But as the brothers bumble and stumble to the rescue, it becomes clear: brawn can’t always beat brains, and the smallest girl may be the smartest of all.
Activities and Resources:
Writing: If you were Teeny Tiny Toady, how would you have solved the problem? Write a new ending to the story.
Reading skills: Identify the rhymes. Extend with more.
Why I like this book:
Rhyming books always run the risk of having the rhyme overshadow the story. But in this one (and all of Jill’s), the story is front and center. Breaking stanzas and lines over page turns lets the story rule the format and controls pacing. Children benefit from seeing the power of little voices. In this era of rough and tough, shoot ‘em up and blow ‘em up, we need stories like this one early on to showcase the value of brains, ingenuity and courage winning over physical size and strength. The story sings with great verbs and illustrations that are quite endearing. (Yes, even toads can be endearing.)
Two more wonderful books by Jill Esbaum, both about fear:
I Am Cow, Hear Me Moo! (illustrated by Gus Gordon, Dial 2014)
This book has won numerous awards. Nadine, the cow, claims that she’s not afraid of anything. Her friends call her bluff, and they head into the deep, dark woods.
For writers, this is an excellent book to examine rhyme and pacing. Also her character development – Nadine is pure child, faces her fears, and maintains her dignity.
Check it out! Review by Susanna Hill for PPBF
Stanza (illustrated by Jack E. Davis, HMH 2009)
This one deals with peer fear – a tough-guy dog who’s afraid his brothers will laugh at him if he exposes his love of writing poetry. The contrast between his street life and inner musings is fun and aptly illustrates the conflict between our outer and inner selves. The ending is great. Kids will get it from the illustration, but parents will chuckle at another level. Love this book!
Fellow writers will feel his pain: He scribbled and scrawled. Reconsidered. Erased. He wadded up papers. He pondered. He paced. He scoured his thesaurus. He struggled for rhymes. He started from scratch at least eighty-two times.
Visit author Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Books for a plethora of picture books listed by title and topic/theme, each with teacher/parent resources.