A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead. A Neal Porter Book/Roaring Book Press (May 2010); ISBN 9781596434028; 32 pages
Book Source: Copy from public library
The humble Amos McGee lives in a simple, muted world and provides a welcoming contrast to the vibrant, glossy, eye-catching pages and bold characters so popular in today's children's literature. Amos, a faithful, elderly zookeeper, lovingly cares for his zoo animal friends day after day. He knows each and every animal personally, provides encouragement and helps them all with their problems. Then, one day, Amos spends a sick day at home. The elephant, tortoise, penguin, rhinoceros and owl immediately notice his absence and board the bus to cheer up their faithful friend. The book is illustrated by Erin E. Stead and written by her husband, Philip C. Stead.
It's such a lovely story -- so very heartwarming with a quiet humor. You can't help but smile while reading about Amos and his friends. And the illustrations are full of so many little details that, at first, we didn't even notice the little bird that tags along. And, do we ever adore the red and blue sock-footed, shy penguin and his bright red balloon! Erin Stead uses an interesting woodblock printing process for making her pictures. Even Amos' pajama stripes are lovingly printed in this manner. After she prints the shapes she draws in extra details with a pencil.
Really, I could go on and on about the illustrations, but for me, what really makes this book a winner is the main character, Amos. It's not always easy to find books for children that show elderly individuals in a positive light. Even though my daughter loves her great-grandparents and sees them often, she is still a little cautious and wary when around the elderly. Partly, I blame books and TV. Those mean, scary witches almost always are depicted as elderly, humped over women. But, here we have an amiable and tender man, Amos, who loves animals and wears bunny slippers. I've never seen a more lovable, elderly character in my life.
A Sick Day for Amos McGee deserves all the attention it has recently garnered. If you haven't picked up a copy yet, please do. You won't regret it.
Erin Stead Illustration
365 BOATS - Philip Stead Blog
Philip Christian Stead Artwork and Illustration
My daughter is fascinated with Erin Stead's blog post about the woodblock printing. After last week's successful printmaking craft, we thought we try using a faux woodblock printing technique this time. Obviously I'm not going to let my kindergarten-aged daughter carve wood with sharp blades, so we had to improvise. We still used a block of wood, but first attached a piece of craft foam paper to the top, to make carving easier. It's similar to making block prints with Styrofoam.
Block of wood, size depends on size of desired image
Craft foam paper (I picked up a pack from the dollar store)
Paper on which to print image
Kitchen utensils with pointed ends like a meat thermometer or potato peeler or household objects like nails
Stamping ink pad
1. Cut craft foam to fit the wood block. Size and shape will depend of size of wood block and desired image. Securely attach craft foam to the wood block using double-sided tape.
2. Draw a simple picture lightly with pen onto the craft foam attached to the woodblock. Use a pointed object to carve or engrave the lines into the foam. My daughter used a meat thermometer and later went back and made her lines thicker with the end of a potato peeler. (To make the potato peeler a little safer to use, wrap masking tape around the sharp edges that you must grasp.)
3. Using a large stamp pad, apply ink to the foam block with a rubbing motion. Carefully place the image onto a page of paper and press firmly down.
4. Remove block and view your beautiful printed block image!
My daughter loves the little penguin in A Sick Day for Amos McGee so she chose to draw her own penguin. She stamped several homemade printed cards using her penguin "woodblock." They'll make nice thank you notes. The penguin note-card printing craft is a perfect activity for this time of the year. This week is National Letter Writing Week and Penguin Awareness Day is coming up on January 20th.
A Mommy's Adventures hosts the "stART" meme (Story + Art) each week. Add your kids craft post to the Kid's Get Crafty linky at Red Ted Art's Blog. Join in Read Aloud Thursday at Hope is the Word. Show off your ideas at ABC & 123 Show and Tell.
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