|Laura Vaccaro Seeger, author and illustrator|
of The Hidden Alphabet, First the Egg,
Dog and Bear, and more.
has won many awards and recognitions, including the Caldecott Honor.
Seeger's books together would make a fantastic Read-Aloud as a set. Spanning a variety of topics that will capture the imaginations of children with different interests, Seeger's books are tied together by her distinctive artistic style: vibrant colors and simple images combined with flap-ups and pop-outs that can be counted on to go in a direction the reader does not expect.
The Work of Laura Vaccaro Seeger
"Less is more" works like magic when it comes to the text in Seeger's books. Through minimalist dialogue and open-ended premises she creates books that invite the reader to imagine and create themselves.
For example, in What If?, a book created with only six different words, readers themselves are prompted to answer the question when three seals have to decide how to share one ball among themselves. Different scenarios play out in the pictures but the simple text leaves a lot to the imagination--and the beautiful, bright paintings that accompany the text are sure to keep young imaginations awake!
ln Black? White! Day? Night!: A Book of Opposites, the brilliance of Seeger's illustrations really comes out. In this book, which has pairs of "opposite" words as its only text, the pictures for one concept are incorporated into the picture for its opposite. A flea becomes the tiny eye of an elephant; a dolphin that appears to be leaping over waves on one page is revealed to be swimming under them with the lift of a flap.
In an interview, Seeger explained that she is inspired by simple threads of concept that can be tugged and pulled until they give way to books:
"In Lemons Are Not Red it was the concept of 'not' that intrigued me the most. What else is not red? What is never red? What else IS red? I always imagine the conversations that might evolve based on the words and pictures in my books, and I try to add something that will encourage such discussion."
This, of course, is heaven-made for a Read-Aloud, where kids are bound to have something to say. For all their textual simplicity, the concepts behind Seeger's books are so complex that it's worth spending ten or twenty minutes on one story with a young child and taking time to talk as much as you and your reader want about each of the pictures. Ask questions like the ones Seeger herself posed, particularly: what else? and everything it implies.
To get a better idea of how the books work, mechanically, check out this book trailer for The Hidden Alphabet:
Seeger says that she knew she wanted to write and paint children's books from a very young age; she recalled being inspired by her grandmother's rendition of The Little Engine That Could.
Now there's something to think about--who knows what book you'll read today that will end up as inspiration for the next generation of children's literature?