Let’s try something a little different today and discuss a classic children’s picture book.
I adore Robert McCloskey. He’s the Normal Rockwell of children’s literature. His books are filled with cheerfulness, ingenuity, mischievous kids, Main Street America, and illustrations full of life and personality.
Lentil is a short, entertaining picture book. It could serve as a lead-in to McCloskey’s chapter book Homer Price (which in turn serves as a great lead-in to analyzing chapter books, since each chapter contains stand-alone stories and can be discussed individually).
Serve a big picture of lemonade for this Book Detectives meeting. Even better, have harmonicas for the kids (and ear plugs for the adults).
Man vs. man conflicts are hard to find in children’s literature, so if you are trying to find a picture book for each type of conflict—man vs. self, man vs. man, man vs. society, man vs. nature, man vs. fate/God, man vs. machine/alien/supernatural—this is a good place to start.
Crime Scene [Setting]
Town of Alto, Ohio—cheerful, lovely, friendly, old-fashioned (fictional town but could be real)
Small Town, USA
Main Street, Train Station
A safe, happy world full of kind citizens, parades, and ice cream
Published in 1940
Beginning of WWII (just after Hitler invaded Poland, just before Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor)
A short time in a boy’s life (the main action happens in a single afternoon)
Lentil—boy (9-12 years old?), positive, cheerful, kind, persistent, carefree
Old Sneep—man, grumpy grumbler, wants others to be as unhappy as he is
Colonel Carter—important, generous