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Phillis Gershator






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Listen, Listen


illustrated by Alison Jay

Barefoot Books, 2007



*Starred review, Booklist
*Board book edition
*German, Norwegian, Swedish, Spanish, Finnish, Catalan, and Korean editions

From the book jacket:

Listen, listen...
Whatís that sound?
Insects singing all around!

It could be the calming buzz, buzz of summer bees. Or perhaps itís the crunch and rustle of autumn leaves underfoot. Listen to insects chirping, frogs croaking, squirrels scurrying, hearths crackling, boots clomping...the sounds are all around you!

Phillis Gershatorís rhythmic verse and Alison Jayís intricate illustrations come together beautifully to celebrate the timeless sounds of the seasons, from summer to autumn, winter to spring.

A little about the book:

     Listen, Listen started as a book about fall, beginning and ending with summerís insect songs. Editor and publisher Tessa Strickland said, Why not a book for all seasons? And our collaboration began. We exchanged seasonal thoughts, broke up the original rhyme a bit, coordinated our punctuation (!), and found images to connect with pre-schoolers on both sides of the Atlantic. Artist Alison Jay told a story on each glowing, jewel-like page and Tessa added an engaging ďcan you seeĒ game at the end to create a unique book for four seasons.

     David Gershator wrote a lilting tune for Listen, Listen. You can hear it on our CD: "This Is the Day! Storysongs & Singalongs."

From the reviews:

"In a spiritual and aesthetic companion to Jayís beautiful Picture This (2004), the artistís work pairs with Gershatorís simple, evocative rhyming imagery to conduct viewers on a walk around a small town as seasonís change. Jayís stylized pictures, with the texture of antique frescos, are a window into a world in which the buzz of an insect and the whoosh of the wind lend surprising emotion. Illustrations filled with snowmen, anthropomorphized animals, and people running through a leaf-swept field will make children long to discover what is just over a hill or around the next bend. Capturing a summer idyll reading in a hammock with the same care as a warm evening by the fireplace, Jay invests each image with both joy and melancholy. This jewel of a book will draw children back again and again." Starred review, Booklist

"In this ode to the seasons, the sights and sounds of a picturesque country village are artfully evoked.... Jay's crackled-varnish paintings have a nostalgic, folk-art quality. The rhyming, onomatopoeic text wraps around the busy scenes, and the words and art together provide a smooth transition between the seasons: 'summer's gone' is illustrated with a swarm of insects buzzing off the page. An appended 'can you see' game encourages close examination of the changing landscapes. Children will be inspired to 'listen, listen' in their own environments." Pick of the week, School Library Journal

"Listen for the sounds of the seasons in this lovely picture book by Phillis Gershator and Alison Jay. I have to admit that I am partial to Alison Jayís art, and thatís what drew me to this book. The spreads are full of detail but they remain simple as they depict each seasonís coming and going. The crackled look gives the illustrations an old fashioned feel that complements the nostalgic tone of the book.... I loved the way the illustrations felt 'alive.' Almost like they were moving. This movement worked well with the simple rhythmic text, which will work well with preschoolers.

"A cool touch that makes this book a great choice for one-on-one sharing is the seek-and-find activity at the end. Each season gets a page with an illustration and all the little things you can find in that season. After reading this book, take your observations outside and see what you can find in your neighborhood to tell you what season it is for a simple lesson for your littlest learners. For slightly older students, you might use the book as a springboard for a writing assignment by having them write about what each season makes them think of. Either way, this is a winner." propernoun.net

"...Jay's magical and occasionally eerie crackle-glaze oil paintings furnish a visual feast. The text is built around a series of rhyming, gentle directives to attune one's ears....the richness and detail of Jay's universe will utterly captivate children. Ultimately, the real journey in this book is less about seasons and sounds than where Jay's imagination takes her and her audience." Publishers Weekly

"...Here is a new twist on teaching children about the seasons. Often we count on our eyes to be our main way of understanding the world. But what about our sense of hearing? What sounds do we hear when autumn comes? The crunch and rustle of leaves underfoot, the honk of geese flying south. And winter? Boots clomping in snow, a crackling fire. I love this book. The illustrations are unique and whimsical, and the rhythmic verse is captivating and delightful. It is great fun to read out loud, letting the sounds of the words roll off the tongue, so little ears hear those sounds as well. There are pages in the back that ask children to find various things in the seasonal pictures, so there is double fun to be had by all." Chinaberry

And about the board book edition:

"I enjoyed this oversized board book. Kids love noises, and this book is full of them, from the noises the insects make in summer, to the silent sounds of winter. I can just hear young children mimicking the sounds that are read to them in this delightful book.... An added bonus at the end is an 'I Spy' like page for each season.... Even though this is a board book, usually for babies, toddlers and preschoolers will enjoy it as well. This is a review for The Picnic Basket, so this book receives a 4 - recommend without reservation." www.writeforareader.blogspot.com

"Children and adults alike will relish the playfulness and sensuousness of the rhyming text created by Phillis Gershator. Equally pleasing are the illustrations of Alison Jay (I Took the Moon for a Walk).
Listening can add breadth and depth to our days if we only would pay more attention to what is going on all around in the turning of the seasons. The last section of this children's book contains lists of what you can see in summer, autumn, winter, and spring. Try viewing your ears as two portable altars and see how this changes the quality of your listening experience." Spirituality and Practice. com

Art by Alison Jay


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