Author, Peter Brown
In early 2006, I was reading my school email one Sunday evening (yes, yes, I know I should have been relaxing and not doing school work, but that’s just not what teachers do!) and found a request from a local independent bookstore addressed to all of the librarians in the two city school districts. She was asking if anyone would be interested in hosting a first time author for an author visit in their school later in the week. Because author visits are usually so costly, I jumped at the chance to host a free one even though the author was new, young and inexperienced at presenting to kids! The author/illustrator was Peter Brown and his new book, was The Flight of the Dodo (AR, 4.1, Lexile 870).
It turned out to be a very good decision! Peter was easy to work with and great with the kids. He even drew several poster size illustrations to demonstrate his techniques and left the posters with us. Those posters have been framed and hanging in my school for many years. In fact, every time I share one of Peter’s books, we enjoy looking at the posters and I tell the story about Peter Brown visiting Patterson before they were born!
Since that time Peter Brown has gone on to illustrate many more picture books, both ones he has written and ones written by other authors. This includes the book, Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds, for which Peter won a Caldecott Honor award in 2013 and The Curious Garden, as well as the Chowder series about a lonesome dog who finds his true calling once he discovers the joys of a trampoline!
In The Curious Garden, (AR 4.4, Lexile 840) a little red head, Liam, who loves life and is full of optimism, discovered some deserted, raised railroad tracks in his dreary, drab city as he was out exploring on a rainy day. After he climbed the steps to the top, he found a small patch of dying wildflowers which obviously needed a gardener’s help. Liam became that person with inspiring results. His work and optimism transformed a depressing place into a welcoming spot for all of his neighbors to gather, visit and join him in supporting the blossoming gardens. Mr. Brown was inspired to write this book after noticing the raised train tracks near his home, which are now a beautiful and welcoming walkway for New Yorkers, The Highline, thanks to the kindness and hard work of many volunteers. When I shared this book with my class we would look at the website for The Highline, http://www.thehighline.org, which includes photographs and videos about how the walkway came to be. You may also find an excellent lesson guide at the following site to support you, parents or educators, as you share the book. Curious Gardens Group Guide
You will want to read several of Peter’s books. His more recent ones, such as Mr. Tiger Goes Wild, (AR 1.5, Lexile 170), winner of the 2014 Boston Globe Horn Book Award for picture books, and You Will Be My Friend, a New York Times Bestseller (AR 1.7 and Lexile 260) are written on a lower level but still include his amazing illustrations. They would be perfect books for partner reading between mom or dad and an early reader. As you read the books, you can discuss the different styles of the illustrations and why your child thinks Mr. Brown made the choice to change styles from book to book.
Peter Brown is now working on his first chapter book, The Wild Robot, which will be published in the spring. Be sure and look for it! If you would like to learn more about Peter Brown, visit his website, www.peterbrownstudio.com.
I hope you will appreciate and enjoy Peter Brown’s books as much as I do and as much as my students did during read alouds. We had so much fun and shared so much laughter. I remember it fondly!