Author Archives: Editor

Analysis by Christina F. Kennison of The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse by Beatrix Potter

The Insightfulness of Beatrix Potter Makes Her a Great Author & Illustrator:

A Look at The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse

By

Christina Francine

It takes an insightful author and illustrator to make a great picture book, and sometimes they are the same person. If they are, they’re exceptional. Beatrix Potter is one such artist. Most people know her for The Tale of Peter Rabbit, but she’s constructed other books for children just as great. She’s written twenty other books that demonstrate her skill. She launched her career in 1902 whit her first children’s book, The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Her work continues to hold value on library, bookstore, and children’s bookshelves all over the world. The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse is one example. The story is quaint, and reveals her insightfulness in creating work young children will enjoy, although experts on the subject of picture books, Schwarcz and Schwarcz, say “a good picture book [should] embody one or more of the following aspects:  entertainment value, meaningful human interest, societal significance, and aesthetic appeal” (11-13), and The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse embody all four.

One reasonthis story contains aesthetic appeal for children is the size of the book.  Because the book is about four inches wide and about five and a half inches long, it’s perfect for little hands. Maybe Potter knew smaller book initiate charm and delicacy. Nodelman, a respected expert on picture books, is a professor at the University of Winnipeg and author of Words About Pictures – The Narrative Art of Children’s Picture Books. He explains that “The size of a book influences our response to it,” and “We tend to expect more fragile, delicate stories from smaller ones” (44). Nodelman was also the editor of a respected publication such as Touchstones:  Reflections on the Best in Children’s Literature, and acted as editor alongside Jill P. May for Festschrift:  A Ten-Year Retrospective. He also edited Children’s Literature Association Quarterly from 1983-1987 too. His work shed a lot of insight on why authors and illustrators make the choices they do:

We associate both very small and very large books with the youngest of readers. The very largest and very smallest of picture books tend to be the simplest in content and in style, and we approach their (the author) stories with expectations of simplicity – childlikeness – as soon as we see them. (44) When deciding on a smaller sized book, Potter is exceptional.

The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse generates children’s interest through color choices for the book’s cover.  These colors “establish mood” and hook the reader (Nodelman 50). She placed her main character, Mrs. Tittlemouse, directly in the center of the book’s cover with a frame around her, which Nodelman explains, “provides the sense of having a limited glimpse into a world” (52). Children are often interested in getting a sneak peek into the world of a tiny mouse. To generate more interest, Potter chose forest green as the main color for the cover with white words and a white frame. Colors establish mood and let readers know who the story is about. Although “white space around a picture can act as a frame [that] create[s] a sense of constraint, [and] demand[s] detachment,” says Nodelman, doing so can also “force attention upon them” (53). This is what happens here. Potter sets mood with soft colors for Mrs. Tittlemouse, creating a gentle and snuggly atmosphere. Parents can especially appreciate this because of the calming effect the colors have on their children. To hold attention, Mrs. Tittlemouse looks directly at viewers while using a broom as a mother might. Her methods to hook young viewers is smart. Potter’s choices of where characters are placed for the cover along with the choice of color to add interest and appeal.

Potter’s insight with color continues within the pages of The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse, creating a yielding mood. She uses soft happy yellows, cheerful pinks, and as with the cover, adds organic richness with warm greens. Brown with green intensifies richness and warmth. Foliage colors indicate growth occurs says Nodelman who (61) reminds readers that, “the use of color create atmosphere” (67). Did Potter wish to comfort young viewers while entertaining them through color choices? It certainly appears that way.

When an author/illustrator makes text and illustration work together well, a book blossoms, becomes treasured, and characters come to life. Potter certainly knew text and illustration depend on one another, and livens characters. For example, Mrs. Tittlemouse says, “Shuh! Shuh!” This shows the mouse’s distaste about a beetle crawling in her house, and generates sound readers hear. They feel distaste too, and relate to the beetle crawling toward them. Potter brings sound through words such as “seeping” and “dusting the soft sandy floors” (12). Readers hear and see Mrs. Tittlemouse who sweeps along with the illustration. Once she stops, Potter brings the sound of a beetle who skitters across the floor. This isn’t all Potter does though. Movement comes from how illustrations are placed and Potter must have considered every word and picture. For example, the book begins with a picture on the left page and words on the right for the first two-page sets, and then the pattern continues to go back and forth alternating turns of pictures and words on opposite pages until the end of the story. The book ends with two sets of pages with words on the left and pictures on the right. Interestingly, the very last set ends with a picture on the right and words on the left. The result is Potter’s pattern creates a feeling of movement and the passing of time raising its entertainment value.

Potter employs balance with placement of text and illustration on each page, thus creating a balance between unity and variety. One way she does this is with rounded shapes. “We associate certain emotions with certain shapes,” says Nodelman (126). Rounded shapes are more accommodating and an enclosed circle suggests warmth ad love (Chua and Rajaratram 5). Each page of The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse features round shapes which are the center of attention. On page 15, the lady-bug is large and in the center of the illustration. Even the black dots on her shell are round. Other examples are large round plant leaves to the left center while Mrs. Tittlemouse peeks out of a circular hole from her burrow on page 18. The bottom of a basket Mrs. Tittlemouse holds up against a bee on page 22, and the frog’s round back on page 37 is spherical too. Another way Potter employs balance is with text placement in relation to illustrations.  Potter establishes balance by making the text of page 14 as wide and as high as the illustration on page fifteen. This balance implies the same amount of time should be spent on both the text and the illustration. Potter chose to place the first illustration on the left page and the opening words on the right. This going back and forth pattern is “the action of a book,” Nodelman says. It is the “movement of the author’s exposition and the reader’s experience of it.” In other words, “they give us a sense of the story as a whole while we read it” (248). Since balance provides satisfaction and Potter puts a lot of work into each page in order to offer balance.

Good tension between words and illustrations not only entertain, but proper tension between the two heighten interest and excitement, says Chen in her book, Children’s Literature. As a result, there is more meaning to a story. In their book, The Picture Book Comes of Age: Looking at Childhood Through the Art of Illustration, Schwarcz and Schwarcz write, “When word and picture come together to produce a common work, the illustrated book-it is actually two languages that join forces” (4). On pages 6 and 7, Mrs. Tittlemouse stands in the doorway of her home peering out. Plush greenery grows around the door but the exact location of where her home lies isn’t seen. The words explain instead. They say, “Once upon a time there was a wood-mouse and her name was Mrs. Tittlemouse. She lived in a bank under a hedge.” On the other hand, without the illustration, the words alone wouldn’t supply enough information. Readers want meaning to picture books and it’s an investment in their time. The story will need to make sense too. Together, the illustrations work with the text to “inform us about how to interpret [the] narrative content (40), and provide an “emotional quality” (42). Potter’s tale uses tension between illustrations and text perfectly, making her insightful in her ability to make a great picture book.

The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse embodies meaningful human interest and aesthetic appeal with shapes. Each illustration is in a frameless rectangle, meaning there isn’t a line around the rectangle, but the large amount of open white space around the illustration acts as a frame. The lack of an actual line around a picture “suggests rigidity, dullness, and conformity,” says Chau and Rajaratnam, (5) though closed lines add stability. The rectangle’s open space provides solidness without dominating. The rectangle also supplies a sense of energy associated with tidiness, which is what Mrs. Tittlemouse attempts by cleaning her home.

Entertainment is heightened with object placement. On page 15 she sets Mrs. Tittlemouse further away from the reader and the beetle closer. The way she stands, tilts her head, and holds the broom and dust-pan give the impression she is startled. We see her as in the middle of what she is doing and is displeased about the beetle. Since the beetle’s legs are in mid-motion, the sense of movement is portrayed – movement toward readers! Placement of words and pictures influence how a page is interpreted and the book as a whole. For example, in his book, Words About Pictures: The Narrative Art of Children’s Picture Books, Nodelman adds that “[U]pon timing the page where the words are one side and the picture on the other, our eyes go to the picture first and the words second. If they take turns, a sense of movement occurs” (54). Young children have energy and are easily distracted. The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse works hard to hold attention by offering the sense of movement through object placement and it works.

Potter further embodies the Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse with meaningful human interest and also with societal significance by featuring memorable characters and with where the story takes place. Young children want to learn about the world, but within the safety of home and with someone like a parental figure close by. “Central characters should be unforgettable,” says Chau and Rajaratnam (9), and should be “convincing and credible with distinctive personalities” (9). The “behavior of characters should be consistent with their ages and background to create believability” (Chau and Rajaratnam 9). Potter must have considered that as well as atmosphere.Mrs. Tittlemouse is attentive to detail and isn’t afraid to speak up to invaders. She wears a dress down to her feet and a pink apron. One aesthetic welfare for children is the home environment where the sense of love and belonging is found. The physical placement in a picture book should not be considered lightly. Besides offering a sense of comfort, the place in a picture book can widen children’s horizon. In The Picture Book Comes of Age: Looking at Childhood Through the Art of Illustration, Schwarcz and Schwarcz add that “from an attachment to their own area, children may be led to the appreciation of the concepts of a sense of place and of the spirit of environment in general” (114). By viewing Mrs. Tittlemouse at home cleaning, most viewers will associate her with their home and with their mother, or grandmother. Children are often used to parents who want the home clean and organized. When each visitor Mrs. Tittlemouse encounters dirties her home in some way, she acts quickly to get rid of them. The creatures are: a beetle with dirty feet; a big fat spider who leaves cobwebs all over; bees who leave untidy moss and beeswax; and a frog who drips water and smears honey everywhere. Mrs. Tittlemouse wants her home clean and safe.

An influential children’s book takes an especially talented author and illustrator to embody entertainment value, meaningful human interest, societal significance, and aesthetic appeal such as Potter does with The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse. Her skill made the difference between a great picture book and an okay one. Examining Potters tale, perceiving her intentions, and why she did what she did, provides an example of an author and illustrator who is exceptional. Recognizing great authors and illustrators is important because other creators are inspired, and offers an amazing story for those wanting to read one such tale to children can. When an exact mood is wanted for children, perception of what mood a picture provides helps. Maybe a calming effect is desired when putting children to bed for instance, or in a school setting after lunch.  Furthermore, knowing what makes a good picture book, and the details of how to make them, aids authors and illustrators in their creative pursuit of making a great picture book instead of one that is just good or okay.

Works Cited

Lynn, Chua and Rajaratnam. “What Makes a Good Picture Book.” Singapore: National

            Library Board, https://www.ecda.gov.sg/growbeanstalk Accessed 26 Jan. 2022.

Chen, Emily Ph.D. “Children’s Literature.” Taiwan:  National Kaohsiung First  

            University of Science and Technology,

            www.2.nkfust.edu.tw/~emchen/CLit/picturebook_design.htm . Accessed 15 Feb.

            2019.

Nodelman, Perry.  Words About Pictures.  The Narrative Art of Children’s Picture

Books.  Georgia:  University of Georgia Press, 1988.

Potter, Beatrix. The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse. New York:  Frederick Warne & Co.,

            1938.

Schwarcz, Joseph and Chava Schwarcz. The Picture Book Comes of Age:  Looking at

            Childhood Through the Art of Illustration. STATE:  American Library

            Association, First Ed., 1991.

Another Short Kid Stories Author Published!

Tales from the hill and burrow cover

It’s great to see another author from Short Kid Stories, GP POP getting published! Tales from the Hill and Burrow was just published by Propertius Press.

Three delightful tales for children by gifted storyteller, GP Pop; unusual and amusing yet oh, so wise. Small ones will want them read again and again at bedtime, and adults will marvel at the inventive twists and turns in these tales. Fully illustrated in color by the author.

These adventures are not for the faint of heart. Wear your bravest face as you immerse yourself in these bedtime imaginings.

Settle in and picture a chip “Monk” and his newfound badger friends sailing the seas with pirate bullfrogs on a journey to find a new bell for an old abbey.

Bear witness to a young bunny and his companions as they use brain over brawn while their village prepares to battle a dragon with a dreadful disposition.

Perhaps then you can imagine how two little shrews who don’t come straight home after school might get swooped up by a Great Golden Hawk or mixed up with a ruthless maritime rat and his crew.

May the sounds of ocean waves and hopeful sea shanties accompany you in slumber and may you see through the illusions of the siren.

52 pages, 6″ x 9″ and printed on archival-quality paper. Available in paperback and ebook. Additionally, an exclusive hardcover edition will only be available directly from the publisher, here in our bookstore.

Read the full details here:

https://www.propertiuspress.com/our-bookstore/Tales-From-the-Hill-and-Burrow-by-GP-Pop-p367937211

Also available from Amazon.com here.

Apologies for site disruption

word error on white surface
Photo by Vie Studio on Pexels.com

Some of you may have noticed an error on the site this week. Unfortunately, my hosting provider made a change to the underlying component that resulted in the site breaking. I had to investigate and resolve the error causing the problem. Fortunately, it is resolved now and hopefully, all is good again. Short Kid Stories apologises for any inconvenience to readers and authors. All is good again – happy reading one and all!

sisters sitting on sofa with their shiba inu dog
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Mother reading to young child

7 Benefits of Reading to Young Children Every Day

There are many benefits of reading to young children every day; that’s why parents are encouraged to read to their children from infancy. You can start with bedtime stories and graduate to more complicated subjects as they grow old. 

It’s healthy to buy a different variety of books to help enhance your child’s perspective and keep them entertained and stimulated for longer.

Below are the 7 benefits of reading to young children every day: 

1. Brain Development

According to research, reading to young children helps in the development of their brains. When you read to your children regularly, you help stimulate the optimal patterns involved in brain development.

In turn, this helps build strong pathways in their brains that are in charge of semantic processing. 

2. Improves Language and Vocabulary

Speaking of brain development, another benefit of reading to young children is improving their language and vocabulary. Once the optimal patterns in the brain are stimulated, there is exposure to different.

According to research conducted on kids between the age of 6 and 54 months (4 and a half years) involving 250+ pairs, reading to kids from infancy to toddler age increased their vocabulary and literary skills.

The research focused on the quantity and quality of shared book-reading, i.e, the number of books read and at what frequency, and if parents had conversations regarding the books.

For both, the researchers noted that children were better in their literary and vocabulary skills by the age of four.   

3. To Become Knowledgeable

If you are looking to raise a child who is intelligent and well informed in most if not all aspects of life, start by reading books to them from a young age. There is a common saying that “knowledge is power.”

Reading to young children allows them to question the learning process and other subjects. It also gets them interested in various topics, which leads to a hankering desire to learn more, even as they grow. 

4. Developing Empathy

Every parent wants to have a child who understands other people’s emotions and situations.

Reading to your young kids is one of the best ways to help them develop empathy.

Once they can identify with characters and imagine themselves in their situations, they will easily understand and relates to different emotions. It will help them in the future; when they are out there in the world and meeting people from all sorts of backgrounds.

5. Enhances Concentration

Contrary to popular belief, children learn to concentrate more when you are constantly reading to them. On their own, kids may tend to flip pages and change books. However, if you can keep a consistent reading schedule, your child will learn to stick to the schedule. With time, they will learn to sit still through any reading and concentrate.  

This is important because when you finally take your child to pre-school, you will have installed the discipline of sitting still and paying attention. 

6. Develops Imagination and Creativity

Reading allows one to live different lives through different characters. It includes imagining how these characters and the locations look and any descriptions provided in the book.

When you read, you try to convert the setting of the book into reality through your imaginations. And everyone has a different imagination, leading to enhanced creativity on what the setting should look like.

This does not apply only to adults but to children, too. The benefit of your child seeing life through different lenses is that it helps develop their imagination and creativity. 

7. Spending Time Together

One of the best ways to create a lasting connection and relationship with your child is to spend time with them when young. There are many ways to do it, and reading is one of those ways. Even if you are not home when they get from school, you can spare a few minutes from a busy schedule to read them a bedtime story.  

Through this, your child can also learn to communicate with you by asking you questions regarding the stories you read. Reading to young children will also give you both an opportunity to relax and unwind after a long day. 

BIO

Mo Mulla is a work from home dad who enjoys reading and listening to music. He loves being a dad and husband to a growing family. He loves writing about his passions and hopes to change the world, 1 blog post at a time! You can find his parenting blog here: www.ParentalQuestions.com

Lost submissions since beginning of April

Hi,

Anyone who submitted a story to ShortKidStories.com between 1st April 2020 and 29th April 2020 but hasn’t heard back if their story is accepted or not, can you resend it, please? Due to some (ahem) experimentation with email folders, the submissions backlog got zapped!

Apologies for inconvenience caused.

New illustrations by Yulia Sirotina for The Emperor’s New Clothes

Emperor admires himself in the mirror, illustration by Yulia Sirotina

Yulia Sirotina has provided new illustrations for the classic tale “The Emperor’s New Clothes” for Short Kid Stories.

You can see her new illustrations and read the story at https://www.shortkidstories.com/story/the-emperors-new-clothes/

Yulia is an illustrator from Russia currently based in China.

You can view more of her excellent and unique work here:

https://www.instagram.com/sir_sirotina/

Elephant & The Extraordinary Ordinary By Natalie Rodriguez

This is a guest blog post by Short Kid Stories author Natalie Rodriguez about how, as a working artist, she is coping with the current quarantine. She also has exciting news about not one, but two upcoming releases!

Natalie Rodriguez author photo

I was at a Starbucks in North Hollywood, CA when the news broke of Los Angeles County going into quarantine. My friend and I were in disbelief, especially when Starbucks informed us that starting tomorrow, the store was going to close down and only take orders or pick-ups. It was terrifying. Like most artists who are in the entertainment industry, COVID-19 has certainly had an impact on my own physical and mental health.

During the first week of quarantine, one of my writing and producing partners moved back home to the east coast, for the time being, considering that living in Los Angeles County could be costly. The following week, my anxiety and stress were at its peak, where I struggled to fall asleep at a decent hour, often lying in bed for 3-5 hours with racing thoughts. Around the same time, I was also amid early promotion for two different projects called “Elephant” and “The Extraordinary Ordinary,” as well as in pre-production with a horror short and post-production on my second directorial feature, “Howard Original.”

Ironically, the pandemic made me realize one thing and that was STRESS.

Due to COVID-19, I felt it was necessary to push back the release dates of my directorial feature film, “The Extraordinary Ordinary,” and my first young adult novel, “Elephant.” The film was originally slated for a May 1st release date, and the book was intentionally made for April 10th. With adjustments to a new routine, including two job layoffs due to my former workplaces cutting back on employees because of COVID-19, I felt pressured and worried about promoting my work in a time of a world crisis.

In the forthcoming weeks, anxiety, depression, and general stress appeared to be the new normal for many people, in general, for adapting to the new norm of quarantine and social distancing. Especially when my anxiety physical symptoms intensified with a racing heartbeat and clammy hands and feet, that was when my own therapist suggested it was time to go on a low dose of anti-anxiety medication.

So far, both my physical and mental health continues to improve, and a lot has to do with acknowledging of taking that step back in the first place and being okay with postponing things. Although it continues to be a process, I feel a bit readier with the new release dates of my two projects that have truly taken years to greenlit.

On Friday, May 29th, 2020, my first young adult/commercial-crossover book, “Elephant,” is coming out. “Elephant” is a story about four childhood best friends who discover a family secret in the summer of 2006, before starting their freshman year in high school. The kindle and paperback versions of the novel are currently available for pre-order on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Book reviewer, SheySaints, said that “Elephant” was a mix of vibes of “a cross between Christopher Pike and Stephen King. Screen-wise, it was like Black Mirror that didn’t revolve around technology. Truth is, it didn’t feel like it was written by a girl. It was hard to understand because of all the weird things happening, but it was one of those books where you just had to keep reading even if you were clueless about it. All the actions and emotions seemed like they were real, and almost as if the author experienced them herself. You could easily tell she has good visualizations while writing the book. In fact, this is a story that will be more appreciated as a movie, or a television series.”

Later this year on Friday, August 28th, 2020, my directorial feature film which I also wrote and produced, The Extraordinary Ordinary, will be released on video-on-demand through a distributor called Indie Rights. 

The Extraordinary Ordinary is a story about three young adults and how they cope with their mental health when old wounds resurface. A few years after a traumatic high school experience, a young photography student moves across the country from New York to Southern California in search of a fresh start. She quickly finds that she is not alone in her struggles with anxiety and depression and learns that the road to recovery is paved with more love, understanding, and community than she ever could have imagined. The Extraordinary Ordinary is a gripping and heartwarming narrative that seeks to challenge the stigmas associated with mental health, trauma, and recovery and recognize the courage of those young adults struggling in silence everywhere.

The film was recently an official film selection at the Awareness Film Festival (AFF), Glendale International Film Festival (GIFF), and the Los Angeles Diversity Film Festival (LADFF). We also won the ‘Best Film About Women’s Empowerment’ at GIFF and scored nominations for Best Director, Best Female Director, and Best Feature. Our leading actress, Maddison Bullock, also won ‘Best Performance’ at the LADFF, where we held our world premiere.

Our latest review is by a former therapist and current executive performance expert, Liz A. Garcia: “The Extraordinary Ordinary” gives young people one of the most important things necessary – conversations. Conversations to learn how to navigate challenging and scary moments in life. To see these scenarios on the screen gives the audience an opportunity to reflect on the fact that they are not alone in their experiences and even when it’s scary, they could be understood and get help when they are willing to speak about what they are experiencing. Kudos to Natalie and team for creating such a relevant and impactful movie.”

Below, you will find the appropriate links for each project. 

ELEPHANT (book):

Social Media:

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/elephant_bookya/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ebookya

The latest review 

THE EXTRAORDINARY ORDINARY (movie):

  • Promo-Teaser (which is live, released back in October 2018) [Note: it is also the pinned post on our Facebook page]: https://vimeo.com/294028727

Social Media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheExtraOrdFilm/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/TheExtraOrdFilm/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheExtraOrdFilm/

Story by Author Deirdre McCarthy available in paperback

I’m am delighted to let you know that yet another Short Kid Stories author, Deirdre McCarthy, has her wonderful story/poem The Rescue of Fairy Queen Maeve now available in paperback. Even though the story is available on this site, there is nothing like a book in hand.

So if you can, support one of our authors by buying a copy for yourself or a loved one.

Amazon

The Rescue of Fairy Queen Maeve – Paperback: Mccarthy, Deirdre: 9780692637548: Amazon.com: Books

Barnes and Noble

The Rescue of Fairy Queen Maeve – Paperback by Deirdre McCarthy, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®

Video Narration Now Available

There is a video narration of Deirdre’s poem available with the story on this site. It can also be accessed below.

I’d like to wish Deirdre great success with her book.

The Fisherman and his wife now illustrated by Matt Moriarty

FIsherman and wife by hovel illustrated by Matt Moriarty
The Fisherman and his Wife, illustrated by Matt Moriarty

I am delighted to let you know that the classic story “The Fisherman and his Wife” has been beautifully illustrated by Matt Moriarty and is now available on Short Kid Stories. Matt is an illustrator from Australia, you can find out about him and view his work at https://www.shortkidstories.com/matt-moriarty/

The Fisherman and his wife teaches a lesson about being too greedy and never being satisfied with what you have. The story is one of our featured stories of the week and is available here: https://www.shortkidstories.com/story/the-fisherman-and-his-wife/

I hope you enjoy the new illustrations.

Amazon provides free audio streaming of children’s books and stories

To all lovers of children’s stories: Amazon has cancelled the subscription cost of books and audio stories for children and students of all ages as long as schools are closed. Kids everywhere can now instantly stream an incredible collection of stories, including titles across six different languages, that will help kids continue dreaming, learning, and just being kids.
 
All stories are free to stream on desktop, laptop, smartphone or tablet using the following link https://stories.audible.com/start-listen.