Kate Feiffer took on this challenge today as she braved an audience of preschool and first grade students for a reading of Double Pink. And before I keep you in suspense any longer, yes, she pulled it off.
I am always aware of how adults speak with children. Not only the words they choose, but their tone and body language as well. Do they get a kick out of the small ones or do they lose patience easily? Kate Feiffer clearly enjoys interacting with young children and it only seems natural that she would use her talents to pen a book for them. To begin, she asked if they had heard the phrase "write what you know". She said that she never really understood this phrase until she wrote Double Pink. Previously she always assumed that if she knew something, then everyone must know it. However, this is not true is it? (I am finding this out for myself more and more.) Her words mirrored perfectly our current class investigations in poetry writing and gave me an authentic tie-in for student conferences.
Double pink was inspired by Kate Feiffer's daughter who took a shine to the color pink early on and never looked back. While Kate read the children laughed, commented (loudly, as only children can do), asked questions and LISTENED. That is a great complement. Judging from audience reaction, a favorite part seemed to be when the main character, Madison, became lost in her pink surroundings and her mother's efforts to find her proved fruitless.
Overall, this is an engaging story with mesmerizing illustrations by Bruce Ingman. The ending promotes discussion amongst the students because there is a neat hint towards a possible sequel or at least a new obsession for Madison.
Student reaction was so positive and Kate was enjoying herself so much that she shared with us her soon to be published book Henry the Dog with No Tail. This book is a collaboration with her father Jules Feiffer who is an illustrator and author. He has created numerous children's books including the adorable Bark, George in addition to authoring plays. (My BFF Joy recently did a production of Grown Ups in which she played Kate's grandmother. How's that for six degrees of separation?)
Henry is a fantastic book. As a dog lover I was immediately taken with the story. This book can be enjoyed on several levels. Children enjoy it for the tale that unfolds while "big people" will appreciate the play on words and clever use of language. This will certainly be on my wish list (well, it is on my Amazon wish list as of today).
After the readings and questions Sara (our industrious librarian) brought out pink fruit salad as Kate engaged the children in one last activity. She selected a crayon at random and began a story based on the color (peach). Each child then added bits and pieces to the story until it found a natural resolution. Children certainly take a story on some seemingly odd tangents but find a way to bring it all together in the end.