Tag Archives: Barb Rosenstock

Ben & Vicky

8 Oct

What do Queen Victoria and Benjamin Franklin have in Common? Besides the new pictures books that feature each of them, they both loved swimming!

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Queen Victoria’s Bathing Machine,  written by Gloria Whelan and illustrated by Nancy Carpenter, is written in verse and tells the true story of Queen Victoria’s real dilemma. She wanted to bathe in the sea, but decorum dictated that she mustn’t.  Prince Albert, ever the innovator, created a bathing machine, a small house that permitted the Queen to bathe in privacy. The real thing has been restored and can still be seen.


While listening to the 7th Jacky Faber book, Rapture of the Deep, I came across mention of the paddles Ben Franklin invented to help. What a delight to discover Barb Rosenstock’s  Ben Franklin;s Big Splash which talks about Ben’s desire to become a better swimmer. To go faster he first created hand paddles, which were very effective. His feet paddles were less helpful. The playful illustrations, by S. D. Schindler, show a naked Ben swimming, with vital parts strategically covered by water.

Both books take readers through the design process and would be a fun introduction to ann engineering and design unit.

How does it make you feel? or, Kandinsky’s Synesthesia

19 Apr

What turns a proper little boy into a pioneer of abstract art?


The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky’s Abstract Art by Barb Rosenstock attempts to show young readers how Vasya Kandinsky went from a proper little Russian boy to groundbreaking artist.

The story opens with little Vasya, behaving properly, until given a paint box by an aunt. When he opened it, according to his autobiography, he heard a hiss. 


The book draws on other experiences that helped Kandinsky develop his artistic style, and the very critical reception to it. And yet he did not give up, although no one seemed to understand his painting. He didn’t care about what they saw, he wanted to know how it made them feel.

The simple but expressive language of the text is augmented by  Mary Grandpré’s vivid illustrations. She shows what Kandinsky must have seen when hearing the opera and what he heard when the colors spoke to him.

The author’s note at the end reproduces some of Kandinsky’s paintings and explains a bit more about his life, including how he likely experienced synesthesia.

This is  great book to introduce attract art, but also a great book about following you muse.

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