Saturday, February 1, 2014

Reading: Paul Meets Bernadette (Picture Book)

Life inside of a fish bowl is what you make it! 
Have you ever had a pet fish?  Occasionally, my father would agree to let my sister and I add a goldfish to our family tree  (and one time a frog, which hopped away in the house somewhere and never was found).  While goldfish are not typically known for their outgoing personalities, Paul Meets Bernadette, written by Rosy Lamb and published in late 2013, shows that, like all animals, fish have their own perspectives to life.  It subtly hits at the importance of friendship and shows how peer relationships can help one to broaden his own worldview.  Further, the pictures are quite pleasant and, from my perspective, breathe new life into the landscape of children’s illustrations.

Paul is a fish that spends his time traveling around and around in his fish bowl.  Just as round as he spins are the brushstrokes that grace each page.  With every turn of the pages are more round brush strokes, making me feel like this book was personally painted just for me!  The dark tones in the beginning of the book hint at the void world in which Paul lives, but when Bernadette joins him, the world brightens up!  And isn’t that what happens when we meet a new friend that comes along to brighten our lives?  Bernadette introduces Paul to the world outside, showing him commonplace objects in the kitchen and explaining their uses from her perspective.  For example, what I perceive to be a banana is actually a boat!  And the blue and white tea kettle?  It’s an elephant feeding its babies (the teacups), of course! Children will delight at the opportunity to predict how Bernadette perceives objects throughout the kitchen, thus Paul Meets Bernadette is an excellent choice for teaching students many comprehension strategies.  Most notable, and as I’ve stated already, Paul Meets Bernadette is a great book to reveal how characters have different point of views.  Perhaps students could write a journal entry from Paul’s perspective telling about a typical day and then do the same for Bernadette.  Students can discuss how the character’s own view points affect what they see, learning that everyone has a different opinion.  This is a crucial discovery children must make on the path to tolerance.   While younger children may observe this book from the surface and simply read a story about two fish who become friends, making the world a better place, older students can examine it more deeply and think about how new friends can broaden our own understandings of life.  And last but not least, Paul Meets Bernadette is a winning choice to help students develop robust vocabulary.  With words like "enchanting" dazzling the language in the book, there are ample, yet manageable, opportunities to introduce students to vivid vocabulary.

The pictures are sure to please children of all ages, as they are bright, colorful, and realistically oil-painted.  It is evident that they are painted with thick, circular brushstrokes throughout the book.  I cannot recall other children's books that I have read with this illustrative methodology, making Paul Meets Bernadette a new frontier in children's illustrations.  The bright colors make me happy, and I want to take the pages and frame them on my walls!  Not only would Paul Meets Bernadette be beneficial in a reading classroom, I also think art teachers would enjoy discussing the fantastic illustrations and the techniques used to create them. 
It is only a matter of time before Paul Meets
 will get to wear a shiny gold medal on
its cover, recognizing the prized
illustrations inside! 

As this story was just released in December 2013, it is has yet to be rewarded for its unique, memorable illustrations.  However, I predict that it is only a matter of time before Paul Meets Bernadette wears a shiny gold medal on its cover!  If you are interested in reading this book or would like to see some of the paintings for yourself, check out this exciting book trailer!  

1 comment:

  1. Kaylee this book looks adorable! Reminds me a little bit of a Pixar short film, especially after watching the trailer. You're right- the illustrations make it unique. I will have to add it to my classroom library!