Perfect Picture Book Friday: DREAM SOMETHING BIG


AUTHOR: Dianna Hutts Aston


PUBLICATION INFO: Dial Books for Young Readers, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3245-2

SOURCE: Library

INTENDED AUDIENCE: age 4 – 8 (Kirkus)

GENRE: picture book (nonfiction, I think)


“One chip of tile. Uncle Sam held it in his hand, studying it, his imagination turning like a kaleidoscope. He put it in his pocket. ‘I’m gonna do something big,’ I heard him say.”

Dianna Hutts Aston tells the tale of how a reclusive Italian immigrant spent 34 years building the Watts Towers  — now a National Landmark — out of rebar, mesh, broken glass and tile. Then he gave a neighbor the deed to the property and walked away.

THEMES/TOPICS: history, folk art

WHY I LIKE THIS BOOK: Roth’s collages are the perfect accompaniment to this little-known story, evoking the towers’ mosaics. Aston’s story is a fascinating look at a little-known folk artist told simply for the youngest readers. It sends the message that anyone can be an artist.


  • Aston’s book contains instructions for building your own Watts Towers out of pipe cleaners and other craft materials.
  • Learn more about the Watts Towers, including how to visit, here.
  • A 1957 video about the towers and Simon Rodia can be found here. A documentary called, “I Build the Tower” is also available.

Every Friday bloggers review “Perfect Picture Books.” Find a complete list of book reviews organized by topic, genre and blogger at author Susanna Leonard Hill’s site.

Books, Nature, Uncategorized

Review: Can You Find These Butterflies?

Author: Carmen Bredeson
Illustrator: Lindsey Cousins
Publication Info: Enslow Elementary, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-7660-3980-3
Source: publisher-provided complimentary copy
Intended audience: PreK through first grade
Genre: nonfiction, picture book (24 pages)
Themes/topics: butterflies, nature
Opening and synopsis: “A butterfly starts out as an egg. A tiny caterpillar hatches from the egg. It eats and grows.” Using simple language, Bredeson describes how a caterpillar transforms into a butterfly. Then she challenges young readers to learn about nine different types of butterflies and spot them in nature.
Why I like this book: This book invites children to become butterfly experts. Rather than just feeding them facts about butterflies, it encourages them to explore their own backyards, parks and open spaces and see if they can tell a Monarch from a Viceroy. Stunning time-lapse photography shows a caterpillar forming a chrysalis and emerging as a butterfly. Additional, close up photographs show primary features of each butterfly. Simple language geared towards first-grade readers make this a wonderful book for progressing readers.
Resources/activities: Raising butterflies is always a favorite for small children. You can order caterpillars through Insect Lore. Also, if you are on the migration path for monarch butterflies, you can record your sightings online.