Tag Archive | Tricia Tusa

How to Make a Night

Cover

Written by Linda Ashman, Illustrated by Tricia Tusa

HarperCollins, 2004

Bike blew a tire.

It’s one of those days where everything has gone wrong and everyone is feeling crummy. One girl decides to clean everything up and turn things around. She climbs a tree and mops all the clouds from the sky, then throws a rope up to bring the sun down so she can tuck it away for the evening. Then she peels the blue away from the sky, dyes it black, splatters it with gold painted stars and puts it back in place. She makes a moon from a yellow rock and throws it high into the sky. She calls the crickets and owls to sing and stirs up the wind to get the trees swaying. Then she goes back into her house, cleans her room, washes her face and eats supper with her family. After that, it’s time for a bath, pajamas and goodnight kisses from Mom and Dad, so she can get a good night’s sleep before getting up early to take down the moon and put the sun back up.

Author Linda Ashman gets right to the heart of those really hectic days when it seems like something bad has happened to just about everyone and everything is in disarray. Sometimes, as we see in the book, it only takes one person to start making an effort to make things better. In real life, it’s usually a parent who takes on the task but I like that it’s a child in this book, showing kids that they have some agency in the family’s condition. The story is written in a jazzy rhyme scheme that’s fun to read.

Planets

Golf Ball is my favorite planet.

The imagery here is very fanciful, but it works, and even when kids know they can’t really pull down the sun, they will know they can contribute to making things better. Tricia Tusa’s illustrations are as chaotic as this family’s day, with a mix of traditional artwork and photo collage. Some of the photographic images are a little odd, but they fit the offbeat whimsy of the story. The family pictured here is very diverse and at the end of the book, when you see things calmed down, they appear very happy and close. It’s an unusual book, but I really liked it.

And what did we learn?  What I take away from this book is that anyone can take the initiative to make things better for those around them.

In a Blue Room

Cover

Written by Jim Averbeck, Illustrated by Tricia Tusa

Harcourt, Inc., 2008

In a blue room, Alice bounces, wide-awake past bedtime.

The plot in a nutshell: A girl declares she can only sleep in a blue room.

Alice’s mother brings flowers into her room and Alice points out that they aren’t blue. Mama asks her to smell them and she breathes them in. Mama brings her a cup of tea, which Alice points out is also not blue. Mama asks her to taste it and she has a sip. Mama brings in a soft and warm quilt, which she asks Alice to touch. Alice snuggles into it. Mama hangs some bells in the window that are not blue, but Alice is yawning and drifting off too much to argue. Mama turns off the light and the moon comes through the window, covering all of Alice’s room in blue light. And Alice falls fast asleep.

This was the debut picture book from author Jim Averbeck and it’s delightful. It may seem a little confusing on the first read, because Alice’s room is a bright yellow with hardly any blue in it. But when it all comes together at the end, it not only makes sense, it leaves you with a sense of calm and relaxation. Alice’s mother engages all of Alice’s senses as she brings in things for her to see, smell, touch, taste and hear. And each of these things is a color other than blue, but when the moon touches it, it becomes part of her nighttime room. This is a nice reminder that the things that seem strange in the moonlight are the same things that seemed ordinary in the regular light.

Bedroom at night

It doesn’t get much bluer than this.

Tricia Tusa’s illustrations are done in ink, watercolor and gouache and, as you may imagine, the colors are a very important element of the artwork. Her artistic style is fun and playful, which works well with Alice’s inability to settle down. Of particular interest is her blue blanket, which has the moon and stars on it. When the light goes out, the stars and planets leave the blanket and drift up into the sky and our point of view goes with them. We see Alice’s house sitting on planet Earth and then we pull back even further, so that our planet is just a blue dot in the sky, which suggests that we are all part of that ‘blue room’ and that is a lovely thought.

And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that the moon has a knack for putting everything in the perfect condition for us to go to sleep.