Welcome to the Dotty Blog Tour! To start us off, here is Erica Perl's own take on her new book, Dotty:
"A girl named Ida walks to school with Dotty, her big, spotted, extremely loyal imaginary friend. At school, she meets her teacher, Ms. Raymond, her classmates, and several of their imaginary friends! But as the year goes on, the imaginary friends start to disappear… all except Dotty, who has no intention of going anywhere. This leads to teasing and trouble on the playground, and a surprise ending. Let’s just say that Ms. Raymond may be an even more perceptive and creative teacher than Ida ever could have imagined."
I love this book in so many ways. First, the imagination and creativity of Dotty and her new friends is so beautifully expressed in Erica Perl's prose and then poured out over the pages in Julia Denos' gorgeous art. But I really love this story because...it's soooo realistic. Um...realistic, you say? It's about a giant, spotted, imaginary friend! Yes. If you've ever worked with a bunch of kindergarteners (or any other grade for that matter) you will have observed how kids mature at different rates. Dotty is the perfect expression of a child who, while eager to try new things and experiences, doesn't want to leave behind all the things her peers have decided they've outgrown. It's a gorgeous, exuberant celebration of imagination and making your own choices. Ida's teacher is the ideal - she's firm that Ida (and Dotty) have to behave with the other children, but she's also supportive, in a delightful and surprising way, of Ida's imagination.
And speaking of imagination...Erica Perl has given us a wonderful series of ideas for using Dotty in some fun projects and storytimes!
"Since Dotty is about the enduring power of imagination (for kids and adults!), my topic today is imaginative play. I’m thrilled to discuss this because I am all about imagination AND using books as a jumping off point for imaginative play. First of all, one book I would suggest pairing Dotty with for storytime is Beatrice Schenk de Regniers’ May I Bring a Friend. I say this because it shares two things with Dotty: the suggestion of the unbelievable (bringing zoo animals to the palace is not so far off from bringing a giant horned beast to school) and the willingness of the adults involved to show their own imaginative sides. I also love May I Bring a Friend, so there’s that, too.
Imaginary friend game – May I Bring a Friend?
Supplies: one 3-foot-long string (a jump rope will work, too)
one crown/chair (“throne”)
Explain that you are the queen (or king, as the case might be) and you are giving a party. Give the first child the string (explain that this should be held at the end and NOT tied on anyone or anything) and tell him/her to choose a friend to hold the other end. Then, invite the pair to approach your throne. Tell the first child to ask “May I bring a friend?” Your response: “Tell me about your friend.” The child then needs to describe his friend either using real details like “His name is Jason and he has a brown shirt on” or pretend details, like “She’s Dotty and she has big horns and spots.” The friend should do his/her best to pretend to be what s/he is being described as. Quiz them for more detail (and, if you like, ham it up) but regardless of the answers, your response will ultimately be the refrain from May I Bring a Friend: “My dear, my dear, any friend of our friend is welcome here!” Then, as this pair joins you by your throne, have them pass the string to two more children. Repeat and encourage the kids who have “passed” to join the refrain. Once every pair has joined the party, cheer and move the party on to crafts!
DOTTY craft (so kids can make their own Dotty on a blue ribbon leash, or an imaginary creature of their own design)
Time: 10 - 15 minutes
Age: 2 and up
Supplies: paper plates (to form Dotty’s body - although it can be trimmed to more closely mimic her actual silhouette - and form a rigid base for glue and trimmings)
construction paper ribbon (ideally blue), 6-8” per child
wiggly eyes (optional)
jewels, cotton balls, and other fun trimmings
tape and/or glue
scissors for little hands
crayons and markers (extra fun with Do-a-Dot markers, to stay with the “Dotty” theme)
Prep: Cut strips of ribbon that are 6-8 inches long. Cut construction paper into shapes (triangles for Dotty’s horns, elongated rectangles for her legs, circles for her spots, etc.), leaving some construction paper and scissors out for kids who want to make their own shapes
Craft: Give each child a piece of blue ribbon (for those three and under, help make sure the ribbon ends up glued to the paper plate, not eaten!) to glue or tape to the paper plate as a leash. The paper plate “creatures” can then be accessorized with dots, eyes, horns and other shapes to make Dotty or an imaginary friend of the child’s own design.
Display Potential: You can make a great bulletin board out of the craft project because you can use an image of the book’s cover as the centerpiece and then have all of the ribbons leading out from it (like a giant sunburst) to each of the creatures the kids created). Slogan can be WE’RE DOTTY FOR BOOKS… AND FRIENDS! Or something like that…"
Erica's Dotty craft idea would also work for older kids as well - I've used picture books with strong imaginative themes in my tween Make it and Take it programs before. Last year, we used Jackie Morris' Tell Me a Dragon and created our own dragon art. This year, we're going to be making our own Chester stories, ala Melanie Watt. I can definitely see Dotty in our future....it's the perfect vehicle for the paper mache craft I've been wanting to do! I'll make it a two-part program - the first Monday, we'll make our shapes, then the next Monday when they've dried it will be decoration time...and we'll have our own Dottys! Look for cool pictures on the library blog this spring!
What imaginative, book-related crafts can you think of? Abrams is going to give away one copy of Dotty and I have decided to make it a contest-ish. Post a comment with your own book-related, imaginative play craft and I'll choose one lucky winner!
Thanks to Erica Perl for her great ideas and to Abrams for sponsoring our giveaway. Don't forget to check out the other stops on the Dotty blog tour:
8/30 The Happy Nappy Bookseller
9/1 Alison’s Book Marks
9/2 A Patchwork of Books
9/4 Pragmatic Mom
9/7 Links to Literacy
9/8 The Book Bag Blog
9/9 The Hiding Spot
9/10 Bookmark, The First Book Blog
Oh, just realized I should put an end date on the giveaway....let's say...September 11th, so you have time to visit all Dotty's stops!