The Picture Book Buzz

It Fell From the Sky - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

I am so excited to share with you a stunning, funny, and poignant picture book this week.


When I first saw the cover of the insects gathered around a sparkling orb, trying to discern (note the grasshopper's magnifying glass) what it could be, I was reminded of the movie The God's Must Be Crazy. It sparked a few moments of fun as I watched the birds and squirrels hop and dash about my yard and imagined what they must think about some of things we drop or place in the yard.


This book is another Caldecott Honor List worthy book from the beloved Fan Brothers that carries a subtle message on greed and friendship underneath some stunning illustrations and wonderfully wry humor.


It Fell From the Sky


Author/Illustrators: The Fan Brothers


Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers (2021)


Ages: 4-8


Fiction


Themes:

Curiosity, friendship, sharing, community, greed, and human indifference.


Synopsis:

It fell from the sky on a Thursday.


None of the insects know where it came from, or what it is. Some say it’s an egg. Others, a gumdrop. But whatever it is, it fell near Spider’s house, so he’s convinced it belongs to him.


Spider builds a wonderous display so that insects from far and wide can come look at the marvel. Spider has their best interests at heart. So what if he has to charge a small fee? So what if the lines are long? So what if no one can even see the wonder anymore?


But what will Spider do after everyone stops showing up?


Opening Lines:

It fell from the sky on a Thursday.


What I LOVED about this book:

The opening illustration, entirely in black and white graphite - except for the gorgeously translucent cat's-eye marble - is so amazingly detailed and gorgeous. Just look at the variety of flowers, stages of the dandelions, and lush grass; you can almost reach out and touch them. With the unique perspective, whimsical inclusion of a straw-hatted ladybug and a top hat wearing bumblebee and butterfly, and the succinct, understated test, we immediately know we are in for another delightful adventure with Eric and Terry Fan.

© Terry and Eric Fan, 2021.


While the gathering insects can't agree on exactly how this marvel arrived, they all agreed "it was the most amazing thing they had ever seen." As Terry noted in Monday's interview, be sure to watch for the sneaky movements of Spider.

© Terry and Eric Fan, 2021.


After a number of insects and a frog examine the marble and test out their hypothesizes (a fun nod to STEM), Spider announces it belongs to him, "it fell right into my web." A web the others couldn't remember if it was there or not. It will be fun to hear the kid's reactions when this part is read, as fairness usually strikes a chord with them.


For kids, who often exchange rocks, pieces of bark, or leaves as payment for mud pies (or other treats of their imagination), The Fan Brothers' use of a Spider collecting leaves ( the only other spot of color) to allow others to view the marble in his "Wonderville" brings their fable-like examination of the consequences of greed on one's self, friends, and community directly to their level. Eventually, Spider's growing pile of green leaves is accompanied by a lack of visitors. And as he is pondering this, a "five-legged creature stole the Wonder."

© Terry and Eric Fan, 2021.


Anyone else have a flashback to Men In Black, where the earth was merely a marble in a cosmic game....? Eric & Terry tucked lots of wry moments for parents into the text and illustrations. The ending, both in regard to Spider's realization and the sudden, spectacularly colored double spread are both inevitable and surprising, intricate and humorous, and poignant without being didactic.


This is a wonderful book offering so many opportunities for discussion on perspectives (both their own and others), wonder & curiosity, fairness & friendship, and of course greed, to name a few. As well as a springboard to thinking about our impact in the world, both large (how we assume dominance and tread harshly) and small (actions as simple as dropping a bottle cap or a button). I highly recommend this picture book and hope everyone gets a change to enjoy it.


Resources:

- look at a toy, or part of a toy or game, from a new perspective - lie on the ground and look at it or put it outside in the grass. What do you notice? If you were an animal, insect, or someone who'd never seen it before, what would you think it was? Or look at something you see all the time

- make your own spider (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1YfDhqvsPI4&ab_channel=PaperMagic). What type of hat would he or she wear? What wonderful things would your spider find?

- do you have a favorite insect? What would it think of a marble? Would it find something else to be a "wonder"?

- check out the amazing activity booklet (here) from The Fan Brothers.


If you missed it, be sure to check out Monday's interview with Eric and Terry Fan (here).


This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions see Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Books.



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Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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