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The Picture Book Buzz

The Blanket Where Violet Sits - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

I've always loved lying under the stars on a clear night, watching for wonders. This stunning new picture book combines that celestial fascination with tons of loving snuggles, as it takes the reader on a stargazing journey through the universe and a child's starry dreams.

The Blanket Where Violet Sits

Author: Allan Wolf

Illustrator: Lauren Tobia

Publisher: Candlewick Press (2022)

Ages: 3-7



Family, love, rhyming, dreams, space, and the universe.


Cozy and expansive at once, this warm bedtime book reminds us that our aspirations—no matter how big—deserve the universe.

A gorgeous picture-book ode to wonder and safety, told in cumulative rhyme and with earthy illustrations evoking brick brownstones and crisp autumn skies. In a galaxy spiraling white, on a small blue planet with a moon so pretty, in a green park in a bustling city, a little girl sits on a blanket with her family, eating a sandwich, an apple, and chips. Equipped with telescope and space book, Violet gazes up into the great beyond, imagining a rocket ride to the stars . . . and a soft, sleepy return to her blanket. Lyrical and meditative, this is the perfect picture book to savor and share during a late-night picnic under the moon—or anytime.

Opening Lines:

This is the blanket where Violet sits,

eating a sandwich, an apple, and chips

What I LOVED about this book:

Sometimes I find that the cumulative format of The House That Jack Built can feel harsh and annoyingly repetitive. But Allan Wolf's gently, lyrical poetic voice, combined with Lauren Tobia's amazing pencil and digital illustrations make you almost forget it's a cumulative story. It's the perfect format structure for expanding from a child's star gazing evening with her family into the vast universe and then returning back to the child.

The initial close illustration of Violet and her family snuggled on a blanket enjoying an evening picnic, expands outward to show a wonderfully diverse city surrounding the park, and then expands again... (with a little blue arrow pointing to Violet's red blanket)

Text © Allan Wolf, 2022. Image © Lauren Tobia, 2022.

"This is the planet with a moon so pretty

that shines on the park in the bustling city,

home to the blanket where Violet sits,

eating a sandwich, an apple, and chips."

Then, although the text shifts farther into space, "This is the yellow star, orbited ’round," Lauren brings us back to Violet's family, cozily snuggled on the blanket watching a gorgeous sunset. Notice Lauren's addition of a small red rocket ship clutched by Violet.

Text © Allan Wolf, 2022. Image © Lauren Tobia, 2022.

These alternating visual points of view between expansive marvels (the solar system - with a line of planets, moons, satellites, comets & meteoroids) and close-up scenes of Violet's loving family as they prepare and spend an evening stargazing, masterfully break up the text and remind us that although we may be small specks in the universe, we are the world to our families.

Text © Allan Wolf, 2022. Image © Lauren Tobia, 2022.

After the view of our solar system, this awesome image starts shifting us back toward Violet. I particularly love the way Allan's text, "by the tiny blue planet with a moon so pretty/ that shines on the park in the bustling city," floats serenely in the atmosphere. There is so much to discover in this image, from the city to the surrounding farms and mountains, roads and railways, and the layers between the earth and deep space. The size of Violet's family and blanket, in relation to the surrounding city, affirms the importance of her family.

The next image, mentioned by Allan in our interview on Monday, zooms in close to the family cuddled together peering through a telescope at the moon. I love the addition of their headlamps and the tease of a book showing the moon's cycles. As they look through the telescope, the reader is transported deep into our galaxy (with an arrow showing the speck which is our solar system). Then, as the cumulative text cycles back to Violet and her blanket, Lauren focuses once again on the family stargazing and playing with the rocket. Sandwiching the galaxy with these two intimate, caring images reinforces a core element of love, acceptance, and shared dreams. We also get an illustrative foreshadowing - the cover of their book has a red rocket just like Violet's swooping through the universe.

With a deft touch, after expanding to "two thousand galaxies clustered in clouds," Allan beautifully and gently breaks the pattern, suggesting "There might be a Violet out there, looking back/at our own little galaxy spiraling white..." Then as Allan returns through the cumulative poem, Lauren gorgeously swoops back through the universe. I'd love to show or describe these final spreads, but suffice it to say these four spreads and the slightly tweaked refrain, are so imaginative, comforting, and hopeful. Full of love both within Violet's family and for our special, precious "jewel-blue" planet. It is a wonderful introduction to stargazing and the vastness of the universe. A perfect picture book exuding love and encouraging dreams for bedtime (or anytime) snuggles.


- make your own telescope (easy) or (slightly harder).

- what food would you take on a stargazing picnic?

- check out NASA's "Night Sky Network" for what to see in your night sky. Make a list of things you see - planets, moon phases, satelites, the International Space Station (see "spot the station" link), or constellations.

- look at how other authors have used the cummulative pattern in their books - The Road That Trucks Built by Susanna Hill, illustrated by Erica Sirotich, The Cazuela That the Farm Maiden Stirred by Samantha R. Vamos, illustrated by Rafael López, and ‘Ohana Means Family by Ilima Loomis, illustrated by Kenard Pak.

If you missed the interview with Allan Wolf on Monday, find it (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.


Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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