The words of this title might describe the life goals of author Elaine Magliaro who worked as an elementary teacher for more than thirty years and finished up that career with three years as a school librarian, but they actually do something quite different. The picture book by this name won an Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Honor Book award. Previously, it had won the Margaret Wise Brown Prize in Children’s Literature for the best picture book manuscript of 2017
In Things to Do, each of the double page spreads shares a poem that begins with “Things to do if you are” followed by a noun and extends into a poem about the things that noun can do. The pictures, beautifully done by Catia Chen in colors that match the subject for each page, form a background for the enhanced words which spread across the pages to match the mood. Both children and the adult reader will enjoy repeat readings for the poetry and the art.
I’ve added a picture of one of my favorite spreads with the poem it illustrates below.
Things to do if you are a Honeybee
Flit among flowers.
Sip nectar for hours.
Be yellow and fuzzy.
In her delightful acceptance speech for the award during the Keats Awards at the recent Kaigler Book Festival, Elaine told of escaping her grandchildren behind the closed door of the bathroom to take the call about the award. She also made sure to mention that she had this “New Writer Award” at the age of seventy-one.
In her own list of “things to do” in her retirement, Elaine is the Nanny Granny for her nearby grandchildren and squeezes in some poetry writing.