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Ketteman to sign copies of latest picture book, ‘Swamp Song’

By Staff | Nov 18, 2009

Helen Ketteman will be signing her childrens’ picture books on Saturday, Nov. 28 at the Sanibel Island Bookshop, located at 1571 Periwinkle Way, beginning at 11 a.m.

In her newest book “Swamp Song,” Old Man Gator begins this story in rhyme by tapping his toes “down in the swamp where the cypress grows.” He is soon joined by Ibis, who flaps her wings at the water’s edge. Moorhen calls to her chicks, and Wood Stork is “clackin’ her bill and puffin’ her chest” as she leaves her nest. Added to these distinctive sounds are Dragonfly’s whirring wings, Wild Boar’s grunts and Bullfrog’s croaks. Black Bear sharpens his claws on a cypress tree, while Pygmy Rattler shakes his rattles. Red Fox warns Gator away from her kits with a “yip, yip, yippity-yip, YIP, YIP, YIP.”

The sunny illustrations inside “Swamp Song” are done with colored ink lines and acrylic wash paint against mostly white backgrounds. Each animal musician wears just enough clothing to establish an attitude – like Woodpecker’s black leather vest and chain necklace or Squirrel’s cowboy hat and fringed vest. Children will be tapping their toes with Old Man Gator and creating their own cacophony of swamp sounds as they learn about the inhabitants of this habitat.

In addition, there will also be copies of “Christmas Blizzard” available. An unusual heat wave at the North Pole forces Santa to move his entire workshop to Lizzard, Indiana, where temperatures are in the deep freeze. Unfortunately, a lack of snow deters the work, so young Maynard Jenkins pays a visit to an elderly neighbor lady rumored to be able to cast spells. She is more than willing to help out, but the storm she conjures has unexpected and hilarious results. Ketteman’s fanciful tall tale is sure to attract young listeners, and Warhola’s comical ink-and-watercolor illustrations capture the text’s exaggerated humor. Particularly delightful are Santa’s sunbathing elves and the bonfires lit to defrost the clouds. An appealing choice for holiday read-alouds or for older children learning to write their own tall tales.

Ketteman has written 39 books and has received a numerous awards, including Bank Street Writer’s Children’s Book Of The Year, New York Public Library’s Best 100 Picture Books, Boston Globe Outstanding Picture Books of the Year, South Dakota Flicker Tale Award, Nebraska Golden Sower Award, Oregon Patricia Gallagher Award, numerous state Readers Choice nominations and has been featured on national TV on PBS Story Time.

For more information, call the Sanibel Island Bookshop at 472-5223.