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Up, Down, and All Around Philadelphia

Reader and child explore everyday events around the city, identifying details and wondering about open-ended questions together.

Photo of Kristen Swanson
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Written by

Description:

Everyday things fascinate small people. Written in verse, this book takes reader and child to a windowsill to feed a pigeon and then sees all that a pigeon sees when it flies over Philadelphia. 

Another child sees a construction elevator from behind the tall fence, and wonders what the workers see up high in their work-place. the second page has few words, but shows different jobs in construction, tools, and safety equipment to prevent falling. 

A third child interacts with a squirrel, which leads to a view of the child from the squirrel's nest in the tree, and shows life in the tall ginkgo tree. 

When another child, surrounded by toy cars on the floor, is falling asleep, the roar of the heater wakes him. The scene moves to the basement, where the "dragon" heater is surrounded by tools, old objects, and seasonal stored items to identify. 

Kids love water, and a leaf becomes a boat for an acorn, as a child sends her boat down the storm drain and wonders where it goes. It is followed by a page showing items floating along with the boat, a sunny end to the tunnel far ahead.

Walking across a huge bridge is a little scary, and a big adventure for small kids. The reader's hand anchors the child as he sees details of construction, whizzing traffic, and finally the underwater world beneath the bridge.

The final stanza is an invitation to child and reader to explore the world together, and brings many of the animals and objects from previous pages together in the illustration, to be discovered by little eyes. 

Text:

Up, Down, All Around Philadelphia

Strutting on my windowsill

Pigeon puffs her feathers.

She nibbles seeds

We sprinkle there

For food in winter weather.

High she flies!

What’s up there?

Only air?


The fence is tall but I can see

An elevator climb.

It’s lifting workers

to the top.

Their hammers beat in time.

What are they building

Way up there?

Do they get scared?


Bouncing my ball on a jangling fence

Under a Ginkgo tree.

The squirrel knows the path

To his warm snug nest

He scampers away from me!

 What does he see

In his tree so tall?

Why doesn’t he fall?


My cheek rests on the smooth cool floor

I’m almost fast asleep.

The dragon in the basement

ROOOAAAARRRRSSS!

He rumbles way down deep.

I feel hot breath on me.

What’s down below?

Can we go?


Wet leaves are dancing. Raincoat weather!

A streamlet rushes past.

It shimmers on the sidewalk

And dives beneath the grate.

My acorn boat is fast.

It drops into glittering darkness.

Will it ever

Reach the river?


The cables on the bridge are strong.

Raised on towers high.

Whooooo! blow whizzing cars and trucks,

We walk above the water.

A loaded barge slides by.

Your hand anchors me.

Who lives down deep?

Do they swim or creep?


Up, down, all around

There’s so much more to see

Comets streak

Subways bellow

What can their stories be?

Can we go see?

Come with me!


(ON THE BACK COVER, for parents/care-givers:)

Ideas for Readers:

The more kids talk, the better readers they will become. 

*Talk TO them: tell them about your day, your work, your meal, your favorite team. 

*Ask kids questions that require detailed answers, and listen as they speak. 

       (What scary things would you like to try? How would you stay safe? Have you ever made friends with an animal?)

*Enjoy identifying details in picture books. As you re-read the book and the child matures, they will learn to "read pictures" and identify more and more objects in the world around them. Compare the story to your own life. 

     (What is in our basement? What tools have you used? Where would you fly if you were a pigeon?)

*Read books over and over again. Read, read, read, and soon your child will be reading to you! 



 

 

 

Describe the intended vision for your early childhood book manuscript in 1-2 sentences

This big, wide world can be safely discovered together, and parents/care-givers can use simple questioning and direction to encourage children to "read" pictures and connect details.

Share your suggested book title

Up, Down, All Around in Philadelphia

PLEASE USE THE VERSION OF THIS QUESTION AT THE TOP OF THE SUBMISSION FORM: Share a draft of your manuscript (250 word limit, not including title).

Kristen Swanson Up, Down, All Around Philadelphia Strutting on my windowsill Pigeon puffs her feathers. She nibbles seeds We sprinkle there For food in winter weather. High she flies! What’s up there? Only air? The fence is tall but I can see An elevator climb. It’s lifting workers to the top. Their hammers beat in time. What are they building Way up there? Do they get scared? Bouncing my ball on a jangling fence Under a Ginkgo tree. The squirrel knows the path To his warm snug nest He scampers away from me! What does he see In his tree so tall? Why doesn’t he fall? My cheek rests on the smooth cool floor I’m almost fast asleep. The dragon in the basement ROOOAAAARRRRSSS! He rumbles way down deep. I feel hot breath on me. What’s down below? Can we go? Wet leaves are dancing. Raincoat weather! A streamlet rushes past. It shimmers on the sidewalk And dives beneath the grate. My acorn boat is fast. It drops into glittering darkness. Will it ever Reach the river? The cables on the bridge are strong. Raised on towers high. Whooooo! blow whizzing cars and trucks, We walk above the water. A loaded barge slides by. Your hand anchors me. Who lives down deep? Do they swim or creep? Up, down, all around There’s so much more to see Comets streak Subways bellow What can their stories be? Can we go see? Come with me!

How has this book been informed by early childhood language development research and evidence? (response minimum 250 Characters)

As a teacher and parent, I believe sharing books and stories is the bedrock of education and holds our human culture together. I also believe that higher level vocabulary in young children's books is gradually absorbed, first as the spoken music of the care-giver or parents' voice, and later as words added to the child's working vocabulary. My experience is backed up by the sources you shared: young children are capable of an astonishing amount of learning, and children need to talk and talk and talk as they interact with books. Because of this, I have included "Ideas for Readers" at the back of the book, encouraging interaction and the use of "open-ended wondering". Readers can learn to direct the listener's imagination beyond the limits of the book.

Please describe any familiarity you may have with Philadelphia and its residents? (optional question)

I reside in Quakertown, Pennsylvania, so my local big city is Philadelphia. My family enjoys making the most of cultural events and visiting friends there. My sample sketch uses the John Coltrane home as the home of the first child. An ethnic festival would make a great back-drop for the last invitation to adventure together. And Philadelphia's wonderful mural art and sports teams should also appear in the book's scenes!

How have you crafted this manuscript to resonate with and/or reflect the experiences of those living in urban contexts? (optional question)

All the activities in my manuscript are applicable to a city environment, and could actually be easily adapted to any big city in the United States. Construction sites, storm drains, and huge bridges fascinated my own children when they visited a city.

Location: Country

Quakertown, PA, USA, an hour's drive north from Philadelphia. I live on the edge of a state park!

Location: State or Department

Pennsylvania

Location: City

Quakertown

Website URL (optional question)

http://mamajojosmuse.blogspot.com/

Tell us more about you / your team

I was nurtured by the power of books, and my career as a teacher has reflected this. I have shared my passion for story with students in my Gifted Seminar classes, all levels of English teaching, and currently learning-support 6th graders. I also developed "writing for children" workshops in Kigali, Rwanda, where I connected children's authors with Rwandan and Burundian novice writers. I am working on my own poetry, a middle-grade fantasy, and some picture book ideas. Of course, a good book and tea in my garden is my therapy and delight.

Provide an example visual identity for a look and feel you might like to achieve. ( (optional question, 3-5 visuals)

I especially enjoy the work of Jan Brett, who has extra stories and action running around a margin in her illustrations. I'd like to see as many details on my pages as possible, to spark conversation. I also hope to construct this book to open not left to right, but top to bottom, to provide a tall, narrow page to reflect the title.

Multiple Choice - Have you been previously published (online, self-published, and print included)?

  • Yes

If yes, please list titles and publications.

Micro-Loans Make Unexpected Profits, in Middle Ground Magazine Guest blogger for ONE.org and Malaria No More Editorials in local Allentown paper Minor professional articles

Do you have an agent?

  • No

How did you hear about the Challenge? (optional question)

  • William Penn Foundation website / social media

What best describes you? (optional question)

  • I am/we are creatives, writers, or artists

4 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Itika Gupta
Team

Hi Kristen Swanson  Welcome to the Challenge Community!
Love how your story merges the boundaries between real and imaginary elements children see in and around the city.
How might you evolve your manuscript to introduce new nudges of engagement and interaction for caregivers, to help them with their child’s learning development as they narrate the story? You can find some inspiration in the Final Toolkit and Challenge Resources listed on the challenge page

Photo of Kristen Swanson
Team

Thanks for the encouragement! I really enjoyed working on this challenge. I think I will continue to develop illustration ideas on my own, (with no word limit! I want to add words to the drawings and create borders that include words and activities.) This challenge meets such a crucial need. I am working with learning support kids in 6th grade, some of whom did not grow up with books, and school is harder for them.

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