R is for Roundy-Round (and it’s Perfect Picture Book Friday)

Roundy-round? Here we go round the mulberry bush? “Round, like a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel”? Not exactly.

Roundy-round is a filming technique in which the camera moves slowly around the subject, giving the viewer a 360 degree look at what is being filmed. It’s a technique that Blake Edwards used sparingly, but he used it to great effect in the framing scenes of Darling Lili, with setting, music, costuming, and roundy-round all combining to create a dream-like effect. He also used it in Victor/Victoria, in the scene in which “Victor” is standing by a grand piano, singing “Crazy World.” In this instance, we not only see the audience the way the performer sees them, but we also see the people in the wings, listening intently to the song. It can be a mesmerizing effect, a powerful one, and gives one a seldom-seen perspective from behind, and all around, the performer. Blake talked about the technique in the voiceover commentary on the DVD of  Victor/Victoria. I highly recommend listening to that commentary.

Circles. They give an interesting perspective on a lot of things…

Which brings me to the Perfect Picture Book for today.

Title: The Circle Game

Author: Joni Mitchell

Illustrator: Brian Deines

Publisher: Toronto: Dancing Cat/Cormorant Books, 2011.


Genre: Picture book, illustrated song lyrics, fiction

Audience Age: 4-8 years

Theme: dreams, growing up, continuity of life

Opening Sentences: Yesterday a child came out to wonder, Caught a dragonfly inside a jar…

Synopsis: The lyrics of Joni Mitchell’s song celebrate the wonder of life, the circle of the seasons, the carousel of all around us, and the dreams we have as each season of our life unfolds. The illustrations by Brian Deines capture the joy and delight of growth and the carousel that spins around us day by day. I don’t usually care for books that simply illustrate song lyrics, but for me, this one works.

Activities/Resources: I’d suggest starting by listening to the song while going through the book and its illustrations. It’s available on iTunes (there’s a scanning link at the back of the book).

There are many circle games for kids to play. The Ultimate Camp Resource lists just a few of the plethora of circle games that are played around the world.

A kaleidoscope is a perfect illustration of the way things change in a circular fashion. Here’s a simple way to make a kaleidoscope from a toilet paper tube and a few beads, from a blog called Daily Organized Chaos.

The lyrics would be a good conversation starter to talk about dreams (not the sleeping kind, the aspiration kind) and hopes. What do your kids hope for in their lives? Share with them some of your dreams, wishes and hopes, too – it’s good for kids to know that dreams don’t stop when you grow up.

Availability: Available in Canada.

Every Friday, bloggers join together to share picture book reviews and resources, thanks to author Susanna Leonard Hill’s brainchild, “Perfect Picture Book Fridays.” Susanna then adds the books (and links to the reviews) to a comprehensive listing by subject on her blog. Find the entire listing at her “Perfect Picture Books.”


A to Z Challenge



  1. I’ve seen that roundy-round thing in movies! I never knew it had a name! The book sounds nice. I don’t think I’ve heard that song, but I like the lyrics you quote!

    1. Isn’t it great to learn new things all the time? The song is from the 1960s — it’s a really good song. Thanks, Erik!

  2. Would this roundy-round be the same thing Michael Bay does in his Bad Boy and Transformer movies? I jokingly called it the dizzy-spin lol!!!

    1. I’ve never seen those movies, so I can’t say for sure, but it could well be. Sounds as though he does his roundy-round at a faster pace than Blake did! Blake’s were slow and very effective.

  3. Interesting way to take song lyrics and turn them into a PB – and who doesn’t love a carousel?

    1. I’ve noticed a few picture books lately that do just this — gives new life to the songs, introduces them to a whole new generation. And yes, who doesn’t love a carousel?

  4. What a wonderful idea, turning a Joni Mitchell song into a book! It must be absolutely gorgeous. Thanks so much for sharing this one – I can’t wait to look it up and read it!

    1. Wish I could have shown you all the art work! Hope you can find the book!

  5. Love the imagery that these carousel motifs conjour up, Beth. I had no idea these lyrics had been made into a picture book.

    1. It was just published last year, and it’s Canadian, so I don’t know if it has had very wide circulation. I hope it gets known other than just here.

  6. Oh, I love that song and had no idea it was a book. Thanks Beth!

    1. You’re welcome, Kirsten. I hope the book gets known outside of Canada — it’s worth it!

  7. I love the book cover! We’ve featured books written by singers and artists a few times at Gathering Books. It’s nice to add this book by Joni Mitchell to the list. Thanks for sharing, Beth! 🙂

    1. Thanks, FS! Glad to hear you’ve featured other singer/artist books.

  8. Beautiful Cover and I imagine the illustrations are lovely. Never saw this before. It does fit the Joni Mitchell lyrics. Great suggestion to play the song to kids first. An unusual, but beautiful choice today. And, I love carousels.

    1. Once I decided “R” was for Roundy-Round, it was an interesting exercise to find a book that would fit with that. When I saw this one, I knew I didn’t need to look any further.

  9. It’s a lovely looking book and one I would pick up for sure. I used to have a kaleidoscope when I was a kid, they were fun. Talking of writing dreams and hopes, at the Jazz festival down country I was at a couple of weekends ago they had a huge board up where kids and adults could write on what they most wished or hoped for…. very interesting to read. Thanks Beth.

    1. Love kaleidoscopes!

      That dream/wish/hope board sounds great! Thanks for sharing.

  10. Ooh, it sounds like a very cool book. I love storybooks set to music.

    Grade ONEderful
    Ruby Slippers Blog Designs

    1. It is lovely. Thanks, Barb!

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