I love a good picture book, and last week, I had lots of exciting picture books adventures to read that I would like to share with everyone. First up is
A Bus called Heaven written and illustrated by Bob Graham
Candlewick Press, 2011, 2012, 42 pages, age 4+
When an abandoned bus with a hand painted sign that simply says Heaven on it is discovered in front of Stella's house, the whole neighborhood is abuzz with curiosity, including Stella. Loaded with trash and in desperate need of a good wash, Stella sees nothing but possibility. Soon, the bus is transformed to a little bit of heaven as everyone pitches in and fixes it up. And what a wonderful community center for these very diverse neighbors to gather in and spend time getting to know each other. Even the birds settle in, building nests in the old engine. It's all good until...the tow truck shows up and off goes Heaven to the junkyard. Will the concerted efforts of Stella's friends and neighbors be enough to save their community bus from a crushing fate?
I loved this book. Not only does it shows how one person can make a difference, but also how a united community with a shared interest can also effect change. The ink and watercolor illustrations add just the right amount of whimsy and young readers will find much to explore in them. Pair this with The Night Gardener by Terry and Eric Fan, another fable in which a young boy helps transform and unite his diverse neighborhood.
The Tree, a Fable written and illustrated by Neal Layton
Candlewick Press, 2017, 40 pages, age 4+
A large tree stands on land that has been bought by a couple, who plan to build their new home there. But first they must cut down the tree in order to do that. As they begin to saw the tree down, they have a big surprise - the tree is already a home to rabbits, owls, birds, and squirrels. Horrified that they almost displaced all these residents, the couple go home and redo their house plans. Kids are in for a big surprise when they discover the solution this nature-loving couple comes up with that will give everyone a home, thanks to the tree.
This is a really nice environmental/conservation fable, perfect for Earth Day programs on April 22, 2017, and it will be fun to see what the kid's think the couple's solution to their problem will be before reading the end of the book. Layton's illustrations are done in earth tones using a pen and ink wash. Though the illustrations have a somewhat humorous quality to them, they still capture all the excitement, surprise, fear, disappointment, and finally hope and happiness of all God's creatures here. There's a lesson to be learned here and it's a good one.
Layton says that writing this book began with a feeling, and you can check out pictures of his writing process HERE
Rain by written and illustrated by Sam Usher
Templar Books, 2017, 40 pages, age 4+
Sam really wants to go out and play in the rain, there are raindrops to catch, puddles to splash in, adventures to have. But when he asks Grandpa if they can go out and play, Grandpa says to wait till the rain stops, But will is ever stop? Meanwhile, Grandpa sits and writes his important letter, over and over and over, trying to get it right. Until, finally, the rain stops and Grandpa's letter is finished. Did Sam and Grandpa miss all the fun of a rainy day? No siree bob, they did not. The rain just wasn't finished, after all.
You couldn't ask for a more perfect rainy day book. Every kid will relate to Sam's desire to get out of the house and have some fun. More than that, young readers will have some fun spotting Sam's stories and toys in his adventures when he finally gets out of the house. Fans of Sam Usher's Snow are already familiar with Sam and his Grandpa, and Usher follows the same story structure in Rain as in that book, and newcomers are sure to want more Sam and Grandpa after reading Rain.
Usher's ink and watercolor illustrations reflect the wetness of the rain, the dryness of the house, and vividness of Sam's imagination.
Farmer Duck by Martin Waddell, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury
Candlewick Press, 1996, 2017, 40 pages, age 4+
Poor duck! The lazy farmer just stays in bed all day long reading the newspaper (tabloids?)and eating boxes of candy. And to make matters worse, each time Duck does a chore, Farmer yells out "How's the work going?" All the hoeing, gardening, taking care of the other animals, ironing, washing dishes, cooking are really wearing Duck down. The other farm animals really like Duck, and so one day they come up with a plan for helping him out. And what a plan it is!
I love Farmer Duck. I remember reading it to my Kiddo when she was young and we had lots of discussions about it. Oxenbury's watercolor illustrations really communicate Duck's feelings and his weariness as he takes care of the farm despite the fact that all he ever utters is Quack. The slovenliness of the farmer and the empathy the other animals feel are also well represented mainly by facial expressions. There is a true revolutionary spirit in this wonderful tale that seems to reflect today's world more than was intended, I'm sure. I was so happy to see this classic reissued for today's young readers. I know they will Quack along with duck every time it's read.
This week, I am reading The Warden's Daughter by Jerry Spinelli
What are you currently reading this week?