Monday, May 31, 2021

More Picture Book Joy

Reading is Fun

Candlewick Press always has so many wonderful picture books sometimes it's hard to choose what to share with my young readers. Here are a few that I have chosen and which I am sure will become everyone's new favorites:

My Red Hat written and illustrated by 
Rebecca Stubbs
Candlewick Press, 2021, 32 pages
In this intergenerational story, a loving grandfather passes down his red hat to his granddaughter and tells her about all the different possibilities the hat holds for her and which are clearly based on his own life experiences. The hat, he says, can simply be used to keep her warm or dry, protect her from the sun or the rain, help her stand out in a crowd, or hide in one. The hat can hold her dreams, secrets, and fears and it is full of possibility - places to go, things to see, people to meet until home calls her back. Using simple landscape line illustrations, done in a limited palette of colors, Stubbs captures the idea of a child's connection to her family and home while encouraging her to go out and to confidently explore her internal and external world courageously, knowing that there is always place where she is loved and has roots. This is a warm, tender, thought-provoking story for your young readers. Sometimes grandparents can encourage kids to follow their dreams in ways that parents can't because of the different relationship a child has with the two generations.  

Over the Shop written by JonArno Lawson,
illustrated by Qin Leng
Candlewick Press, 2021, 48 pages
In this wordless intergenerational story, a young girl lives with her grumpy grandparent in a rather run down building with their general store on the ground floor, where the granddaughter helps out when not in school. There's a alley cat who is the grandparent's nemesis, but to whom the girl brings cans of food. Above the shop is an empty apartment that they need to rent. A for-rent sign is hung in the window and a variety of people come, look, and leave. Until one day, a mixed race couple come to look at the apartment and decide to rent it, and though grumpy grandparent doesn't seem to want them, the granddaughter does. Slowly but surely the couple fix up the apartment throughout the fall and winter, with the girl's help and when spring comes round, the work is done, and even the little balcony attached to the apartment is alive with window boxes and plants. Next thing you know, the couple is helping out in the store and the girl is so happy, she even manages to lure the cat up to the apartment where it finds a home. What I really loved about this book was watching how the grumpy grandparent's face changes over the course of the story to one that is happy and smiling by the end, demonstrating how important it is to have caring friends and neighbors. Because this book is wordless, readers need to rely on the wonderfully detailed ink and watercolor illustrations to see to story's progression. Interestingly, the dedication is to trans activists of all ages. I just love the subtleness of gender in this book about inclusiveness. 

No Buddy Like a Book by Allan Wolf, 
illustrated by Brianne Farley
Candlewick Press, 2021, 32 pages
In this book extolling the wonderful things readers can find in books, they are reminded throughout that a book is nothing without a reader and their imagination: "But Books are only smears of ink/ without the reader's mind/  to give the letters meaning/ and to read between the lines." The unnamed narrator focuses on nonfiction and what readers can learn, like how icebergs stay afloat, or how to learn something like cooking and baking. Books can teach readers about space and how to build a telescope or take them on journeys anywhere in the world they would like to go. The only thing a reader needs besides knowing how to read is their own imagination. Told in an ABCB rhyme scheme, this lyrical tribute to books and reading will delight young readers just starting out on their own "...aboard the Book Express." Where will it take them? Wherever they want to go. The mixed media illustrations for this charming oversized book are bold and colorful, and includes diverse group of young readers. One of the things I used to tell my very reluctant fourth grader readers is how a book can open up so many new worlds and adventures for them. How I wish I had this book to read and show them what I was talking about. 
Ellie's Dragon written and illustrated by
Bob Graham
Candlewick Press, 2020, 40 pages
One day, Ellie finds a tiny dragon. Holding it in her hand, its little claws tickled her and so she named it Scratch. At first, she made scratch a little bed out of a match box, but when he grew some, he took up residence in her dollhouse. Ellie and Scratch spent lots of time together, even if her mom couldn't see him. At first, Ellie took Scratch everywhere, even to preschool where the other kids loved him, but, like Ellie's mom, the teacher couldn't see Scratch. But when Ellie went to kindergarten, she forget to bring Scratch with her. By Ellie's 8th birthday, Scratch had learned to fly, though sometimes Ellie still took him places with her. As Ellie grew, Scratch began to fade, until one day, he just slipped away out the window while she slept. Ellie sometimes still thought about Scratch, but the fully grown dragon soon found a new home with a little boy down the street, who now takes him everywhere. This is such a wonderful example of how imaginary friends begin, bring comfort and companionship, and when the time is right, slip away, but are never completely forgotten. Graham's watercolor and ink illustrations are simple, colorful, and whimsical, the writing is straightforward, with humor and warmth. Though the story has been compared to the song "Puff the Magic Dragon" because it does have a touch of the same kind of melancholy, Ellie's Dragon has a much happier ending. 

Mindi and the Goose No One Else Could See
by Sam McBratney, illustrated by Linda Ólafsdóttir
Candlewick Press, 2021, 40 pages
Mindi is afraid of a great big goose that no one else can see. You couldn't call it an imaginary friend, though, since she was so fearful of this goose. And no matter what her parents do to keep it away, even though they couldn't see the goose, it just doesn't leave. So her dad decides to consult with Austen, a wise old man who has help other people before. The plan is simple enough - take Mindi on a long journey to his farm. While there, a young goat wonders into the house and Austen tells Mindi to give the goat an apricot, and that if he likes her, the goat will return the pit to her hand. Sure enough, the goat returns the pit and Austen even lets Mindi name the little goat. A week later, Austen comes to visit Mindi and her parents, and brings the little goat along. Seeing how Mindi has taken to the goat, Austen makes a suggestion that they trade - he'll take the big scary goose, with the understanding that she will never see it again because his farm is so far away, and she can have the little goat. Is this the happily-ever-after end of the story? Not quite - there's a bit of a surprise at the Austen's farm that no one would have expected. Though not quite as charming as McBratney's stories about Little Nutbrown Hare, this is still an excellent book about dealing with children's fears and anxieties. The mixed media illustrations are beautifully done, ranging from colorful full page images to spot illustrations. 

I received these book from Candlewick Press in exchange for honest reviews.

1 comment:

  1. I have only heard of one of these- Ellie's Dragon. So nice to be introduced to the rest of them. My Red Hat sounds like a book I will love and No Buddy Like a Book has a great cover. Thanks for sharing all of these. :)


Imagination Designs