Friday, May 7, 2021

Picture Book Joy: All About Friends

 Reading is Fun
The kids in my old reading group are older now and have moved on to a different reading group. My new kids and I are just getting to know each other and so I thought we would have a session reading picture books all about friends - old friends and new friends.  

Evelyn Del Rey Is Moving Away 
by Meg Medina, illustrated by Sonia Sánchez
Candlewick Press, 2020, 32 pages
Daniela and Evelyn have always been best friend, living across from each other in almost identical apartments. But now, Evelyn and her family will be moving away. On moving day, the two girls spend their last hours playing together - almost like always. But when the apartment is empty, and the moving van rumbles off, their Mamis tell them it's time for Evelyn to go. The girls promise to talk every day after school and visit in the summer for a sleepover, but Daniela knows that tomorrow will be different with her mejor amiga, that they will no longer be almost identical twins living in almost identical bedrooms. And even those Daniela's Mami tells her not to be sad, they will both make new friends, Daniela knows the Evelyn will always be her número uno best friend. So many of my young readers have had to say good-bye to friends and close family who are moving away, that this book has really struck a cord with them and we read it a lot. What is really interesting is that this is told from Daniela's point of view, and I think that is what my kids relate to. Daniela faces the emptiness caused by Evelyn's leaving, while even my young readers know that Evelyn will be busy settling into her new home and won't feel that same loneliness as Daniela. Sánchez's digital illustrations really capture the closeness of their friendship and the poignancy of Evelyn's leaving. This book always brings tears to my eyes when I read it, even though it ends on a hopeful note. Evelyn Del Rey Is Moving Away is a book that every home library and school library should have on their shelves, since friends moving away is such a common occurrence in the life of kids.   
You can find a Teacher's Guide HERE and an Activity Kit HERE thanks to the publisher, Candlewick Press.

I Am A Bird 
by Hope Lim, illustrated by Hyewon Yum
Candlewick Press, 2021, 32 pages
Every morning, a happy little girl rides to school on the back of her dad's bicycle and every morning, as they go through the park, she flies like a bird on the bike and sings like the birds in the sky. People wave back and birds sing an answer to the girl's birdsong. One morning, she notices a woman in a blue coat and a big bag walking fast. She sees the same lady day after day, but the woman never smiles. The girl wonders about the woman, but she stops singing her birdsong whenever she sees her and hides behind her dad. Then one day, the girl and her dad are late and she doesn't see the woman until they are almost through the park. What a surprise to find out that the woman she was so frightened of is a kindred soul, a bird whispering her own birdsong to the park birds. As they smile, wave and sing their their birdsongs together, the girl understands that the woman is just like her, that they are both birds.

Road Trip! A Whiskers Hollow Adventure
written and illustrated by Steve Light
Candlewick Press, 2021, 40 pages
On a beautiful day, Bear had an accident with his old truck and now he needs a new headlight. So off Bear headed to his friend Rabbit's house to see if he would help find a new headlight. Rabbit was hungry and wanted lunch, and Bear promised they would find lunch along the way. Soon they arrived at their friend Mouse's house and invited him along on the new headlight search. Mouse is afraid something will happen, so he brought along his first-aid kit. When they arrived at Donkey's house, they invited their friend to join the road trip to find a new headlight and Donkey knew just the place to go - Elephant's Old Junk Tree. But no matter how hard they search, they find everything but a headlight. So the friends decide to just enjoy their time together, but when the junk begins to shift, what a surprise they find under it all. This is such a fun book that shows us how tasks are so much better when they are done with friends. The pen, ink, and gouache illustrations are bright and whimsical, but look closely at each one for lots of humorous surprises. My young readers loved this book and we are all hoping there are more Whiskers Hollow adventures to come. 

The Best Place in the World
written and illustrated by Petr Horáček
Candlewick Press, 2021, 32 pages
Looking at their meadow, Hare wonders if it is the best place in the world. Hare's rabbit friends think it is the best place for running and playing, which is just what they do. Bear thinks it's the best place because of the bees, because where there are bees, there is honey, while the Birds think it's the best because the meadow is surrounded by trees, where they can sit and sing to their friends and Goose likes it for the stream that runs through it. When Hare asks Owl, he suggests Hare go and explore the world to find out for himself if their meadow is the best place in the world. And that is just what Hare does. After traveling the world, what do you think Hare discovers about the meadow he shares with his friends? Hare's wonderings and wanderings are all illustrated in wonderful springtime colors done in mixed media. This is a sweet story that reminds young readers to appreciate their friends, a sentiment that is especially important nowadays, when kids may not get to play with their friends as often as they might want to..

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