…storytime, books, and ideas

Archive for April, 2018

A kinder, gentler world

There’s a spate of books these days that seem to point us toward kindness and making our world a better place. If today’s children take these books to heart, maybe they will change the world. Here’s a few of those books that might be useful to our young friends.

book cover with Martin Luther KingI call this one a young activist’s handbook. In Be  A King, by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by James E. Ransome, children are introduced to the idea that “everybody can serve”. Based on the teachings of Martin Luther King Jr., this book shows, in very simple statements and colorful illustration, how kids can be the change.

We Are All Dots, by Giancarlo Macri and Carolina Zanotti has the subtitle “A big plan for a better world”. Not subtle in the message, it shows how we can share the world and our resources. Kids will probably get it right away. Useful for talking about differences, diversity, and compassion. book cover with boy, clouds, and birds

Another lovely choice for discussion of differences is Trampoline Boy by Nan Forler, illustrated by Marion Arbona. A boy who is obsessed with his trampoline gets teased by the neighbourhood kids. But one girl wants to know more about him, and stops to make friends. The book has lovely gouache and pencil illustrations that show us that we should look at the world through different eyes now and then. I love the design of this one– a tall skinny book, shaped for the jumping boy, and text that moves with him.

Small Things, by Mel Tregonning is a wordless picture book in graphic-novel style. A small boy is plagued by anxiety, which manifests in small pieces of him breaking off and turning into black shapes that follow him. This is certainly a book for older readers, but one that kids who have anxiety may really relate to. The boy finds comfort in talking with his sister, and finally his family, and is able to help others once he learns how to conquer his own little monsters. The art is fantastical and will pull you right into the story. There’s an afterword that discusses anxiety and the “tiny demons of worry” that are depicted in the book.

book cover with a blue horseBlue Rider by Geraldo Valerio is a worldess book that speaks volumes about our society. A girl finds a book on the ground– she is the only one who sees it, as everyone else is absorbed by their phones. When she takes it home and reads it, she is transported into a world of vibrant colour and shape, a world of nature that transcends her monotone urban landscape. The art is just beautiful– bold colours and shapes that ride across the page and into the imagination. The book is a reminder to  look beyond what is in front of us, to put down the devices, and to enjoy art, books, nature, and life. Go ahead and check this one out and do just that.

For the budding environmentalist, look for April Pulley Sayre’s lovely Thank You Earth: A love letter to our planet. Illustrated with photographs that show the beauty of nature, this love letter is a short yet notbook cover with earth and words simplistic poem. The words are as lovely as the photos. Perfect for Earth Day! There’s even a note from the author which gives kids some ideas on how they can thank the Earth. Superb.

Most kids have heard these words: Be Kind. In Pat Zietlow Miller’s new book, the main character wonders what this really means. When a classmate is laughed at for spilling her juice, our character wants to be kind, but doesn’t know exactly  how. This is a good choice for parents and teachers who want to discuss what kindness means, and how we show it to others. After all, we can remind kids to “be kind”, but how do we show that?

If you want more books,  follow me on Twitter @annavalley for my #picturebookpile posts!

Flowers and art and dance

My latest stack of picture books happens to have some nice non-fiction in it, as well as some poetry. Since April is Poetry Month, let’s start with Sakura’s Cherry Blossoms., by Robert Paul Weston, illustrated by Misa Saburi.   When a young girl has to leave her grandmother and the joy of all she knows in Japan, she is sad. She moves to the US, and finally makes a friend. They go back to Japan to see grandmother, who is ill, and when she returns back to her new home, her friend is excited to show her Spring, and the cherry blossoms there. It is possible that grandma has died– but not absolutely certain. The book is striking, though, and is written in tankaa traditional Japanese poetry form. So it could be a good mentor text for poetry lessons; probably not the best choice for preschool storytimes.  book cover with woman and dots

If you are looking for a good art book to share, pick up Yayoi Kusama: From Here to Infiinty by Sarah Suzuki, illustrated by Ellen Weinstein. This one also begins in Japan, with a girl who loves art. Her family is not so keen on her being an artist, but she is determined, and follows her dream. Kusama becomes an artist who works with dots, and becomes quite well known. The illustrations are captivating, as is her life story. This book made me want to see more of her work, and it would make a great artist study for classrooms.

Have you ever seen someone dance, and thought, “I want to be able to do that!”  Well, that’s what Amalia Hernandez thought as a child when she saw traditional dance in a village in her native Mexico. Her book cover with dancer in red skirtlifelong love of dance became a world-wide phenomenon as she created Ballet Folklorico. Read about her in Duncan Tonatiuh’s Danza! : Amalia Hernández and el Ballet Folklórico de México. Illustrated in his signature style, the story of this dance comes to life in the pages of this book.

That’s all for this time. If you want more books,  follow me on Twitter @annavalley for my #picturebookpile posts!

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