Archive | picture book RSS feed for this section
25 Feb

A lot of reading of “books I missed” happens in the wake of the Youth Media Awards. This weekend I read two lovely picture books I missed earlier in the year. Each deal with sad topics in a beautiful way.

download

 

The Rough Patch by Brian Lies, was a Caldecott Honor book. It is about love, loss, and grief.

Goodreads Summary:Evan and his dog do everything together, from eating ice cream to caring for their prize-winning garden, which grows big and beautiful. One day the unthinkable happens: Evan’s dog dies.

Heartbroken, Evan destroys the garden and everything in it. download-1

The ground becomes overgrown with prickly weeds and thorns, and Evan embraces the chaos.

But beauty grows in the darkest of places, and when a twisting vine turns into an immense pumpkin, Evan is drawn out of his isolation and back to the county fair, where friendships—old and new—await.

 

Let me just say that the two page spread that shows the day his dog passes might be one of the most poignant scenes in a picture book, ever.

The other picture book I read, The Remember Balloons, written by Jessie Oliveros and illustrated by Dana Wulfekotte, was a 2019 Schneider Family Award Honor Book.

the-remember-balloons-9781481489157_lg

Publisher’s Summary: James’s Grandpa has the best balloons because he has the best memories. He has balloons showing Dad when he was young and Grandma when they were married. Grandpa has balloons about camping and Aunt Nelle’s poor cow. Grandpa also has a silver balloon filled with the memory of a fishing trip he and James took together.

But when Grandpa’s balloons begin to float away, James is heartbroken. No matter how hard he runs, James can’t catch them. One day, Grandpa lets go of the silver balloon—and he doesn’t even notice!

Grandpa no longer has balloons of his own. But James has many more than before. It’s up to him to share those balloons, one by one.

It’s the quiet voice and  little details that make this book so powerful. Depending upon how old people are, they have more or fewer balloons than others. But the dog always only has one red balloon. That touched my heart because that’s how dogs are.

Both of these books are great for young readers. They can also help parents talk to their children about these tough topics.

The 2019 Oregon Book Award Finalists

23 Jan
The Oregon Book Award finalists were just announced. The award honors the state’s finest accomplishments by Oregon writers who work in the genres of poetry, fiction, drama, literary nonfiction, and literature for young readers.
The Oregon Book Award winners will be announced at the 32nd annual Oregon Book Awards Ceremony on Monday, April 22 at the Gerding Theater at the Armory. Cheryl Strayed will host the ceremony.
Here are the finalists for Children’s and YA Literature
ELOISE JARVIS MCGRAW AWARD FOR CHILDREN’S LITERATURE
Judges: Ashyln Anstee, Ben Clanton, Linda Marshall
Kate Berube of Portland, Mae’s First Day of School (Abrams Books)
download.jpg
Barbara Herkert of Newport, A Boy, a Mouse, and a Spider: The Story of E.B. White (Henry Holt and Co. )
download-1
Michelle Roehm McCann of Portland, More Girls Who Rocked the World (Aladdin/Beyond Words)
download-2.jpg
Emily Whitman of Portland , The Turning (Greenwillow Books)
download-3.jpg
Deborah Hopkinson of West Linn, Ordinary, Extraordinary Jane Austen (Balzer & Bray)
download-4
LESLIE BRADSHAW AWARD FOR YOUNG ADULT LITERATURE
Judges:  Donna Freitas, Ashley Pérez, Kathryn Reiss
Shea Ernshaw of Bend, The Wicked Deep (Simon & Schuster)
download-5
Fonda Lee of Portland, Cross Fire: An Exo Novel (Scholastic Press)
download-6
Shelley Pearson of Portland, Book Smarts & Tender Hearts  (Ingram Spark)
download-7
Emily Suvada of Portland, This Mortal Coil (Simon & Schuster)
download-8

Emerging from my cocoon

7 Jan

I spent the last two weeks in a delightful cocoon of my own making, filled with books and knitting.

It is hard going back.

But, back I must go.

I read several wonderful picture books during the break that touched my heart. One of them was Adrian Simcox Does Not Have A Horse  by Marcy Campbell.

A13S59WNaqL.jpg

From the Author’s Website: Adrian Simcox tells anyone who will listen that he has a horse–the best and most beautiful horse anywhere.

But Chloe does NOT believe him. Adrian Simcox lives in a tiny house. Where would he keep a horse? He has holes in his shoes. How would he pay for a horse?

The more Adrian talks about his horse, the angrier Chloe gets. But when she calls him out at school and even complains about him to her mom, Chloe doesn’t get the vindication she craves. She gets something far more important.

Can I just say that this is the book we all need to read these days, when we are so quick to judge and spout our opinions. This is a book about empathy – getting to know ‘the other” and seeing their perspective. It teaches us that being right isn’t always the most important thing.

Corinna Luyken’s illustrations — in black ink, colored pencils, and watercolor — remind me of books published when I was young and makes the book feel timeless.

The Dam

5 Nov

I used to play on a dam.

Dad worked for Ontario Hydro and when I was in grade 2, we moved to Fraserdale. It was an isolated community. Before there was a Polar Express,  we had the Polar Bear Express that ran through our railroad station on its way to Moosonee. We were the last town before you got here.

canyon2j

Ours was a hydroelectric dam, tapping the power of the Little Abitibi River. As youngsters we ran all over town and into the woods. There was an old boat docked on the dam and we played on it, using our imaginations to fuel our play. Near it was a plaque, on which was written Rudyard Kipling’s poem “The Sons of Martha”, in celebration of the care and dedication of workers–engineers, mechanics, and builders–to provide for the safety and comfort of others.

I got all sentimental about these halcyon days of my youth after reading David Almond’s new picture book The Dam.

9780763695972

A father and daughter go out with a fiddle to sing in the abandoned buildings soon to be covered with water. The language is beautifully poetic and the illustrations, by Levi Pinfold, are exquisite.

51G+HHsWOQL

Publisher’s Summary: Kielder Water is a wild and beautiful place, rich in folk music and legend. Years ago, before a great dam was built to fill the valley with water, there were farms and homesteads in that valley and musicians who livened their rooms with song. After the village was abandoned and before the waters rushed in, a father and daughter returned there. The girl began to play her fiddle, bringing her tune to one empty house after another — for this was the last time that music would be heard in that place. With exquisite artwork by Levi Pinfold, David Almond’s lyrical narrative — inspired by a true tale — pays homage to his friends Mike and Kathryn Tickell and all the musicians of Northumberland, to show that music is ancient and unstoppable, and that dams and lakes cannot overwhelm it.

Although the dam is still there, the town where I lived is gone. They moved everyone out  and tore down the houses. Workers now commute in and, as I understand it, stay in a bunkhouse. It is sad to think this town of my youth no longer exists.

Despite the initial sepia tones of The Dam, the book ends more happily than my own tale. Although the residents of the Northumberland community no longer live in their homes, the area has been reclaimed by nature and the people still come.

the-dam-7-16x9

House Sparrows

13 Aug

At my old house, I had a little house sparrow that visited me. It would hop on my front porch and, if my front door was open to catch a breeze, she would hop onto the threshold and peek in. An elderly friend of mine told me it meant the bird had something important to tell me. I never found out what that was, but I think about that little bird from time to time, and I’ve been thinking about her a lot while I read The Triumphant Tale of the House Sparrow by Jan Thornhill.

Groundwood Logos Spine

Publisher’s Summary:Behold the most despised bird in human history!

So begins Jan Thornhill’s riveting, beautifully illustrated story of the House Sparrow. She traces the history of this perky little bird, one of the most adaptable creatures on Earth, from its beginnings in the Middle East to its spread with the growth of agriculture into India, North Africa and Europe. Everywhere the House Sparrow went, it competed with humans for grain, becoming such a pest that in some places “sparrow catcher” became an actual job and bounties were paid to those who got rid of it.

But not everyone hated the House Sparrow, and in 1852, fifty pairs were released in New York City. In no time at all, the bird had spread from coast to coast. Then suddenly, at the turn of the century, as cars took over from horses and there was less grain to be found, its numbers began to decline. As our homes, gardens, cities and farmland have changed, providing fewer nesting and feeding opportunities, the House Sparrow’s numbers have begun to decline again — though in England and Holland this decline appears to be slowing. Perhaps this clever little bird is simply adapting once more.

This fascinating book includes the life history of the House Sparrow and descriptions of how the Ancient Egyptians fed it to the animals they later mummified, how it traveled to Great Britain as a stowaway on ships carrying Roman soldiers, and how its cousin, the Eurasian Tree Sparrow, was almost eradicated in China when Mao declared war on it. A wealth of back matter material is also supplied.

The narrative text is augmented by Thornhill’s realistic illustrations that help the reader picture the truly remarkable history of the house sparrow.

 

Dealing with change

1 Aug

Earlier this week, my school website changed my role from teaching 6th grade in Green Hall to 7th grade in Red Hall. As I have said before, it isn’t a bad change, but any change can be tricky to navigate. The familiar is always more comfortable.

This Duck and That Duck navigate changes of their own in Ellen Yeomans’ The Other Ducks.

51eBmIWjOQL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_

Publisher’s Summary: This Duck and That Duck were the best of friends. They did everything together but sometimes two ducks just isn’t enough.

When This Duck declares that he wishes there were Other Ducks around so they could waddle in a line (a very ducky thing to do), That Duck is quite confused.

That is until This Duck and That Duck go swimming, look down, and finally meet The Other Ducks.

Unfortunately, The Other Ducks never seem to come out of the water! Oh how This Duck and That Duck wish The Other Ducks would waddle outside the big puddle with them. But it’s getting colder and their feathers are starting to itch for warmer weather.

Will these best friends ever find their companions?

This is sort of a slapstick buddy book. But That Duck, with the encouragement of This Duck, faces some fears and grows as a person, or rather, as a duck. Even if the humor isn’t your cup a tea, persevere to the end – it will melt your heart.

This was a sweet and funny book that got me thinking about Farfallina & Marcel by Holly Keller, which is a less humorous but equally sweet.

index

Happy Canada Day 2018!

1 Jul

My mother’s passing has left me reeling. I suppose that is because it was so unexpected. Grief is such a strange emotion and there is no one way to mourn. Two Canadian picture books do an amazing job helping young readers navigate grief and emotions.

The first is The Funeral by Matt James.

Groundwood Logos Spine

Publisher’s Summary: Norma and her parents are going to her great-uncle Frank’s funeral, and Norma is more excited than sad. She is looking forward to playing with her favorite cousin, Ray, but when she arrives at the church, she is confronted with rituals and ideas that have never occurred to her before. While not all questions can be answered, when the day is over Norma is certain of one thing — Uncle Frank would have enjoyed his funeral.

This sensitive and life-affirming story will lead young readers to ask their own questions about life, death and how we remember those who have gone before us.

They Say Blue by Jillian Tamaki is more stream of consciousness.

914OxZMi5EL

Publisher’s Summary: In captivating paintings full of movement and transformation, Tamaki follows a young girl through a year or a day as she examines the colors in the world around her. Egg yolks are sunny orange as expected, yet water cupped in her hands isn’t blue like they say. But maybe a blue whale is blue. She doesn’t know, she hasn’t seen one. Playful and philosophical, They Say Blue is a book about color as well as perspective, about the things we can see and the things we can only wonder at.

The Fat Squirrel Speaks

Knitting, spinning, and assorted awesomeness.

Global Yell Blog

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

Jone Rush MacCulloch

Deo Writer: Musings to Spark the Spirit

Klickitat St. Readers

Just another WordPress.com site

Readerbuzz

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

PLUMDOG BLOG

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

Gail Carriger

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

Kate Messner

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

Cybils Awards

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

Someday My Printz Will Come

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

The Librarian Who Doesn't Say Shhh!

Opening books to open minds.

andrea gillespie

Inquiring My Way Forward

Kirby's Lane: A Place for Readers and Writers

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

The Horn Book

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

The History Girls

A blog about children's & YA lit, with some basset news thrown in

Books Around The Table

A potluck of ideas from five children's book authors and illustrators

The Book Smugglers

Smuggling Since 2007 | Reviewing SF & YA since 2008

%d bloggers like this: