Pretend

  • Title: Pretend
  • Author: Jennifer Plecas
  • Illustrator: Jennifer Plecas
  • Publisher: Philomel Books, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group
  • Publication year: 2011
  • Brief Summary: From Penguin Random House-“What could have been a quiet afternoon at home turns into an adventure for Jimmy and his dad. Their couch turns into a boat! The staircase becomes a mountain! And blankets become a cozy hut, just right to cuddle inside. The one thing they don’t have to pretend is how much they love one another.”
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library – Much like I talked about in some of my most recent picture book findings, especially Lift, children experiencing their imagination is something they should also see in their readings. This is why I think this book would be great for an elementary school setting. I found this resource guide from the Best Beginning Alaska website that has discussion questions for a teacher/librarian to ask before and after the reading.
  • Whatever additional notes you’d like to add about this book and why you liked or didn’t like it – I liked Plecas’s illustrations that alternate between the pretend world of Jimmy, and reality where Jimmy and his Dad are going throughout the house. I also liked that this is a story about a dad and his son playing pretend which I feel like is a relationship aspect that I haven’t seen often in the picture books I have read thus far.

Boundless Grace

  • Title: Boundless Grace
  • Author: Mary Hoffman
  • Illustrator: Caroline Binch
  • Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers, an division of Penguin Books USA, first Scholastic printing 1997
  • Publication year: 1995
  • Brief Summary: From Scholastic-“In a vividly illustrated sequel to Amazing Grace, an irrepressible little girl goes to Africa to meet her father’s new family. As enthusiastic and excited as she is in her new country, her loyalties are divided between her two families and she must find a way to belong to both. Nana says families are what you make them, and Grace decides to make the most of hers.”
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library – I think this book is unique (still, even though it was published in the 90s) in that it describes a divorced family, and the child’s perspective on having two families. I found a guide from two teachers, a Mrs. Kinsel and a Mrs. Barham, on the Springfield, IL District 186 School website that has a compare and contrast discussion to use after reading this book.
  • Whatever additional notes you’d like to add about this book and why you liked or didn’t like it – I was more than shocked to see that both the author and the illustrator of this book are white. However, I did find this review from Africa Access Review (A website that seeks to expand perspectives on Africa and has educated members as their officers) that says: “It is gratifying, however, to see a beautifully illustrated book that depicts an African country in a non-stereotypical and authentic manner. According to the book blurb, Binch traveled to Gambia twice to collect images for the illustrations. Her effort to achieve authenticity is evident to Gambians. Howard University professor Sulayman Nyang, a former resident of Banjul, found the illustrations accurate in almost every detail. This is a carefully crafted book.” I think this review changed my initial misgivings. Because I did find Binch’s illustrations quite vivid and very natural (not stereotypical).

Daniel’s Good Day

  • Title: Daniel’s Good Day
  • Author: Micha Archer
  • Illustrator: Micha Archer
  • Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House
  • Publication year: 2019
  • Brief Summary: From Penguin Random House-“The people in Daniel’s neighborhood always say, “Have a good day!” But what exactly is a good day? Daniel is determined to find out, and as he strolls through his neighborhood, he finds a wonderful world full of answers as varied as his neighbors. For Emma, a good day means a strong wind for kite flying. For the bus driver, a good day means pleases and thank-yous. A good day is bees for the gardener, birthdays for the baker, and wagging tails for the mail carrier. And, for Daniel’s grandma, a good day is a hug from Daniel! And when Daniel puts all these good days together, they make a lovely poem full of his neighbors’ favorite things.”
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library –I think there a many points for adding this to a school library: it’s a new book, there are diverse characters and it has a simple message. I found this lesson plan guide from the website Learning to Give which includes discussion questions to ask before reading and after reading the book aloud.
  • Whatever additional notes you’d like to add about this book and why you liked or didn’t like it – I was glad to see a story such as this with a diverse character/family present. I think it’s important that simple, everyday stories such as this have diverse characters so that children who may come from minority backgrounds can see themselves in the book and not only in books about history, and significant events. While those books are also important and have their place, I think simple books like this with a story about kindness and a child’s curiosity should also include diverse protagonists. I liked Archer’s whimsical, colorful illustrations that show Daniel running, walking and interacting with his neighbors. I think one of my favorite illustrations is of Daniel explaining the “perfect day” to his Grandma and mother.

Evelyn Del Rey Is Moving Away

  • Title: Evelyn Del Ray Is Moving Away
  • Author: Meg Medina
  • Illustrator: Sonia Sanchez
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication year: 2020
  • Brief Summary: From Candlewick Press-“Evelyn Del Rey is Daniela’s best friend. They do everything together and even live in twin apartments across the street from each other: Daniela with her mami and hamster, and Evelyn with her mami, papi, and cat. But not after today—not after Evelyn moves away. Until then, the girls play amid the moving boxes until it’s time to say goodbye, making promises to keep in touch, because they know that their friendship will always be special. The tenderness of Meg Medina’s beautifully written story about friendship and change is balanced by Sonia Sánchez’s colorful and vibrant depictions of the girls’ urban neighborhood.”
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library –Much like I discussed in my last post on What There Is Before There Is Anything There, children being able to see their familiar feelings expressed in their books is important. Which is why I think this book would also be important as many children experience their best friends moving away. I found this lesson plan on the blog Growing Book by Book that explains how to use this book to develop vocabulary, phonological awareness, and fine and gross motor skills.
  • Whatever additional notes you’d like to add about this book and why you liked or didn’t like it –I loved Sanchez’s colorful illustrations. My favorite illustration is the one of Evelyn and Daniela exchanging toys with each other through their open windows.

Rain!

  • Title: Rain!
  • Author: Linda Ashman
  • Illustrator: Christian Robinson
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company
  • Publication year: 2013
  • Brief Summary: From Houghton Mifflin Harcourt-“One rainy day in the city, an eager little boy exclaims, “Rain!” Across town a grumpy man grumbles, “Rain.” In this endearing picture book, a rainy-day cityscape comes to life in vibrant, cut-paper-style artwork. The boy in his green frog hat splashes in puddles—“Hoppy, hoppy, hoppy!”—while the old man curses the “dang puddles.” Can the boy’s natural exuberance (and perhaps a cookie) cheer up the grouchy gentleman and turn the day around?”
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library –I found this lesson plan from Linda Ashman’s website that covers emotional, visual, and reading literacy and activities.
  • Whatever additional notes you’d like to add about this book and why you liked or didn’t like it –Ever since we did our group presentation on Robinson, I have really enjoyed his illustrations. I think especially in this book they really capture and add to Ashman’s story. My favorite set of illustrations are the set where the old man and the little boy exchange hats and the reader sees the grumpiness of the old man recede.

Saturday

  • Title: Saturday
  • Author: Oge Mora
  • Illustrator: Oge Mora
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Publication year: 2019
  • Brief Summary: From Little, Brown and Company-“Today would be special. Today would be splendid. It was Saturday! But sometimes, the best plans don’t work out exactly the way you expect….In this heartfelt and universal story, a mother and daughter look forward to their special Saturday routine together every single week. But this Saturday, one thing after another goes wrong–ruining storytime, salon time, picnic time, and the puppet show they’d been looking forward to going to all week. Mom is nearing a meltdown…until her loving daughter reminds her that being together is the most important thing of all.”
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library – While I am not sure that this could be used in any particular curriculum for a school library, I do think this could be used in a public library. I also think that this book is important for children, because it emphasizes the importance of being positive in any situation, even in situations that don’t go your way. I found this interview with Mora from Diverse Books that explained her process for writing and illustrating this book.
  • Whatever additional notes you’d like to add about this book and why you liked or didn’t like it – Much like in Thank you, Omu! Mora’s illustrations really drive the action of this story. My favorite illustration is the last two page illustration where Ava and her mother make their own puppet show.

Everyone Poops

  • Title: Everyone Poops
  • Author: Taro Gomi; translated by Amanda Mayer Stinchecum
  • Illustrator: Taro Gomi
  • Publisher: Kane/Miller Book Publishers
  • Publication year: First published in Japan in 1977, Kane/Miller Book Publishers 1993
  • Brief Summary: From Kane/Miller Book Publishers-“Since we all eat, we all must poop. All of us! Everyone! Everyone Poops. This wonderful, modern-day toddler classic presents information that children both want and need in a refreshingly honest, informative, and age-appropriate way.”
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library – I don’t know that this could be used for any particular curriculum but this book would be helpful for preschoolers and kindergarteners as they learn about their bodies and bodily functions.
  • Whatever additional notes you’d like to add about this book and why you liked or didn’t like it – I think the very simple illustrations done with backgrounds in primary colors would resonate and hold children’s attention.

They Say Blue

  • Title: They Say Blue
  • Author: Jillian Tamaki
  • Illustrator: Jillian Tamaki
  • Publisher: Abrams Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Abrams
  • Publication year: 2018
  • Brief Summary: From Abrams-“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.”
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library – This would be another great book to use as young children learn about the seasons, weather, and the different aspects of the world around them. I think this picture book would be great for young children.
  • Whatever additional notes you’d like to add about this book and why you liked or didn’t like it – Tamaki’s illustrations are not to be missed. The use of color really evokes the seasons. Probably my favorite set of illustrations is a two-page spread of our protagonist gazing out the window at the crows in the morning sun.

Eyes That Kill in the Corners

  • Title: Eyes That Kiss in the Corners
  • Author: Joanna Ho
  • Illustrator: Dung Ho
  • Publisher: Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication year: 2021
  • Brief Summary: From HarperCollins-“A young Asian girl notices that her eyes look different from her peers’. They have big, round eyes and long lashes. She realizes that her eyes are like her mother’s, her grandmother’s, and her little sister’s. They have eyes that kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea, crinkle into crescent moons, and are filled with stories of the past and hope for the future. Drawing from the strength of these powerful women in her life, she recognizes her own beauty and discovers a path to self-love and empowerment. This powerful, poetic picture book will resonate with readers of all ages.”
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library – I found this interesting teacher’s guide from The Classroom Bookshelf, a blog from The School Library Journal on how to use this book in curriculum. You could use this book to teach self-love, self-esteem and have children think retrospectively about what it is they love about themselves and their families. The Classroom Bookshelf says another way to use this book is in an English class as studying poetry craft, ask students how Ho’s use of repetition creates a rhythm to the story.
  • Whatever additional notes you’d like to add about this book and why you liked or didn’t like it – Some of my favorite illustrations are of our protagonist’s thoughts and imaginings as she thinks of how her eyes are similar to her mother’s, and her grandmother’s eyes. The one I love the most is of the whole family, surrounded by beautiful yellow and peach colored flowers.

Outside In

  • Title: Outside In
  • Author: Deborah Underwood
  • Illustrator: Cindy Derby
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing
  • Publication year: 2020
  • Brief Summary: From Houghton Mifflin Harcourt-“Outside is waiting, the most patient playmate of all. The most generous friend. The most miraculous inventor. This thought-provoking picture book poetically underscores our powerful and enduring connection with nature, not so easily obscured by lives spent indoors.”
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library –I think this book could be used for young children to teach them that going outside is part of what keeps us healthy (just as eating and exercising correctly are a part).
  • Whatever additional notes you’d like to add about this book and why you liked or didn’t like it –I loved the watercolor illustrations that seem to almost move in each illustration. I found it interesting (this was noted in the back of the book) that Derby used dried flower stems and thread soaked in ink to create some of the lines in her illustrations.