Mini-reviews of just a few of the 100+ books we currently have out from the library.
When I Was Small by Sara O'Leary, with illustrations by Julie Morstad. My 5-year-old picked this gem out at the library by herself. With its old-fashioned, vintage feel and beautiful illustrations, as well as its understanding of childhood, it reminds me of works by Charlotte Zolotow. A young boy asks his mother to tell him about when she was "small." Not young, small. And so the mother interprets the request literally, and poetically tells him about when she and her doll were the same size, when she could wear a daisy for a sunhat, and lived in a dollhouse. Lyrical, beautiful, original. This one's going on my to-buy list. I'll also be placing a hold on When You Were Small by the same pair at the library and checking out anything else by either the author or the illustrator, as well as the publisher, Simply Read Books.
Please, Louise! by Frieda Wishinsky and Marie-Louise Gay. This story about an older brother, Jake, who wishes that his little sister Louise were a dog because she just won't stop bothering him is spot-on in its portrayal of sibling relationships. When Jake thinks that his wish came true, he realizes how he should have been more careful about what he wished for.
Oonga Boonga also by Frieda Wishinsky. Another book about older-brother-younger-sister siblings. Here, the older child is the only one who can comfort his baby sister. This is a nice, empowering read for a new older sibling. The baby here is also named Louise, so I thought this might be the same pair of sibs as in Please, Louise!, but alas, the older brother here is Daniel.
How My Parents Learned to Eat by Ina R. Friedman, illustrated by Allen Say. The story of how the author's American sailor father and Japanese mother met and tried to master each other's eating habits is a charming tale of overcoming and even embracing cultural differences as well as showing what unites us all.
I Gotta Draw by Bruce Degen. The seemingly autobiographical story of a boy who loves to draw, the real heroine here is the teacher who finally realizes that she has to change her teaching methods rather than punishing her student for doodling. When she lets him spell words as he draws them and incorporates his art into other areas of learning, she finds it has enormous benefit for him as well as the rest of her class. I love how it shows that teachers learn from their students. The dedication, while ambiguous, is, I bet, to the real teacher on whom the fictional teacher is based.
Goldilocks and Just One Bear by Leigh Hodgkinson. Another book that turns the Goldilocks story on its head (like Mo Willems's Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs which I review here), this one inverts the story so that it is a bear who makes himself at home at someone else's apartment. The unexpected twist at the end adds to the humor.
No Bears by Meg McKinlay, illustrated by Leila Rudge. Ella thinks bears have no place in books. A book needs pretty things and funny things, and even scary things - as long as those scary things are not bears. Of course, the joke is on Ella...
Chloe and the Lion. This Mac Barnett-Adam Rex collaboration is my favorite of theirs so far. In it, the the author directs the illustrator how to illustrate his story about Chloe and the lion and predictably, conflict ensues. Suddenly, Chloe and the lion themselves get into the act to complain about the plot and how they are depicted. Unique and funny.
Have you read any of these? What did you think?