A turtle family sets out on a long slow walk, leaving their spot by the pond behind. They start off in the spring through fields of flowers, bouncing rabbits, and robins. They cross a river and curl up together on a rainy night. They continue on under bright yellow flowers, seeing insects, bubbles, and fireflies. They keep walking into autumn with its changing leaves, apples, and chipmunks gathering acorns. They pass jack-o-lanterns and fall asleep together in the falling leaves. Next comes winter with the world turned white with snow. They finally reach their destination after a long climb. And now it’s not time to go slow anymore!
Told in simple language, this book is a gentle and slow look at the changing seasons. With a refrain of “Are we there yet?” the answer seems it will never be yes. Throughout the book there is a joy in the present moment, a pleasure in the journey itself and the changing seasons around the turtle family. The final pages have a burst of speedy joy in them, and then a return back to their burrow for the winter, once again piled together asleep.
The art is simple as well, the turtles moving through their environment, crossing rivers and streams, watching the wildlife around them, and marveling at special moments in each season. Done in watercolor, the bright green turtles are always the focus of the images as the seasonal colors swirl around them.
A joyous yet quiet look at seasons that would make a great board book too. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from e-galley provided by Greenwillow Books.
The Children’s Book Council of Australia have announced their notables list for 2021. The lists cover the best books for teens through preschoolers. The lists are basically the longlists for the CBCA Book of the Year awards. The shortlists will be announced in March with the winners announced in August. Here are the books that made the notables lists:
As Czechoslovakia is taken over by the Nazis in 1938, one quiet man stepped forward and saved almost 700 children. At age 29, Nicky was invited to visit Prague while on a ski trip. At the same time, Vera was growing up outside of Prague, happily adopting stray cats. They were one of the only Jewish families in the town, but that didn’t matter in their lives. The in October the German army marched into Czechoslovakia and Vera’s parents learned of a British man who was saving children. That man was Nicky. Understanding that he could do something, he worked in Prague making lists of children and finding train connections. When he returned to London, he found foster families for the children and acquire visas and tickets with his own money, sometimes needing to create his own stamps. Vera left home with 76 other children on a train. In total, 669 children reached London safely. No one heard of Nicky’s quiet work until his wife found the records. Then Nicky’s work was revealed to everyone on a popular TV show, and his life is still celebrated.
Sís has created a haunting yet also celebratory nonfiction picture book that describes the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia through a child’s eyes and also offers the lens of a man who realizes the potential human disaster about to occur and does something to rescue the children. The tension between the two is beautifully done, creating a deep understanding of what was at stake and the speed at which something needed to happen. The book is one that will make you actually cry, particularly towards the end when the survivors are there to thank Nicky for what he did for them. Crushingly moving.
As always Sís’s art is entirely its own style. He offers overhead maps of Vera’s small town and her life. He also shares maps of Europe and whimsical images that are almost folkloric in their storytelling. It’s a lovely mix of story, truth and heroism.
Truly remarkable, this is a picture book to read with tissues nearby. Appropriate for ages 7-10.
Reviewed from e-galley provided by Norton Young Readers.
Through a series of linked short stories and poems, readers get to join young Native people from across the United States and Canada as they converge in Michigan for an intertribal powwow. Written by new and familiar Native authors, these stories speak to the various ways that Native families and youth stay connected or find new connection with their cultural heritage. From the World’s Best Fry Bread to dancing in regalia to solving powwow mysteries to selling items from booths, this book invites readers to experience the powwow at different levels while also connecting to nature, ancestors and shared humor and tales.
The most impressive part of this collection of short stories and poems is that they are all so impressive. Each story has its own voice and point of view, featured characters and tribal connections, yet they come together in a remarkable way where they lift one another up. The stories have shared characters, including a dog who sells t-shirts, a girl selling raffle tickets and a young detective. These elements help tie the tales together, but it is the strength of the writing of each story that really makes the book work.
The final poem of the book takes the drum beat that has been happening throughout the book and shows the power of the powwow and the importance of the experience for all who attend. It’s the ideal way to wrap up a book that offers so much joy, connectivity and community.
One of the best short story collections for children ever, this belongs in every library. Appropriate for ages 9-12.
It’s So Quiet by Sherri Duskey Rinker, illustrated by Tony Fucile (9781452145440)
As the sun sets, the farm gets quiet and still. The moths “shah” against the light until the lamp turns off. A little mouse thinks it’s way too quiet to sleep, but his mother tells him that the sounds of the night will whisper him to sleep. He starts to listen and hears many things in the night. There is a frog singing, crickets chirping, a rattling screen door, wind through the trees, an owl hooting, and much more. Grandpa is snoring on the porch and the dog’s tail is thumping on the boards. When a coyote howls, the little mouse looks out his window to see what that was! He hears all of the noises once more, and then again even louder. The night might be too noisy after all!
Funny and a joy to read aloud, this picture book will quickly become a bedtime favorite. The book is filled with noises that should be great fun for both the reader and the listener to contribute to, since they repeat several times in the book. Expect enthusiastic frog croaks, wind whooshes, and more. It’s also a book that will have children listening in their own beds to the noises of the night around them.
The illustrations add to the fun with the serenity of the night clear at first and then quickly moving to a zany pitch and pace visually as the noises pick up. The natural setting is shown simply, allowing the various elements to repeat visually as well. Readers will see the frog, owl, crickets and coyote from the very first page.
Sato became a rabbit one day and has been one ever since. Told in short chapters, Sato goes about his days. He waters the plants around his house using a very long hose, a very special hose. In the second story, there is a sea of grass where Sato hangs his laundry that soon becomes a rollicking sea of water. A meteor storm becomes a way to light a path. A watermelon becomes a boat. After the rain, puddles reflect the sky, giving Sato a portal to the clouds. Walnut shell halves lead to unique little worlds of their own. Colored ice from the forest lets Sato taste emotions.
It’s a marvelously surreal little picture book that invites readers into Sato’s imagination as he explores the world around his home. It’s particularly marvelous that each of the inspiring elements is ever so normal, from laundry hanging near grass to eating watermelon or walnuts. The text is perfectly descriptive of what is happening, not giving away when reality becomes magical, just stating things frankly.
The art is bright and colorful, using the white space on the page to create smaller illustrations and then suddenly move to full-page spreads that delight. The colors used are deep and rich, allowing Sato in his white rabbit outfit to really stand out on each page.
Wild and imaginative, this book invites children to join in the fun. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators has announced the winners of the 2021 Golden Kite Awards and the Sid Fleischman Humor Award. The awards are judged by a jury of peers with celebrated names in children’s and YA literature serving as judges. The awards are given in a variety of categories with five finalists in each category announced earlier this month. Here are the winners and the finalists: