Mama, I'll Give You the World

Mama, I’ll Give You the World by Roni Schotter and S. Saelig Gallagher.

Simply gorgeous, this picture book will tug at your heart and take you into a precious world.  After school, Luisa spends her time at her mother’s place of work, Walter’s World of Beauty.  There she watches her mother cutting, coloring and curling hair.  But her mother no longer dances now that her father is gone.  Luisa spends her time creating her own hair creations from colored paper and hatches a plan for her mother’s birthday that will give her mother the world.

The writing in this book is lovely, filled with great language that reveals the beauty of Luisa’s life.  The illustrations are equally evocative, capturing the warmth and liveliness of the beauty shop and the many characters that frequent it.  One of my favorite aspects of the book is that this is a single mother and child and their lives are not easy, but Luisa is more concerned with her mother than with her missing father.  They are a complete unit, not grasping for a father figure to fill a hole in their lives.  It is a lovely portrayal that single-parent children will recognize and relate to. 

This is a book about the love between parent and child.  It is perfect for curling up with your own children, but would be equally welcome in a Kindergarten or first grade class when talking about parents or families. 

The Great Race

The Great Race: the story of the Chinese zodiac
by Dawn Casey, illustrated by Anne Wilson.

This trickster tale tells the story of the creation of the Chinese zodiac calendar.  The Jade Emperor decides to create a calendar and name each year after an animal.  In order to decide what order the animals should be in, he decides to have them race.  Rat is the smallest of the animals and worries that he will come in last and not have a place on the calendar.  But then Rat gets an idea that just might have him come in first!

The book is great fun with clever ideas and tricks.  The art conveys a strong sense of place while at the same time being whimsical and light-hearted.  Appended at the end is the zodiac calendar where children can find their own year of birth and see what their animal sign means. 

This is a lovely multicultural title that can be shared at any time of the year.  It is a great way to introduce elementary students to the concept of the zodiac and alternate calendar systems. 

Oh, I am the loving and tender-hearted Sheep, married to a happy Monkey, mother to both an honest Ox and a wise Snake.