I am way, way behind, but here is the amazing MotherReader and her huge list of the compiled Best Books of 2007. Get your scroll button warmed up and your fingers cracked, you are in for quite a list!
Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity by Mo Willems.
This is one of those books that got me all atwitter with anticipation. Returning to the world of Knuffle Bunny (which by the way, I was pronouncing CORRECTLY! With a hard K) was like seeing a beloved friend.
Trixie is older now and heading to school with Knuffle Bunny in hand. But when she sees Sonya, Sonya is holding Knuffle Bunny! Another Knuffle Bunny! This doesn’t make the girls friends at all, but rivals. They argue over how to pronounce the name, glare and one another and generally get their feelings hurt. Finally, the teacher steps in and takes the two Knuffle Bunnies away. The happy girls get them back at the end of the day and it isn’t until the very middle of the night that they both realize that the bunnies have been switched! Now the crisis must be resolved!
This book has the same sense of fun as the first one. Readers will spot a pigeon on Trixie’s bedroom wall as well as quickly realize that the bunnies have been switched (one has a bow on its head). The illustrations are just as fresh and amazing as the first, with the drawings superimposed on black and white photographs.
A real treat, this book is best enjoyed by kids who have read the first one. In fact, why not get them both in hand and read them back-to-back. Any excuse to linger in the world of Knuffle Bunny!
The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain by Peter Sis
This book has gotten six starred reviews so far this year, making it one of the best reviewed children’s books of the year, if not THE best reviewed. And it deserves each and every star.
Sis takes readers on his own personal journey through the darkness, suspicion and horror of growing up in Czechoslovakia during the Cold War. Readers will watch the word “compulsory” repeated again and again as people are no longer allowed to make their own decisions. But in almost every picture there is one little bit of dissent that gives the reader hope. Otherwise the oppressive nature of the book would be too much to bear.
Sis has excelled at making this complex subject one that is accessible to children. His art, done primarily in black ink with touches of red, is the perfect conduit to understanding the situation. The colorful pages filled with photographs, his art and quotes from his journals offer a touch of sunshine in the book, giving readers a chance for a breath before they have to return to the dreary and dangerous world of Communism. There are illustrations here that had me in tears, particularly the one showing the division between the free world and the world behind the Iron Curtain. What a powerful image!
I traveled to Prague in the mid-1980s for a brief trip. What I saw and felt there is captured perfectly in the illustrations. While the people were vibrant and amazing, the feeling of dread colored everything. What a masterpiece of a book to find a way to express that so directly that I can feel it again, including the pressure in my gut and chest.
Highly recommended for ages 7-10. This is not a picture book for bedtime, but for understanding. For seeing the world as it was and is. For truth.