A Mom for Umande by Maria Faulconer, illustrated by Susan Kathleen Hartung
Based on a true story, this picture book tells of how a baby gorilla found a mother of his own. When Umande was born, his mother didn’t know how to care for him. So the keepers of the zoo had to step in and help, taking care of his infant needs and later showing him to to play and eat as a young gorilla. After he was 8 months old, the zoo moved Umande to a different zoo across the country where Lulu, an experienced gorilla mother was waiting for him. They were slowly introduced to one another, but soon enough they were a pair. Umande had found his mother!
This story of a baby gorilla makes a wonderful picture book. Faulconer uses just enough detail about the zoo staff and the efforts they took to raise baby Umande to make it fascinating. She keeps the pace brisk and the story moving forward, making it just the right length for young readers to enjoy. The text also reads aloud well, and this would be a nice addition to story times about mothers.
Hartung’s art captures the charm of gorillas on the page. Even though Umande’s real mother didn’t know how to care for him, the art is carefully done to show that the gorillas are more baffled than mean or careless. The cautious approach of the new mother gorilla and Umande as they are introduced is portrayed in a touching way on the page as is the final connection of the two gorillas.
This book is sure to speak to adoptive families as well as fans of gorillas and zoos. It is a great pick for story times on any of these subjects. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy received from Dial.
Following Papa’s Song by Gianna Marino
Little Blue and his Papa are traveling farther than they ever have before as they migrate, following the song of the other whales. Little Blue has lots of the questions and his father encourages him to keep listening for the song. As they travel, Little Blue learns about the different layers of the ocean. Then he notices light in the darkness below and just has to head down and see what it is for himself. He discovers a magical layer of life in the ocean, but when he heads even lower there is darkness and no other creatures are there. Little Blue tries calling for his Papa, but his little voice doesn’t carry far in the cold water. Then he remembers that he needs to listen and he hears his father’s call from above.
Marino paints a beautiful picture of father and child care and love. Her use of whales and their calls is a smart choice that really makes the theme of being lost as a child work well on a higher level. The advice to stay still and listen will also work for young humans hearing the story. The book is simply written so that even the youngest of children can enjoy this underwater story.
Marino’s art is filled with currents and colors. She creates light and water that dances and moves on the page, clearly creating different layers in the ocean. I particularly enjoyed the use of bright pink to show the layer of the ocean with all of the life in it that tempts Little Blue downward. The greens and blues of the ocean water truly come to life on the page here.
A lovely story about fathers, children and the importance of listening when you are lost. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy received from Viking.
IndieBound has released their recommended reads for this summer for kids. Here is the top ten and there are longer lists for different ages on their website.
Chengdu Could Not, Would Not, Fall Asleep by Barney Saltzberg
Conversion by Katherine Howe
The Glass Sentence by S. E. Grove
I Am Otter by Sam Garton
The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier
Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern
Thickety by J. A. White
Three Bears in a Boat by David Soman
The Truth about Alice by Jen Mathieu
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart