One Little Bag by Henry Cole

One Little Bag: An Amazing Journey by Henry Cole (9781338359978)

This wordless picture book follows the journey of one paper bag from its beginnings as a tall tree in the forest through the hands of a family. The tree is cut down, hauled away, ground up and made into paper which then is formed into a brown paper bag. Put into a box, the bag is given to a family at a grocery store. They take it home, draw a heart on the bag, and use it for school lunches. The bag is used lots of different ways after that as the boy grows up, taking it with him to college. There he meets a girl and they draw two hearts on the bag. It’s even there when he proposes to her. When they have a baby, the bag is part of the mobile over the crib, and a third heart is added. When grandpa, the bag’s first owner visits, a fourth heart is added by his grandson. The bag becomes worn and taped, but serves one last purpose that brings the entire story full circle.

Cole beautifully shows how small acts of reusing something can become tradition in a family. The book never seems like a lecture, always just showing and demonstrating how reuse is possible and its great potential as well. The paper bag in the story if remarkably resilient for so much use by generations, but I think we all have items in our families that survive despite being used by everyone, to be handed to the next generation.

Told in images only, the book is filled with fine-line drawings that shine with light. The paper bag is the only color on the page, it’s brown color becoming all the more warm and glowing and the red hearts popping with color.

A truly great wordless picture book. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Scholastic.

Desert Girl, Monsoon Boy by Tara Dairman

Desert Girl, Monsoon Boy by Tara Dairman

Desert Girl, Monsoon Boy by Tara Dairman, illustrated Archana Sreenivasan (9780525518068)

In India, two families must respond to the weather they are experiencing. One nomadic family, lives in the desert and must move in search of water. The other family, who live in a village, are experiencing a monsoon and the flooding it brings. Both families are multi-generational, both have children learning things, helping out and packing up. One family deals with blowing sand and sandstorms while the other has leaking roofs and puddles on the floor. Soon both start traveling in search of safety, one on camels and the other in a boat. Together, they reach the same mountain where they both find safety as well as each other.

In her author’s note, Dairman speaks about the Rabari people who inspired her families in the picture book. She captures their changing lifestyle from purely nomadic life to moving into villages. She also shows how weather can be threatening for both lifestyles. The writing is simple and just right for the smallest of children. Throughout the book, there are opposites in the two lifestyles, but there are some things that are quite similar.

The illustrations in this picture book are based on the illustrator’s personal experience in visiting a Rabari settlement. The detailed textiles fill the pages with color and pattern. Meanwhile the contrast of the warm golds of the desert and the cool blues of the monsoon work particularly well as they cross the pages. It’s a very effective way to view the two ways of life.

A glimpse of India’s nomadic people allows us all to see how weather impacts lives. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by G. P. Putnam’s Sons.