Blue Floats Away by Travis Jonker

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Blue Floats Away by Travis Jonker, illustrated by Grant Snider (9781419744235)

Little Blue is an iceberg who lived with his parents near the North Pole. Then one day, he broke free and floated away. As he floated, Blue began to see new things like sharks in the water and sailboats. His new friends helped him chart a way to use the currents to get back home. But before he could return, something happened to Blue. He started to shrink until he disappeared entirely. Blue mixed with the ocean water and eventually evaporated and condensed into something new: a cloud. Once again, Blue made some new friends in the sky and they helped him head back home. Were his parents ever surprised to see what he had become!

Jonker writes a lovely and simple story here that is entirely engaging. It’s a clever look at both climate change and the water cycle without any sort of lecturing. The climate change piece is handled in a way that demonstrates changes but without being frightening, instead offering a sense that one can return home again successfully even after one has grown and changed after leaving home.

Snider’s illustrations are striking. They use deep colors for sky and sea, creating waves, bright days of tangerine and pink, and nights of purple and black. The cut paper format works particularly well, creating strong shapes that will work well for sharing aloud with a group.

A water cycle book that is a pleasure to drink in. Appropriate for ages 3-6.

Reviewed from copy provided by Abrams Books for Young Readers.

Child of the Flower-Song People by Gloria Amescua

Cover image for Child of the Flower-Song People.

Child of the Flower-Song People by Gloria Amescua, illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh (9781419740206)

Luz Jiménez was a child of the flower-song people, the Aztecs. She had listened intently to the stories told by the elders about their sacred mountains and streams and also about how the Spaniards had taken their lands away. Luz learned how to do the traditional work of her people, grinding corn on a metate, twisting yarn with her toes, weaving on a loom. She learned about the plants around her and what herbs were medicine. Luz longed to go to school, but it was forbidden for native children. Then the law changed and required schooling in the ways of the Spanish. Luz was a good student and learned much, still keeping the traditional tales alive as she shared them with the other students. At age 13, Luz was forced to flee the Mexican Revolution and live in Mexico City. There Luz became a model for artists, sharing her traditions in paintings and photographs. She longed to be a teacher, but was denied that opportunity. Instead she taught in a different way, through modeling, sharing her tales, and being a living link to the Aztecs.

This beautiful picture book pays homage to Luz Jiménez, a humble woman who became the face of her people. Amescua’s lovely Author’s Note shows the detailed research that went into this biographical picture book. That research is evident in the lovely prose she uses to share Luz’s story with a new generation. Her writing uses metaphors and evocative phrases to really show the impact that Luz’s presence has had as well as her strong connection to her heritage.

Tonatiuh’s art is always exquisite. Done in his own unique style, his illustrations mix modern materials with a folkloric feel. They work particularly well for this subject.

A stellar biographical picture book of a true teacher and heroine. Appropriate for ages 7-10.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Abrams Books for Young Readers.