Category: Picture Books

The Unexpected Love Story of Alfred Fiddleduckling by Timothy Basil Ering

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The Unexpected Love Story of Alfred Fiddleduckling by Timothy Basil Ering

Captain Alfred is heading home with his boat full of ducks for his farm and one special duck egg that’s about to hatch as a present for his wife. But his boat is hit by a storm and everything including the egg is thrown overboard. Luckily, the egg survives the storm, kept afloat in the Captain’s fiddle case. When the duckling hatches from the egg, he is all alone until he spots something else floating in the sea. It’s the Captain’s fiddle and when the duckling hugs it closely it produces a beautiful sound. But how can one little duckling and one fiddle survive the open sea? It will take the magic of music.

Ering is the illustrator of The Tale of Despereaux and has created other picture books of his own. This picture book has a gorgeous tone and pace, each moment shining and special as the story unfolds. Ering allows the story space to speak, giving time to the duckling finding the fiddle, a moment to pause when the duckling reaches land, and many other such moments too. Each is beautifully told with a voice that reads aloud beautifully. It’s a tale that children will enjoy, an adventure of wonder and music.

The illustrations are a wonderful mix of cartoon and lush realistic settings. The duckling has a personality all his own, glowing yellow on the page. Other moments like the storm approaching are filled with nature in all of its beauty and fury. The pages turn and one is never sure if it will reveal a sweep of nature or a new comical moment. The entire book works as a whole, the surprise of page turns, the comic elements and the natural details.

A picture book about music and friendship that is a great pick for a read aloud. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.

10 Great Picture Books on Heroism

On the eve of inauguration day, I hope that we all have the courage to be the heroes and heroines that our nation needs right now. Here are 10 picture books to inspire young ones and you too!

dare the wind emmanuels dream

Dare the Wind: The Record-Breaking Voyage of Eleanor Prentiss and the Flying Cloud by Tracey Fern, illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully

Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah by Laurie Ann Thompson, illustrated by Sean Qualls

hidden how-to-be-a-hero-by-florence-parry-heide

Hidden: A Child’s Story of the Holocaust by Loic Dauvillier, illustrated by Marc Lizano and Greg Salsedo

How to Be a Hero by Florence Parry Heide, illustrated by Chruck Groenink

little dog lost Little Red and the Very Hungry Lion by Alex T. Smith

Little Dog Lost: The True Story of a Brave Dog Named Baltic by Monica Carnesi

Little Red and the Very Hungry Lion by Alex T. Smith

Luna and Me by Jenny Sue Kostecki Shaw malala iqbal

Luna & Me: The True Story of a Girl Who Lived in a Tree to Save a Forest by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw

Malala, Brave Girl from Pakistan/Iqbal, a Brave Boy from Pakistan by Jeanette Winter

princess in black price of freedom

The Princess in Black by Shannon Hale & Dean Hale, illustrated by LeUyen Pham

The Price of Freedom: How One Town Stood Up to Slavery by Dennis Brindell Fradin and Judith Bloom Fradin, illustrated by Eric Velasquez

Best in Snow by April Pulley Sayre

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Best in Snow by April Pulley Sayre (InfoSoup)

A companion book to Raindrops Roll, this book celebrates the wonder of snow. Combining lovely photography with a poem on the changing nature of snow, this picture book invites readers to see beyond the chill of winter and into the beauty of it. The book moves from freezing weather and gathering clouds to a full snowstorm where snowflakes land on a squirrel’s nose. The snow covers things and the wind blows. Then the sun returns, water starts to seep and icicles drip. But wait, there’s more snow on the way and another squirrel’s nose too.

Sayre has a beautiful tone here, one of wonder and deep understanding. She writes more detailed information about snow and water in a note at the end that also includes a bibliography of more resources. The progression of the book is lovely, moving from one storm into a brief respite of sun to another storm, something that those of us in a cold climate will recognize. The poetry is a mix of playfulness and natural facts that is very appealing.

Sayre’s photography is truly beautiful. She captures the motion of snow, the various way that the light hits it, the different forms it takes. She has images of animals and birds, allowing the reader to see snow from a natural point of view rather than a human one.

This is a wintry journey worth taking, perfect with a mug of cocoa. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Beach Lane Books.

 

 

Why Am I Here? by Constance Ørbeck-Nilssen

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Why Am I Here? by Constance Ørbeck-Nilssen, illustrated by Akin Duzakin (InfoSoup)

A child wonders aloud why they are here in this specific place and in this life. They could instead be in a crowded place with lots of other people. They could be in a place torn by war. They could be a refugee, searching for safety. The land could be desert or snow and ice or rivers with trees. Does anyone else wonder about why they are where they are? Will this child ever leave this place and adventure to the spots they have dreamed of? Are they right where they are supposed to be, after all?

This is a very thoughtful and thought-provoking book that demonstrates empathy throughout. It’s a book that explores the “why” of our circumstances, looking at other places and how different a life could be just by being moved somewhere else with a different situation and a different family. The book takes the time to stay in that ambiguity and wonder about it, before releasing readers in the final pages into an understanding that we simply are where we are.

The illustrations by Duzakin have a quiet thoughtfulness about them. The main character who speaks in first person can be interpreted to be either gender adding another layer to the ambiguity of the book. The illustrations capture dreamlike settings of war, desert, ice or greenery that allow readers to wonder along with the story.

A quiet and contemplative picture book that will create opportunities for conversation. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Eerdmans Books for Young Readers.

 

I Dissent by Debbie Levy

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I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark by Debbie Levy, illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley (InfoSoup)

The life of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is told in this first picture book about her. Ruth grew up in Brooklyn in the 1940s where her mother took her to the library so she could learn. She was taught that girls could do anything they wanted. As a Jewish girl, Ruth knew racism with signs posted that Jews would not be served at specific establishments. Ruth learned that there were limits to what she was sometimes allowed to do, and sometimes she won when she protested and sometimes things stayed the same. She went to college in the 1950s when most women did not attend. She was one of nine women in her law school class of over 500. She went on to become a law professor even though she had a baby daughter at home. She was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1993 and has continued to be a voice for change and equality. She has made a difference in the country by being willing to disagree.

Levy cleverly uses the framework of one disagreement or dissent after another to frame Ginsburg’s life. From her mother originally disagreeing with how girls were meant to be raised to the way that Ginsburg and her husband’s roles in their marriage to the work she has done in courtrooms and the justice system. There is a clarity to the writing that keeps it very readable and Ginsburg is a great figure for children to know better.

Baddeley’s illustrations capture the expectations of the 1940s and 1950s in images and move into 1970s showing that Ginsburg continued to break the rules. There is a merriment to the illustrations that captures Ginsburg spirit and her intelligence as well.

A robust look at an amazing woman’s life, this is one for every library. Appropriate for ages 7-9.

Reviewed from copy received from Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.

 

Don’t Cross the Line by Isabel Minhós Martins

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Don’t Cross the Line by Isabel Minhós Martins, illustrated by Bernardo Carvalho (InfoSoup)

This very original picture book comes from an award-winning author and illustrator team from the publisher Planeta Tangerina and was first published in Portuguese. The book opens with an armed soldier standing towards the middle of the book surrounded by white space. A small dog enters and starts sniffing around and then a man comes on the page, but when he tries to head across to the right-hand page, the soldier stops him and tells him no one is allowed to go there by order of the general so he can join the story whenever he feels like and have plenty of room. More and more people arrive and the left-hand page gets crowded. Then some boys accidentally bounce their ball across the page and head over to retrieve it with others following along. The general then arrives and threatens to arrest the soldier who allowed them onto the other page. But the people stand up to him, rejoicing together in their new-found freedom to fill both pages.

This book is all about standing up to those in power and peacefully creating change. There is a wonderfully subversive tone to the entire book, winking and laughing at the threat of not being able to cross what is not usually a boundary in a book. Still, there is a real general and a real threat that is disarmed by numbers and action. It is a wonderful book to share when talking about the importance of demonstrating and standing for causes.

Carvalho’s illustrations are a delight. Filled with bright colors that add a wild and festive note to the story, they jump on the page. The end papers are filled with the characters of the book and their names. Looking into the crowd, one can follow each character through the story, from the astronaut who has trouble breathing to the escaping prisoners to the ghost and several animals. It’s a bright and vibrant group of people with large noses and lots of personality.

A great read perfect for our current political climate, this picture book is about peaceful demonstrations and the power of the people. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Gecko Press.

A Poem for Peter by Andrea Davis Pinkney

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A Poem for Peter: The Story of Ezra Jack Keats and the Creation of The Snowy Day by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrated by Lou Fancher and Steve Johnson (InfoSoup)

The son of Polish immigrants, Ezra Jack Keats grew up in poverty in Brooklyn. Early in his life, Ezra followed his dream of being an artist. As an 8 year old, he earned money painting store signs. His father worried about this dream, but also helped by bringing home partially used paint from the artists at the cafe he worked at. Ezra was encouraged at school by teachers and at the library by librarians. Just as Ezra was about to leave for art school, his father died. He thought his artist dream was gone, but then during the Great Depression the New Deal emerged with The Art School League. It was then that he discovered what would be the beginning of The Snowy Day, but World War II would intervene before that dream could come true.

Pinkney’s poem sings on the page, telling the story of how an image can create real magic, just like the snow that inspired it too. She writes with real passion about poverty, the transformation that snow brings to poor neighborhoods, the delight of creation, the wonder of art and the long path it takes to bring a story to life sometimes. Pinkney’s words are magic, dashing and reacting along with the reader, swirling like snowflakes against your cheeks.

The illustrations by Fancher and Johnson are wonderful. Done in collage and paint, they capture Brooklyn as a clear setting and the hardship of Keats life enlivened by art. They then go on to inspire new thoughts of snowflakes and snow as they pay homage to The Snowy Day.

Perfect for fans of The Snowy Day, this picture book speaks to the power of art in one’s life and the way that one man’s dreams have inspired generations to dream too. Appropriate for ages 5-8.

Reviewed from library copy.