Category: Picture Books

Lift Your Light a Little Higher by Heather Henson

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Lift Your Light a Little Higher: The Story of Stephen Bishop: Slave-Explorer by Heather Henson, illustrated by Bryan Collier (InfoSoup)

Stephen Bishop was a slave who explored and mapped Mammoth Cave. The book is set in 1840 where you can follow the light of Bishop’s lantern deep into the massive cave as he gives people and the reader a tour. For the reader though, the tour is about slavery, about civil rights and about the ability for a man to discover value through exploring darkness. Bishop was the first to see many of Mammoth’s sights, including the blind fish. He learned to read as people signed their names on the cave’s ceiling, though learning to read and write was forbidden for slaves. This man’s story is a tale of resilience, self worth and discovery.

Henson tells the story almost in verse, capturing the highlights of the man’s discoveries but also weaving the dark side of slavery with the darkness of the cave. Henson gives Bishop a strong voice, one that stands out on the page and demands to be heard. Told in the voice of The Guide, Bishop explains slavery and its structure to the reader just as he explains his role and his attitudes towards life and the cave that made his famous. The author’s note contains information on Bishop and how he was sold along with the cave to several owners.

Collier’s illustrations are exceptional. He has several that are simply amazing in their power. One that caused me to linger for some time was the page with the oxen with faces on their sides, faces of slavery in various colors that are wrinkled and damaged. It’s a powerful reminder of the place of slaves as property. There are other pages that show hope in the slanting light of sun as Bishop exits the dark of the cave is one. Exceptional.

A strong picture book biography of a man many won’t have heard of before, this book speaks to the tragedy of slavery and the resilience and power of one man. Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from copy received from Atheneum.

 

Real Cowboys by Kate Hoefler

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Real Cowboys by Kate Hoefler, illustrated by Jonathan Bean (InfoSoup)

This picture book takes a look at the skills that really make up a cowboy’s work. It’s not a book about lassoing and riding quickly. Instead the skills that a cowboy needs are things like patience, something that allows them to ride slowly along with the herd. They need to be about to ask for help from others and treat their dogs well. They have to be considerate of those around them and of the environment they ride through. They need to be strong but also careful and caring. They can be girls and are people of all colors. Their jobs may not be all fast horses and wild ruckus, but somehow the quiet reality is all the more heroic.

Hoefler chooses qualities of cowboys’ lives that match those that small children will be learning in classrooms and at home. They ability to share, to take turns, to be considerate, to ask for help. They are all things that we all need to know how to do in our lives. She then writes them in a poetic way that demonstrates how those qualities really matter when out on the range, how they make the job safer. Hoefler also speaks to the loneliness that cowboys feel and the sadness when cattle and dogs are lost.

The illustrations by Bean are bright and stylish. They move from glaring sun to winter storms to deep blue night. Throughout there are the shadows of the land they move through and the cattle they watch. Bean captures the slump of tired shoulders, the wild movement of a stampede, and the beauty of stars above.

A surprising look at cowboys that makes it clear what it takes to be a hero and a good human being. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.

A Hat for Mrs. Goldman by Michelle Edwards

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A Hat for Mrs. Goldman by Michelle Edwards, illustrated by G. Brian Karas (InfoSoup)

Sophie first got a hat knit by Mrs. Goldman when she was a tiny baby. Now Sophie helps by making pom-poms for Mrs. Goldman’s hats. She learns about doing good deeds or “mitzvahs” for people. When Mrs. Goldman and Sophie head outside into the blustery weather to walk her dog Fifi, everyone has something knit to keep them warm except for Mrs. Goldman. So Sophie decides to knit a hat for Mrs. Goldman. It takes some time to knit and meanwhile there are more cold walks. When it’s done though, the hat isn’t perfect. It is lumpy and has holes where there shouldn’t be any. Sophie though has a plan that will make this a hat worthy of Mrs. Goldman.

This picture book is pure bliss. Edwards has created a vivid friendship between a grandmotherly neighbor and a young girl. There is kindness throughout, both in terms of the knitting but also the small kindnesses done for one another. Little details bring the world fully alive, like Sophie’s knitting that she started with Mrs. Goldman smelling of chicken soup, such a warm and homey smell.

The illustrations by Karas are lovely. They show the hard work that Sophie puts in, her frustrations and her successes. They show the cold walks and the fierce winds, the attempts at wearing scarves. They show the joy of completion and then the dismay at seeing that the hat is not perfect. And finally, they show the real hat that is glorious and unique.

A lovely book sure to warm up your own chilly fall and winter days. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.

 

10 Great Picture Books on Thankfulness

In this week of Thanksgiving in the United States, I wanted to share my own thankfulness for those of you who take the time out of your busy day to read my blog. Thank you too to the librarians and teachers who connect children and books each and every day. Thank you to parents who spend bedtime with books shared together. May you have a lovely holiday week.

All of Me!  A Book Of Thanks Badger's Fancy Meal

All of Me! A Book of Thanks by Molly Bang

Badger’s Fancy Meal by Keiko Kasza

Bear Says Thanks Gracias/Thanks

Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jane Chapman

Gracias/Thanks by Pat Mora, illustrated by John Parra

Pecan Pie Baby Sharing the Bread: An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving Story

Pecan Pie Baby by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Sophie Blackall

Sharing the Bread: An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving Story by Pat Zietlow Miller, illustrated by Jill McElmurry

Thank You and Good Night Thank You, World

Thank You and Good Night by Patrick McDonnell

Thank You, World by Alice B. McGinty, illustrated by Wendy Anderson Halperin

8754563 Winter Candle

Thanking the Moon: Celebrating the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival by Grace Lin

Winter Candle by Jeron Frame, illustrated by Stacey Schuett

10 Great Picture Books on Civil Rights

The ACLU has just had its best fund raising month ever, so I know that others are concerned with civil rights being attacked just as much as I am. Happily, there are beautiful picture books on civil rights to share with the children in our lives:

The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch The Beatitudes: From Slavery to Civil Rights

The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch by Chris Barton, illustrated by Don Tate

The Beatitudes: From Slavery to Civil Rights by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Tim Ladwig

The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage Lillian's Right to Vote: A Celebration of the Voting Rights Act of 1965

The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage by Selina Alko, illustrations by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko

Lillian’s Right to Vote by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Shane W. Evans

Seeds of Freedom: The Peaceful Integration of Huntsville, Alabama Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family's Fight for Desegregation

Seeds of Freedom: The Peaceful Integration of Huntsville, Alabama by Hester Bass, illustrated by E. B. Lewis

Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation by Duncan Tonatiuh

Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down 22747807

Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illlustrated by Brian Pinkney

Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer:The Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement by Carole Bostone Weatherford, illustrated by Ekua Holmes

6519593 When Thunder Comes: Poems for Civil Rights Leaders

We Troubled the Waters by Ntozake Shange, illustrated by Rod Brown

When Thunder Comes: Poems for Civil Rights Leaders by J. Patrick Lewis, illustrated by Jim Burke, R. Gregory Christie, Tonya Engel, John Parra, and Meilo So

I Am a Story by Dan Yaccarino

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I Am a Story by Dan Yaccarino (InfoSoup)

This picture book celebrates stories in all of their forms from the past through to the present. Beginning with oral storytelling around fires, the book then moves to cave paintings, clay tablets and hieroglyphics. Formats change to papyrus and paper, tapestries to printed books. Libraries evolve from private to public and books with their stories travel the world. They are censored sometimes and even burned, but they survive. They are inspiring, portable and immortal.

Yaccarino takes huge concepts and boils them down into a focused tale of the story. He uses simple language, inviting readers to think deeply about the power of story and how it transforms us all. While a lot of the book is about formats and changes as the technology changed, some of it is about the emotional tug of stories and how they move people.

The simple text is accompanied by vivid pictures alive with bright colors that range from tangerine to lemon to deep plums and chocolate browns. The illustrations are stylized and clever, using blocks of color that shout from the pages.

A cheerful picture book about the power and necessity of story. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy received from HarperCollins.

 

 

10 Great Picture Books on Quietness

There is something powerful about quiet and silence. It’s another important thing for children to learn, that silence is not frightening but offers space to think and dream. May you find time today for your own quiet time.

Before Morning An Egg Is Quiet

Before Morning by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Beth Krommes

 

An Egg Is Quiet by Dianna Aston, illustrated by Sylvia Long.

Leave Me Alone May the Stars Drip Down

Leave Me Alone by Vera Brosgol

May the Stars Drip Down by Jeremy Chatelain, illustrated by Nikki McClure

The Night World The Quiet Book

The Night World by Mordicai Gerstein

The Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Renata Liwska

The Sound of Silence Tiptoe Tapirs

The Sound of Silence by Katrina Goldsaito, illustrated by Julia Kuo

Tiptoe Tapirs by Hanmin Kim

Waiting  The White Cat and the Monk: A Retelling of the Poem “Pangur Bán”

Waiting by Kevin Henkes

The White Cat and the Monk by Jo Ellen Bogart, illustrated by Sydney Smith