Blueberry Cake by Sarah Dillard

Cover image for Blueberry Cake.

Blueberry Cake by Sarah Dillard (9781534451346)

A little bear asks his mother for some blueberry cake one morning. She sends him off with a pail to pick blueberries. He walks through the woods until he reaches the huge patch of wild blueberries. He picks some and eats more. Distracted by a butterfly, he accidentally dumps out the few berries he has left. Almost back home, he stops to fill the pail with flowers from the meadow. But no blueberries, means no blueberry cake. So the next day, he tries again. This time he surprises his mother with a full pail of blueberries and she immediately makes him blueberry cake!

The little bear is a merry youngster, dashing through the woods, cartwheeling, and wearing the pail on his head. His enthusiasm for blueberry cake is contagious and mouthwatering. The text in the book is limited to only a few words with many of the panels in the book wordless. There is something marvelously charming about these domestic bears with their sunny yellow kitchen with polka dot wallpaper and checked curtains. Make sure to stay until the final page when the cake has been cut for a little giggle.

A summery sweet read. Appropriate for ages 1-3.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Aladdin.

We Wait for the Sun by Katie McCabe

Cover image

We Wait for the Sun by Katie McCabe, illustrated by Raissa Figueroa (9781250229021)

This picture book is based on one of Dovey Johnson Roundtree’s favorite stories of her childhood and her grandmother, Rachel Bryant Graham. Born over 100 years ago, Roundtree grew up to be a renowned civil rights attorney. She and her grandmother headed into the night in midsummer. They move through the darkness to the woods to gather blackberries. As they walk through the night, other women join them, silent in the dark. The darkness gets thicker as they move into the woods, and Dovey’s grandmother encourages her to hold onto her apron strings and let her eyes adjust. They reach the blackberry clearing and everyone gets to work but not before Dovey gets the first and best berry to eat. They pick berries, the women chatting, until the sky turns pink and at her grandmother’s command the sun rises over the horizon.

McCabe takes a powerful moment in Roundtree’s life and turns it into a picture book that invites children to explore the woods at night and not be afraid. There is a sense of adventure throughout the book illuminated with the wonder of being out in a summer night. The profound silence of the night and its darkness make for a book full of mystery with text that asks to be read in a hushed tone to share the moment with one another all the way through sunrise.

Figueroa’s illustrations are rich and beautiful. She takes the darkness and tinges it with blue, teal and purple to show paths, faces and the women walking together. She also sweeps the path with fireflies and glimmers, adding to the wonder of the book.

A story that serves as an allegory for resilience, going through the darkness and knowing the sun will rise. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Roaring Brook Press.

3 Boisterous Noisy Picture Books

Bumpety, Dunkety, Thumpety-Thump! By K. L. Going

Bumpety, Dunkety, Thumpety-Thump! By K. L. Going, illustrated by Simone Shin (9781442434141)

Two young siblings, a brother and sister, head outside with their wagon. They play with pebbles near the pond, pick blueberries and then head home. Each thing makes it’s own noise: the wagon bumpety-bumps, the pebbles dunkety-dunk, and the plunkety-plunk. Back home, they bake the berries in a pie, eat, wash dishes, and then take a bath. These activities too are supported by a rollicking and noise-filled rhyme that carries the story forward with a jaunty vibe. The book ends with bedtime and everyone sharing stories and heartbeats together. This book beautifully combines noises of a day with a loving family story and creates a book that is a dynamic read-aloud for toddlers. Appropriate for ages 1-3. (Review copy provided by Simon & Schuster.)

Buster and the Baby by Amy Hest

Buster and the Baby by Amy Hest, illustrated by Polly Dunbar (9780763687878)

Buster, a little white dog, is hiding from the baby who is chasing him around the house. Buster tries different spots to hide, but each time, the baby comes and finds him. THUMP, THUMP, THUMP comes the baby, the same noise that Buster’s heart makes as he hides. Then the two dash off together in a wild chase until Buster finds his next hiding place and it begins again. This book begs to be shared aloud, as Hest has created moments of quiet tension and then uproarious frenzy that repeat again and again. The illustrations by Dunbar add to the joy, incorporating panels that let young listeners see the action across pages. A great pick for reading aloud to toddlers. Appropriate for ages 1-3. (Reviewed from library copy.)

Grump Groan Growl by bell hooks

Grump Groan Growl by bell hooks, illustrated by Chris Raschka (9780786808168)

Explore a bad mood in this picture book that takes a look at being very very grumpy. The child in the opening images prowls like a lion, sharp claws at the ready as he grumps across the page. He groans and growls loudly, almost a roar. There is nowhere to escape his foul mood. He feels wild and out of control until he realizes that he can look inside, let that feeling be and let it pass. Hooks speaks to the process of mindfulness about emotions with few words, showing the emotion clearly and then moving into the process to allow that emotion to pass on. Raschka’s illustrations are dark with emotion, tinged with colors that become more tangible as the child regains control. A great pick for mindfulness with children, this book doesn’t reject negative emotions or cling to them either. Appropriate for ages 3-5. (Reviewed from library copy.)

 

 

Review: Wild Berries by Julie Flett

wild-berries

Wild Berries by Julie Flett

Clarence has gone berry picking with his grandmother since he was a baby.  Now he is big enough to carry his own bucket as they walk and sing.  The two of them pick the berries, Grandma looking for the sweet ones and Clarence for the bigger, sour ones that pop.  They pick the berries and eat the berries.  Then Clarence looks around the woods and sees different insects, spiders, and a fox.  It is time to go home, they say thank you and walk back home together.

This book weaves Cree into the story, separating the words out and providing pronunciation information at the end of the book.  Even these few Cree words evoke a different feeling, a new rhythm that is powerful.  Flett tells a very simple story here about going out to pick berries in the forest.  Yet it is a timeless story, one the embraces wildlife, the environment, and giving thanks for the bounty of nature. 

Flett’s art is a beautiful mix of cut paper collage, texture and painting.  She manages to show the depth of the woods without darkness.  She uses bright colors that pop on Grandma’s red skirt and the red sun in the sky.  The grass is drawn in individual blades and the tree bark varies from paper art to marker lines.  Put together, it is a rich and beautiful book.

Simple, powerful and honest, this picture book celebrates Cree and nature together.  Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from library copy.