Tag: fishing

3 Picture Books Filled with Empathy

These three picture books all look at empathy in different ways and all are worth exploring.

Come with Me by Holly M. McGhee

Come with Me by Holly M. McGhee, illustrated by Pascal Lamaitre (9781524739058)

Seeing the news about anger and hate in the world, a little girl wonders what she can do to help. So each of her parents take the little girl out in their diverse and urban community. They are kind to others on the subway. They greet their neighbors and shop at stores owned by people of different races and faiths. Then the little girl asks to walk the dog on her own. Will her parents be brave enough to let her leave fear behind and head into the world on her own?

Told simply and with great kindness, this picture book shows children and families exactly the small steps they can take to bring love and joy back into their lives during these stressful fear-filled times. The illustrations are simple, showing the diversity of the community with clarity. Families looking for ways to get beyond worry and fear will embrace this picture book. It is exactly what our world and our children need. (ARC received from Penguin.)

A Different Pond by Bao Phi

A Different Pond by Bao Phi, illustrated by Thi Bui (9781479597468)

Written and illustrated by two Vietnamese-Americans, this picture book captures the author’s experience as a child accompanying his father to a local fishing pond. The two of them are up early since his father has to head to second job that he just got. They stop at the bait shop and pick up minnows. Then head to the pond, where the boy’s father fishes and the boy builds a fire for them. It’s cool during this Minnesota dawn. The two share sandwiches, a small memory from Vietnam about fishing, and catch fish for dinner. When they return home, the extended family is there and that evening they all feast on the fish together.

Phi’s prose is filled with the skill of a poet. He stitches the past and present together into a richness that is poignant. He welcomes young readers into the life of a refugee family in Minnesota. The illustrations have a modern edge to them, sometimes framed like a graphic novel and other times soaring to the sides of the page. Bui uses her format skillfully and enlivens this quiet tale of fishing and new lives. Told with grace and strength, this picture book is wondrous. (Reviewed from library copy.)

King of the Sky by Nicola Davies

King of the Sky by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Laura Carlin (9781406348613)

A boy is now far from his Italian home and only one thing in this new place reminds him of Italy and where he used to live. It is Mr. Evans’s pigeons and their cooing that reminds the boy of Rome. The boy spends time with Mr. Evans and the pigeons. Mr. Evans gives him one as his own, a gray pigeon with a white head that the boy names “King of the Sky.” But the pigeon is slow to return home as the pigeons train, though Mr. Evans insists the bird will be a champion. Finally, the bird gets the perfect long distance race, flying back from Italy. But will he make it or will he stay in Italy like the boy would long to?

Davies is a masterful writer, inviting the reader into the pain of a boy who has left the country he loves and hasn’t found a place that feels right in his new country. It is a book about loneliness and finding your way forward. It’s a book about connection with your neighbors and community to find that way. The illustrations by Carlin are quirky and beautifully layered. They have a dreamlike quality to them, filled with soft edges and even softer light. This is a picture book that invites readers to understand what home really is. Appropriate for ages 5-8. (Reviewed from library copy.)

Me and You and the Red Canoe by Jean E. Pendziwol

Me and You and the Red Canoe by Jean E Pendziwol

Me and You and the Red Canoe by Jean E. Pendziwol, illustrated by Phil (9781554988471, Amazon)

In this incredible poetic picture book, two children wake up in their tents on the shore of a Canadian lake. Quietly, after drinking some hot chocolate, they head out onto the water with their fishing tackle and rods in a red canoe. Paddling quietly through the water, they see a moose in the shallows, a beaver repairing its home, and hear a chattering squirrel. As the sun rises the light changes and they see an eagle flying and an eagle’s nest. The children start to fish, battling and landing a trout before heading back to the campsite. The morning continued with fish for breakfast for everyone.

Pendziwol is a gifted writer. Her verse bring the Canadian wilderness to life with all of the creatures going about their morning business, the silence of the lake and the wonder of it all. The fishing is a dynamic contrast to the quiet of the morning, the battle with the trout and the final win. It punctuates the book much like the appearance of the animals do, in little bits of delight. Her poetry flows much like the water on the lake, clean and clear, quiet but not ever dull. It invites readers into exploration of their own in canoes and on lakes.

The illustrations by Phil are rough and rustic. They are painted on wood with nail holes and cracks running straight through the pictures. These illustrations suit the entire book perfectly, creating a feeling of natural warmth and timelessness.

A winning picture book for those spending their summers on lakes or those who only dream of it. Appropriate for ages 4-7.

Reviewed from library copy.

Fish by Liam Francis Walsh

Fish by Liam Francis Walsh

Fish by Liam Francis Walsh (InfoSoup)

A boy and his dog head out onto the lake to fish one morning. Both boy and dog have their own fishing poles. They first catch the letter F. Then the letter I. The letter S is next. But beware the huge letter C that is circling the boat. When they hook a Q, it is thrown back into the water. Soon though they are caught in a whirlpool of letters, swept underwater among schools of them zigging and zagging. When the boy makes it back to the boat, he has the H under his arm, but loses it as the huge letter C reappears. Not to worry, his dog has saved the day with the H to complete FISH. But was that what they were trying to catch?

This wordless picture book depends on its wonderful illustrations to carry the story. And do they ever! Done with a limited color palette of pale blue and bright red, they shine on the page. Each character also shines with personality and energy. The ending of the book is very satisfying, especially since all readers will think that the goal was to catch FISH when actually it was to do something entirely different. It’s a great twist that is filled with jolly cheer.

A standout wordless picture book that illustrates how letters form words in the most energetic and playful of ways. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from library copy.

 

Review: Poor Doreen: A Fishy Tale by Sally Lloyd-Jones

poor doreen

Poor Doreen: A Fishy Tale by Sally Lloyd-Jones and Alexandra Boiger

Mrs. Doreen Randolph-Potts is a very rare Ample Roundy Fish who is headed to visit her cousin who has just had a baby, or 157 babies to be exact.  So Doreen is swimming down the river when she spots what she thinks is a tasty dragonfly, but it is not.  It is actually a lure held by a fisherman, but Doreen does not know that and she gulps it down.  Soon Doreen is lifted into the air and plunked into a basket.  She thinks she is just there for a little rest before she heads on her journey, but she is wrong again.  Instead a Great Heron snaps her up and carries her off.  But as he has her in his jaws, Doreen thanks him for the ride.  She then manages to insult him by asking if he is an egret and when he tries to answer her she falls down, down into the water again.  So that leaves two very embarrassed creatures:  a fisherman and a heron who both lost their catch that day and one rather confused but safe Doreen who makes it to her cousin’s home with a great story to share.

Doreen is a great character, always looking on the bright side of her world though in a rather confused way.  She’s an optimist through and through, one who always sees the best, though sometimes at her own peril.  The book is designed to be read aloud with the fonts leading readers along the way.  It has great pacing for sharing aloud as well as a good amount of humor which always helps.  The language of the writing is also very special.  Here is my favorite line of the book to give you some of the flavor: 

By the water’s edge

a Fisherman wearing a coat the color of the sun

and a Great Blue Heron wearing a coat the color of a stormy sky

with a neck like an S

for SPEAR

are fishing.

Wonderful writing with richness and depth, contrasts and foreshadowing.  It’s simply superb.

Boiger’s art is appropriately done in watercolor for this fishy story.  Doreen pops on the page with her bright scarf and umbrella, both in red.  The action is captured nicely on the page, filled with bubbles, swirls and motion. 

A clever and optimistic book, children are sure to root for Doreen on her great adventure.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Random House Children’s Books.

Review: One Frozen Lake by Deborah Jo Larson

one frozen lake

One Frozen Lake by Deborah Jo Larson, illustrated by Steven Johnson and Lou Fancher

A boy and his grandfather head out on the frozen lake to go fishing.  They drill through four inches of ice and set up their canvas ice shack.  Inside they open their tackle box and have four watery holes to fish through.  Other join them out on the ice and cocoa is shared, but after seven hours they haven’t seen a single fish.  They play cards together and wait until night falls then, a fish!  A ten incher and a keeper!  But the boy has different ideas than a fish dinner.  This picture book captures the quiet times spent fishing out on the ice with a loved one.  It’s sure to appeal to children who have headed out themselves and waiting those long hours for just one bite.

Larson nicely weaves numbers and counting into her words in this book.  One frozen lake, two friends, three bundles of gear, four inches of ice, five hours to wait.  Then she starts again from one, building her poetic story upon the foundation of counting.  But this is not a counting book, instead it is a celebration of Minnesota winters and family.

The art here is exceptional.  The story above the ice is shown in realistic paintings that show with accuracy the relationship between grandfather and grandson.  The tones are bright, sun-filled but also cold as a northern winter should be.  Below the ice is a completely different world.  There the images are done as collages with whimsical old-fashioned touches taken from signs and flyers.  The result is a pairing that shows the stark difference between surface and depths.

Growing up on a Wisconsin lake, this picture book brought back many memories of walking the frozen lake and seeing the shanties.  It’s sure to do the same for many grandparents and grandchildren.  This is definitely a keeper!  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.

That’s Papa’s Way

That’s Papa’s Way by Kate Banks, illustrated by Lauren Castillo

A little girl and her father head out fishing together.  They dig worms together, Papa dangling them from his fingers and her touching them only with her shovel.  That’s her way.  Together the two of them launch the boat onto the lake and put their lines in the water.  They wait.  And wait.  And wait.  Each reacting to the waiting in their own way.  The relationship of the two characters allows them each to be individual, each loving the time together and showing it in their own way.  The refrain of “That’s his way” and “That’s my way” are used just often enough for them to impart a rhythm to the book, never becoming overbearing or jarring.

Banks writing is just as gentle and patient as sitting in a boat with waves lapping.  She doesn’t hurry the story and feels no need to create excitement or danger in this gentle tale.  It is lovely in its sense of family, honor of individuality, and overall peacefulness.  Castillo’s illustrations reflect that same gentle style with their rich colors and thick lines.  She captures the feel of a day on the lake in her images.

Highly recommended, this gentle book will be enjoyed by youngster who enjoy fishing and is perfect for a Father’s Day story time or any time that a gentle read is needed.  Let’s hope that this peace and grace floods into the parents who come to our libraries too.