3 New Picture Books Featuring Families

Harriet Gets Carried Away by Jessie Sima

Harriet Gets Carried Away by Jessie Sima (9781481469111)

The creator of Not Quite Narwhal returns with a new book. Harriet loved to dress up all the time, so of course her birthday party was a dress-up one. When her fathers tell her that they need to pick up some more supplies, she dresses in her penguin “errand-running” costume. At the store, she leaves her fathers at the deli counter and heads off to find party hats, but instead discovers a group of penguins buying ice. Soon she has been carried off with them and up into their hot air balloons, traveling back home. Harried tried and tried to get home, but nothing worked until a kind whale agreed to carry her back in exchange for her bow tie. With the help of even more friends, this time feathered ones, Harriet is back before her fathers even miss her.

Sima captures the anticipation of a birthday party in this picture book that then takes a wild twist. When her parents tell her not to “get carried away,” it is clear that Harriet isn’t really capable of not being entirely herself. The book has a wonderful pace to it, increased at times with the use of panels that offset the full page illustrations. There is attention to diversity in the characters and the book also features gay fathers, something that is treated so matter-of-factly that it is delightful. A great read for birthdays or any day. Appropriate for ages 3-5. (Reviewed from library copy.)

Hello Lighthouse by Sophie Blackall

Hello Lighthouse by Sophie Blackall (9780316362382)

This is the story of a lighthouse and its dedicated keeper. When the keeper first arrives at the lighthouse, he is all alone, making meals for one, painting the rooms and dreaming of someone. Then his wife arrives and the two of them care for the lighthouse together. They rescue people from a shipwreck together. When the keeper falls ill, it is up to his wife to not only care for the lighthouse but for him too. Then when she is pregnant and in labor, it is his turn to care for both of them. They make a life together with the sea and the beacon they care for. But eventually modernization comes and they are replaced with technology. Still, they don’t more far from the sea and their light.

From the initial page one knows that this is a special book. The dappled sea stretches from greens to seashell pink as it crosses the page. Other pages are filled with the drama of dark storms with their white capped waves. There is the stillness of fog, the beauty of darkness broken by the light. Each page is different and new. Blackall captures the quiet of life in a lighthouse, the spiral staircase, the duty and care, the wonder of the sea. This is a quiet yet dramatic book, exquisitely written and illustrated. Appropriate for ages 4-7. (Reviewed from library copy.)

Mommy_s Khimar by Jamilah Thompkins- Bigelow

Mommy’s Khimar by Jamilah Thompkins- Bigelow, illustrated by Ebony Glenn (9781534400597)

A little girl watches her mother put on her khimar, her flowing headscarf. Her mother has so many of them, all colors and patterns. The little girl loves to play with them, twirling around and imagining that she is a queen. She pretends she’s a superhero, a bird or a shooting star when she wears her favorite bright yellow one. She sometimes wears the khimar to see family or to go to the mosque. At night, she has to take off the khimar, but she still dreams about it and how it connects her to her mother.

This lovely picture book beautifully ties a child’s playful imagination to wearing a hijab or khimar. It’s a book that embraces the tradition of wearing a headscarf, showing that it is normal, beautiful and part of being her family. Throughout the book, the illustrations are bright colored and shine. The loving relationship between mother and daughter is highlighted on most of the pages too. A winning picture book of Muslim American life. Appropriate for ages 3-5. (Reviewed from copy provided by Salaam Reads.)

Book Review: The Bravest Woman in America by Marissa Moss

bravest woman in america

The Bravest Woman in America by Marissa Moss, illustrated by Andrea U’Ren

Ida Lewis loved the sea, from the crash of the waves to the bite of the ocean air.  When her father got a job as a lighthouse keeper, she was thrilled.  He had to cross back and forth twice a day to check the light, and he took Ida with him, teaching her how to row.  He also taught her to care for the lamp and how to rescue people without capsizing herself.  When Ida turned 15, her family moved out to live next to the lighthouse.  Ida dreamed of becoming the keeper herself one day.  That day came early when her father got ill and could no longer care for the lighthouse.  So Ida helped more and more.  Though she had never rescued anyone, she rowed out to save some boys in a sailboat that capsized.  It took all of her determination and strength to save them, but she did.

This book works on so many levels.  It is a true story about a real hero who defied what society expected of her and became what she dreamed of.  Additionally, it is the story of a girl who was strong, brave and amazing.  A girl who relied on her own strength and wits to save others rather than to be rescued herself.  Beautiful. 

Moss writes the story with drama and action, yet is never heavy handed.  She builds up to the accident nicely, showing it happen and then building to the climax of the rescue.  This is an rescue story that will have readers cheering.

U’Ren’s art is done in watercolor, ink and acrylic.  The colors are deep and lovely, from the changing colors of the sky to the blues and greens of the water that change with the storm.  Ida Lewis is always shown as a young lady, never masculinized at all.  It adds to the charm and drama of the story.

Highly recommended, this is a great book choice for women’s history units or for any child to learn that girls are heroes too.  Appropriate for ages 5-8.

Reviewed from copy received from Tricycle Press.

Book Review: The Abandoned Lighthouse by Albert Lamb

abandonedlighthouse

The Abandoned Lighthouse by Albert Lamb, illustrated by David McPhail

A bear finds a rowboat near his favorite waterfall and promptly falls asleep in it.  The rowboat carries him through the sea and to a rocky shore with a lighthouse.  Then the rowboat drifted away.  It appeared on the beach near a young boy and his dog.  When his ball got stuck in the boat, the boy climbed in.  He and his dog were carried to the same lighthouse.  There, the boy and the bear met, spent time together, and slept.  But the little dog was awoken in the night by a storm and they all spotted a very large ship about the crash on the rocks.  They worked together to light the lamp and warn the ship to safety.  In the end, the rowboat carried the bear and the boy back to their own shores and the ship safely into its port.

This appealing book tells a simple story in a straight-forward way, perfect for young readers.  It is formatted as a reader rather than a picture book, though it would be successful in either format.  The story has enough mystery to keep the pages turning and then enough action to finish up on a high note.  It is a rather mystical book, filled with possibilities, but can still be read as a simple story as well.

McPhail’s art is lovely.  He plays with jewel tones in the sea, light and dark in the storm.  His art is easy to understand, making it very appropriate for the title.  Yet in his art, there is also the potential to see more too. 

A very nice early reader for library collections, this book is gentle and mysterious.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.  Reviewed from copy received from Roaring Brook Press.