Listen by Gabi Snyder

Listen by Gabi Snyder, illustrated by Stephanie Graegin (9781534461895)

When you leave your house and enter the world, sometimes all you can hear is a blare of noise. What if you stop instead and listen closely. Can you identify each separate sound like the car horn beeping and the dog barking? On your way to school, can you hear the slap of shoes on pavement or noises through the windows you pass? At school you can hear friends saying hello and the sounds of the playground being used. In school you can listen to learn new words. You can also listen to hear how words make people feel happy or hurt. Listen for feelings in the silence or sighs. Rain brings new noise, and wind does too. At home, it is quieter and still there are noises to listen to right up until bedtime.

This picture book demonstrates being able to reset at times of overwhelm by tuning in to the world around us rather than tuning out. It shows how listening closely can untangle the noise into sounds which allow us to learn and connect with others. Set in an urban setting, this book shares the joys of living in a city by celebrating the noise and not letting it become a problem.

The illustrations center on a little girl who is multiracial. As she moves through her day, she regularly takes time to check in with herself and center using the sounds around her. The cast of students and community members on the page are a variety of races.

A gentle book about the power of sound and our own power to use it to center ourselves. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy provided by Simon & Schuster.

3 New Picture Books about Compassion

The Funeral by Matt James

The Funeral by Matt James (9781554989089)

Norma has to go to her great-uncle Frank’s funeral. She has to miss school, and she gets to see her favorite cousin, Ray. But she still practices her sad face in the mirror. Their car joins a line of cars headed to the church. The funeral is long and Norma has to be quiet. Ray has trouble staying still for that long. Finally, the funeral is done. There are sandwiches to eat and then Norma and Ray head outside to play. They play all afternoon until it is time to go home. Norma thinks that her Uncle Frank would have liked his funeral.

James captures going to a funeral as a small child with a poignancy and beauty. Anyone who attended a funeral as a child will see their own memories come to life. Small things like the flags on the cars, playing outside the church, and the graveyard add up to a full day of remembering someone. James’ illustrations are done in acrylic and ink on masonite. They have deep colors and incorporate collage pieces as well. The illustrations open up and soar when the children go outside, the green of the grass taking much of the space on the page. This is a book that celebrates life and honors the perspective of the child. Appropriate for ages 4-6. (Reviewed from library copy.)

The Old Man by Sarah V

The Old Man by Sarah V., illustrated by Claude K. Dubois, translated by Daniel Hahn (9781776571918)

A little girl wakes up and gets ready for school. Outside, an old man gets up too from where he is sleeping on the ground. He is wet and very cold. He walks to warm himself up. He’s hungry and eats out of a trash can. But he is too tired to continue, so he falls asleep on the ground in a park. The police wake him and ask him to move along. He heads to the shelter for something to eat, but can’t remember his name when he’s asked. He leaves and it begins to rain. He sleeps on the bus but has to leave there too. Then the little girl from the beginning of the book appears and offers the man her sandwich. That evening, he is able to go back to the shelter and this time he remembers his name and gets a hot meal.

The author of this picture book focuses on the power of compassion for those around us. Societal issues are not tackled here, just the pieces of the day of a person experiencing homelessness. They are small but vital, each moment leading to the next and each impacting how the man feels and how well he is able to do. The text is very simple though the book is thicker than most picture books. That allows room for the sepia-toned illustrations that take us on a journey through the man’s day. They are shadowy, chilly and seep under the skin like a shiver. An important book about small acts of kindness. Appropriate for ages 4-6. (Reviewed from library copy.)

The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld

The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld (9780735229358)

One day Taylor made a wonderful creation out of blocks. But then everything came crashing down. One animal after another tried to help Taylor feel better. Chicken wanted to talk about it, but Taylor didn’t want to. Bear wanted to shout, but Taylor didn’t feel like it. Elephant wanted to rebuild it exactly the way it was, but Taylor didn’t feel like remembering. Others came one after another, but nothing worked. Taylor was alone until Rabbit came in, moved closer and just sat there right next to Taylor. The rabbit just listened and Taylor talked, shouted, remembered and much more. Then Taylor was ready to create something even better.

Doerrfeld has skillfully created a picture book that looks at anger and disappointment, at the process of working through big emotions and the importance of taking things at your own pace and speed. I appreciate that Taylor eventually is ready to talk, be angry and much more. This is not about bottling up emotions but about listening, supporting and moving forward in your own way. Using animals as the emotional reactions was a smart move, with the frowning bear and chattering chicken. The rabbit immediately changes the tone and feel of the book, mirroring what he is doing for Taylor as well.

An intelligent look at big emotions and how best to deal with them and support one another, this picture book is exceptional. Appropriate for ages 3-6. (Reviewed from library copy.)

 

Review: Following Papa’s Song by Gianna Marino

following papas song

Following Papa’s Song by Gianna Marino

Little Blue and his Papa are traveling farther than they ever have before as they migrate, following the song of the other whales.  Little Blue has lots of the questions and his father encourages him to keep listening for the song.  As they travel, Little Blue learns about the different layers of the ocean.  Then he notices light in the darkness below and just has to head down and see what it is for himself.  He discovers a magical layer of life in the ocean, but when he heads even lower there is darkness and no other creatures are there.  Little Blue tries calling for his Papa, but his little voice doesn’t carry far in the cold water.  Then he remembers that he needs to listen and he hears his father’s call from above.

Marino paints a beautiful picture of father and child care and love.  Her use of whales and their calls is a smart choice that really makes the theme of being lost as a child work well on a higher level.  The advice to stay still and listen will also work for young humans hearing the story.  The book is simply written so that even the youngest of children can enjoy this underwater story.

Marino’s art is filled with currents and colors.  She creates light and water that dances and moves on the page, clearly creating different layers in the ocean.  I particularly enjoyed the use of bright pink to show the layer of the ocean with all of the life in it that tempts Little Blue downward.  The greens and blues of the ocean water truly come to life on the page here.

A lovely story about fathers, children and the importance of listening when you are lost.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Viking.