A New Green Day by Antoinette Portis (9780823444885)
Welcome to your new day. The sun invites you to play when you wake up, creating a square on your pillow. Creatures are up and moving, snails scribbling across the sidewalk, inchworms measuring out their paths, and tadpoles punctuating the streams. There are things to find: leaves with paths imprinted on them, pebbles smoothed by the water. Then a storm arrives with lightning and thunder, rain pounding down. Mud is created to wriggle your toes in. Long shadows capture the approaching evening until night falls with a sky of stars and the voice of a cricket thrumming you to sleep.
Portis creates quite an invitation to head outside and experience nature with all of your senses from touching stones and leaves to feeling the rain to hearing the thunder and seeing the stars. It is all an immersive experience for the reader. Portis’ text is deceptively short and simple. Yet within each four-line verse she creates almost haiku moments of discovery.
The art was done in brush and sumi ink, leaf prints, and vine charcoal with the lettering done by hand. The illustrations are large and bold, offering a book that will work well shared with a group. They have a wonderful natural feel to them, tactile and warm.
Ideal for a summer day. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from e-galley provided by Neal Porter Books.
Desert Girl, Monsoon Boy by Tara Dairman, illustrated Archana Sreenivasan (9780525518068)
In India, two families must respond to the weather they are experiencing. One nomadic family, lives in the desert and must move in search of water. The other family, who live in a village, are experiencing a monsoon and the flooding it brings. Both families are multi-generational, both have children learning things, helping out and packing up. One family deals with blowing sand and sandstorms while the other has leaking roofs and puddles on the floor. Soon both start traveling in search of safety, one on camels and the other in a boat. Together, they reach the same mountain where they both find safety as well as each other.
In her author’s note, Dairman speaks about the Rabari people who inspired her families in the picture book. She captures their changing lifestyle from purely nomadic life to moving into villages. She also shows how weather can be threatening for both lifestyles. The writing is simple and just right for the smallest of children. Throughout the book, there are opposites in the two lifestyles, but there are some things that are quite similar.
The illustrations in this picture book are based on the illustrator’s personal experience in visiting a Rabari settlement. The detailed textiles fill the pages with color and pattern. Meanwhile the contrast of the warm golds of the desert and the cool blues of the monsoon work particularly well as they cross the pages. It’s a very effective way to view the two ways of life.
A glimpse of India’s nomadic people allows us all to see how weather impacts lives. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from e-galley provided by G. P. Putnam’s Sons.
On a Snow-Melting Day: Seeking Signs of Spring by Buffy Silverman (9781541581180)
This picture book captures the joys of early spring. Using skilled photography as well as rhyming text, explore the various elements of spring’s arrival. Icicles begin to drip, snow becomes slushy, lakes thaw and snowmen droop. Animals react too with birds singing more and sipping from icicles, frogs peeping, and salamanders emerging. Crocuses start to bloom along with other flowers too. The entire landscape is waking up and celebrating spring!
The photos in this book truly capture that tantalizing moment where spring arrives. The majority of them combine ice and snow with signs of spring, offering those fleeting moments of discovery for readers of the book. The text is simple and reads aloud well. It lets readers get glimpses of animals in thrilling ways from piles of sleeping snakes to the chickadee in flight to snatch a drink.
Spring into action and grab this one to make your winter days a little shorter. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from e-galley provided by Millbrook Press.
The Biggest Puddle in the World by Mark Lee, illustrated by Nathalie Dion (9781554989799)
A little girl and her brother Charlie were staying with their grandparents for six days. On the first day, the spent time exploring the big old house. Then it started to rain. It rained the entire second day, as they continued to explore the house. It rained the entire third day, which they spent playing dress-up. The girl asked her grandfather, Big T, where the rain comes from. He promised to show her when the rain stopped and when they had found the biggest puddle. The next day, the sun was out and the children joined their grandfather outside. On their walk to find the biggest puddle, they explored small puddles, a stream, a pond and finally found the sea! Along the way, their grandfather explained the water cycle with evaporation, the clouds, rain and bodies of water.
Lee combines a science lesson with a fictional picture book very successfully here. The initial story of children visiting grandparents is filled with lovely moments of play and connection. The children may be bored at times, but they also find ways to spend their time even as rain comes down all around the house. When the sun returns, the world opens up to them and their adventures becomes less imagination and more real. The facts shared about the water cycle are shown as part of their walk and a natural conversation. Dion’s illustrations are light and filled with a sense of movement and air. The gray rainy days spent inside contrast beautifully with the sunshine of the outdoor pages.
A quiet picture book about family, weather and water. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from e-galley provided by Groundwood Books.
Red Sky at Night by Elly MacKay (9781101917831)
A series of weather-related sayings form the words in this book while also telling the story of a family heading out on a fishing trip for the day. The book begins with sayings like “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight” and “When the dew is on the grass, no rain will come to pass.” They indicate that it’s a great day to head out to fish and camp, so a grandfather takes his grandchildren out. There are sayings about sunset, about the moon, about rain. The next day on their way home though, the weather begins to change. Even the morning begins ominously with a “Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning.” The little family makes it home before the rain begins, cozy and warm inside.
MacKay takes these sayings and weaves them together in to a story arc that guides young readers through the outdoors and the changing weather. Her illustrations are exceptional. Done with paper, light and photography, she calls them “lightbox illustrations or illuminated papercraft.” Her illustrations have such depth that one almost expects them to be physically layered pages in the book. The light in the illustrations bathes the reader, creating a physical experience of the weather at that moment.
An exceptional picture book about weather and beauty. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from library copy.
In the third book by Usher that focuses on a specific type of weather, this one is sun-filled and summery. Told in the first person by the boy, he awakens to a sunny day that is just right for an outdoor adventure even if it’s “hotter than the Atacama Desert.” The two set off together with provisions and a large map. They walk and walk until they discover just the right place for a rest. Then they walk some more until they found some shade. More walking brought them to a huge cave. But when they enter, they discover some real adventure inside.
Usher’s books are told very simply. This picture book starts out as entirely reality based and then takes a marvelous fantastical turn when the pair enters the cave. All along, it is hinted at that they are walking on a real journey. The illustrations help tell this tale, showing huge skies, long areas to traverse and a changing landscape. User uses watercolors for the skies, creating vistas filled with summer heat colors that swirl on the page.
A winner in a great series, this one is just right for summer reading. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from library copy.
This Beautiful Day by Richard Jackson, illustrated by Suzy Lee (9781481441391, Amazon)
Three children are spending a gray day inside as it pours rain. Then they start to dance and twirl, pulling blue into their day. They head outside with umbrellas and boots, walking through puddles, jumping and stomping. The rain ends and other come out with yellow and pink umbrellas and clothes, the colors starting to fill the page. Their umbrellas float up into the sky that is now blue with white clouds. The group of children play together in the field of flowers, climbing trees, rescuing umbrellas, and then treats back at home on a lovely day.
Jackson’s text is filled with motion and rhythm. It invites readers to swirl and twirl with the characters on the page. The action words in the text zing and zip, moving the book forward even as they celebrate the bad weather and move to the sunshine. There is a sense of optimism throughout the book, an acceptance and joy of rainy weather and then a true delight when it becomes sunny later.
Lee’s illustrations are lovely. They use color so skillfully, showing first the gray day while the children are quietly playing alone and then the single swirls of blue that color the children and their clothing. The book slowly unfolds with color, until it bursts like the meadow of flowers and the sun in the trees.
Share this one on rainy and sunny days. Just have umbrellas and boots ready along with popsicles too. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from copy received from Atheneum.
Home in the Rain by Bob Graham (9780763692698, Amazon)
Francie and her mother are headed home from Grandma’s house. It rains and rains. It rains enough that a big truck washes their car into a picnic area. Nearby, the rain hits rabbits, mice and a hawk. It rains on fishermen and ducks. Francie and her mother wait in the car, the windows steaming up. Francie writes their names on the windows. She asks her mother what her new baby sister’s name will be when she arrives, but her mother doesn’t know yet. They eat a picnic in the car together and then they pull back onto the road and continue home. When they stop to get gas, Francie’s mother decides on her little sister’s name and the sun returns to light their way home.
Graham has written a lovely picture book that is more complicated than it seems. It is the story of a little red car heading home. It’s the story of a family about to get one person bigger. It is the story of names and inspiration. It’s the story of rain and water and weather. Graham ties all of these elements together into one precious rain-soaked bundle that really works. It is bursting with the love of family on every page.
Graham’s illustrations are done in his signature style. The characters are people of color and their car becomes a haven and a busy room filled with small details. The book then pulls away to the countryside and their small car seen from above. The rain sweeps the pages and the animals appear. The play of close comfort in the car with wide scenery captures the wildness of the storm and strengthens the intimacy of the family.
A special book that looks at those delicate moments before the birth of a new baby, this picture book celebrates family and storms. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from library copy.
The Storm by Akiko Miyakoshi (InfoSoup)
A little boy heads home after school, excited about a trip to the beach the next day with his family. His teacher did warn that a storm was coming and as the evening goes by, the sky gets darker. His parents prepare for a storm and reassure him that even if they can’t go to the beach the next day, they will go another weekend. Soon rain starts to fall and then the wind picks up and blows hard. When it gets too loud, the boy jumps into his bed and pulls his covers over his head. Soon he is dreaming about being on a ship with big propellers that help to drive the storm away. Finally the storm moves off and his ship can sail higher into the sky. When the boy wakes up the next morning, he discovers a lovely day. Just right for a visit to the beach!
Miyakoshi’s picture book is filled with tension. Not only of the storm itself but of the waiting for the storm to arrive and then the concern about how it will impact their plans for the next day. It is a tension that children will understand, whether about weather and storms or about big plans being disrupted. It is also a picture book that speaks to the power of nature and the way that children can have plans with little control over them.
The illustrations in the book are black and white with small touches of color like the blue sky after the storm. The charcoal style has a lovely texture throughout. Light and dark play on the page with one storm page filled with rain showing the falling water as bright zings of light in the darkness. There is both a feeling of drama and also one of safety throughout, particularly during dinner and at bedtime.
This stormy picture book is one that children will relate to on a variety of levels. Appropriate for ages 3-6.
Reviewed from e-galley received from Kids Can Press and Edelweiss.