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.
Tree by Britta Teckentrup (InfoSoup)
The seasons pass as an owl looks out of a hole in a tree in this engaging picture book. Beginning in winter, owl is alone in the cold landscape. When spring comes, the snow melts and buds form on the tree. Baby bears play and climb the tree’s trunk. Leaves and blossoms form and squirrels, birds and fox cubs arrive. With summer, the apples start to form on the tree and the tree spends long warm nights swaying in the breeze. Autumn comes with colder temperatures and the animals start to leave. Apples fall to the ground and the tree’s leaves turn red and fold. Snow comes and winter arrives. Soon everyone is gone, even the owl. But he is peeking out again soon as spring comes once again.
Teckentrup uses simple rhymes to tell the story of one large tree and the ways that it supports the ecosystem around it. The seasons are clearly noted in the rhymes, the changes explained and each one is celebrated for how unique it is. The various animals too change what they are doing as the weather shifts. This is a dynamic book about weather and seasons.
It is the illustrations that make this book so noteworthy. Teckentrup’s cut out designs allow each page turn to show the owl for most of the book but also to add the other animals as they appear in the story. Then as the story reverses and the animals leave, the cut outs play out that way too.
A clever and striking look at one tree, one ecosystem and many seasons. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from copy received from Random House.
Rain by Carol Thompson
Snow by Carol Thompson
Sun by Carol Thompson
Wind by Carol Thompson
Four lovely little board books in this set by Thompson. Told very simply but with plenty of energy, these books look at different kinds of weather and children out playing in it. Rain begins with a bit of hesitation but ends with the merry fun of jumping into puddles. Snow invites children to breathe out clouds and plunk right down in the snow. Sun has clothes coming off and playing in a pool together. Wind roars from page to page but then in the end is gentle too.
Introduce toddlers to different kinds of weather and different seasons, but even more importantly get them outside to experience it themselves too! Appropriate for ages 1-2.
Reviewed from copies received from Child’s Play.
When the Wind Blows by Linda Booth Sweeney, illustrated by Jana Christy
Head outside on a windy day in this breezy picture book. When the wind chimes start to ring, a family excitedly gets ready to go outside into the fresh air. Together a little boy and his grandmother fly a kite that eventually breaks free and rides off on the wind. The wind blows the grass and flowers. It also sends the sailboats out on the water racing. The wind gets even stronger and a storm moves in with thunder and rain. They head back home into the bright warm lights of the house. There they are cozy and protected, unworried about the storm that continues outside. It is night when the storm clears and everyone is asleep.
Told in short rhyming lines of poetry, this picture book manages to be fresh and fun rather than stilted in any way. The rhymes and their rhythms offer a dynamic edge to the book, creating movement that echoes that of the wind in the words themselves. The attention is on both humans enjoying the breezy weather and also nature as the storm moves in. This is an invitation to head out into changing weather.
Christy’s illustrations are gorgeous. They have vivid colors and capture the movement of the wind. Just seeing the images evokes wind and breeze, as if fresh air is lifting off each page as you read. She also captures the joy of being out in weather, the fun of wild wind and the beauty of oncoming storms.
A beautiful look at weather, wind and rain that will have everyone looking for their kites on the next breezy day. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy received from G.P. Putnam’s Sons.
The Big Wet Balloon by Liniers
Inspired by his daughters aged 3 and 5, this book celebrates a rainy day. When Matilda wakes up on a Saturday morning, she is delighted by everything she can do that day. Clemmie, her little sister, gets excited too. But then their day turns out to be filled with rain. Matilda is undaunted and sets out to persuade Clemmie to join her out in the rain. Clemmie is very hesitant, insisting that it is wet, until Matilda shows her the umbrella and how to use it. Clemmie then enjoys the rain until her red balloon floats off when she gets too excited. But Matilda finds a way to make that right as well.
Liniers shows his adoration for his daughters in this book. Clemmie is clearly a toddler and expresses herself in early sentences and short words. Matilda is an enthusiastic older sibling who wants to spend time out in the weather. It is a pleasure to see a sibling relationship depicted with such warmth and evident love for one another. Matilda is never frustrated by the situation, always coming up with another way to approach it. The words and art dance together here. Both help tell this story of a rainy and wet Saturday.
My children always loved rain more than sun, so this is a book that they would have loved. Time to get out rain slickers and umbrellas and play in the rain! Appropriate for ages 3-6.
Reviewed from library copy.
Cloudette by Tom Lichtenheld
Cloudette is the smallest of clouds. Usually it was just fine to be the littlest. She was called by cute nicknames, she had little friends, she was great at hiding, and she even slept in a special spot on the moon. But sometimes, she felt left out because she was so small. She couldn’t do the important work that the big clouds did, like storm fronts and rainbows. She wanted to do something big herself, but all of her big ideas didn’t work out. One day, she was blown by a storm to a new area where she had never been before. There she found a lone frog sitting in a dried up pond. Cloudette knew she could help, but only if she tried very, very hard. By helping in one place, she realized that there was a lot one small cloud could do in the world.
Lichtenheld’s text is a pleasure to read aloud. He has included all sorts of aside comments from the clouds, Cloudette herself, and animals too. They give the book more flavor and a stronger tone. The small making a large impact and doing something big is an idea that is featured in a lot of children’s books. Children relate to being the smallest, being envious of what bigger people can do, and feeling powerless themselves. Cloudette is certain to speak directly to the fact that small contributions can add up to something big.
The artwork here is bright, simple and entertaining. While some pages have a paneled look, many of them are single or double-page spreads. Lichtenheld nicely contrasts background colors to create a book that is colorful and that will work well with a group.
Cloudette will have you cheering for her and is sure to easily create small fans. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy received from Henry Holt & Co.
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In Like a Lion Out Like a Lamb by Marion Dane Bauer, illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully
Bauer has created a poetic picture book that explores the concept of March coming in like a lion and going out like a lamb. A lion enters a boy’s home and tromps mud across the floor. But when the air turns warmer, the lion sneezes mightily. On that breeze, a lamb comes in and the grass turns green. But what will happen to the snowy lion now that spring has arrived? Will he disappear? Not him! Meanwhile, the lamb is frolicking and bringing in new babies to greet the spring.
The verse is light and free, creating a poetic, friendly picture book for young children. The idea of the lion not leaving, but instead lingering in a warm patch of sun and purring is a lovely one. While the lamb is breezy and light, the lion asleep happily is what lingers with me afterwards, waiting for winter to return.
McCully’s art echoes the freedom of the verse and the lightness of the subject. She uses a light touch on her lines, a freedom in her colors, and a lushness as spring returns.
Welcome spring and the end of March with this book and hope along with all of us in Wisconsin that the snow will finally come to an end! Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from copy received from Holiday House.
Also reviewed by BooksForKidsBlog.