Book Reviews / Picture Books / Reading

Picture Book Reading Challenge: August 2016

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Where’s My Hug? by James Mayhew
And now for all those parents sending small and not-so-small-anymore children off to school: a cautionary tale for the kiddos about giving hugs away. Ah, Jake has decided he’s too old for hugs. When mom tries to give him a hug before dropping him off at school he insists that everyone will think he’s a baby, and he runs off. But when mom picks him up, it turns out he’s had a rough day and maybe he would like a hug now. “Where’s my hug?” This begins his epic adventure. It turns out that when he didn’t want his hug, his mom gave it to his dad instead. And his dad passed it on to the cat who passed it on to a witch who passed it on to…somehow Jake returns home on the dragon who finally gave him back his hug. At bedtime, Mom wants her hug. But Jake wants to keep it. So mom gives him another one, and they exchange hugs.

Maddi’s Fridge by Lois Brandt
No differences can be noted between friends Maddi and Sofia when they play together on the playground. Maddi gets to the top of the climbing wall first and Sofia can outrun Maddi, but they enjoy challenging and helping each other. One day Sofia races to Maddi’s apartment to grab a bite to eat and discovers a little milk and a small serving of food. That’s it. Maddi is ashamed and asks Sofia not to tell anyone. So Sofia doesn’t, at first. Sofia brings food to Maddi at school during lunchtime, but her selections often don’t transport very well. When those efforts are not enough Sofia makes the difficult decision to tell her mom, even though Maddi asked her not to. A good story discussing childhood hunger while emphasizing friendship. In the end, the girls both demonstrate the power of helping one another.

The Colors of Us by Karen Katz
When a little girl suggests to her mom that brown is just brown, her mom takes her for a walk to see the different shades of brown. Sure enough, each friend, neighbor, family member, and local retailer has a slightly different skin color. An important distinction for a budding artist, more important for a budding human.

How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin? by Margaret McNamara
Did you know that the number of lines on the outside of a pumpkin tells you how many rows of seeds are on the inside? I didn’t. That fun tidbit came at the end of this informative, stealthily math-instructive, scientific-method demonstrating, small people are big on the inside, whole lotta pumpkins, book. The class has three pumpkins: big, medium, and small. The class first guesses which pumpkin they think will have the most seeds and then set about figuring it out. They count seeds in groups of 2s, 5s, and 10s and reach a surprising conclusion. In the end, the size of the pumpkin isn’t really the issue (though that is useful for the human interest narrative underlying the entire experiment), but the shade of orange and number of outside lines are important distinctions the children observe. There’s potential for instructional conversations to go in several directions.

Absolutely One Thing by Lauren Child
This was my first introduction to siblings Charlie and Lola. After a reading a few of the others, it was my favorite, too. The simple story is about two siblings getting to go to a store to select one small treat. From beginning to end Charlie narrates the numbers that are mixed throughout their day. If you’ve ever had a child make up an “-illion” number-word, or tried to explain the measurements of time to a child, or reasoned with a two-year-old, you’ll appreciate this book. Older siblings will empathize with Charlie’s patient and informative conversations with Lola. Younger children may appreciate Lola’s unbridled curiosity, distractedness, and stellar negotiation strategies. Numbers everywhere; guest appearances by addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division; and one treat EACH.

Katie and the Sunflowers  by James Mayhew
A romp through the museum finds Katie picking sunflowers from Van Gogh and chasing a dog from Paul Gauguin’s Breton Girls Dancing through Van Gogh’s Cafe Terrace at Night. The dog causes quite a bit of disruption wherever he runs, including through the cafe. The enraged waiter follows the two girls back into the museum where they grab apples and oranges from a Cezanne to slow him down and finally end up in Tahitian Pastorals by Paul Gauguin. They relax briefly before venturing forth to the museum to clean up the messes. This is a great introduction to various artists and paintings. What child would not find it more interesting to jump into and out of the paintings lining museum walls? Plus, I got to read “Zut alors!” several times, which is always fun.

Goodnight, Manger by Laura Sassi
How did Baby Jesus get to sleep with all that noise? Perhaps it wasn’t quite as busy and rambunctious as author Laura Sassi suggests, but it couldn’t have been serene. The quick rhymes, imaginative situations, and colorful illustrations will put a new spin on your appreciation for the nativity. Also by Laura Sassi is Goodnight, Ark which was also a fun read, but this one was my favorite of the two.

Counting Lions by Katie Cotton
My two-year-old pulled this one out at the library, and my first reaction was “No.” It’s a big book. My library bag isn’t made for this kind of lugging. Then I realized that’s part of the attraction so..under my arm it went for the rest of the visit. And it was the first one we read when we got in the car. What a treat! Large black-and-white illustrations of various combinations of animals (going from 1 to 10) with informative and elegant prose situated to the side of the page. Lions, Tigers, Elephants, Turtles, Macaws, and more inhabit these pages. Beautiful and stunning.

Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney
A little girl tells the story of her great-aunt, the Lupine Lady. In her story her great-aunt learns from her father to value travel and living by the sea – both of which she purposes to do in her life. Her father adds one more thing she had to accomplish: “You must do something to make the world more beautiful.” As she grows up she does indeed travel and live by the sea. She finds the third goal to be the most challenging. Her contribution earns her the nickname That Crazy Old Lady, but when the seasons change and her hearty seeds color the landscape she becomes the Lupine Lady. The little girl telling the story admits that she, too, would like to travel the world and live by the sea. And Miss Rumphius, the Lupine Lady, adds one more worthy goal to her list.

Kitchen Dance by Maurie J. Manning
Two little kids tucked into bed for the night, and the little girls starts hearing intriguing noises from the kitchen. She wakes her sibling (of course!) and they tiptoe downstairs to find out what’s going on. Why are their parents humming and laughing? (suspicious activities for parents!) The peek into the kitchen to find their parents dancing and their father repeating “¡Cómo te quiero! Oh, how I love you. Umm, hmm.” When the parents discover the little peepers the family joins in a nightly dance and everyone sings “¡Cómo te quiero!” Eventually the swishing turns to swaying and the singing moves to humming and little eyes close. But what a wonderful and simple celebration of family and love.

10 thoughts on “Picture Book Reading Challenge: August 2016

    • Hahaha – it did seem appropriate for a lot of situations and not just back-to-school. I haven’t reached this phase yet, but I’ll be pulling this book back out when it comes!

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