Picture Book Round-Up: November 2017

Pocket Full of Colors by Amy Guglielmo and Jacqueline Tourville

I read this and started gushing all over Instagram. First, I picked it up because it was about a woman who likes colors (much like my eldest daughter who can’t leave the house without at least 40 in her outfit – picture it for a minute and then, if you dare, add at least 3 patterns and you’re close (she detests her school uniform of three colors)). We read it together and were delighted to discover the story of a woman who went up against the drab suits at Disney to advocate for more color. She caught the attention of Mr. Walt himself and made an impression for her appreciation of vibrancy. When she couldn’t influence change at Disney she left for a freelance career. Then one day she received a phone call from Walt asking her to take the lead on a project. She agreed on one condition: she got to be in charge. And that is how the ride It’s A Small World came into being (the most favorite ride of my youngest daughter). I did not see that ending coming, but I loved it! Great storytelling. The theme of a woman persevering in a  male-dominated career and the star-power of Disney were necessary and important components of the story, but the authors did a great job of keeping Mary Blair’s story the focal point. Loved this book!

Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan by Jeanette Winter

Nasreen’s grandmother begins the story. She tells of the history and city she grew up in and loved. Then she tells of the soldiers that took it all away, including a couple members of Nasreen’s family. When the grandmother learns of an illegal school operating for girls, she finds a way to get Nasreen inside at great risk to them both. Her courage is rewarded when Nasreen, who had remained silent since the disappearance of her parents, speaks to another girl at the school and begins to open her heart to the ideas and lessons being presented. Each night Nasreen tells her grandmother what she has discovered, and her grandmother rests  knowing her granddaughter is learning of the beauty that once was and could be again and is developing the knowledge to hope beyond the dark clouds. A poignant story of courage and love.

King Louie’s Shoes by D.J. Steinberg

A fun look at some of the antics of King Louis the Fourteenth of France. Also a story of how high heels came about. In short, King Louis was a big deal. He achieved a lot in his lifetime by royal standards, but he was short. This insecurity led to the creation of platform shoes, with a few bobbles and decrees in between, that helped him stand above others in the kingdom. A list of quick facts at the end of the book are also brief and entertaining glimpses of royal life during the time. A great introduction to a rich personality of history told in such a way to encourage further interest about his life and time. 

Twinderella by Corey Rosen Schwartz

A math book based on the Cinderella fairy tale! Did you know Cinderella had a twin sister? Her sister was great at math and throughout the book is dividing chores, magic, and…oops, you can’t divide a prince in half. That is not an insurmountable problem for Cinderella’s problem-solving twin: she doubles the prince. The sharing and happy ending are ideal; readers won’t realize they’re reading a math book until maybe the end when it is revealed that Cinderella and Charming attend to royal duties while Twinderella and her Prince won all the kingdom’s math awards. A fun read on a familiar tale.

Those Darn Squirrels Fly South by Adam Rubin

Any book with “those darn squirrels” in the title is a good fit for our family. We have grown a joke about my husband’s personal vendetta against squirrels and it is likely to remain a family classic. But this book, unlike others that support a anti-squirrel protagonist, allows the squirrels to shine. They focus their ingenuity on building machines so they can follow the birds who head south every winter – the squirrels want to know what this is all about. The problem is that Mr. Fookwire, their curmudgeonly buddy, misses having the birds AND the squirrels when they leave. He decides to follow the squirrels. All the names are hysterically fun to read out loud, the tribute to the clever nature of these rodents is delightful, and the restoration of squirrels and Fookwire back home (with the squirrels driving, of course) is the perfect ending. 

The Birthday Queen by Audrey and Don Wood

The Wood duo nailed it again. This time they basically wrote a book about my mother (which makes the punch line at the end perfect). In any case, this is a peek inside the workings of the Birthday Queen – the one responsible for extraordinary birthday parties. She sends the invitations, tries out all the games, inspects the clowns for funniness, whips up a cake, wraps the presents, and shoots decorations on the walls at the snap of her fingers. Brightly colored drawings add to the fun and excitement of seeing the magic happening behind the birthday party celebration itself. Such a fun concept, but I won’t spoil the ending which puts just the right amount of sweetness into the mix.

The Story of Snowflake and Inkdrop OR The Story of Inkdrop and Snowflake by  Alessandro Gatti and Pierdomenico Baccalario

An artistic book of beautiful simplicity. Pick up the book on one side and you meet Snowflake and follow his journey from a cloud to a town. Pick up the book on the other side and you can see the journey of Inkdrop out of the window of an artist’s home and into the snow outside. Beautiful illustrations are introduced through detailed cutouts. Children will be intrigued and awed by the friendly story told from two perspectives and the intricate details of the artistry.

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