Picture Book Round-Up: December 2017

Happy Holidays. It’s a small group this time. We’re traveling and finishing end-of-unit projects at schools this time of year so our reading is hit-or-miss. On a related note, my eldest daughter has found her first can’t-wait-to-read-it-why-are-you-stopping-me-at-the-best-part-id-rather-skip-dinner-to-read series. For those who are curious it’s The Secrets of Droon series by Tony Abbott. Apparently, I have a fantasy lover on my hands, and I’m hoping the enjoyment lasts through all 44 books! So that’s my good bookish news. Got any good bookish news of your own?

Onward to a few of the picture books we enjoyed recently!

How to Put Your Parents to Bed by Mylisa Larsen

The roles are reversed and a young child take the lead on getting his parents to sleep. Instructions are clear, with a biting irony, and the illustrations are amusing. Begrudging participation, 100 excuses, and the need for routine and lights-out sleep time all make appearances — from the adult side. What kid hasn’t wished to put the parents to bed and have some fun without them? But the ending turns those tables on the children just as effectively. A great bedtime story for parents and children.

It Came in the Mail by Ben Clanton

I loved getting mail as a child (still do – as long as it’s not the bill-kind). And Liam loves it too. Except, as is the plight for many small children, he doesn’t get any. So he starts a campaign asking his mailbox to send him something. When the first letter is successful beyond expectation he asks for more…and more…and more…until he has too many wonderful and odd gifts from the mailbox. He shifts his focus from receiving mail to sending mail so other children can enjoy the delight. Fantastic illustrations that whip up imaginary gifts from the mailbox compliment the basic language and storyline evolution. The girls and I laughed out loud on this one.

Stolen Words by Melanie Florence

This is the second book I’ve read about Canada’s use of residential schools with indigenous people. A little girl asks her grandfather for a word in Cree. He cannot give it to her. His words were taken. He tells his granddaughter in touching and poetic language what he experienced at a residential school. Distressed, she returns from school the next day with a worn book of Cree words so they can study them together. A book about history and hope. (The other book I’ve read on this subject is a good one as well: When We Were Alone by David Alexander Robertson)

My Three Best Friends and Me, Zulay by Cari Best

Zulay introduces herself and her three best friends and the rhythms of her school morning in the first section of this book. While clues build throughout her description that many of her senses are highly functioning, there is nothing to merit different attention. Until, that is, her teacher goes through their day’s activities and Zulay is singled out for her time with another teacher. In her storytelling Zulay admits that she hates to hear her name isolated like that. Nevertheless, it’s time for her to practice using a cane. And now readers piece together that Zulay is blind. The narrative shifts from creating the atmosphere of her school and the closeness of her friends to overcoming another challenge: learning a new skill to add to her ways of independence. As incentive? She’s decided she wants to race in the school’s field day. So she struggles, perseveres, and runs in the race with her cane. A great book on overcoming challenges and building understanding for the capabilities of blind individuals. 

The Wolf Who Fell Out of a Book by Thierry Robberecht

Oh dear goodness! The bookshelves are so stuffed that the books are in a precarious situation. When one falls off the shelves to the floor a black wolf falls out of the book itself. Used to being the scary wolf, he no longer feels ferocious when he sees a large cat eyeballing him. Trying to escape the cat’s chase he moves from book to book, encountering some interesting characters, different time periods, and ultimately finding a place to stay. A creative premise with loads of inspiration for children to consider the books on their shelves and what would happen if the characters got mixed up.

Big Red Lollipop by Rukhasan Khan

Last but absolutely not the least is Big Read Lollipop by Rukhasan Khan. My daughter discovered this at her school library after I had taken the photo for this post, but if you’re a visual sort you can see it on my Instagram feed here. Rubina receives her first invitation to a birthday party and races home to tell her mom. When her younger sister, Sana, hears the news she wants to go to the party, too — and Rubina’s mom says she can. After the birthday party Rubina faces the expected social consequences of not receiving any more invitations. But when Sana is invited and Rubina’s mom says Sana must take her sisters, Rubina has a choice to make: will she force her sister to abide by the same standard she had, and reap the same outcome, or will she intervene to spare her sister? A story of a family adjusting to differing cultural standards and of sisters, but mostly a story of sisters.  And so, so, so, good on both fronts. 

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