10 + 1 PICTURE BOOK PURCHASES: Summer 2020

The following batch of picture books were recent purchased. In recent months, i’ve been intentionally seeking out titles that support my investigation of tough topics. I choose to add to titles of recommended selections to address social justice, diversity and equity. How do we choose which titles we are going to spend our money on? In the following posting I provide a brief rationale for each of these choices for tough topics and/or otherwise. Dates of publication vary.

A STORY ABOUT AFIYA by James Berry; illus. Anna Cunha (2020)

An illustrated version of a poem by James Berry in which a young girl, with fine black skin where’s a summer frock where everything she passes (e.g. red roses, butterflies, a flock of pigeons, two tigers, a school of fish) is imprinted on her frock. A celebration of imagination, wonder and preservation of memories.  Stunning ‘poetic art by Brazilian Anna Cunha.

WHY? 1) Jamaican poet James Berry 2. a beautiful marriage of poem and illustrations

Afiya stands. She watches

the sharp pictures of colour,

untouched by her wash.

HER MOTHER’S FACE by Roddy Doyle; illus. Freya Blackwood (2008)

The author’s mother’s mother died when his mother was three. She has some fond memories of her mother but she couldn’t remember her mother’s face. This story is a tribute to that person.

WHY? Am fond of adult and children’s literature by this famous Irish author and I like to collect books that shine a light on adult/child relationships and the preservation of memories.

I LOVE YOU, BLUE KANGAROO by Emma Chichester Clark

Lily’s favourite toy is Blue Kangar0o, until she is gifted with other cuddly companions (Wiggly Green Crocodile, Yellow Cotton Rabbit, Wild Brown Bear etc.

WHY? Adrienne Gear recommended this as a mentor text for kids to write stories about their own toy treasures.

DUCK, DEATH AND THE TULIP by Wolf Erlbruch (2008/2020)

Death, holding a tulip, comes to fetch Duck .  Through what may seem ordinary conversations and  ordinary activities, Death and Duck prepare for the end-of life journey. A book that inspires contemplation and compassion and can inspire questions about death and dying.

WHY?: I seek out books that help unpack the tough topic of death and remembrance. Like Cry Heart But Do Not Break, this title tackles a sensitive topic through the personification and visual representation of death. Was eager to seek out work by Astrid Lindgren Award winning  German illustrator, Wolf Erlbruch

SUMMER FEET by Sheree Fitch; illus. Carolyn Fisher (2020)

A celebration of the outdoors, of play, and being barefoot. It’s great to review a picture book as ‘delightful’ and really mean it. Delightful! Joyous! Wordwonderfulicious!  I smile when reading Sheree’s word wizardry. I can hear the laughter of the children playing in each of the illustrations.

WHY? The book is by Sheree Fitch. No other reason needed.

We listen to secrets in whispers of leaves

in our carefully carefree

shimmy shenanigans

slow-climbing, toe-gripping

mighty baboonish



CHESTER’S WAY by Kevin Henkes (1988)

Chester and Wilson are two great friends who like to do everything together and do so until the incorrigibly Lilly moves into the neighbourhood and wants things done her way.

WHY? For a course I will be teaching, I am interested in acquiring picture books that present views of child play.  A book about cooperation and kindness. Hooray for Kevin Henkes. Hooray for Lilly

HOW TO BE A BUTTERFLY by Laura Knowles; illus Catell Ronca (2019)

Facts about butterflies are presented as instructions (“To be a butterfly, you must have two thin antennae, each with a club at the end.”  Facts are informative, clear accompanied by lively bright illustrations.

WHY? Am intrigued with nonfiction picture books that present information in a unique way. This title is a great mentor text for having students present information in the 2nd person voice. Thanks to Adrienne Gear for this terrific book recommendation.

LIFT by Minh Le; illus. Dan Santat (2020)

A young girl is enamoured with pushing buttons on the elevator. She is suddenly surprised to find her launching into other places (a jungle, outer space) all through the power of a pushed elevator button. Great illustrations filled with wordless pages.

WHY? Great reviews for this 2020 title. An engaging adventure tale presented with colourful illustrations by award-winning illustrator Dan Santat.  If you could push a button that could take you on any adventure, where might you choose to go and what would happen if you had the chance to ‘lift off’.

THE MAP OF GOOD MEMORIES by Fran Nuno; illus. Zuzanna Celej (2016)

A young girl is sad to be leaving the city which she has always lived in. To say farewell, she visits the places that have provided her with happy memories.

WHY?: A book that inspires readers to think about the special people and places and daily pleasures and perhaps create their own memory maps.

FAIRY SCIENCE by Ashley Spires (2019)

Fairies use magic wands and potions, but Esther likes facts and evidence. A tree in the forest is wilting and the fairies want to make magic talismans and do a mystical moonlight danced. Esther knows that only research, making a hypothesis and trying experiments will save the day.

WHY?: I’m fond of nonfiction picture books where information is inherent within narrative text.   Hooray for stories of magics. Bravo to a picture book that celebrates and promotes the power of science!


WE ARE WATER PROTECTORS by Carole Lindstrom; illus. Michaela Goade (2020)

This picture book is worthy of the awards it will/should receive. A rally cry to save the Earth’s water from harm and corruption (i.e. the harm of the evil black snake). “This is not a Native American issue; this is a humanitarian issue. It is time that we all become stewards of our planet so we can protect it for our children and our children’s children./ Water affects and connects us all. We must fight to protect it.” Carole Lindstrom

WHY?: Inspired by Indigenous movements to defend the sacred resource. A strong companion piece to award-winning The Water Walker by Canadian Ojibwe author.  Lush jewel-coloured illustrations provide an art-gallery of visuals. Bonus: Appendix essay /More on Water Protectors. Bonus (final page) An Earth Steward and Water Protector Pledge (“I will do my best to honor Mother Earth and all its living beings, including the water and land. I will always remember to treat the Earth as I would like to be treated.”)

We stand

With our songs

And our drums.

We are still here.