PICTURE BOOKS: Spring 2021

These picture book titles provide a range of themes and topics that include  nature, play, belonging, identity, personal history.  And nonsense

Shout out goes to teacher resource Truth and Reconciliation in Canadian Schools by Pamela Rose Toulouse.



OUTSIDE, YOU NOTICE by Erin Alladin; illus. Andrea Blinick

A celebration and a ‘let’s pay attention!’ to all things in outside settings. This is a book of curiosity and wonder and knowledge of the natural world (and of the self). The abundant text-box features make this a fine example of a nonfiction picture book about animals, insects, birds, plants and trees. Hooray for all things outside!!!!

THE NONSENSE SHOW by Eric Carle; In Loving Memory (June 25, 1929 – May 23, 2021)

I purchased this title because it was one of the final picture book publications  (2015) by beloved author Eric Carle who passed away on.   Page by page, the author presents silly  surrealistic situations (“Hurry up!” sad BOTTOM. “Wait for me! said TOP. Buit they couldn’t agree, So they. never did stop. (Try to imagine the picture of a torso racing behind a pair of running legs).  Each spread is a wonder of colour. Each spread is a wonder of strange, imaginative nonsensical situation Each spread is a wonderful testimony to Eric Carle’s iconic style. (More than 150 books)

SHOUT OUT:  LOIS EHLERT:  In Loving Memory (November 9, 1934- May 25,2021)

Chicka, Chicka Boom Boom, Hands, Growing Vegetable Soup, Eating the Alphabet, Snowballs, Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf, Planting A Rainbow,Lots of Spots, Leaf Man, Color Zoo, Color Farm, Nuts to You, Moon Rope, Fish Eyes, In My World, Oodles of Animals etc. 


Oh happy day! I bought two newly released picture books, each illustrated by award-winning Cree-Metis, author, illustrator and artist, Julie Flett. This book celebrates an interconnectedness between nature and the wonder of play  (Animals, swim/ and squirt/ and bubble/ and bend/ and chase/ and chirp. We play too!). Includes a glossary of Cree names for each animal presented in Flett’s sublime, dare i say, ‘playful’, active images that fill each spread. Glorious union of illustration and words. More awards await, i’m sure. I hope. (see below: On the Trapline by David A. Roberston, illus. Julie Flett). 

BIG FEELINGS by Alexandra Penfold; illus. Suzanne Kaufman

The creators of the bestselling title All Are Welcome have presented another book about belonging in this playful book about children at play where feelings of frustration, anger and sadness sometimes interfere with the fun. but together the children get through the ups and downs of outdoor play.(“We all have big feelings, both me and you. How can we help? What can we do?”) Bonus #1: The book jacket as poster Bonus #2 the portrait gallery of young faces each showing a ‘big feeling’. 


“Everybody who was OUTSIDE… went INSIDE.  Outside it was quieter, wilder and different. INSIDE, we laughed, we cried and we grew.” Lue Ueyn Pham wrote this now times book since everything in the world changed since the winter of 2019 and a lost overnight everything that once seemed normal was no longer so, as one by one to prevent spreading the virus,  nearly everyone, everywhere went inside. Readers young and old, who experienced lockdown will connect to, identify with and reflect upon their own experiences.   The author wrote that Outside Inside  “is a time capsule of our moment in history, when the world came together as one to do the right thing.” This book is a good companion to Outside In by. Deborah Underwood and Outside Inside by Erin Alladin.

ON THE TRAPLINE by David A. Robertson; illus. Julie Flett

A boy and his moshom take a trip into the northern wilderness to visit the trapline where many years ago his grandpa lived off the land. (jacket blurb). Plane travel . a walk in the forest, a motorboat ride are part of the journey where the grandpa and grandson fish on the lake and pick berries.  This is a moving story about connections; boy and grandpa, man and nature, present and past.  It is an exquisitely told picture book about family, language and community.  In the author’s notes,David A. Robertson recounts the story that he and his father headed out onto the la nd together a place his father hadn’t been for seventy years, a first for the author. “Being on the trapline with my father was the most significant moment in our relationship – a homecoming for me as a Cree man and truly a journey home for him.” Glossary of Swampy Cree words provided. I would love to own any one of Julie Flett’s  evocative illustrations for this story.

SUGAR FALLS: A residential school story by David A. Robertson; illus. Scott B. Henderson (graphic story, ages 11+)

Essentially not a picture book, this short black and white graphic story (40 pages), recounts the story of Betsy, who was abandoned as a young child, adopted by a loving family and at the age of 8 was taken to residential school. Throughout the story, readers are presented with graphic panels and narration that reveal incidents of abuse, indignity and torment. Betsy’s father’s words at Sugar Falls, gave her resilience and determination to survive. (“The beat of the drum represents the strength in our relationships, between our ancestors, our traditions with mother earth, and with each other. Knowing this will keep you strong”. Based on the true story of Betsy Ross, Elder from Cross Lake First Nation. 


The artist has constructed three-dimensional pieces and illustrations that invites readers to wander into a world of wonder into imaginary museum where little things within big things deserve attention, a museum of sorts. We move from islands to bushes to shadows to sky worlds. This picture book is almost arranged in five chapters. I would have preferred a focus and an elaboration of one of the world, islands or shadows perhaps. “When the orld gets too big and too loud and too busy, I look to look at little pieces of it, on at a time.”

YOUR NAME IS A SONG by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow; illus. Luisa Uribe

I have a little collection of picture books about names. I think that having students tell stories about their names is an important way to help students reflect on their identities and learn about the identities and cultures of others. Sharing our name stories is a special community event. In Your Name is A Song, a young girl is upset because her teacher and classmates don’t know how to pronounce her name. Many young readers will identify with her frustration. When the girl’s mother teaches her about the musicality of African, Asian, Black-American, Latinx and Middle Eastern names, Kora Jalimuso is empowered by this new understanding and is confident and proud to return to school to share her knowledge. A glossary of names is a beautiful bonus to this book. What’s the story of your name?




Pamela Rose Toulouse

Portage & Main Press

A valuable teacher resource that provides useful background information, suggestions for addressing the topics of Indigenous cultures, residential schools, and reconciliation in the K-12 classroom.  Chapter Titles include: Residential School Legacy; Indigenous Peoples of Canada; Treaties of Canada; Contributions of Indigenous Peoples; Sacred Circle Teachings. Part 2 of the book presents Truth and Reconciliation Lesson Plans by Grade