The ten picture book titles featured here are, for the most part, published in 2022. The Shout-Out titles deserve ‘shout-out’ recognition even though publication dates are not from this year. Before each brief annotation, I’ve included the opening words of the picture book, each providing a bridge to a fine story journey.
BEAR WANTS TO SING by Cary Fagan; Dena Seiferling (2021)
When bear finds a ukulele, he picks it up. When he discovers the nice sounds it makes, he is excited about composing songs and is soon learns that he is not the only musician in the forest. Crow, Snake, Tortoise, Fox, let their own songs burst forth, each accompanying an instrument.
“A bear was taking a walk. He saw something in the grass. He sniffed it. He licked it.”
FINDING MOOSE by Sue Farell Holler; illus. Jennifer Faria
A little boy and his grandfather tred “quiet as mice and rabbits and deer” in the forest until they come upon moose droppings. They both become determined to find the moose. In this discovery story, Grandpa introduces forest plants and animals in English and Ojibwemowin.
“We must be quiet, quiet when we go into the woods.”
MARTIN AND THE RIVER by Jon-Erik Lappano; illus. Josee Bisaillon
Martin is so enamoured and caring about the river that flows past his house. One day, Martin’s parents tell their son that they will be moving from the country to the city. It is time for Martin to say goodbye to his herons and crayfish and otters and other river friends. It is time to learn about nature within a city environment.
“Martin loved to play by the river that ran through the fields behind his house.”
RAINY DAYS by Deborah Kerbel; illus. Miki Sato
Deborah Kerbel has written a series of books celebrating the joys of weather (Windy Days; Sunny Days; Snow Days). In this new title young children discover the joys of a rainy day through bouncy rhyming couplets and bright collage illustrations.
“Steady rain, garden swamp
Rubber boots, puddle stomp!”
THIS IS A SCHOOL By John Schu; Illus. Veronica Miller Jamison
Through simple poetic text, John Schu helps readers to think about a place called school, which is more than just a building. It is a place of students, and teachers and staff and librarians coming together. School is a place of discovery. School is a community, a place for sharing and helping. School is a place for creating and cheering,healing and growing, changing. and failing and trying; trusting. Veronica Miller Jamison (All Are Welcome) shines a light on scenes of young people working and playing and learning together. (Bonus: The book jacket becomes a poster (“Happy Happy Reading” sure to be displayed in classrooms everywhere.
“This is a kid. This is a kid in a class. This is a class in a hall. This is a hall in a school – WELCOME!”
TUG: A Log Boom’s Journey by Scot Ritchie
A father and child join together on a workday on. West Coast tug. This is a fine example of narrative nonfiction helping readers to learn about log books, sawmills, deadheads, river travel and encounters with stormy weather.
“I’m helping Dad on the tugboat. We’re going to tow a log boom to the sawmill on the river.”
WHISTLING FOR ANGELA by Robin Heald: Peggy Collins
A young boy is excited about meeting his newly adopted sister, Angela. What is the perfect gift he can offer? e and He decides that sharing his love of birds is the perfect tribute and is determined to learn how to whistle, like a chickadee for her.
“I’m going to learn to whistle for the new baby,” said Daniel.
“It’ll be my present to her. I’ll whistle like a bird.”
I was working on a little project investigating children’s literature from Australia to support the teaching of tough topics. The Feather and The Mediterranean are two titles that I wanted for my collection and now own. These are two astonishing titles of picture hooks that I need to share with students.
THE FEATHER by Margaret Wild; illus. Fraya Blackwood (2018)
When a soft and silky feather arrives in the backyard of two young girls, they decide that it needs to taken to the village so it won’t get dirty. What will the people do to preserve the treasure? What is the feather’s fate when a muddy stain creeps along the feather discolouring little by little and becomes dull and dingy? A minimal text accompanied by evocative art images The Feather give readers something to think about as they contemplate the symbol of this fragile artifact.
“In the darkness of the day, the feather falls. It used to be part of a wing that was serene and joyous.”
THE MEDITERRANEAN by Armin Greder (2017)
Australian author and illustrator (The Island; The City) offers a powerful picture book to help us consider our feelings and understandings about to the plight of refugees. This story is representative or the thousands who were forced to flee war, torture and persecution. It is also the story of those, hoping to seek refuge who became part or the mass grave of the sea, The Mediterranean. It is also a political story of those who remain as silent witnesses. This is a wordless picture book with staggering monochromatic illustrations which ignite in-the-head narrative and questioning and moral understanding. It warrants repeated visits to its pages. It demands ‘turn and talk’ responses to learn what others think and feel. There are only 17 words that serve as preface to this story.
“After he had finished drowning, his body sank slowly to the bottom where the fish were waiting.”
THE DOLL by Nhung N. Tran-Davies (2021); illus. Ravy Puth
A young girl and her family have travelled across the world to find safety. Greeted by strangers, one of them presents the young girl in the family with the gift of a doll. Decades pass and the little girl, now grown up welcomes a group of newly arrived refugees. Knowing it will make her feel welcome, the woman passes the doll that was once given to her over to the youngest girl in the migrant family. This story is based on the author’s experience of arriving in Edmonton after travelling at sea with 300 ‘boat people’. Watching today’s news of Ukrainian refugees forced to flee their country I was reminded of The Doll story especially when seeing young children carrying dolls, stuffed animals, even live pets to given them some comfort in times of war. NOTE: Nhung’s doll is now on display at the Canadian Museum of Immigration in Halifax.
“Long ago, in a nearby land, there was a young girl whose eyes were deep ocean-blue, whose dimples twinkled like bright mischievous stars. She was waiting.”
SPECIAL SHOUT OUT
THE GROUNDWOOD NEWSLETTERS: New book resource
has teamed up with
educator, author and children’s book advocate
for a series of newsletters for teachers and librarians
Groundwood Newsletter #4 (spring 2022)