PICTURE BOOKS: Summer 2021

There is quite a mix of intentions with the eleven picture book titles listed below with such focus topics as wishes, a doll, the sea, the wind, skin colour, art, war and YOU!


Shout Out! BE YOU! Peter H. Reynolds

The perfect picture book  giving simple and poignant advice:  Be ready…Be curious…Be adventurous…Be Connected… Be Persistent…Be different…Be kind.. Be understanding…Be brave…etc. This book will be on the bestseller list for many years ahead, sitting alongside Dr. Seuss’s, Oh The Places You’ll Go! and Sandra Boynton’s Yay You! .  Dear Mr. Reynolds… Always be as terrific as you’ve always been. 

THE BOY AND THE SEA by Camille Andros; illus. Amy Bates

What are your memories of going to the sea? What are some special times you’ve spent with a grandparent? Did you ever find yourself thinking about the meaning of life? This is a beautiful beautiful picture book. A rather meditative, somewhat sophisticated journey through the stages of life. Andros tells  the life journey of a curious boy who lived by the sea and who imagined all that he might be come, as a teen, as a parent as a grandpa. It is the waves and whispers of the sea the boy listened to throughout his life to help answer questions about dreams, love and being. (“The boy liked to think, and often his thoughts turned into questions,. Some of his questions had answers.”) The simplicity of the text andAmy Bates’ blue and green watercolour palette, help to make this a contemplative artifact, that bears repeated visits. 

A CHANUKAH NOEL by Sharon Jennings; illus. Gillian Newland (2010)

In a small town in France, Charlotte, a young Jewish girl longs to celebrate Christmas and join in the spirit of the town as they prepare for the holidays.  Collette Levert and her family can’t afford to partake in the festivities and when Charlotte learns of this, she convinces her parents to prepare a Christmas meal for the Leverts.  Together the girls experience the joysof both Christmas and Chanukah and sharing, A beautiful story of kindness, acceptance and kindness. 

THE COLORS WE SHARE by Angelica Dass

The artist presents a gallery of photographs to shine a light on the skin we live in.  The background for each portrait is matched to the skin colour of the person’s nose using the colour palette called Pantone. The word Pantone followed by a series of numbers an letters below each picture is featured throughout. This picture book is representative of a world-wide Humane project to question the concept of race and show that skin colour is much more complex than assigned categories. (“Even though it seems like we’re talking about color, we’re really talking about how we see each other and what we believe about others based on the color of their skin. This beautifully graphic picture book is complex in its simplicity in helping readers think about Skin, Race and Differentiation 

THE DOLL by Nhung N Tran-Davies; illus. Ravy Puth

A refugee family (Boat People) travels across the world to find safety in a new home. They are greeted by strangers, and the young girl in the family is given a doll. Decades later, the little girl has grown up and welcomes a group of refugees to their newly adopted country. Remembering the kindness once given to her, the girl passes the doll, with rose-sweet lips, on to a little girl, knowing that it will bring comfort, knowing that it is an artifact of welcome and kindness. Based on the author’s experiences, Nhung’s doll is now on display at the Canadian Museum of Immigration, Pier 21, Halifax. A heartwarming story that illuminates the notion of ripples of kindness. 

GA’S THE TRAIN by Jodie Callaghan: translated by Joe Wilmot; illus. Georgia Leslie

When Ashley meet her great uncle by the old train tracks near their community, he tell her the story of the days in the past, when he and other children were taken on the train to a residential school, thus changing their lives forever. The book written in both Mi’gmaw and English was the winner of the Second Story Press Indigenous Writing Contest.

MY ART WORLD by Rita Winkler

Rita, a young woman living with Down syndrome takes readers into her world through vivid paintings and words. Rita enthusiastically lives each day fully, taking yoga and folk dancing classes, participating in drama and music programs and working at a university coffee. Rita’s joyous art and inspiring story certainly warms the heart and brings smiles to any reader.

WAR by Jose Jorge Letria; illus. Andre Letria

With spare text (“War takes on the brutal shape of all our fears.” / “War feeds on hate, ambition and spite.” and powerful monochromatic visual images, this picture book (for older readers), raises questions and invites discussion about the causes and impact of WAR. A quote from Deborah Ellis states “If children are old enough to be bombed they are old enough to read about it.”

WINDY DAYS by Deborah Kerbel; illus. Miki Sata

The author salutes the fun and energy of days where the wind blows and tree branches, tap, geese take flight leave dance, and turbines flow. Told in rhythmic couplets (“Gusting wind: Whoosh and whirl / Flags a-flutter, pinwheels curl.”) that highlight the sounds and sights of windy weather, with vibrant collage illustrations this is an engaging book to share with young children as they think about the outdoors and the wind… in any season.  Hats off to Windy Days!!(pun intended)


by Helen Wolfe; illus. Karen Patakou

What a beautiful beautiful collection of biographies about women from around the world who share their stories about living with disabilities. The ten women in this book talk about challenges in the environment, employment, education, policies and social attitudes they’ve encountered that make it problematic to live a full life,  Moreover, each word-portraits shines a light on determination to tell others know about their physical and emotional world. Whether these women were born with their disabilities or were born able-bodied and suddenly becoming disabled, these are stories of using a wheelchair of living with cerebral palsy, or autism, losing sight and hearing, or limbs these lives are linked together by bravery, achievement and carrying-on determination. Bravo to Karen Patkaus’  full page illustrations of capturing the spirti and smiles of these beautiful women. Wow! to educator Helen Wolf for these remarkable portraits of women, who without a doubt are UNSTOPPABLE. 

WISHES by Mu’o’n Thi Van: illus. Victo Ngai

The story of a refugee family who is forced to leave their homeland and travel to an unknown place. Each wish, expressed from the point of view of an inanimate object serves as a testimony to resilience and hope. (The clock wished it was slower. The path wished it was shorter. The boat wished it was bigger. The sea wished it was calmer). In the end a young girl is hopeful when arriving she sees a new land, a new beginning, a new place called home awaiting her and her family.  Full-page art spreads and simple poetic text make this a powerful and poignant portrayal of the migrant experience.