The topics and issues in these new picture books are varied: the friendship of a bear and a bird; a naked little boy who enjoys wearing his mother’s make-up, a fantasy alphabet; the life of a dung beetle. A shout out also goes to four publications from PLUMLEAF PRESS, each rich in narrative and illustration.
AT THE HEIGHT OF THE MOON: A book of bedtime poetry and art by editors Alison Baverstock, Matt Cunningham, Annette Roeder (poetry)
This is an exquisite collection of poetry and paintings. It’s a curiosity too for it is labeled a book of bedtime poetry and art. Whose bedtime I ask? This book, first published in Germany, is intended, I believe for adult to read to child before bedtime. Great that poetry gets into the ears of children and reading two or three poems before bedtime provide comfort, curiosity and perhaps send young people off to dreamland. But these poems, for the most part, do not seem to be intended for children, even though they are intended as read-alouds and the listener will ‘get out of the poems, whatever, they get out of the Who am I to say what young readers will ‘get from the words of Ted Hughes, Robert Browning, Lord Alfred Tennyson, William Wordsworth and Walt Whitman about 1/4 of the book feature the names of familiar names for those who are poetry afficinados. eThe book is organized into six sections each with a title (e.g., Twilight, Dreamland, Moonlight Menagerie, Creepy Crawlie and Things That Go Bump Into the Night.The words, poem images and themes are quite sophisticated and do not seem accessible. I would say there would be few children who would respond to these poems without conversation and ‘analysis’. And who wants analysis before bedtime? The editors, however, have done a WOW! job of choosing art works to match the verbal text (sometimes literal matches, sometimes not). Taking the children to an art gallery is a fantastic thing, and the art in this book (e.g., Henry Rousseau, Paul Klee, Georgia O’Keefe, Vincent Van Gogh, are some of the more familiar names), beautifully reproduced, is certainly, page by page, a wonderful journey into landscapes, portraits, still life etc. Together, poems and arts, make for a staggering, rich collection of words and images. For me, this was a wonderful bedtime book… but I’m over 70 years old. Am exquisite publication.
BEAR AND BIRD: THE PICNIC AND OTHER STORIES by Jarv
Standing on the shoulders of Frog and Toad, and George and Martha, and Piggie and Elephant, Bear and Bird are two friends who understand each other, amuse each other, and are devoted to one another. There are four short stories in this warms-the-heart chapter book each describing an amusing adventure and tale of the friendship bond between bear and bird (Bear forgets to pack items for a picnic outing; Bird pretends that he didn’t know (The Picnic): Bird gets trapped in a flower and Bear rescues him (The Flower); Bird discovers thatBear has more of an artistic talent than she does, but bear diplomatically shows his appreciation (The Painting): Their friendship is tested when Bird discovers that Bear would rather snuggle up with a blanked he named Suzie (The Blanket). Kindness abounds!
COMMUNITY SOUP by Alma Fullerton 2013/2032
In a school garden in Kenya, Aa group fo children work together to harvest the vegetables they have grown in order to make a soup they will share with the community. Unfortunately, mischievous goats cause chaos when they invade the garden. The narrative is modelled on the nursery rhyme. ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb’. Fullerton’s paper collage illustrations are remarkable throughout. This new edition of the book, originally released in 2013, contains aded pages and discussion questions.
EVERYTHING & EVERYWHERE by Marc Martin
This book intrigued me because of its full-page spreads of places around the world. I was interested in seeing how places I’ve been to have been represented (New York City, Reykjavik, Rio De Janeiro) but is also a great inspiration to visit places cities I’d love to visit someday (Tokyo, The Galapagos Islands, Alice Springs. This is a terrific travelogue book with detailed illustrations and labelled information about people, places, and natural life to discover around the world. A fantastic non-fiction picture book!
FRED GETS DRESSED by Peter Brown
Little Fred likes to run around the house naked. Left on his own to get dressed, Fred tries on his father’s clothes but they don’t seem to fit. He has no trouble putting on his mother’s blouse, scarf and pair of shoes. With loving support and encouragement from Mom, Fred learns to apply makeup and do his hair. An amusing and heartfelt story about discovering who you are and being accepted for your choices. This is terrific book to sit the shelf alongside other gender identity titles. (e.g.,Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress; Julian the Mermaid)
THE IMAGINARY ALPHABET by Sylvie Daigneault
I love alphabet books. I love books that celebrate words. I love books with illustrations that enrich curiosity, wonder and imagination. this is a triple crown winner for me. On one side of the page we see an alphabet letter adorned with visual images (‘C’ features cactus, ‘L’ features lemons) and each letter is accompanied with playful alliterative sentences. On the right hand page, Daigneault ‘illustrates’ the whimsical sentence in addition to a number of pictures that start with the same letter as the one featured in the large illustrations. At the conclusion of this book there is a sit of about 300 words that have been ‘hidden’ throughout. 26 letters. 26 whimsical alliteratuve descriptions to accompany the letters. 300 words and one glorious trip to an art gallery with Sylvia Daigneault’s exquisite, fantastical illustrations. This is a WOW! of a book (to be released in September 2023 from Pajama Press.
G = Grumpy Gorillas Guarding the Garden Gate. Can you spot the gargoyles, gerbils, giraffe, gravel ground and gold hidden in the picture?
REMEMBER by Joy Harjo; illus. Michaela Goade
U.S. poet laureate, Joy Harjo is a member of the Mvskoke Nation. Michaela Goode is a Caldecott Medalist winner (We Are Water Protectors). This beautiful publication encourages readers to think about their place in the world they are born into. Poetic words and staggering paintings connect together to help us remember on how everyone on Earth is connected. Wow!
Remember you are all people and all people are you.
STEVE THE DUNG BEETLE ON A ROLL by Susan R. Stoltz; illus Melissa Bailey
Steve the dung beetle is on a mission to roll a ball of poo home and meets a cast of animal characters (a giraffe, a warthog, a lion, a hyena) who each ask, “Why are you rolling that ball of poo?” A story about POO will likely appeal to many young readers and as they join in Steve’s journey they will learn some interesting facts about this fascinating insect as well as information about environmental uses of dung.
What is the dung beetle’s favourite number?
SOMETIMES I FEEL LIKE A RIVER by Danielle Daniel; illus. Josee Bisaillon
I’m very fond of Danielle Daniel’s book Sometimes I Feel Like a River and was thrilled to get this companion text in which the author and illustrator, through simple poems and lively colourful illustrations celebrate the natural world of moon, rain, forest clouds, ocean and mountain that are made for us. Each spread helps reader to think about the beauty of the world that surround us. Author’s note: “We are connected to the natural world through our biology, our ancestors and our hearts.
Sometimes I feel like a mountain,
mighty and strong.
I reach for the sky with ice-covered peaks
as silvery mist brushes past me.
FOUR splendid CANADIAN titles PLUMLEAF PRESS
I AM NOT A GHOST: The Canadian Pacific Railway by David Bouchard with Zhong Yang HUang; Illus. Sean Huang
This is a beautiful beautiful publication with a rich narrative and rich pictorial images that illuminate a period in Canadian and Chinese history. The story (collaboratively written by David Bouchard and Zhong Yang Huang) is told in the voice of an elderly Chinese grandfather recounting (to his granddaughter) his countrymen’s legacy as builders of the Canadian Pacific Railroad. Perhaps an unknown piece of history is the fact that the Indigenous people helped Chinese newcomers to survive life-threatening conditions. This picture book is a testimony to the roots that are part of our identity and culture and the essential need to pass stories on to future generations. I Am Not a Ghost is a historical account of racism, a tribute to the courage and tenacity of Chinese immigrants from 100 years ago, a story of forgiveness and a story of never forgetting. Such stories help readers to understand the past and support us in moving forward to combat obstacles that we encounter. As far as picture books go, this is a work of art in words and illustrations.
This book is vital “as a starting point for gathering your own knowledge of the history of Chinese Canadians. Make it a doorway to opening up new perspectives on how we must all remember and share our stories.”
from the Foreword by Dr. Brandt C. Louise, ninth Chancellor of Simon Fraser University.
Special note: The book includes a two page spread of Historical notes, summarizing the harrowing plight of Chinese workers who were about three-quarters of the workforce on the CPR>
ROUND & ROUND THE GARDEN Nursery Rhymes and Songs; illus. Olivia Skelhorne-Gross
This collection of sixteen classic and contemporary rhymes can sit proudly on the poetry shelf of treasured nursery rhyme anthologies. Some selections include Itsy Bitsy Spider, Hickory Dickory Dock Zoom Zoom Zoom Sippity Sippity Sup. Exquisite hand-embroidered illustrations accompany each of the verses. WOW! This is a gift of a book. This is book to give as a gift.
TWELVE IN A RACE by Catherine Little; illus. Sae Kimura
This story provides a background narrative to how the Chinese zodiac came to be. Twelve animals answer the emperor’s call to participate in the Emperor’s great race. Each spread, through rhyming couplet describes the animals characteristics (e.g. “Rabbit was fourth so gentle and kind, Blown forward by strong winds that came from behind.” Each full page spreads beautifully capture the animals in action and the environment they race through. The Chinese translation of the animal name is bonus. This book brilliantly blends elements of folktale, rhyme, ordinal numbers, adventure and information. I love this book! (PS. I am an OX, what Chinese Zodiac animal are you?
WATER LOVE by Natalie Hodgson & Rajean Willis; illus. Sahle Robinson
Imagine that a young Black girl who loves water is told that swimming is not a Black Sport. This book is told in spoken word helping readers to consider ways to overcome discrimination, stereotyping and peer pressure.
“Black fear of water
our ancestors on slave ships
chained, suffered, thrown off
legacy of generational injury”