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Picture Book Look

All the LOST things

Olive, the star of our story, is a peppy, optimistic girl who one day decides to go for a walk. She walks through her city, hearing all the typical, somewhat unpleasant, city sounds. There are people yelling at each other and horns honking. If you’ve ever visited a big city, you may recall just how loud and clamorous those sounds can be. Olive continues walking when suddenly, she hears a new sound coming from an open manhole. Curious, she peeks in and finds a little old lady who is keeper of All the Lost Things.

The lost things are packed away in box after box, stacked high, each box with its own label. The boxes are filled with bus passes and laughter, thoughts and bibs, marbles and homework. The old woman explains that no one has ever come for the items and Olive is free to take whatever she likes. The little girl fills five jars with treasure. Memory for her grandfather, sense of humor for her older sister, eyesight for her dad, the way for her mom (“who could never seem to go anywhere without completely losing it”) and the last jar she fills with “a rather big, rather enormous scoop of HOPE.”

The beauty of this book begins as the illustrations transform from primarily black and white into glorious color as Olive walks through her city, bits of HOPE sprinkling from the jar.

Debut author/illustrator Kelly Canby’s (kellycanby.com) imaginative take on storytelling is truly compelling. All the Lost Things provides adults with an opportunity to talk with children about   perspective and attitude, and the impact our attitudes can have on other people.

This simple, sweet story reminds me again why I love picture books so much. They epitomize childhood, and in childhood, anything can and often does happen. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we were all a little bit more like Olive, and went about our day spreading things like HOPE and JOY to others?

 

 

 

 

 

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Red A Crayon’s Story

The inside cover of Red says, “This is a story about a crayon I know. I wrote it for you.” The inside of the jacket was written by a pencil.  Thus begins the touching, imaginative story of a crayon whose label says red, but whose actual color is blue.

No matter how hard Red tried to draw red strawberries, they always came out blue. So did the hearts he drew and even the cherries! His friends weren’t very understanding. They thought he was lazy. They thought he wasn’t very bright. They even thought he needed to apply himself harder. Everyone had an opinion, and everyone had a plan to “fix” Red. “Maybe he needs more practice,” thought his teacher. “Maybe he just needs to mix with other colors,” thought his mom. The masking tape thought he was broken inside.

Eventually Red meets a new friend. One who asks him to make a blue ocean, but Red replies, “I can’t. I’m red.” The friend encourages him to try and the results are fabulous! And guess what? It was easy for Red to make a blue ocean! He went on to make bluebirds, and blue jeans and blueberries. . .

I love this story. It is humorous and clever and I always like humorous, clever stuff. More importantly, this story could be about any child with learning disabilities. Like my child. My son heard all  the same things Red did. Try harder. Your’e lazy. You aren’t very bright. When Red goes off the page after not being able to make the red light in the stop light, I felt his sorrow and confusion. Sorrow over not being able to do what others think he should be able to do, and confusion because he doesn’t know what he was made to do.

You may be thinking, “Oh my gosh. This is a picture book for crying out loud,” and you’d be right. Except that this is one of those special picture books that I think should be placed in every school library there is. Preschool to high school. Picture books in high school? Yes. I believe picture books have the ability to speak to everyone, and this is one of those books that I hope finds its way into the hands of thousands and thousands of special children (and educators) all over the world.

Michael Hall is the author/illustrator of Red A Crayon’s Story, along with My Heart Is Like a Zoo, a New York Times bestseller. He has authored other picture books as well. Mr. Hall can be found on the web at michaelhallstudio.com.

 

 

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Mother Bruce

Mother Goose Bruce, by author illustrator Ryan T. Higgins. Disney Hyperion publisher.

Oh. My. Gosh. This book is adorable! Bruce is a rather grumpy but very unique bear. He doesn’t like much of anything except eggs and fancy recipes he gets off the internet.  One particular recipe that catches his interest is hard boiled goose eggs drizzled with honey-salmon sauce! (I told you Bruce isn’t your normal out-in-the-woods type bear.)

Bruce sets off to track down the ingredients to concoct this amazing, mouth watering recipe. And track them down he does! The unfortunate thing about recipes and cooking, however, is that sometimes they don’t turn out quite like the picture shows, and that is exactly what happens when Bruce tries his paw at making this particular recipe.

Mother Bruce is as funny as it is sweet. Children will love the very animated facial expressions of Bruce and his little goslings. Parents will get a kick out of the nod to all things organic and free-range. The story line is super imaginative and ends with Bruce feeling maybe not quite as grumpy as before???

Mother Bruce is already being recognized for the funny, beautifully illustrated book that it is. It was recently been named one of the Chickadee Award Books for 2016/2017! Ryan has written other picture books, including Wilfred, which was his first picture book. Wilfred was named a 2014 Wanda Gag Read Aloud Honor Book.

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Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match, Marisol McDonald no combina

By Monica Brown and illustrated by Sara Palacios. Published by Lee & Low Books.

Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match (translations in Spanish) Marisol McDonald no combina, is an encouraging and empowering book for children who just don’t match. Match what? You might ask. Match anything, I would answer.

Marisol’s cousin tells her her hair color (orange) doesn’t go with the color of her skin (brown). Her brother tells her the clothes she has picked to wear (polka dots and stripes) don’t match. The teacher at school tells Marisol she can’t combine cursive and print when writing her name. Yes, everyone is quick to squash Marisol’s individuality, and soon she decides it’s time to match everyone’s expectations. But things don’t go so well. Her food is all mushy, playground games aren’t any fun and even art class is boring! Marisol comes to realize it’s okay to be herself. . .even if that means being different.

I wish there had been books like this when I was a child growing up in the 60’s and 70’s, because since the age of eight, I haven’t matched anyone either. And like Marisol, I had experiences where people pointed out my differences too. . .And there are children today who don’t match either and they need books like this to tell them it’s okay to be different!

Monica Brown wrote Marisol Doesn’t Match because she is multiracial and has also been told that she “doesn’t match.” But like Marisol, she knows better. Sara Palacios did the artwork for the book and it’s very creative. I especially love the way she used mixed media to illustrate the story. The book earned a Pura Belpre Illustrator Honor Award for Ms. Palacios’s work, and a place on the Children’s Notable List, 2012.

 

 

 

 

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Here Comes Valentine Cat

So, better late than never, right? Valentine’s Day, 2016 is almost in the books and I’m just now able to post. You see, about 10 hours ago we had a concern that our computer had been infected with a virus, and instead of chancing that it actually hadn’t, I decided to spend the day running a full scan just to make sure. Thankfully, it was just a scare and all is well. Whew. . .

On to more fun and important things–Here Comes Valentine Cat! I’m not sure what I expected as I opened this book, but it exceeded anything I could imagine. I love the unseen narrator! I love the way Valentine Cat communicates through expression and the use of signs posted on sticks! Claudia Rueda did an amazing job of capturing Cat in all of his cantankerousness!

The story line is sweet, and cute, and I can see my kids loving this book as youngsters. It is so creative and begs many,  many questions giving mom and kids the opportunity to discuss their thoughts about the characters (Cat and Dog and Narrator) and the story. I have not had a chance to read any of Cat’s other adventures, but I am looking forward to doing so. Here Comes the Easter Cat will be on the top of my Easter reading list. I hope to post a review of that one weeks in advance and not the day of Easter!

I would be remiss if I wrapped this up without mentioning The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear by Audrey and Don Wood. Here Comes Valentine Cat immediately reminded me of  The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear, I’m sure due to the use of an unseen narrator, and the fact that both stories are darling! Super clever, both of them. I would venture to guess that if you like Cat, you’ll like Hungry Bear as well.

Happy Valentine’s Day, and I hope that like Cat, you found a new friend today!

 

 

 

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Good Night, Gorilla

ALA Notable Children’s Book (1994), Good Night, Gorilla is such a fun read! Almost wordless, the story revolves around sneaky Gorilla, who manages to get all of his zoo friends home with him for the night. Mrs. Zookeeper isn’t a bit impressed, and she takes it upon herself to personally escort all the animals back to their cages. Do they stay locked up for the night? And what about Mr. Zookeeper?

A super sweet book, Good Night, Gorilla is one of those laugh out loud board books enjoyed by children and adults alike. The illustrations truly tell the unspoken story as Gorilla invites the reader into his secret. Peggy Rathmann is both author and illustrator of this and several other children’s books. She can be found peggyrathmann.com.

This is one of the special books our family shared many times over when the children were younger, and now we are giving the fun adventure to a new little one, my nephew’s baby, who was born today. Enjoy!

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Christmas Book Jacket

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