Four new picture books and one juvenile nonfiction book were waiting for me when I arrived at work. I’m about to read all of them and tell you what I think.
Are We There Yet? but Dan Santat – A problem has been solved. I’ve been searching furiously for a book to read to 3rd-5th graders for my “On the Go” program. I’ll teach games to play in a car, train or airplane. Thankfully, I have lots of third-graders to help me decide which games to share. Although, it’s possible we might spend the entire 45 minutes pouring over the delightful illustrations in this book and not get to the games.
Horrible Bear! by Ame Dyckman and illustrated by Zachariah OHora – My job responsibilites have changed; and I’m not doing a lot of story times. One Saturday a month, I’ll have the honor. The first book I want to read is Horrible Bear! Ame Dycman books are always hilarious and startling. Zachariah OHora’s illustrations are awesome. So much so that it’s the first book I’m adding for a Mock Caldecott in 2017.
Twenty Yawns by Jane Smiley and illustrated by Lauren Castillo – Can an author of many novels for adults, one of which won the Pulitzer Prize write a great picture book? The answer is yes. This is a perfect bedtime story about a day in the life of a preschooler. We need diverse books is an important plea by those who love children’s books. This book meets the need in a very subtle way. The family includes a father with lighter skin and a mother with darker skin. This is how ML described people in preschool before learning labels based on race. The love of this family for eachother is apparent in every illustration. Another for the 2017 Mock Caldecott.
Have a Look, Says Book. by Richard Jackson and illustrated by Kevin Hawkes – This book is a must to help children learn about adjectives in a way that will resonate with them. The page which will resonate with ML the most is “I am scratchy says tutu.” It appears the scratchiness of ballet costumes has not changed since I was a child. ML can vouch for that.
Worms for Breakfast: How to Feed a Zoo by Helaine Becker and illustrated by Kathy Boake – My little animal loving chef is going to love this book. A creative way to share information about the zoo, what animals eat and ways to take care of our earth which benefit animals. I’d write more but I really want to read all the recipes from Platypus Party Mix to Midnight Mealworm Mush. I’m seeing a program for kindergartners through fifth on graders on what animals eat in my future.
I wanted to make it to Chicago this year to attend the awards ceremony for the Caldecott Medal; but my budget didn’t allow it. Next year, the Caldecott award will be announced in Boston. Closer. . . but probably not in my budget. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, I will be there in 2017. Where? Atlanta. . .a six hour drive, a free place to stay and the chance to visit my family.
It wasn’t easy for me to choose a winner this year. Many worthy books were published in 2014.
Last year, ML and Calvin chose winners for their 2014 Mock Caldecott in record speed. This year, they delved a little deeper. However, once again they couldn’t reach a consensus.
Today, I gave them a stack of books for their 2015 Mock Caldecott. I asked both of them to individually chose five favorites. Then, I encouraged them to reach a consensus on five books to go to the next round. They did it. Friends since the age of two, I love watching them grow and mature together. After whittling the list to five, they had a thoughtful and respectful discussion on which book should win. They weren’t in agreement. If I pushed it, they might have reached a consensus. I decided to save it for next year.
ML’s never had a specific imaginary friend, but many children do. My brother did. His name was Mr. Erp and any mischief in our house was all his fault. ML and I read The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat fifteen minutes ago. Immediately after she went to bed, I sat down to write this post. I didn’t want to forgot to share this imaginative book.
Somewhere on a faraway island is a place where imaginary friends wait for a a child to choose them and give them a name. A fluffy white monster waits and waits and waits, but his friend never comes. So he decides to take a boat to the real world. It’s a very strange place until he sees something familiar. He follows this familiar thing and ends up at a playground where their are lots of children with imaginary friends. It’s a lonely place for him because everyone already has an imaginary friend. Finally when he’s at his loneliest sighing in a tree, a girl finds him and names him Beekle.
My synopsis doesn’t do the book justice. The words of the book are paced perfectly. They are also hand lettered. Dan Santat’s handwriting is much better than mine. (First and only C in my life was in 3rd grade for handwriting.) You may be wondering how I know the letters are handwritten. When you read the page with all the publication information you learn interesting things.
The mixed media illustrations using pencil, crayon, watercolor, ink and Adobe Photoshop evoke all the worlds experienced with a perfect palette for each scene. From the colorful world of the island… to the blah black and white city filled with adults rushing here and there… to the exciting playground featuring exotic imaginary friends… to the muted fall colors of the lonely time in the tree… and finally to the kaleidoscope of adventures Beekle has with his friend after she names him.
I have no memory of a specific imaginary friend. Do you?
None of these books are about Halloween.
But they are perfect stories to read in October.
Crankenstein by Samantha Berger and illustrated by Dan Santat – All Crankenstein knows how to say is “Mehhrrrr!” It’s my new sound for no. When ML asks, “Can I have some candy for breakfast?” I say, “Mehhrrr!” When she asks to watch television before she finishes her homework, I say “MEHHRRR!” But when she tries to wake me up early on a Saturday morning, I say “MEHHRRR! GO WATCH TV.”
Cake Girl by David Lucas – Witch is alone on her birthday so she bakes a cake girl. Then, demands it sing, dance and clean her house. Witch tells Cake Girl she will eat her after she finishes all the chores. Cake Girl sets a plan in motion to save herself. She teaches Witch how to be nice, resulting in a magical friendship with Cake Girl. Or is it Cake Princess? Or Cake Cat? It’s hard to know.
Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds – Jasper Rabbit loves to eat carrots, but he keeps seeing creepy carrots coming after him. No one else in his family sees them. Is he paranoid or is something else going on?
Dear Vampa by Ross Collins – The Pire family has new neighbors, the Wolfsons. They stay up all day, sleep at night, love sunshine and have an unpleasant pet. It gets so bad the Pire family moves to Transylvania. There’s a great twist at the end. The Wolfsons have a secret. They’re not what they appear.