It's the end of the month and I have a lot of picture book reviews piling up, so how about a double dose?
Underground: Finding the Light to Freedom
By Shane W. Evans
Published 2011 by Roaring Brook Press
I picked this one up because I was intrigued by the cover but also because it recently won a Youth Media Award. This is a very simple tale of the Underground Railroad and the slave's road to freedom. I think even young children could understand the story because it is told simply yet effectively. The illustrations are simple as well but they suit the story perfectly. I can see this being easily included in storytimes and I think this book is very well-done.
The Camping Trip that Changed America: Theodore Roosevelt, John Muir, and the National Parks
By Barb Rosenstock, illustrated by Mordicai Gerstein
Published 2012 by Dial Books
As stated numerous times before, my attention is always being grabbed by non-fiction picture books for kids. This one caught my eye because I recently watched the Ken Burns' documentary on the creation of the national parks. This book details the beginning of conservation and preservation efforts in America by describing a camping trip Teddy Roosevelt took with John Muir. The author provides a historical note at the end that explains that not all the details of this trip are known so this book is a blend of fact and fiction. It's well-written and interesting and I really like the pictures.
As Good As Anybody
By Richard Michelson, illustrated by Raul Colon
Published 2008 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
This is a very moving picture book about Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rabbi Abraham Heschel supporting each other and both seeing the need for equal rights for all people. This is a welcome book in this world where religion is often such a divisive force as it shows that occasionally religious folks in positions of power do good in the name of social justice. I think everyone would do good to remember Martin Luther King, Jr.'s message. Even though we celebrate and honor him each year, do we really think about what he was trying to achieve? The illustrations have a softness that is appealing. This was a nice surprise to find among our new books.
Rosie Sprout's Time to Shine
By Allison Wortche, illustrated by Patrice Barton
Published 2011 by Random House Children's Books
Violet is the best at everything in their class and Rosie is not happy with this. When the class starts a new project, could it finally be Rosie's turn to be the best? This is a sweet story about the buddings of competition among children. Rosie is quiet in her quest to be the best at something and the illustrations are nice and gentle. Just a sweet little picture book.
By Marcus Pfister
Published 2011 by North South Books
This is an interesting book - lots of questions but no answers. I see this book as a great jumping off point for exploring non-fiction - pair this book with non-fiction titles to answer some of the questions that Pfister poses. The illustrations are bold and striking but also simple. There is plenty of white space on each page and a fun little metallic piece of each illustration that kids will enjoy looking for. A very interesting and thought-provoking book.
Too Shy for Show-and-Tell
By Beth Bracken, illustrated by Jennifer A. Bell
Published 2011 by Picture Window Books
This is a perfect little book for a large percentage of the population. Sam is very quiet and would rather not draw attention to himself. No one knows very much about him and he likes it that way. Because of this, Sam does not like show and tell day. He becomes very worried about having to share. When the day finally comes, Sam watches his other classmates share and discovers that maybe he was worrying a little too much. This is just a sweet book with lovely illustrations.
Duck, Death, and the Tulip
By Wolf Erlbruch
Published 2011 by Gecko Press
This is perhaps one of the strangest books I've ever encountered and, as a matter of fact, it caused a bit of controversy when it arrived in our collection. We had it classified in the "Easy" section (what our picture book section is called) and many staff didn't feel this was appropriate. Some staff actually wanted to get rid of the book altogether. My opinion is that this is a very weird book in which Duck befriends Death. It asks some questions about what happens after death and there are some small comforts present (though almost nothing about the tulip). It is hard for me to imagine who might read this book and not be disturbed or confused.
Randy Riley's Really Big Hit
By Chris Van Dusen
Published 2012 by Candlewick Press
I was so excited to see a new Van Dusen on our book cart! I love that he sticks to his retro style and sensibilities even in today's increasingly modern world. He uses such bright colors and has such a unique style; it's easy for me to imagine kids latching onto him and his books. This is a nice rhythmic story about Randy Riley, who loves baseball and science. Consequently, I can see this book being a big hit in storytimes about either baseball (or sports) or science. It's fun and very appealing.