Shelter, Céline Claire, Qin Leng (illustrator) Kids Can Press, 2017.
Claire’s picture book is a parable for children. In the story, a storm is coming. All the animals seek shelter in their homes. Little Fox is the only character that wonders about the animals who may be stuck in the storm.
A bear parent and child are stuck in the storm. They go from home to home looking for shelter. Each family turns them away. “Try the neighbor”, they all say.
Including Little Fox’s family. Unable to accept the outcome, Little Fox runs after the bears to give them a lantern to guide their search for shelter.
As fate would have it, the snow from the storm weighs down on the foxes den, and the family barely makes it out before their den collapses. The Fox family is able to find their way to where the bears have built an igloo. The foxes knock and ask for shelter for the night. Unlike their response to the bears, the bears welcome the family in.
Who Counts? 100 Sheep, 10 Coins, and 2 Sons, Amy-Jill Levine & Sandy Eisenberg Sasso, Westminster John Knox Press, 2017.
Whole: Restoring What is Broken in Me, You, and the Entire World, Steve Wiens, NavPress, 2017.
We do not have to look far to see just how broken the world is. It seems that almost daily the news is reporting on another shooting, another disaster, another event that gives us pause. It could be argued that the world is broken because we who make up the world are broken too.
There is brokenness all around us.
It is in this context that Steve Wiens writes his beautiful and relevant book Whole. Wiens is not afraid to call attention to the jagged edges of his own life, and the world.
Since reading his book, I have been following him on Twitter, and he does the same there. The Wiens we meet in the pages of Whole seems to be the real thing.
The Elephant Keeper: Caring for Orphaned Elephants in Zambia, Margriet Ruurs, Pedro Covo (illustrator), Kids Can Press, 2017.
Margriet Ruurs and Pedro Covo give a fresh look at some of the planet’s largest land mammals – the elephant.
A True Story
Ruurs brings to the pages the real-life story of a Zambian boy Aaron who discovers an infant elephant in the Lion’s Lodge swimming pool. Thanks to Aaron’s attentiveness and efforts, the young elephant is rescued and taken to a local elephant orphanage.
Aaron is able to make a connection with the elephant that others are not. Grieving the death of his father Aaron can relate to the orphaned elephant. The boy finds himself growing up sooner than other boys in his village. The elephant has likely lost its mother to poachers. The elephant and the boy have to figure how to do life differently.
Middle Bear, Susanna Isern, Kids Can Press, 2017.
Middle Bear is the second of three brothers. When the brothers go out into the forest to do various errands, Middle Bear is either too big or too small to be of any help. His older and younger brother both seem to be the right size. But Middle Bear seems to always be in the middle.
He seems to go unnoticed. And he longs to be different, to be as special as his brothers.
Susanna Isern’s little book is perfect for children to may seem that there is no place for them. And it is great for helping children experience some empathy for the child who reads alone or who cries because of his or her sadness.
No Room for Baby!, Émile Jadoul, Kids Can Press, 2017.
Leon is a toddler penguin who is not too sure about having a new baby brother. As long as the infant Marcel is in his crib, Leon is okay with him. But once the baby cries, and mom and dad’s attention are taken away, Leon begins describing all the ways in which there is no room for a baby.
The Penguin family lives in a spacious igloo with all the trappings of a human home that would be familiar to a toddler. This familiarity along with the cartoon style illustrations, make it appealing to the listening toddler.
Despite Leon’s hesitantly about Marcel living in his home, Leon does find one place that is big enough for the baby. Leon’s arms are just the right side.
Love You Always, written by Eileen Spinelli with illustrations by Gillian Flint, is the latest gift book for new babies or for Christmas. The verses are gentle and the repetition is soothing. The book aims to communicate to the child that he or she is loved – always – but a host of family members. Mostly by Mama and Daddy.
But other family members are included. Grandma, Grandpa, Auntie, and Uncle. Counsin and family friend even get a shout out. At first, this inclusion of extended family members is great. It is often rare to see Auntie and Uncle included in a children’s book. While the book seems to include a lot of the family tree, there is no inclusion of siblings or step-parents.
My Potty, Anita Bijsterbosch, Clavis Books, 2017.
At our house, we are in the midst of potty training. We have set a sticker system so that everytime Toddler J uses the potty, she receives a sticker. Once her sticker card is full, we take a trip to the Dollar Tree and she picks out one item (toy, coloring book, etc.)
During this phase of life, we are interested in books about using the potty. Something you never quite appreciate until you are a parent.
Anita Bijsterbosch’s board book My Potty is yet another book in this help-the-parent-out genre. While My Potty is no Daniel Tiger, it is a fun read. The illustrations are fun and bright. The animals in the story was a plus for Toddler J.
The Tiny Tale of Little Pea, Davide Cali, illustrated by Sebastien Mourrain, Kids Can Press, 2017.
“When he was born, Little Pea was tiny. Teeny-tiny.”
And the story of Little Pea begins. Little Pea is a tiny little, light-skinned human being the size of a pea. He never gets taller than half the length of a normal pencil.
Even though he is small, Little Pea does not let his smallness keep him from doing things. He climbs a lego tower. Little Pea rides a grasshopper as if it were a small horse. He reads and teaches himself how to swim.
From Far Away, Robert Munsch and Saoussan Askar, Annick Press, 2017.
For a number of years we have heard about the refugee crisis. Or, according to others, the immigrant crisis. We have seen the images of war torn areas that families are seeking refuge from. We have voiced outrage on social media when the most troubling images of children were brought to our attention.
But what about the children?
From Far Away provides such a perspective. Seven-year-old Saussan Askar writes a letter about leaving her war torn country and what life is like in her new country.