Knock Knock: My Dad’s Dream for Me

Knock Knock by Daniel Beaty and illustrated by Bryan Collier is both beautiful and sad. A young boy plays a daily game of Knock Knock, Who’s There? with his father until the day 9780316209175his father is gone. The rest of the book is filled with ways the boy misses his father and how he can fill that void. A letter from his father shows the boy ways he can live a beautiful life into adulthood.

The story is a cathartic poem by Daniel Beaty whose father was incarcerated while he was young. Part of his story is in the author’s note. The book “offer[s] hope that every fatherless child can still create the most beautiful life possible.” Bryan Collier’s watercolour and collage illustrations underscore the text and also give it new meaning, showing the boy growing up and fulfilling his father’s words to “Knock Knock to open new doors.”

Bryan Collier won the 2014 Coretta Scott King Book Award for Knock Knock.

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Alphabet Room

I do love a good alphabet book. Sara Pinto’s Alphabet Room seems standard at first look. BCalphabet2Yes, A is for apples and under the flap the apples are rolling on the floor. B is for bowls; under the flap there are the bowls again, but also the apples. C is for cat–can you see where this is going? By the time we get to Z, there’s a lovely cummulative pile of alphabetic items, a few animals and a jester all tuckered out from the various roles they’ve taken throughout the book.

For more unique ABC books, click here.

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Consider Love

UnknownAlthough it’s red and covered in hearts, Sandra Boynton‘s Consider Love should not be relegated to Valentine’s Day. “Consider love. Look here and there. Consider love. It’s everywhere. Consider love. Observe a while. It comes in every shape and style.” Indeed. It also comes every day which is why I’m posting about it on this non-Valentiney day.

And while you are reading with that special child, keep in mind these tips. And it can’t hurt to listen to this either.


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The Hole

The Hole begins and ends with a secret:  the reader knows there is a hole in the wall but the  lead character does not. He moves into an apartment and finds the things he needs to make a meal and settles in to eat on one of the cardboard boxes. “What’s this?” he says THE HOLECvrMaxwhen he sees the hole (which is an actual hole punched through the center of the book). The hole moves around the apartment and I won’t tell you how the problem is solved other than to point out the ingenious way the main character is shown going through the city and how the hole becomes an eyehole, a stoplight, a manhole, a balloon–Øyvind Torseter‘s clever illustrations will keep you riveted, page after page–and that sometimes taking care of problems doesn’t mean they’ve gone away.

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The Little Mermaid

Robert Sabuda‘s The Little Mermaid is a beautifully illustrated pop-up book based on the 7710-43original Hans Christian Anderson tale. Poor Little Mermaid sells her voice for a chance to gain the love of a prince that never sees her for who she is. Instead, she does a lovely act of self-sacrifice (as do her sisters) and earns an eternal soul. Far from the fairy tales where happily ever after includes a marriage, this story is bittersweet. While the prince does get married, it isn’t to the little mermaid.

The illustrations pop out on every page, amazing everyone in my family, a true book for all ages.

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“Here is a road made for crossing the country, a new road of rails made for people to ride.” With this grand opening, Brian Floca shows Locomotive as the life-changing technology it cvr9781416994152_9781416994152_lgwas from the 1830s onward. This new mobility connected the country and allowed people to travel more easily over the mountains and through the plains.

Floca illlustrates all aspects of locomotives, from the laying of the rails to the travelers (both paid and hobo) and the rail workers. Locomotive is comprehensive in its history and experience, interesting for both train enthusiasts and those more inclined toward stories. This nonfiction picture book won the 2014 Caldecott medal.

Don’t forget to read the end pages and pore over the diagram about steam power in the very back.

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bbsmallcovBob Staake’s Bluebird is a grand tale in pictures:  a bluebird befriends a boy, and without a word, they share food, companionship and make new friends. They also run into bullies that shatter the earthly beauty of their friendship. The bluebird lives on in eternal clouds and sunshine and the boy shows us how to say good-bye.




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The Dark

A collaboration of Lemony Snicket and Jon Klassen should be enough to pick up The Dark, an enticing picture book about a boy’s relationship with the dark. We all know in 9ff19e062c2560bf352a6e3fe2e4cc70order to overcome our fears we need to face them; this book helps with its calm and eerie tone. It’s important for children to read about scary things.

There’s a lovely bit nearer to the end where the author addresses the reader. Read it aloud in your lowest voice:  “You might be afraid of the dark, but the dark is not afraid of you. That’s why the dark is always close by. The dark peeks around the corner and waits behind the door, and you can see the dark up in sky almost every night, gazing down at you as you gaze up at the stars.”


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The Bear’s Song

9781452114248_bears-song_normPapa Bear settles in for hibernation while Little Bear chases a bee. Papa Bear chases after Little Bear, through the forest, into cabin country and finally smack dab in the middle of a city. We follow the bears inside an opera house where we see a cross-section of its attic to basement, Richard Scarry-esque. The ending lines sum it up:  “After all, hibernation is better with honey. And adventure is best enjoyed together.”

The Bear’s Song is a large book, perfect for fitting in all of French author/illustrator Benjamin Chaud‘s intricate drawings. Every page has so much to see, providing perfect conversation starters for parent and child.

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All The Earth, Thrown To The Sky

In the mood for adventure? All The Earth, Thrown To The Sky will fulfill any gangster or road trip aspirations. Set in the 1930s Oklahoma Dust Bowl, Joe R. Lansdale touches on historical moments the way Forest Gump ended up in all the right spots.all-the-earth

Jack Catcher was having a hard enough time resisting the relentless dust storms on the farm, and then his mom died and his dad hung himself. When neighbors Jane and Tony show up, the three take a truck and head out of the dust. On their path to East Texas, they meet up with notorious bank robbers, hobos and carnival personalities. They jump trains, run away from gangsters and fall into indentured servitude. The Great Depression history is woven seamlessly into the story as each of the three make a new life in separate directions.

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