Melissa Sweet is a master of collage and book illustration, and The Right Word: Roget And His Thesaurus showcases her nuanced work. Written by Jen Bryant, Roget chronicles the life of the famous thesaurus maker. Lists of synonyms are hard to make, and even harder to organize and reference. Roget grew up listing events, plants, insects and finally words themselves.
This nonfiction picture book is a springboard for topics ranging from European history, botany, collage art and words.
Jacqueline Woodson‘s autobiography-in-verse looks like a novel with its silhouette in front of a sunrise (I know it’s a sunrise because she wasn’t allowed outside at sunset time) and reads beautifully. Starting from birth, Jacqueline tells her story of living in Ohio, South Carolina and Brooklyn, New York. Each place leaves its influence for her lifetime. Family relationships are explored; friendship and moving; the way it is and the way it should be; and always that inner knowledge of who she is: a writer who makes up stories.
Longlisted for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, Brown Girl Dreaming is a thoughtful retrospect on the experience of growing up to be Jacqueline Woodson.
In rhyming text, we learn the bird calls of blue jays, cardinals, crows and more. The robin, however, stays quiet, sitting on her nest.
Beautiful illustrations in a muted green and brown palette show which bird is which, a boost for a nonfiction book that flows so well you’ll forget you are learning about birds.
In the end, there is a question and answer session under the heading “A Word with the Bird” in which we learn why the robin is so quiet when she’s nesting, when the male robin joins in to help and what to do if you see a bird in her nest.
Written by Rita Gray and illustrated by Kenard Pak, this would be a great book to compare to the fictional Froodle.
Wordless picture books can say so much, and Flashlight is a perfect example. First, the illustrations are exquisite, mostly glowing white on black paper except where the flashlight’s beam falls and a few other choice spots.
The story: A boy leaves his tent with his flashlight and finds the woodland creatures foraging or flying or swimming or being startled at the light. Peek-a-boo holes highlight the scene’s continuity while the page turns. Then, bump, the boy trips on a rock and the flashlight tumbles and turns on him. Several creatures take turns spying on the boy, until he crawls back into his tent.
Illustrated by Lizi Boyd, this book is rereader friendly and interactive.
A Day At The Lake is all fun and excitement. There are no problems and worries, just a day swimming, exploring nature and watching the sun set, all delivered in snappy rhyme with loads of onomatopoeia: flittery flee, ziggity jig, yodelly song. Written by Stephanie Wallingford and Dawn Rynders, illustrated by Erica Pelton Villnave, this is a great nostalgic read for those end of summer blues.
More than a lullaby, May The Stars Drip Down is a love song to a child about light and beautiful travels and always love. Nikki McClure‘s blue, white and yellow palette highlights pinpricks of light, all of it cut and torn from black paper. Simple and striking, especially the first page where the pinholes show through to the next page.
The author, Jeremy Chatelain, is a musician in an indie rock band.
Oh how I love gibberish, especially rhyming gibberish. Froodle is the word Little Brown Bird says when she is tired of the same old “peep”, except the crow, dove and cardinal are counting on her to continue the rhythm of “caw, coo, chip, peep”. Can anyone help it when they need a change? No! Especially not Little Brown Bird. Crow flies away while the rest of the birds convert to “sliggy” and “zoggen”. For birders and readers alike, Antoinette Portis’s Froodle will have you bouncing and laughing, ready to read again.
Sometimes we need a light read about life in school, a best friend and the new girl who changes everything. Like Carrot Juice On A Cupcake by Julie Sternberg fits the bill, and it’s in light verse to boot. It’s all hard knocks for Eleanor, whose dog ate her mom’s scarf and now has to go to doggy camp, whose best friend now spends Mondays and Wednesdays tutoring the new girl instead of hanging out with her and who gets cast in the lead role for the school play (which includes a solo–horrific for the voice-shy Eleanor). It all works out, it does, and mostly because “We all make mistakes…The important thing is to keep trying to make up for them, for as long as it takes.” (p.132)