The Lion And The Bird

The Lion and the Bird by Marianne Dubuc is a picture book about a lion dressed in le_lion_et_l_oiseau-127x169overalls who helps out a bird with a broken wing. Because the bird can’t fly south with its flock, it stays the winter with Lion taking care of it, eating meals together and reading by the fire. When spring comes, the bird flies off with the other birds. “And so it goes. Sometimes life is like that.” Lion gardens and fishes, but summer passes slowly. Then in fall, the lion is raking leaves again and looking out for the bird, hoping. And the bird comes back, to spend another winter with Lion.

Fabulously simple illustrations round out this lovely story of friendship crossing the boundaries of species.

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FlashlightWordless 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.

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A Day At The Lake

A Day At The Lake is all fun and excitement. There are no problems and worries, just a A day at the lake coverday 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.

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May The Stars Drip Down

FC9781419710247More 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.

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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 159643922Xanyone 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. 

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Like Carrot Juice On A Cupcake

9781419710339_s3.jpgSometimes 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)

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Tap Tap Boom Boom

Tap_Tap_Boom_Boom_cover_photo_2-330Filled with rhythmic, onomatopoeic words, Tap Tap Boom Boom shows a community of people seeking shelter from a storm in the subway. There is something about a shared experience that creates kindness, and in the end, a rainbow.

Written by Elizabeth Bluemle and illustrated by G. Brian Karas, the story invites rereading and a field trip of romping in the rain.

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Slog’s Dad

slogs-dad-coverSlog’s Dad, written by David Almond and illustrated by Dave McKean, is a fascinating story about a boy, Slog, who believes the man on the bench is his dad. Nevermind that his dad died. Or that the man looks nothing like his father.

Narrated by Slog’s unbelieving friend in a North English/Scottish dialect, we hear all of the reasons why it could be Slog’s dad and why it couldn’t be, all while enjoying a fantastical, eerie story and several cool illustrations.

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Jane, The Fox & Me

Jane, The Fox & Me, a beautiful graphic novel looks much like a picture book, both with its size and its style of illustrations.

Hélène, a middle schooler in Montreal, Quebec, is suddenly outcast by her friends, and she believes the graffiti about her on the bathroom stalls. She thinks she looks like a sausage JaneFoxMe-231x300and the one person she feels connected to is Jane Eyre. She imagines parallels between her and Jane Eyre throughout the book. The ultimate humiliation is a two-week class trip to nature camp, where Hélène will be forced to wear a bathing suit and shorts and stay in the tent reserved for outcasts.

But as things change for Jane Eyre, things also get better for Hélène. Yes, there’s a fox that instigates the turning point, and a revealing moment with her mother. There’s also a new friend and an ending with hope.

Find an educator’s guide here.

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Three Books Featuring Emily Dickinson

I have unintentionally read three books about Emily Dickinson, only one of which did I realize was going to feature the late poet. It’s easy to become enamoured with Emily Dickinson, reclusive, poignant word artist. Here they are in order of youngest to oldest readers: picture book, middle grade and young adult.

Jane Yolen has written several sonnets, The Emily Sonnets: The Life of Emily Dickinson, Emily Sonnets Jacket_v7:Layout 1giving us insight into Emily’s family, solitude and faith. She advises us to “inhale the poems beyond her death”. Complemented by Gary Kelley‘s shadowy oil paintings, this is a poetic biography with comprehensive notes in the backmatter.

9780449809877Eileen Spinelli‘s Another Day As Emily is a light-hearted story of a mostly unnoticed tween in the wake of her baby brother’s heroism. As she learns more about Emily Dickinson, she tries to emulate her by wearing a white dress, never leaving the house (even in mid-summer vacation) and trying to correspond with friends via letters in baskets.

Jenny Hubbard‘s And We Stay is more layered, with a lead AND-WE-STAY-cover-198x300character named Emily who writes poems throughout her narrative, trying to overcome her past. She tends to be reclusive, just as Emily Dickinson was, and references to the poet are both obvious (she reads a biography) and more subtle (she hides her poetry and doesn’t care about publication). Like Paper Covers Rock, And We Stay is set at a boarding school, though this time it’s with teenage girls in the Nineties, as opposed to boys in the Eighties. I learned Emily Dickinson didn’t title her poems, she numbered them. I learned she was stronger than she seemed, and I learned that she inspires great contemporary literature.



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