Loving Vs. Virginia: A Documentary Novel of the Landmark Civil Rights Case by Patricia Hruby Powell and illustrated by Shadra Strickland is a large, beautifully made historical novel-in-verse. Well-researched (there are lists of the author’s interviews and sources in the back) and fascinating, the Lovings is a story of love between a black woman and a white man in Virginia, when interracial marriage was illegal there.
Though Mildred and Richard’s family and friends accepted their relationship, the sheriff goes out of his way to find them and arrest them. Jail, moving to another state, sneaking home for Easter–the Lovings had to endure much. They wanted to live a peaceful life in the county they grew up in, and they finally get to, after the Supreme Court ruled in their favour on June 12, 1967.
There aren’t many picture books with unreliable narrators. The Bear Ate Your Sandwich by Julia Sarcone-Roach is one that works extremely well and that even young children will understand and enjoy. Not only is the narrator unreliable, but she us unseen until the last few pages. Until that point, the story is an unexpected adventure of how the bear made his way out of his den, through the city and to the park bench to get the little girl’s sandwich. Delightful.
The Bear and the Piano by David Litchfield has so much to like about it, I’m going to ramble. In the beginning, the bear sees a piano in the forest. He fiddles with it and over time, his skill at playing piano grows (it’s not magical talent) until a crowd of bears is drawn to listen. He goes to the city and becomes famous, and though the city is everything he’d hoped it would be (and there’s a beautiful nighttime spread to show this loveliness and yearning together) he misses his friends from the forest. When he gets to the clearing where his piano used to be, it’s gone, and at first he thinks his friends were angry or forgot him, the ending is warm and perfect.
Luscious verse invokes a snow day while illustrations show a pilot going to work in the wee hours, the snow clogging her commute and the flights at the airport are all cancelled. She flags down a snowplow driver, who brings her home where her husband and child are waking up. The final pages show them enjoying the snow day together.
Before Morning by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Beth Krommes is a treat to savour again and again.
How to Swallow a Pig: Step by Step Advice from the Animal Kingdom by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page is an animal guide in a spot-on deadpan tone that gives tons of information while managing to be a page-turner. Unexpected animals, such as the western grebe and the reticulated python do amazing things in their daily lives, and now with this handy manual, we humans can too.
ABC: The Alphabet from the Sky by Benedikt Gross and Joey Lee is a fascinating look at found letters from an aerial view. Find one letter per page (though sometimes there are bonuses) and in the bottom right corner, the geographical coordinates and a dot on a US map mark the spots these letters are found. I suppose you could hop in your helicopter and search them out, however, this book is just as much fun on land, and it serves for a template to play your own ABC game on your next flight.
The gentle rhyming text of A Bear’s Year takes us from slumbering winter to newborn spring, summer foraging and autumn’s den. I love a book that takes us through all of the seasons in a year, and this one’s beautiful illustrations do each season justice.
Written by Kathy Duval and illustrated by Gerry Turley.
Cat is perfectly happy with his friend, Yarn. But Girl wanted to play with yarn, too. “When Yarn returned, he wasn’t his usual bouncy self.” That’s because Yarn morphed into a
sweater. Cat does not like Yarn anymore and goes outside in the snow to pout.
This book may be very helpful if your little ones don’t want to wear those bulky, itchy winter clothes. Then again, Jacob Grant‘s Cat Knit might just be a fun, well-told story, which is best of all.