Posted in picture books

Blog Tour and Giveaway: A Dream of Birds by Shenaz Patel and Emmanuelle Tchoukriel

The hazy days of summer call for a good giveaway, and I’ve got one. Sit back, enjoy a nice, cool lemonade or iced tea, and look up in the sky (with sunglasses on, please). Do you see a sky full of birds? Or do you hear them in the trees around you? Good, now you’re in the mood for A Dream of Birds, by Shenaz Patel and Emmanuelle Tchoukriel.

A Dream of Birds, by Shenaz Patel/Illustrated by Emmanuelle Tchoukriel and Translated by Edwige-Renée Dro,
(Aug. 2022, Amazon Crossing Kids), $17.99, ISBN: 9781662500930

Ages 5-8

Set on the African island nation of Mauritius, the story centers on Sara, a young girl who loves birds. They remind her of time spent with her grandfather, who had dozens of brightly colored birds flock to his yard every day, to put on “an incredible show” with their colorful feathers and personalities. As Sara is on her way to school, she sees a tiny house in a neighbor’s yard, and realizes that it’s a birdhouse, home to a flock of parakeets. The neighbor chases her away, but Sara is undaunted: she wants her neighbor’s birds to be as free as the birds that entertained her and her grandfather. Lyrical storytelling and bright digital artwork bring this story to life. The skies and water are deep blue, setting the stage for the brightly colored birds to showcase against. Loopy script calls reader’s attention to the names of different types of birds and their songs, from peeping and chirping to crooning and cooing. People and birds are rendered realistically; Sara and her grandfather are brown-skinned and the only human we see; other humans are in shadow or silhouette. Sara’s story is filled with longing: longing for freedom, longing for her grandfather; the artwork shows a loving relationship between the two, and she gazes wistfully at the birds in the cage, remembering him. Edwige-Renée Dro’s translation from the original French reads beautifully in English, and makes A Dream of Birds a good readaloud choice. A nice purchase for collections.

A Dream of Birds was originally published in Mauritius Island and France in 2020.

Shenaz Patel was born and lives on Mauritius Island. She has several jobs: journalist, playwright, novelist, and translator, and she is also a comics and children’s book author. She has written nine books for children, including A Dream of Birds, which was first published in French and English in Mauritius and France. She was named Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres in 2013, a high honor given by the French minister of culture.

Emmanuelle Tchoukriel was born and lives in France. Passionate about nature, she studied visual communication before entering the Estienne School in Paris. She specialized in scientific drawing, and she excels in illustrating flora and fauna. On Instagram: @emanuelle_tchoukriel

Edwige-Renée Dro is a writer, translator, and literary activist from the Ivory Coast, in Africa. Her writings have been published in anthologies such as New Daughters of Africa and Africa39, among others. She has judged many literary prizes, including the PEN International New Voices Award and the Etisalat Prize for Literature. She was awarded the Miles Morland Writing Scholarship in 2018 and is a 2021 resident of the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa. Learn more at edwigedro.wordpress.com.

Twitter: @DroEdwige

Facebook: Renée Edwige Dro

 


Want a chance at winning your own copy of A Dream of Birds? Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway! U.S. and Canadian addresses only, please

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Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Good advice for daily living: Don’t Forget

Don’t Forget, by Jane Godwin/Illustrated by Anna Walker, (Aug. 2022, Kane Miller), $14.99, ISBN: 9781684644360

Ages 3-7

A diverse group of children move through the day together as the overall narrative gently reminds readers of important things, both practical and esoteric, to remember in order to live a happy, fulfilling life: “Don’t forget to make your bed, / and wear socks that fit your feet”; “Don’t forget to try new things, / to smell the flowers, / watch the ocean, / and listen to the music / of the trees”. The story is a reminder of the important things in life: taking time to play; to be mindful; to reflect. Soft watercolors add to this gently profound meditation on living a meaningful life. Soothing endpapers show a nature scene. Don’t Forget will soothe readers with its upbeat look at the day-to-day. A nice additional purchase for storytime collections.

 

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

A Penny’s Worth is just good cents (see what I did there?)

A Penny’s Worth, by Kimberly Wilson/Illustrated by Mark Hoffman, (April 2022, Page Street Kids), $17.99, ISBN: 9781645674689

Ages 4-8

A penny emerges hot off the minting press and ready to take on the world… until she sees other coins and bills getting all the attention, while she sits alone. Penny candy? It’s a dime these days. Arcade game? No way, that’s for quarters. Penny is determined to find her purpose, and when all hope seems lost, she finds it in this sweetly comical story about money and worth. Loaded with money puns, A Penny’s Worth is a great way to start a discussion about money, the rising cost of living, and finding your way when everyone around you says “no”. Mixed media artwork is lively and colorful; the currency all have large, expressive eyes and little limbs, making them eye-catching to young readers. Kids will feel for the poor penny as she’s rejected from a video game and sits sadly in the return slot and receives a lesson in inflation from a dime, who sports a graduate-like mortarboard and black robe, and cheer when she finds her purposes in a child’s smile. Endpapers bookend the story. Back matter includes information about pennies and a bibliography. A nice addition to collections and a fun storytime readaloud.

Pair with books like Rosemary Well’s Bunny Money and Nancy Shaw’s Sheep in a Shop for a money-themed storytime. Print out some Crayola printable money for a fun post-storytime activity.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Listen Up, Louella is all about being a good friend

Listen Up, Louella, by Ashley Belote, (June 2022, Feiwel & Friends), $18.99, ISBN: 9781250812797

Ages 4-7

Louella is so excited about camp, but she doesn’t always listen very well. She charges into the cabin and barges her way through camp activities, never listening to her friends or noticing that they may not have the great time she’s having. But when Louella thinks she’s been left out of a group party, she learns that it’s important to take time and listen to others, and to play together so that everyone has a great time. Playful digital illustrations are loaded with fun little details that will clue sharp-eyed readers in to the very important message Louella’s missing. Animal characters are cartoony, with exaggerated expressions and body language that help deliver the point of the story; Louella, an elephant, uses her size to overpower the smaller campers and take over the show, from painting, to toilet paper forts, canoeing, and a talent show. Word bubbles add character reactions to the overall narration, and Belote uses fun animal turns-of-phrase like “tug-of-roar” and “slam trunk”. Endpapers lead into and out of the story, with Louella dragging her loaded red wagon into camp, and pulling her friends on a ride after shenanigans are done. A fun summertime story for sure, and a good reminder to remember how to be a good friend, as kids are getting ready to head back to school. A good purchase for picture book collections.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Need a way to Find Your Happy?

Find Your Happy, by Emily Coxhead, (June 2022, Kane Miller), $14.99, ISBN: 9781684644490

Ages 3-6

A sloth offers ways to “find your happy” whenever he’s feeling sad, angry, or scared. He takes deep breaths, he thinks of positive things, like friends and family who love and support him, or imagines himself as a brave superhero, and encourages readers to remember that, while “somedays are incredible, other are just OK, and some feel really bad”, there’s always a way to find your happy. Bright colors and expressive animals make this an eye-catching story about emotions, feelings, and positivity. Written by Emily Coxhead, creator of The Happy News – a newsletter that’s all about good newsFind Your Happy is a cheerfully positive readaloud that will work well with storytimes and with social-emotional collections that focus on working through tough emotions. Find more of Emily Coxhead’s uplifting illustrations at her website.

Want to have a sloth storytime? Add books from the Lento & Fox series by Ben Sanders, Eric Carle’s classic, Slowly, Slowly, Slowly, Said the Sloth, or Sloth at the Zoom by Helaine Becker and Orbie. There is a great list of books with sloth main characters at Bookroo. Don’t forget to print out some sloth coloring sheets for your storytime!

 

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

The familiar refrain: I Can Explain!

I Can Explain, by Shinsuke Yoshitake, (Aug. 2022, Chronicle Kids), $17.99, ISBN: 9781797216904

Ages 5-8

A young boy explains his bad habits in the most hilarious of ways in I Can Explain. His mom may think it’s bad manners, but when the boy picks his nose? It’s actually him pressing a button to release cheerful beams. And biting his nails? It releases a sound that makes crows fly away from the trash bags; adults just can’t hear it. For every behavior, there’s a completely valid reason: he can explain! An absolutely uproarious read-aloud that ends with Mom having to find an explanation of her own, too, I Can Explain is a conversation starter about manners that acknowledges a child’s imagination and doesn’t take itself so seriously. Pen and digital artwork create an unfussy story with bright pinks and yellows and over line art; other colors come into play for emphasis. Endpapers get into the act, with the front endpapers showing our narrator recreating some of his bad habits, and back endpapers showing readers that Mom isn’t always so blameless, either.

I Can Explain was originally published in Japan in 2015. Shinsuke Yoshitake is an award-winning author and illustrator.

 

 

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Like breaks down our differences

Like, by Annie Barrows/Illustrated by Leo Espinosa, (Sept. 2022, Chronicle Books), $17.99, ISBN: 9781452163376

Ages 3-5

A young boy breaks down the differences between us in this amusing and giggle-worthy story. “We are people. Also known as humans”, he begins; “This makes us different from most of the things on Earth”. We are not, for instance, shaped like tin cans, but we are a little like swimming pools, because we have water and chemicals and dirt inside us”. The boy goes on to talk about things we are like, things that we have things in common with, but are not like (like an excavator, which can dig big piles of dirt and move them around, but cannot tell jokes or fry an egg), with laugh-out-loud observations that sound like they’ve come straight from a child’s mind. Ivy + Bean author Annie Barrows makes a strong point in the best of ways: “I am more like you than I am like most of the things on Earth. I’m glad. I’d rather be like you than a mushroom”. Like is a great story to start discussions of similarities and differences with young listeners. Pura Belpré Honor illustrator Leo Espinosa gives readers a visually exciting story with bright colors, diverse characters, and a biracial main character. Playful and funny, this will be popular at storytime.

 

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Big Hedgehog and Little Hedgehog Take an Evening Stroll is a familiar bedtime story

Big Hedgehog and Little Hedgehog Take an Evening Stroll, by Britta Teckentrup, (May 2022, Prestel Junior), $14.95, ISBN: 9783791375199

Ages 3-7

Big Hedgehog and Little Hedgehog are on their way home after an evening stroll, but Little Hedgehog continues to stop along the way to enjoy all the sights, sounds, and scents that evening has to offer. Big Hedgehog pauses their return each time, but it’s getting late: what to do? Every parent and caregiver knows this routine, whether at bedtime – when a little one wants one more drink of water, one more hug, or one other moment to stave off bedtime – or whether it’s “just one more minute” while doing something fun, be it at the playground or at a friend’s home. Britta Teckentrup sweetly captures those “but wait!” moments and creates a story where Big Hedgehog discovers the magic waiting when one lets themselves be led by a child, even if just for a moment. Britta Teckentrup’s artwork imagines warm sunsets and silver moonrises, with dense brown and green forests teeming with colorful flora and fauna. A wonderful story about pausing to enjoy the moment, and great for storytimes.

Big Hedgehog and Little Hedgehog Take and Evening Stroll was originally published in Germany in 2022. There will be another Big Hedgehog and Little Hedgehog story coming in May 2023.

Posted in Intermediate, Non-Fiction, picture books

Hope is an Arrow introduces children to Khalil Gibran

Hope Is an Arrow : The Story of Lebanese-American Poet Khalil Gibran, by Cory McCarthy/Illustrated by Ekua Holmes, (July 2022, Candlewick Press), $18.99, ISBN: 9781536200324

Ages 6-9

Many adult readers discovered Khalil Gibran through his work, The Prophet (1923). Hope is an Arrow seeks to expand Gibran’s reach and introduce young readers to the poet through this evocative picture book biography, with his poetry sprinkled throughout his story. Gibran began life in Lebanon, a country experiencing religious conflict; his family left Lebanon and settled in Boston, where they experienced prejudice, leading the young poet to begin expressing himself through art. As he travels between Boston and Lebanon, his desire to unite people, born out of the conflict he experienced in both his home country and his adopted one, led him to find his voice in poetry. Hope is an Arrow reads like poetry, with phrases like “…they sailed the deeper, darker Atlantic Ocean, which murmured like a giant in its sleep” describing the Gibran family’s journey to the United States, and “…his words still fly across the world, in more than forty different languages and through many crashing winds, to bring all who read them straight to the heart of hope”. Ekua Holmes’s collage and acrylic artwork create dynamic spreads. Comprehensive back matter includes source notes, additional information on Khalil Gibran’s life, and a bibliography. A gorgeous biography for collections and an excellent starting point to discuss social and religious conflict.

Hope is an Arrow has starred reviews from School Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, and The Horn Book.

Posted in picture books

The Wild Garden brings a community together

The Wild Garden, by Cynthia Cliff, (May 2022, Prestel Publishing), $16.95, ISBN: 9783791375120

Ages 5-9

Jilly is a young girl who lives with her grandfather and her dog, Blue, in a small village. The community where they live works together to plan and grow their village garden as Jilly, Bleu, and Grandpa  wander the woods outside the village walls, foraging in the wild garden for berries, nuts, and edible greens. When the community considers knocking down a wall to expand their garden, Jilly and Grandpa take action to raise awareness and respect for the wildlife currently living and thriving there. Alternating spreads show the community working together to care for their gardens and Jilly, Grandpa, and Bleu exploring the woods. The narrative and illustrations show both sides of a coin: love of nature and working together. Jilly and her grandfather create a walking path with signs to invite their neighbors to explore the area and develop their own relationships with the land. Once understanding is achieved, they create a “new kind of garden” where the people and the wildlife coexist. Colorful illustrations show diverse townspeople working and playing together; natural areas are vibrant with life. The story moves through the seasons, with a color palette that shifts from verdant greens to warm oranges and yellows. A good story about community and on coexisting with nature.