Chee-Kee is fresh, clear and true. In simple words and drawings, we follow the Loo family of Pandas who arrive at Bearland, looking and living very differently from the bears of Bearland. Chee-Kee, the young son, notices the differences and feels uncomfortable. He tries to change to be less noticeable, but that doesn’t work. He stays alone, until one day a soccer ball gets stuck in a tree. Immediately Chee-Kee begins fashioning a bamboo pole, vaulting up to knock down the ball. Everyone cheers and from then on, the Loo family members fit in just fine and the bears take on new activities brought over by the Loo family.
While this story could be ‘cheesy’, it isn’t. The drawings and story support each other to make it work. The pole vaulting gives a nod to the author’s father who played in the 1960 and 1964 Olympics. There is a richness to the story that seems to come from living through this kind of experience. Cheers to author/illustrator Sujean Rim for crafting this wonderful story.
An intriguing story asking if you were to immigrate to a new country and could only take what would fit in a suitcase, what would you take.
A teacher shared with her class that her great-grandmother came on a boat with just a suitcase. She shared what her great-grandmother brought, then she asked the students what they would bring if they left. We visit the rooms of eight children to see what they would take, what they would leave, and why.
Written in rhyme, the author Jamie Lee Curtis gets philosophical saying, who you are it isn’t just what you’ve got, but part what you learn and part what you’re taught. A thinker of a book. Something both child and parent can discuss.
An endearing story, masterfully told. A good read for a cold day snuggle under the blankets
Sophia and Mrs. Goldman make knitted hats. Sophia, who tried to learn how to knit last year, makes pom-poms for the hats Mrs. Goldman knits. Ever generous, Mrs. Goldman gives away the hats off her own head to keep others warm. Sophia worries Mrs. Goldman will get sick. At last she decides to knit her a hat. She works on it night and day and when it is done it is bumpy and lumpy and holey! She can’t give it to Mrs. Goldman, it looks like a monster and will scare Mrs. Goldman’s dog. She thinks and thinks until at last her heart grows bigger and lighter, like a balloon. She knows exactly what to do to complete the hat for Mrs. Goldman.
Illustrator G. Brian Karas captures the struggles Sophia experiences and how she works though them to show her love to Mrs. Goldman.
A poignant story about Pablo and his sister Sofia who survive by going to the garbage dump every day to salvage recyclable waste. A glimpse into a life most of us do now know, but plenty of children across the world do.
Bickering, like most brother and sisters do, Pablo and Sofia scurry off to treasure mountain. The truck is coming! Sofia rushes to the front. Sofia finds a blue boot. When Pablo says it’s too big, she says, “That’s good. You can wear it longer.” They cull through the garbage looking for scraps of paper and plastic their mother can sell for recycling. If they get enough, maybe their mama can buy half a chicken for dinner. Pablo finds a book and yearns to read, but practical Sofia scoffs, “Reading won’t fill your stomach!”
Pablo finds a gold chain. Maybe he can get a book. Soon Filthy-Face arrives and all the children flee like wild rabbits. Sofia gets away, but Filthy-Face snatches Pablo’s things. Sofia is angry he did not give the chain to her and now it is gone, but is it?
A refreshing look into the lives of the very poor and how they find their own joy and happiness. Ideal for discussions.
In a classroom setting, a teacher asks students what they thought made their family special. One girl turned red and worried that her family was not like the others. Then one by one, each child shares what their family is like and, of course, some are giant, some are gay, some are deep, some are multi-racial, some have disabilities, etc. She was finally able to share that she has a foster mom. A gentle, safe exploration of how so many families are different. Charming, educational, sweet, without the slightest hint that the reader is ‘learning’. Lovely book.
Written in poems, readers learn how Ezra Jack Keats bravely pioneered books in 1962 about African-American kids’ experience in the city. Born of poor Jewish immigrant parents, Ezra faced prejudice early. Drawn to be an artist, his father supported Ezra’s interests as much as he could with leftover paints. Just when Ezra managed to get a scholarship for college, his dad died, and he had to earn a living to support his family. Enlisting in the Air Force for World War II, he made posters, booklets, charts, maps and art. After the war, he returned to the same prejudices and decided to rearrange his name. After he successfully illustrated a couple children’s books, the editors invited him to write and illustrate his own story. He created a story of Peter, a ‘brown-sugar boy’. In 1962, his book, The Snowy Day, led to six others.
The book takes you down a delightful lane sharing how Ezra came to do his books and how much kids enjoyed them. Illustrations used are similar to Ezra Jack Keats style. A great reminiscent look down memory lane for parents, a great introduction to a writer/artist for children.
Mountain Chef tells of Tie Sing’s trials and tribulations to prepare gourmet meals for first trip of visionaries taken to Yosemite in the effort to form a national park service. The time was 1915 when all food and people were carried in on mules and horseback. The parks were undeveloped and the terrain was rough. For the chef, it was one of those trips where everything that could go wrong did, and how he creatively solved each challenge and kept the bellies of the visionaries happy.
Tie Sings accomplishments were significant in an era where Chinese-American discrimination flourished. A mountain peak named after him honors his consistent contributions towards forming a national park service.
Illustrator Rich Lo’s pencil drawings and watercolors splash Yosemite to life and invite readers to savor each page. The artwork itself is well-worth discovering. The book’s beauty wrapping the historical story of one person’s dream in an area of discrimination makes for a fascinating, inspiring read.
Following a well-told story are photos from the trip and background on the National Park Service.
In an era where Chinese-American discrimination flourished, Mountain Chef features Tie Sing who kept the bellies of the visionaries happy on this first critical trip to Yosemite.
By Anna Pignataro
Little Bee Books, 2015 Originally published in Australia
This is a book on ‘being different’ told primarily through illustrations.
In the opening page we see her parents are a bear and a pig, but because they look so happy together, we quickly overlook their differences. While words said, “she didn’t quite fit in,” she looked like she fit in okay. When it was her turn to share her one special quality, she was so embarrassed she hid. When she came out, each of the others shared a special quality they saw in her. The story ended when someone shared the universal truth that applies to everyone, “No one else is a better Agatha than you!” First published in Australia, the expressive drawings accented with simple colors provides a subtle message that being unique is special and a good thing. The drawings are so expressive, each child will find a character they can relate to.
In simple, muted colors, author/illustrator Renata Galindo shows how a newly adopted child (shown as a dog) adjusts to his new mother (shown as a cat). At first the dog tries to look like his new mother, and the mother assures him he doesn’t need ‘fixing’ and that she likes that they are different. The child plays with his mom and lets her take care of him. Sometimes she makes him do things that make him mad and he doesn’t like her at that moment, but Mom assures him that they will be okay and they both must try harder. They agree that they are learning how to be a family. The story is nurturing, loving, understated and simply told so a young child who is adopted, or a friend of someone who is adopted, can grasp the subtleties of their new situation.
by Monica Brown, illustrated by David Diaz
Lee & Low Books, 2015
Following the tradition of the Yiddish folk song about an overcoat that is made into smaller and smaller items, Maya Morales has a special blue and green with purple butterflies blanket (manta) made by her Abuelita, which eventually becomes frayed on the edges. Maya, with the help of her Abuelita, uses the material to make herself a dress (vestido). It gets stained at a party and Maya makes it into a skirt (falda). Smaller and smaller remakes occur until she loses the final remake, a bookmark. At this point, she decides to write a story about her manta, and writes this book. While the story is not new, incorporating Spanish culture and a girl who makes her own new items with the help of her Abuelita, makes this a love-filled story. The book is written in both English and Spanish.