Mela and the Elephant
Dow Phumiruk, illustrated by Ziyue Chen
Sleeping Bear Press, 2018
An adventurous young Mela leaves behind her brother, for he has nothing to trade her, and borrows her uncle’s boat to chase a fish down river. Soon she is too far down and cannot row up the swift waters. She offers an alligator her fish, if he would return her to the village. She tosses him the fish and he swims away. She attempts to trade with other animals and is soon left with nothing to trade, alone and lost. An elephant offers to take her home, with nothing in trade. Mela learns kindness is its own reward.
Concludes with a bit of a ‘preachy’ ending, but great for discussion. Illustrator Ziyue Chen engages young readers into the story when she captures facial expressions of an independent and brave Mela on her adventure.
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Waiting is Not Easy!
by Mo Willems
Hyperion Books for Children, 2014
Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Award
Maybe it’s because ‘waiting’ struck a strong cord with me, but I found “Waiting is Not Easy!” hilarious and read it several times over the course of a week. I read it originally because it won the 2015 Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Award.
The beauty of “Waiting is Not Easy!”, is the words set up the story and the pictures show us the punch lines with humor lavished on each page—they are just plain fun to read!
In studying what makes this books special, I noted it had 57 page books, 25 more pages than the typical picture book. In doing some research, I discovered Willem’s first career was in stand-up comedy, producing videos, and later he was asked to work on PBS’s Sesame Street, where he garnered 6 Emmys. He has a talent of seeing each slight visual change in an interaction, exaggerating it for children (and parents) to enjoy. And he has a talent of bringing humor to the page, through both words and art. This book is great for parents to read to young children 2-4 and perfect for early readers, 4-6.
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