Tag Archives: family

Grandma’s Tiny House












Grandma’s Tiny House, A Counting Story!
by JaNay Brown-Wood, illustrated by Priscilla Burris
Charlesbridge, 2017

This counting story is perfect for large families, where everyone piles into Grandma’s house for the holidays.  Author JaNay Brown-Wood creatively crafted a story starting with one grandma, two turkeys and three neighbors and with scrumptious smells, slapping high-fives, and mini stampedes, she cleverly moves up through “Nine chatting aunties”, “thirteen thrilled nieces” and “fifteen hungry grandkids”.  But, “How will they all eat in this too-tiny place?”  One of the clever grandkids has just the answer!  A fun, family story kids will want to hear again and again, if only to find themselves in the pictures!

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The One Day House












The One Day House
by Julia Durango, illustrated by Bianca Diaz
Charlesbridge, 2017

Before the words begin, the story begins with illustrations showing young Wilson finding a phone number for a neighborhood fix-it program for the elderly.  Knowing this, he goes home and tells Gigi he will paint her house “orange and yellow like the sun.”  She replies, “I will like that.  But today, you are all the sunshine I need.”  He tells his neighbors one day he will fix Gigi’s windows, put up a fence and repair her balcony, and they all agree that will be wonderful.  Then, ‘one day’ is here, and all the neighbors show up to do the things Wilson said would happen.  A story of love and earnestness, sprinkled with a quiet repetition building up to the ‘one day’.  An inspiring family story, as well as a story about programs made to help the elderly, people with disabilities and those unable to afford to repair their house.

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Charlotte the Scientist is Squished

Charlotte the Scientist is Squished
by Camille Andros, illustrated by Brianne Farley
Clarion Books, 2017

This story is about Charlotte who loves to solve problems.  Her biggest problem is that she is squished in her den with all her brothers and sisters.  She needs more space.  After she determines the question, she forms a hypothesis, then tests the hypothesis with an experiment.  It doesn’t work!  She tries other experiments, recording observations, drawing conclusions until she solves the question.  Only a new problem occurs.  Find out how Charlotte continues with her experiments until she finds her perfect solution.

With a touch of suspense, this book breaks down science experiments into steps young readers can understand and enjoy.  Perfect to stretch the minds of young scientists.

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A Family is a Family is a Family













A Family is a Family is a Family

by Sara O’Leary, illustrated by Qin Leng
Groundwood Books, 2016

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.

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Mama Seeton’s Whistle

WhistleMama Seeton’s Whistle
By Jerry Spinelli
illustrated by LeUyen Pham
Little Brown and Company, 2015

A young toddler can’t be found and a frantic mom puckers up and gives a two-note whistle.  Her son appears.  With that success, she starts using the whistle to call her family to dinner and it soon becomes a tradition to whistle each night and serve her family a chocolate cake for dessert.
As the kids get older and further away in the neighborhood, the same two-note whistle calls them in.  Eventually the kids grow up and move away and the mother misses her family.  One day at dinner, her husband–just for fun–encourages her to whistle like the old days.  Somehow that whistle is heard and her family appears within a few days from far and wide.  Sitting as a family, they enjoy their mother’s chocolate cake!

A wonderful story featuring a favorite family tradition.  I imagine kids will make this generational story a favorite.  Uyen Pham’s detailed illustrations include dozens of activities a typical family of kids do in their day; readers are sure to find themselves in the pictures.

Picture book stories are getting so brief these days, it was refreshing to read this story about a loving family tradition.  Perfect for children with a large family.

When a Dad Says “I Love You”

When a Dad Says “I Love You”
by Douglas Wood, illustrated by Jennifer A. Bell
Simon & Schuster for Young Readers, 2013

Traditional dads say “I Love You” in many ways to their child, without always using those three words.  This book sheds light in a gentle way of some of the many ways some dads—and some moms!—say I love you to their children.

Some dads show their love by making pancakes, some by chasing their kids in the back yard for fun, some by helping their child learn to ride a bike, or taking them to watch a parade.  If a dad, or other family member, doesn’t always use those three magic words, share with them this book and it will help them understand.

This is a wonderfully reassuring book for the child who doesn’t hear the spoken words, “I love you”.

Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin

Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin
by Chieri Uegaki, illustrated by Qin Leng
Kids Can Press, 2014
2015 Ezra Jack Keats Book Award

A story of a gentle spirit who creates a brilliant way to succeed at her dream, despite her newness to the craft.

After three lessons on her violin, Hana decides she want to be in the talent show.  Her brothers laugh at her and say she will be a disaster.  But inspired by her grandfather, a 2nd violinist for a great symphony orchestra in Japan, she pursues her dream.  She remembers her grandfather’s beautiful music she woke to each morning when she visited him last summer.  She also remembers the fun sounds her grandfather made in the evening for her brothers and her.  She practices and practices for the show.  The day of the show she is scared.  Thinking her brothers were right, she wants to turn into a “grain of rice and slip between the floorboards.”  Imagining her grandfather sitting before her for support, she shares with the audience music they can enjoy and she can perform, even as a beginner. Everyone enjoys her performance.  When she and her family return home, her brothers ask for an encore!   Find out what she does to succeed as a beginner!

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Mitchell’s License

Mitchell’s License
By Hallie Durand, illustrated by Tony Fucile
Candlewick Press, 2011

Mitchell’s dad issues him a “Remote-Control Dad Driver’s License” and the fun begins!

Mitchell’s License is an original story featuring an endearing father-son relationship.  Three-year old Mitchell never ever EVER wanted to go to bed, until his dad issued him a “Remote-Control Dad Driver’s License”.  Like any good driver, he checked out his vehicle, inspecting the tires (dad’s slippers) and engine (dad’s belly under his shirt).  Then he hopped onto the driver’s seat (dad’s shoulders) and sped through the house.  He turned to the left (pulling the left ear), to the right (pulling the right ear) and honked the horn (dad’s nose) when needed.  And sometimes he went too fast and Mitchell crashed his dad into the wall!  When Mitchell determined his vehicle needed gas he drove up to the gas station (cookie jar), but the car refused. Mitchell cried, “this is an emergency” and turned on his hazards (flash light), but to no avail.  The car dropped him into bed, where Mitchell happily dreamt of fueling up at his local cookie jar gas station!  The story is full of humor and imaginative action.

Check more reviews on Amazon.  Review originally published in San Francisco Book Review. 

Sophie’s Squash
By Pat Zietlow Miller, illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf
Schwartz & Wade Books, 2013
Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Honor
Charlotte Zolotow Honor book

Sophie repurposes a squash meant for dinner as her new friend.  It’s just the right size for her to hold.  Soon she dresses it, plays with it and names it Bernice.  Her patient parents point out the squash will turn bad, but loyal Sophie refuses to give up her friend.  Eventually her other friends ridicule the ‘squash with freckles’.  She returns to the market and asks the farmer what will keep a squash healthy.  “Fresh air.  Good, clean dirt. A little love.”  She returns home and buries her squash in good clean dirt.  The next day a snow blanket comforts her squash.  Winter passes and in the spring, Sophie spots a small green sprout, strangely familiar.  Each day she eats lunch by Bernice who has grown into a plant, until one day she discovers hidden beneath its leaves two tiny squash.  “You look just like your mom!” she declares. When they are just the right size to love, she makes them her friends.

There is something irresistible about Sophie’s Squash.  A child’s innocence and imagination using real foods, combined with her loyalty and creativity makes this story work on many levels.  There are several reports of girls adopting their own squash.

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