Mikis and the Donkey
by Bibi Dumon Tak
Eerdman’s Books for Young Readers, 2015 Mildred L. Batchelder Award
I could not put this book down, even when I should have been working!
Mikis’ grandfather buys a donkey to help carry wood down from the mountain for the winter. Little Mikis soon befriends the donkey. When grandfather ‘overworks’ and injures the donkey, Mikis goes directly to the doctor for help—on a Sunday! By Monday everyone on the tiny Greek island knows about Mikis’ ‘unheard of’ actions. He informs his grandfather that the doctor orders no work for the donkey for one week. He is soon called the Donkey boy, because he loves the donkey. Other subplots blended into the story results in an endearing book.
It recently won the American Library Association’s 2015 Mildred L. Batchelder Award. The reason I read it, however, was I heard it was selling much faster than they expected and they were about to make a second printing. As I suspected, fast-selling books are often the best, and this one is that. A perfect gift book, a perfect read.
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!
Possum Magic By Mem Fox, illustrated by Julie Vivas
Possum Magic is a best seller in Australia, written by their beloved children’s writer Mem Fox.
Hush and Grandma Poss live in a tree. Grandma Poss knows magic to turn wombats blue and kookaburras pink. But best of all, she turns Hush invisible, to protect her from the dangers of the bush, like hungry snakes! One day, Hush wonders what she looks like, for she cannot see herself in the pond. Grandma Poss searches her books for the removal spell, but cannot find it. She remembers it has something to do with food, human food. So they ride a bicycle to Australia’s major cities, trying out Anzac biscuits, monray and Minties. Nothing works, so they head off to cities in the far north. Find out what Australian foods she eats to regain her visibility.
Possum Magic’s whimsical illustrations are endearing to readers. The story is a great way to introduce young readers to Australia, the animals and foods different than those in the states. It includes a glossary explaining Australian terms, and a map showing the cities and foods.
By Margaret H Mason, Illustrated by Floyd Cooper
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2011
I don’t know which I like best, the story, the message or the art, but together These Hands is a moving book that can inspire youngsters to do anything they want. I think it was the art that invited me to get the book.
The story is about a grandfather sharing the story of what his hands do and have done in the course of his lifetime. He moves from teaching the young one to tie his shoes, to playing the ivories, to shuffling cards. The author Margaret H. Mason touches back to the day of civil rights to remind readers of the discrimination experienced at the time, when grandfather’s hands couldn’t do things. Like bake bread (at higher wages). The story moves on to tell how grandfather used his hands to join with other hands to change things, so that the color of a person’s hands that touches bread, no longer matters.
Floyd Cooper, an award-winning artist, uses an oil wash with kneaded erasers to create brown-tone scenes to tell his side of the story. Very inviting, nurturing, comforting.