Camp Tiger by Susan Choi; illustrated by John Rocco. 2019. Watercolor sketch, wash pencil, and added the color digitally. Published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons.
Brief summary: A young boy and his family go on vacation right before school starts back up. His brother will be in fourth, and he will be in first. He does not want to be in first grade and hopes the annual camping trip at Mountain Pond never ends. All the usual animals are there. He finds a single red leaf on the forest’s ground foreshadowing that change is coming.
As they set up their tent, the entire family stops as an orange tiger walks out of the brush and talks to them. The family sets up a tent for the tiger where it goes to sleep. The boy goes in and lies down next to the tiger and talks to him. The tiger hangs out with the family the entire time. The tiger leaves without saying good-bye. The boy is sad and worries about it as the family drives home with a falling of orange leaves from the trees sprinkling the top of the car.
Comments: I think this would be a great read aloud for teachers, school librarians, and parents to their kindergartner going into first grade or whenever a child has to take the next life step. The illustrations are wonderful with earth tones and the brilliance of the tiger’s markings.
Under My Hijab by Hena Khan; illustrated by Aaliya Jaleel. 2019. Adobe Photoshop. Published by Lee & Low Books, Inc.
Brief summary: A young girl shares how six different women in her life wear their hijab according to their own preferences. She observes how the headscarf is worn in different styles and considers how she would like to wear her hijab one day that would match her personality too.
Comments: I learned that Hijab is singular and plural. There is an “About the Hijab” section in the back that explained that a Muslim female may choose to wear the hijab or not depending on her interpretation of Islamic religious requirements. The headscarf is often taken off at home. Girls don’t wear the hijab daily until adolescence, so that could be why the young girl in the book is considering how other women in her community wear theirs.
I think I would share this book by bringing in my mother’s lace scarf that she and the other women use to wear on their heads when they went to Mass in the early 1960s. She did not wear it any other time and would always have it in her pocketbook.
The illustrations are bright and colorful especially the eye catching cover.
My Fourth of July by Jerry Spinelli; illustrated by Larry Day. 2019. Pencil, pen, and ink with watercolor and gouache. Published by Holiday House.
Brief summary: A young boy wakes up by the Fourth of July parade going by his house and runs out in his pajamas to join it. He comes back home and goes into the kitchen to see his father and mother getting ready for the picnic. They load up their red wagon and go down the street to the park to join other neighbors. There are activities all day that he enjoys every Independence Day. The night comes and the boy and his dog fall asleep in the wagon awaking later to fireworks. Everyone heads home walking up the streets to their houses.
Comments: Love this book! Both author and illustrator perfectly capture the celebration of the fourth with the traditional activities, the excitement, and all the neighbors coming together to celebrate this special day. There is a dominance of red, white, and blue colors that help set the mood of the book. Positive vibe. My favorite part was the two page layout of the town’s people sleepily returning home at the end of the fun-filled day.
Although the description on Amazon says this is a nostalgic book of the holiday, I found that not to be necessarily true. With the exception of the train, my town celebrates the 4th just like this. I felt that this book represents so many small towns in America on July 4th.
Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry; illustrated by Vashti Harrison. 2019. Art is digitally created. Published by Kokila.
Brief summary: Zuri wants a special hairstyle for a special day and tries several with the help of her loving father until he finds one she likes. Her mom arrives home in time to see the final creation in which they take a selfie together to remember.
Comments: Cute and whimsical story of how a father does not give up with getting his little girl’s hair the way she wants it. I personally can’t remember when my father ever did that!
I would read this and other hair picture books (A Mighty Girl has a good list: I Love My Hair: 18 Books About Mighty Girls and Their Hair)and pair them with Rapunzel and variants of the fairy tale from other countries.
I am going to have to temporarily pause my brief picture book reviews until July 2019 when I will launch a new and improved site.
I will still maintain my Facebook and Twitter accounts in which I will share current library, book, and reading related news and humor.
Thank you so much for following me. See you again in July!
Thank You, Earth: A Love Letter to Our Planet by April Pulley Sayre; illustrated by April Pulley Sayre. 2018. Photography. Published by Greenwillow Books.
Brief summary: This beautiful rhyming love letter thanking the earth of all its wonderful life and land is illustrated with superb nature photos capturing the awesomeness of the planet.
Comments: This book could be shared at Thanksgiving with a discussion of what each child is thankful for that the earth gives us. It could also be shared on Earth Day. Topnotch photography as in her other books Raindrops Roll, Best in Snow, and Fall of Fall.
There is A Note From the Author in back.
Knock Knock by Tammi Sauer; illustrated by Guy Francis. 2018.
Brief summary: Bear is trying to get ready for winter and settle into hibernation when he keeps getting interrupted with knocks on his door.
Comments: A cute and clever story unfolds with the illustrations moving the story along with each knock knock joke. I would introduce this with the kindergarten unit on how animals get ready for winter.
Square by Mac Barnett; illustrated by Jon Klassen; 2018. Digitally and with watercolor and graphite. Published by Candlewick Press.
Brief summary: Square goes into his secret den every day and pushes out a square of rock and piles it with the other squares. One day Circle rolls by and compliments Square for his wonderful sculpture that looks like the artist. Could Square sculpture one of Circle? He works all night in the rain. Will Circle be pleased with his results?
Comments: Second of the shape trilogy of Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen. Young readers will be amused by the sense of humor in Square as they were in Triangle. The illustrations are blacks, grays, and browns.
A Lady Has the Floor: Belva Lockwood Speaks Out for Women’s Rights by Kate Hannigan; illustrated by Alison Jay. 2018. Alkyd paint with crackle varnish. Published by Calkins Creek.
Brief summary: Belva was already a teacher at age 14 and went to college in 1857 to learn more. She taught in New York encouraging and teaching girls how to speak publicly and for the girls to be able to have gym classes. She went to law school and completed her studies but was not given her diploma, because she was a woman. Belva wrote to the president of the school who later delivered it to her personally…Ulysses S. Grant who just happened to also be the President of the United States of America at the time. Belva was the first woman to have a law license. She fought for widows and Civil War veterans. She was not allowed to argue her cases, because she was a woman. She was the first woman to run for President under the National Equal Rights Party.
Comments: I really did not know how many things a woman was not permitted to do until I read this book. Belva Lockwood had guts and was a determined women’s rights activist that I’d like to have more credit given to in the history books. I can just imagine how it felt to have men dress up in women’s clothing and making fun of her in the streets as she tried campaigning against Grover Cleveland. Thank you, Belva! Back pages: Author’s note and Timeline
Between the Lines: How Ernie Barnes Went from the Football Field to the Art Gallery by Sandra Neil Wallace; illustrated by Bryan Collier. 2018. Watercolor and collage. Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.
Brief summary: It was the 1940s. Ernie Barnes really did not want to play football but was encouraged to make a living from it. He played for several teams. Although he was successful, his heart was not into it. He found himself drawing and painting all the time. He stopped playing football after a foot injury and was able to put his time into his art.
Comments: In the back of the book: Historical note, Author’s note, illustrator’s note, To Learn More, Quote Sources, additional resources. I recognized this style immediately from somewhere in my past but did not know the artist until after reading this book. His unique style of elongated figures caught the eye of many. His website: http://www.erniebarnes.com/