What to Do with a String by Jane Yolen; illustrated by C.F. Payne. 2019. Published by Creative Editions.
Brief summary: A young girl uses her imagination and finds many uses of a string in some realistic and imaginary ways.
Comments: Told in verse and with rhyming words. Two page layouts. This would go well with introducing a maker space with string.
Sequel to What to Do with a Box(2016).
Be a Maker by Katey Howes; illustrated by Elizabet Vukovic. 2019. Watercolor, gouache, colored pencils, and Adobe Photoshop. Published by Carolrhoda Books.
Brief summary: A young girl wakes up wondering what she will make today using objects in her room until she goes outside in her spaceship and befriends a boy who also starts to make things with her throughout the day.
Comments: The span of the book is one day with the two children making messes, noise, art, a spaceship, a friend, lunch and so on as the day moves. What a great book to get young readers using their imaginations with materials around them.
Hum and Swish by Matt Myers; illustrated by Matt Myers. 2019. Acrylic and oil paint. Published by Neal Porter Books.
Brief summary: Jamie explores the beach randomly picking up things to make something in the sand but is unsure what that will be yet. The young girl is asked by several people what she is making but repeatedly answers, ” I don’t know”. Jamie hums as she creates. A painter with an easel sets up near her. They both create and coincide with one another throughout the day. They share their finished art projects with one another.
Comments: I like this quiet book of creating art. This would be a great book for an art teacher to share with the class before a lesson.
Robinson by Peter Sis; illustrated by Peter Sis. 2017. Pen, ink, and watercolor. Published by Scholastic Press.
Brief summary: As a boy, Peter Sis does not dress up like a pirate for the school costume party as all of his friends but instead, dresses up as his favorite adventurer, Robinson Crusoe. Excited to show everyone his great costume, he is let down by his friends’ teasing. He goes home to bed where he dreams of himself as Robinson stranded on an island. He awakens to his friends visiting with apologies and wanting to know more about Crusoe.
Comments: Good metaphor of the boy dreaming of being on an island alone without his friends just like Robinson. There is an author’s note in the back where Peter Sis shares his childhood story of him actually going to school dressed as Robinson Crusoe like the boy in his book.
The watercolors during his dream vibrantly fill the pages with several two-paged spreads.
There is a photo of Peter Sis dressed up as his favorite adventurer.
Walk With Me by Jairo Buitrago; illustrated by Rafael Yockteng. English translation–2017(originally printed in 2008). Pencil, scanned and redrawn/colored digitally. Published by Groundwood Books.
Brief summary: A girl requests a lion to keep her company while she walks through the city on her way home from school to pick her brother up from daycare and to the store where she buys food that she will make for dinner to be ready when her mother returns from working in a factory. The lion leaves to go back up in the hills at bedtime when all three sleep in the same bed next to a photo of the family minus the father.
Comments: This book’s illustrations tell so much of the story. We wonder what happened to the father in the photo shown at the end. He has a lot of yellow hair that looks similar to the lion’s mane. Is she imagining the lion as her father? This little girl must take on responsibilities beyond her age and maneuver through a busy and poor area of the city.
To help her mentally get through all of this, she imagines the lion walking with her. The store won’t give them any more credit. The lion is roaring in the background as the little brother crawls on the store’s floor. We see that the family is living in poverty by the cracks and deteriorating buildings. I want to know more about this story. What happened to the father?
Although this is a sad story, it is a necessary one that should be shared in order to remind us what some children go though once they leave school. We are reminded why they are unable to get their homework finished. No play dates. No soccer practice. They are too busy just getting by each day.
Happy Dreamer by Peter H. Reynolds; illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds. 2017. Digital illustrations with pastels; hand-lettered text. Published by Orchard Books
Brief summary: A young student tells how he dreams even when the world tells him to be still. He explains how he is a loud dreamer and a quiet dreamer and can dream wherever and whenever.
Comments: There is a two page fold out with all the ways to dream. This looks like another hit for Peter H. Reynolds. The illustrations are soft and smooth with pastels. The students and teachers love The Dot and Ish at my school. I can’t wait to read this one to them.
The Thing Lou Couldn’t Do by Ashley Spires; illustrated by Ashley Spires. 2017. Published by Kids Can Press.
Brief summary: Lou and her friends love to use their imaginations together during play time and go on all sorts of adventures. But when Lou’s friends decide to climb a tree to play, she comes up with many excuses of why she cannot join them instead of admitting she is afraid or has never climbed a tree. Lou convinces herself that she really doesn’t want to climb the tree. Her friends kindly offer to show her how to climb a tree. She tries but is not successful on her attempt. Her compassionate and empathetic friends take the game to another place outside. Lou keeps working on climbing the tree leaving the reader wondering if she will be successful.
Comments: A good read aloud to encourage trying something, failing, but trying again. Growth mindset example of how we can always learn new things even if they are scary at times. Students would also see an example of compassionate friends who do not make fun of Lou but instead, encourage and help her. Ashley Spires’ The Most Magnificent Thing is also a great story of teaching perseverance and imagination. She is also the author of the graphic novel series titled Binky. I look forward to seeing more picture books by this author/illustrator.
(I may receive a small commission for purchases made with links in this post through the Amazon Affiliate Program. Books in this picture book blog are not sent to me in exchange for a review, but instead, are checked out from a public library).
Henry and Leo by Pamela Zagarenski; illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski. 2016. Mixed media.
Brief summary: A young boy loves his stuffed lion toy, Leo, and takes it everywhere including on a long walk in the forest with his family. Henry becomes too tired to walk back, so his father carries his young son home. Henry wakes up as he is put into his bed realizing that Leo is missing. The family searches for Leo but do not find him, so they decide to look again in the morning. Henry worries Leo will be scared and is told by his mother that his stuffed animal is not real. With the help of some forest animals, Leo finds his way back to Henry.
Comments: All children will relate to the love of a plush toy and the emotion involved of losing it even for just a night.
Harry and Walter by Kathy Stinson; illustrated by Qin Leng. 2016.
Brief summary: Harry, who is 4 3/4 ths old is best friends with his neighbor, Walter, who is 92 1/2. They spend their days playing together until Harry has to move. Happily though, after a short time, they are reunited.
Comments: Sweet story about friendship with no age limitations. I would use this book when talking about friendships and the elderly.
What To Do With a Box by Jane Yolen; illustrated by Chris Sheban. 2016. Acrylic, watercolor, and pencil.a
Brief summary: Two children and a dog use their imagination to create all of the fun things they can do and go with a cardboard box.
Comments: This book could be used to foster creativity and imagination. An art teacher could read this to the class and then have students create art projects not only with a box but everyday household items like toilet paper rolls, an empty tissue box, and a water bottle.