Rectangle Time by Pamela Paul; illustrated by Becky Cameron. 2021. Published by Philomel Books.
Brief summary: A thoughtful cat enjoys rectangle time with his boy and father and helps in any way he can to make it superb. He always sits in someone’s lap and scratches his face on the rectangle. Soon, he notices that there are two voices at rectangle time and decides to add his. As time goes by, he hears that rectangle time is now silent and only with the boy. The cat decides he will break the quietness.
Years pass. The cat sees how rectangle time is now with two again, but they are sitting in silence at opposite sides of the room. The cat pokes the boy to let him know he is still contributing with this special ritual. The cat believes it is an accident when the boy removes his helpful paw.
More time passes and the cat concludes the boy is not enjoying his rectangle time by himself on his bed, so the supportive cat sits on the rectangle. He gets dumped on the floor and realizes it was not an accident. The caring cat decides to re-position himself. Will this persistent feline ever find the right way again to share rectangle time?
Comments: Whenever we have story time in elementary school, we call it “circle time” when the children would gather around in sort of a circle and listen/participate with a read aloud. “Rectangle time” is such a cute name showing that story time is through the cat’s perspective and how it changes over the years as the boy grows older.
Definitely a good choice for library media specialists and teachers to share.
Brief summary: A young girl notices the different type of eyes she and her group of friends have and is aware that hers “kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea”. Her Asian eyes are like her mother’s as they laugh together. The girl then notices that her Amah’s eyes are like hers and just like her mother’s. The girl knows her Amah’s eyes when she tells stories of long ago. Mei-Mei, her younger sister, has eyes just like they do. She notices her little sister’s eyes when they play.
The young girl realizes that her eyes are like her ancestors’ and now.
Comments: The young girl experiences self awareness of her eyes and her family’s.
Beautiful yellow flowers on the end pages. Large bright illustrations. Beautiful.
The metaphor of her eyes kissing in the corners is ssssoooo precious!
Brief summary: Kitty O’ Meara’s poem shares what might happen during the COVID-19 pandemic and after it. The poem begins with, “And the people stayed home.” and continues showing what various people would do during the quarantine such as enjoying music, art, and reading. They stop and listen to others more and get to know their families. The poet predicts what will happen once the pandemic is over.
Comments: This is a sweet and innocent poem that could be shared with young readers. The illustrations are large and bright. Although they were created by two illustrators, there is not a division of style.
This poem came out during the beginning of the pandemic with a wishful hope of how humans will behave and learn from this disease. So, there is none of the negativity of some of the things that did happen.
I am looking forward to more picture books being published about the pandemic in the months to come including some about those individuals/groups who did not get to stay home.
There is a brief Q & A of the poet in the back of the book. There is a website also with more information about Kitty O’ Meara including a teacher’s guide for the poem– https://andthepeoplestayedhomebook.com/
Sugar in Milk by Thrity Umrigar; illustrated by Khoa Le. Oct. 2020. Published by Running Press Kids.
Brief summary: A young girl misses her family, friends, and cats as she tries to accumulate to being a new immigrant in America. Her aunt and uncle provide their niece with her own bedroom filled with toys and books, but she is still depressed. Her aunt takes her on a walk where she shares an old Persian myth that encourages her niece to go outside and get to know the new country with a different viewpoint.
An Indian king is not sure about opening his land to a group of refugees from Persia, as his land is already crowded. The Persians are unable to understand the rejection of the king, so he pours a glass of milk all the way to the very rim. He tells them that his land is too crowded and cannot take any more people just like this glass cannot take another drop of milk. The people begin to leave until their leader says for everyone to wait. Their leader takes out some sugar from his pocket and slowly stirs it into the milk carefully not spilling any milk and gives it to the king. “And just like sugar in milk, we will sweeten your lives with our presence.”
The king understands even though they do not speak the same language. He hugs the leader and laughs while welcoming the people to India.
Comments: Touching story. I tried rephrasing it, but reading it yourself will be better.
The illustrations are beautifully done. I appreciate that the end pages are not stark white but with an ornate style of a fancy cup of milk in a pattern.
Brief summary: Mama and Papa Duck go on a walk with their ten ducklings in tow. As the parents continue walking down the road, the last duckling in line stops and quacks with a farm animal. Soon, Mama and Papa duck realize that all of their babies are gone. They go to find them and somehow end up with an extra.
Comments: An adorable counting backwards book of ducks. Fun read aloud with young readers.