Sticks and Stones by Patricia Polacco; illustrated by Patricia Polacco. 2020. Two and six B pencils and acetone markers. Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Younger Readers.
Brief summary: Trish is going to spend a year of junior high with her father in Michigan instead of with her mother in California. Unfortunately, she breaks out with a red rash all over her face on her first day and is given the name “Cootie” by one of the bullies. As the school year progresses, she befriends two kind and gifted students the bullies have nicknamed “Sissy Boy” who is a remarkable dancer and “Her Ugliness” who is a talented artist. They become best friends and conquer the cruel remarks together.
Comments: It was wonderful to read the author’s letter in the back telling the young readers how the three friends in the story are actually real friends and have prospered with their gifts despite the unkind words of Billy.
Rain Boy by Dylan Glynn; illustrated by Dylan Glynn. Watercolor, pastels, cut paper, and colored pencils. Published by Chronicle Books.
Brief summary: Wherever he goes, Rain Boy, a cloud that brings “wet,” cannot get anyone to like him. His classmate, Sun Kidd, is popular because wherever she goes, she brings sunshine. She has a birthday party and invites Rain Boy who makes everything wet. “Rain, Rain, go away,” the classmates shout. Rain Boy sadly causes a storm. He stays inside for months causing everything to be dark and rainy.
Sun Kidd was so upset, that she too stayed away from school. After a bit, the classmates began to see how the rain is actually beneficial. The flowers and trees grow. They play in the puddles. Rain Boy decides to go outside, and after awhile, Sun Kidd joins him showing they could coexist.
Comments: I like how the watercolors used to represent rain and sun helped set the mood of the story. The children changed their minds about their classmates by having more information that helped them see the benefits of both.
Brief summary: Readers learn about Mr. Roger as a talented boy who was shy and sometimes bullied. He grows up and has many jobs such as a minister, musician, and children’s television host. Young readers will learn how Mister Roger’s Neighborhood was developed.
Comments: This narrative nonfiction biography shows the gentle nature of Mr. Rogers and how The Neighborhood helped children viewers learn to be themselves. There are many wonderful and detailed watercolor illustrations.
The back pages had sections: About Fred Rogers, Visual Glossary, Mister Rogers and Me, and more. I appreciate the photos of in the back.
Be sure to check out this awesome KidLitTV interview with Matthew Cordell and his writing of Hello, Neighbor!
Zero Local: Next Stop: Kindnessby Ethan Murrow and Vita Murrow. 2020. Largescale graphite drawings are taken from photos, actors, and handmade sets in a studio. Published by Candlewick Press.
Brief summary: An artist rides on the train drawing while a young girl watches. Upon leaving the train, the artist gives the thank-you drawing to the engineer. This happens a few more times delighting the recipients. The young girl is on a train where there is some scuffling. Upon leaving, the child gives them origami gifts she made to show them a little love. This gesture unites them just like it did when the artist the little girl watched earlier in the story.
Comments: This story without words in black and white colors accents the characters with yellow who are trying to show kindness despite tension on the train. When the kindness is shared, the recipient turns yellow. Inspired by a true story.
Brief summary: A child shares with the young reader about a voice that is constantly negative and defeating. The cold voice constantly lists everything wrong about the child and never any positive traits. Another voice speaks up from somewhere deep inside pointing out all of the wonderful things about the child.
Comments: I think this book could really help a child find that positive self-lifting voice by addressing and discussing what to do when the negative voice tries to dominate. I noticed how the cold little voice became larger on the page as the story progressed and toke over the whole page. Those pages are illustrated with darker colors.
When the positive voice surfaces, it is yellow and warm. The pages are brighter. The voice of doubt is controlled.
This book could be shared one-on-one with a child (or even during a school’s mental health assembly) who needs a little help with self-esteem, sadness, or depression.
The Cool Beanby Jory John; illustrated by Pete Oswald. 2019. Scanned watercolor textures and digital paint. Published by Harper Collins.
Brief summary: A bean admires his friends who are now cool beans. Everything they do is cool, and he wishes he was as cool. No matter how much he tries to match their coolness, he fails in comparison and begins to lose his self-esteem. One day, he drops his lunch in the cafeteria and was amazed that one of the cool beans helped him clean it up. He continues to have other mishaps and is helped by the cool beans. He regains his self-confidence and realizes that coolness isn’t about how one looks but about helping others.
Comments: The illustrations are hilarious. The story’s morale would appeal to young readers. Several bean puns.
These are a few others by this author/illustrator duo with funny life lessons to share:
You Are My Friend by Aimee Reid; illustrated by Matt Phelan. 2019. Pencil and watercolor. Published by Abrams Books.
Brief summary: Fred Rogers was sick as a young child and unable to make friends, so he created puppets instead to share his feelings with and talk to about life. He learned to express his emotions on the piano too. His mother told him to look for people who are helping whenever they left the house to help calm her son. He enjoyed visiting his grandfather in the country. Grandpa McFeely told his grandson that he loved him just the way he was. This stayed with Fred as he went to college majoring in music. He later worked for the country’s first public television station, WQED. Years later, he produced Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood developing his own scripts, music and puppet voices.
Comments: This is a brief biography of Mr. Rogers’ life. It reveals how he came up with some of his ideas for the show such as his neighborhood of puppets and his philosophy on life.
This book’s back pages have a section about Mr. Rogers’ life.
I would share this book to emphasize kindness, community helpers, and feelings.
Be Kindby Pat Zietlow Miller; illustrated by Jen Hill. 2018. Published by Roaring Brook Press.
Brief summary: Tanisha spills grape juice on her dress during lunch. Everyone laughs except for one girl who remembers her mother telling her to be kind. So, she walks over to Tanisha and say, “Purple is my favorite color,” hoping the Tanisha would smile but she runs away instead. The young girl wonders what it means to be kind. What could she have done? She thinks about ways she has been kind to others and figures out how to make Tanisha feel better.
Comments: I like that this book examines HOW to be kind. Children are often told to be kind but may not necessarily know examples to follow.
Baabwaa & Wooliam: A Tale of Literacy, Dental Hygiene, and Friendship by David Elliott; illustrated by Melissa Sweet. 2017. Watercolor, gouache, and mixed media. Published by Candlewick Press.
Brief summary: Wooliam loves to read, and Baabwaa loves to knit. The two sheep enjoy spending the days with their favorite activity until one day, Wooliam suggests that the two friends go on an adventure. They leave their trailer and have a walkabout of the field not going past the stone wall. They are just finishing their lunch of grass when a third sheep approaches with a dirty wool coat. “Run!” said Wooliam. “It’s that Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing I’ve read about.” The wolf chases but then stops, curious about what they had read about him. The sheep show him the book. After realizing the wolf cannot read, the sheep decide to teach him how to read and knit him a new coat. No good deed goes unpunished, but the three do arrive to harmony.
Comments: These two sheep decide to be kind and understanding to someone even though he has the reputation of eating them, has awful teeth, and is constantly chasing them around the field. A different viewpoint of the Big Bad Wolf.
I have the comment moderation turned on. Your comment will appear after it has been approved. Keep in mind that young readers may be reading about a picture book I reviewed, so I will not approve your comment if there is inappropriate language. Be kind; be polite. Think before you speak. No spam or ads. Because I am working as a library media specialist, it may take me a day to get back to my blog.
If you see that I made a typo or grammar error, please politely let me know.No need to be snarky. I am fully aware that I have an attention span of a hummingbird and miss things when I proofread.