Birdsong by Julie Flett; illustrated by Julie Flett. 2019. Pastel and pencil(composited digitally). Published by Greystone Kids.
Brief summary: Young Katherena and her mother move from their city house by the sea to the country. In the summer, Katherena is encouraged by her mother to meet their neighbor, Agnes and the elderly woman’s dog, Ôhô. Agnes encourages the young girl to draw. Over the seasons, they develop an intergenerational friendship and share each other’s passion of art. Agnes’s daughter visits her mother and welcomes the little girl to join her to sit at the old woman’s death bed until it is time to say goodbye.
Comments: This is such a nice and gentle story of a friendship between two artists. The ending when Katherena sits at Agnes’s side after covering the bedroom walls with her drawings of birds to give the elderly woman a beautiful sendoff is so touching.
I recommend this book for school counselors to have in their collections for students who may be experiencing death of a love one.
Little Ree by Ree Drummond; illustrated by Jacqueline Rogers. 2017. Pen, ink, and watercolors. Published by Harper Collins.
Brief summary: City Girl Ree is excited about her family moving to the country and living with her grandparents. She notices how different the air smells, can see all the land to the horizon, and realizes how the pond reminds her of a swimming pool. As she is getting settled on her first day, her little brother, Mikey, and cat, Pitcher, discover mud. She does not join them, but instead, goes inside to her new bedroom to unpack adding little touches to make it feel like home. At night, she hears different sounds than in the city. She awakens very early. Her grandfather teaches her how to ride her new horse, Pepper, which Lee finds to be harder to do than expected as they manage a herd of cows. She returns to the big ranch house and has a large breakfast which includes pancakes. Lee’s so tired that she falls asleep at the table but wakes up in time to meet all of her cousins at a barbecue. Little Ree realizes she is overdressed. They do not care and have fun playing with her. Little Ree believes she could become a country girl after all.
Comments: Author Ree Drummond shares her experiences of becoming a country woman and how it changed her life. There is a pancake recipe in the back. I would recommend this book to be shared with a city and country living unit of study. This is the first of a new series. I really enjoyed her earlier picture books series with Charlie the Ranch Dog. You may also know Ree Drummond as The Pioneer Woman from My Food Network.
(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).
Ella Who? by Linda Ashman; illustrated by Sara Sanchez. 2017. Illustration done digitally. Published by Sterling Children’s Books.
Brief Summary: On moving day, a little girl meets a baby elephant in the house. She tries to tell her mom, dad, and grandma who are only half listening, because they are busy bringing in furniture and arranging the new house. “Ella who?” They conclude Ella is a girl next door. The little girl plays with the elephant all day not interacting with her family as she understands they will not listen to her and see that there really is a baby elephant. A man rings the bell at the house and gives the mom and dad a flyer of the missing elephant. The paper has all of the information about the missing elephant which looks just like her new friend. The little girl realizes it is Fiona, the missing elephant, so calls the number. The man comes to collect Fiona never interacting with the parents. The little girl and her new friend wave good-bye to each other. The little girl goes inside where her family exclaims they were looking all over for her. “I was saying goodbye to the elephant,” she explains. Her family believes she means Ella, the girl next door.
Comments: The last spread is a foreshadowing of another story beginning to start. The young reader also sees that the family is living next to a wild animal sanctuary and then understands how these wild animals may end up in the little girl’s back yard. This text was in the first person and tells the story seen through the eyes of the little girl. I would use this picture book as an example when students are first learning about the different points-of-view in literature. Elementary students will relate to the little girl being misunderstood in this picture book, because the grownups are not listening. This has happened to them. They will also try to predict what will happen. Will the grownups see the elephant? What will happen in the next story?
(I may get a commission for purchases made through links in this post through the Amazon Affiliate Program. Books reviewed were checked out of the public library and not sent to me free for review).
Life Without Nico by Andrea Maturana; illustred by Francisco Javier Olea; Originally published in Mexico in 2014. 2016. Illustrated with Photoshop.
Brief Summary: Maia and Nico are best friends and do everything together until one day when Nico’s father tells them he must move the family to Australia for college classes. Maia becomes depressed once Nico leaves but makes friends with a kitten and girl. She also discovers the joy of music. Nico returns causing Maia to wonder if he will fit into her new life. Maia is relieved that nothing changed between them.
Comments: Very sweet and dear friendship book. I am recommending this one to our school counselor to help students dealing with a friend moving.