I am Not a Dog Toy by Ethan T. Berlin; illustrated by Jared Chapman. 2021. Published by Random House.
Brief summary: A little girl on her birthday opens a large yellow box where a talkative teddy bear pops out pledging that they are going to be best friends. She tosses him into the dog’s water bowl, waking the sleeping dog who excitedly goes over to the soaked bear. The dog is very pleased with his new toy and tells the bear how much fun they are going to have together. The bear tells him that he is not a dog’s toy but a kids’ toy. The dog picks him up in his mouth and runs throughout the house playing with him and having the most fun ever. The bear tells him again that he is not a dog’s toy and sees that the little girl is coming into her room where he believes she will rescue him from the dog. Instead, she tosses him into the wedge between her bed and the wall where all of the other toys ended up that she did not like.
The dog tells the teddy bear that he would never treat him like that. “I am a kids’ toy!” the bear exclaims again and tries to get the little girl to play with him but sadly without success. He realizes that the dog is the one who will treat him right and love him. “I am a dog toy, and it is glorious!”
Comments: This could be used in a perspective unit of how others may perceive something differently. There could be a discussion of what is the point of view the bear has of himself, how the dog views him, and how the little girl sees him. There could even be a discussion of friendship and how it needs to be reciprocated.
Ten Beautiful Thingsby Molly Beth Griffin; illustrated by Maribel Lechuga. 2021. Photoshop and Clip Studio Paint with watercolor textures in traditional mediums. Published by Charlesbridge.
Brief summary: Lily is in the back seat driving with her Gram to Iowa where she will now live. The young girl tries to fold up the map while her Gram suggest they find ten beautiful things on the their long car ride. LIly does not see anything beautiful until the sun rises over the horizon. Number 1. They continue to play this game throughout the journey slowly filling Lily’s empty heart with beautiful things.
Comments: I was thinking of so many activities this book could go with in an elementary school setting. I would share this book with young readers to help them look for positive things around them when things are not so great. Keeping in mind that “beauty is in the eyes of the beholder” may need to be explained before sharing this as a read-aloud. I would then have students/children share what is beautiful to them in the room, in their home, in their school, and so on. Great way to lead to positive thinking.
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.
A Whale of a Mistake by Ioana Hobai; illustrated by Ioana Hobai. 2020. Ink, watercolor, and acrylic. Published by Page Street Kids.
Brief summary: A young girl makes a whale of a mistake and is taken out to sea by it. She tries to get the whale to leave her alone, but the mistake takes her further out into the ocean until she finally accepts it. She notices how amazing the stars are out in the quiet ocean while continuing to ride on the back of the whale. Upon reflection, she begins to wonder if those stars are mistakes too. She begins to see how large the universe is and realizes she is not so big and can change her perspective. As she begins to feel that she can move on, the whale becomes smaller and takes her back to the shore where the young girl can stand on solid ground again.
Comments: Love how this book could be read to a child who has made a mistake, admits it, and is encouraged to move on instead of wallowing. Great metaphor. Wordplay. A superb addition to any guidance counselor’s or teacher’s collection to be used to help students recover from a mistake upon reflection.
I think this could be a school assembly read-aloud to discuss mistakes and how to move on after admitting to them.
Brief summary: Children from around the world wonder if their everyday neighborhood colors are the same as other children in the world.
Comments: I would share this book at the end of the kindergarten color unit to summarize the colors and to think about how color may have different or similar perspectives to someone else in the world.
Moon!: Earth’s Best Friend by Stacy McAnulty; illustrated by Stevie Lewis. 2019. Colored pencils and digital tools. Published by Henry Holt and Co.
Brief summary: Moon tells the story of the friendship she has with Earth. She is Earth’s best friend and only satellite. Moon tells all about how she orbits the earth, smiling the whole time and never showing her back to her BFF. Moon explains how some earthlings have walked on her and left their footprints. Earth’s friends are her’s too.
Comments: Superb beginning book about the moon, how it rotates, tides, gravity, myths and so on. Definite must for any library collection.
Back pages have interesting facts about the moon. Illustrations are large and often two-fold.
This story is told through the moon’s perspective.
Personification of the moon and earth.
Others in the Our Universe series by Stacy McAnulty:
Brief summary: It’s a warm sunny day in Bert’s back yard. A perfect day for cat, dog, Chickadee, Squirrel, and Bear but all in different ways. Bear is unaware of spoiling the other animals’ perfect day as he relaxes in Bert’s back yard.
Comments: It will get readers to stop and think what a perfect day means to them. A turn-and-share with students could teach about others’ interpretations.
They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel, illustrated by Brendan Wenzel. 2016. Colored pencil, oil pastels, acrylic paint, watercolor, charcoal, Magic Marker, #2 pencils, iBook.
Brief summary: A house cat walks through his world and is seen differently by each being. Sometimes the cat is a large monster; sometimes the cat is a small creature. It also can be different colors and shapes.
Comments: This book demonstrates different visual interpretations of the same object which can differ from one another depending upon one’s own attitude towards it or the fact that an eye can only see certain colors and shapes. I would use this in an art class for different visual perspectives and in a reading unit when discussing points of view. I recommend this as a Caldecott contender.
Brief summary: School is built one day and named Frederick Douglas Elementary. Janitor is cleaning him and shares that teachers and children will fill him soon. School learns about the children on the first day of school and what they do inside of him. At the end of the day, School tells Janitor that the whole time before he thought of himself as the Janitor’s house. Janitor explains that the children will be visiting all school year.
Comments: Cute story to read during the first day of school. I would also read this during a personification or perspective unit of study.