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/
Brief summary: A young boy overhears a grownup comparing feelings to weather and how both change. The boy concludes that crying is like the rain. He shares the different perspectives people have about crying and then relates how the weather can become imbalanced. He learns how feelings can be expressed and mindfully shared with others.
Comments: This book could be shared with students and young ones to help them be aware of the difference types of crying and how people may feel differently about the emotions that go with it.
Sections in the back are: Crying Really is Like the Rain, Weather Reports: A Mindfulness Game, Go to Deeper, and Words Have Power.
It should be noted that the author is a counselor and founder of Mindful Kids.
On Account of the Gum by Adam Rex; illustrated by Adam Rex. 2020. Illustrated with Photoshop. Published by Chronicle Books.
Brief summary: A young girl wakes up with gum in her hair. Her father tries to remove it but gets the scissors stuck in the gum. Her father and sister go on the computer and find some websites that say butter could get the gum out, but the butter gets stuck as well. Pretty soon, various family members offer their advance only getting more and more things stuck in her hair. The fire department ends up coming to help, and the story continues getting crazier and funnier.
Comments: Students will love this accumulative tale with hilarious illustrations.
The Camping Trip by Jennifer K. Mann; illustrated by Jennifer K. Mann. 2020. Pencil on tracing paper and then digitally collaged and painted. Published by Candlewick Press.
Brief summary: Ernestine excitedly goes camping for the first time ever with her Aunt Jackie and Cousin Samantha. She excitedly packs her clothes ready for the long drive to the country. The girls decide to put up their own tent. Ernestine learns that it is not like making a fort at home. After getting sweaty, the two girls go the pond to fish where Ernestine is afraid the fish will bit her, but Samantha confirms that they do not.
It is time for all three to take a hike and have a picnic. The girls discover the Nature around them. They have a campfire in the evening when they learn to make smores before going to bed. It is very dark and Ernestine wants to talk to her father, but there is no reception.
After a good night sleep, Ernestine is able to really enjoy the rest of the camping.
Comments: Some of the story is in comic book blocks. Cute story of two cousins enjoying camping.
Sweet Child O’ Mine by Guns N’ Roses; illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin. 2020. Jimmy Patterson Books; Little, Brown and Company.
Brief summary: A young girl and her guitar-toting father adventure into the countryside to get her mother at the farmer’s market before all three head to the fairgrounds where they sing together on stage.
Comments: Beautifully illustrated!
Note: Keep in mind that this book’s interpretation of “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns N’ Roses has a different storyline. The song was about Axl Rose’s girlfriend, Erin Everly. Before I knew the original story behind the song, I always thought it was talking about a parent’s love for his child just like the illustrations do in this picture book.
Ellie’s Dragon by Bob Graham; illustrated by Bob Graham. 2020. Watercolor and ink. Published by Candlewick Press.
Brief summary: Ellie finds a baby dragon and calls him Scratch. She makes a bed for him. When she asks her mother for some matches for him to eat, her mother can only see an empty matchbox and cotton balls. Ellie places Scratch in her dollhouse and cares for him by feeding him hot related foods. She takes him to preschool and shares him with everyone. When she attends kindergarten, she forgets to take him to school with her and misses Scratch’s first flight. As Ellie grows older, she spends less time with her dragon, missing his growing and important days until one day, he leaves. Once in a while, Ellie thinks she sees him. Does Scratch really exist?
Comments: Love the end pages that begin and end the story. So much better than blank white ones. Clever way of explaining how we outgrow things as we get older.
Brief summary: This narrative nonfiction biography is a glimpse in the boyhood of Benjamin Franklin. Young readers can see another side of the famous man through his character as a boy. His grit to persevere when trying to solve a problem or improve an invention is a good model for young readers. It will also have children laughing with Benjamin’s antics especially when trying to figure out how to swim faster.
Ben’s father notices that his son excels at each of the tasks given to him by several different tradesmen. It’s just that Ben was not enjoying doing the same thing over and over. Hoping for his son to find a career, Benjamin is sent to his older brother, James, who works in a print shop. Benjamin enjoys printing and excels with this new skill.
Comments: This book gave us a glimpse of his personality as a child…full of imagination and curiosity and wonderment.
Brief summary: A young boy shares how much he loves swimming and only ice-cream can get him out of the water. His older sister warns him to make the most of it, as summer is going to end. He asks what happens after summer, and his sister tells him a dark tale about how fall will come and then winter. He decides there is nothing he can do about it and just has to wait for it to happen. When fall and winter do arrive, they are like his sister said but all in a positive way in which he enjoys the changing of the seasons.
Comments: What a great story to share about the coming of the fall and winter seasons and what happens. Students can see some of the negative and positive traits.
Bunheads by Misty Copeland; illustrated by Setor Fiadzigbey. 2020. Sketch and painted digitally. Published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons.
Brief summary: During Misty’s first ballet class, her teacher, Miss Bradley, told the story of Coppelia explaining it would be what they would dance for their first recital. Misty loves the story of the toy maker that created a life-size doll called Coppelia that a boy named Franz fell in love with to the dismay of his sweetheart, Swanilda. The toy maker decides to use the love of Franz to turn the doll into a real girl, but Swanilda becomes aware of the plan and changes her clothes and self to look like the doll. Franz realizes what is happening and marries Swanilda.
Cat is a new friend of Misty’s, and they grow closer competing with the various dance movements. They audition and Cat gets the role of Coppelia, and Misty will be Swanilda. The girls are excited and encourage each other for the recital.
Comments: Misty Copeland is the principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre. She also wrote Firebird. I look forward to more ballet books from her.
Nice story of how competition did not make the girls jealous or catty with one another, but instead, supportive.