Some library hauls are better than others. Originally, I planned to review only one of these books, but the book kept changing. Eventually I realized I should just review all of them.
What Is Given from the Heart by Patricia C. McKissack, Illustrated by April Harrison
A children’s book that will make you cry. After his father dies, a little boy and his mom are in a rough patch–mentally, emotionally, and financially. But not spiritually. When their pastor calls on the congregation to help a family whose house has burned down, the mother and son work hard to help. But what can the boy give? This story, y’all. It breaks my heart, but it’s also really positive. The illustrations have a chalk art quality that I find interesting and unusual. This book is a must for early elementary aged children. While there are many older books Marian still enjoys, this was not one of them. However, it’s one we’ll definitely be reading when she’s older. I love the message of hope and courage even in the toughest of scenarios. For it takes courage to help when you’re feeling so downtrodden.
The Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever by H. Joseph Hopkins, Illustrated by Jill McElmurry
I learn so much from children’s books, and they make the perfect medium for biographies of people I’ve never heard of. I know that’s strange to say, but I can read a picture book biography in what, 10 minutes? And then if I find I’m interested in that person, I can find out more, and find adult biographies. But if I’m not interested, I can move on. Perfect! The Tree Lady is about Kate Sessions, the woman who beautified San Diego with her tree-planting initiative. She lived in the 19th century, when it was not proper for a lady to enjoy science and mucking about in the garden. But this lady wasn’t about to stop doing what she loved. She was the first woman to graduate from the University of California with a science degree. The illustrations do a great job of telling the story the words do, so a child not yet reading at a high level can still enjoy this book. It’s for early-late elementary school aged children.
Al Pha’s Bet by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Illustrated by Delphine Durand
This is definitely Marian’s favorite of the bunch. When the king decrees an award for whoever can arrange the letters together in some clever way, Al Pha decides to take the challenge. There ensues much random arranging, and much singing of the alphabet song, which, if you haven’t guessed, is named after the protagonist. Marian loves the alphabet, so of course loved the many times I sang it while reading this to her. It’s the perfect book for kids learning their alphabet. The illustrations are as silly as the prose.
Mommy Sayang: Pixar Animation Studios Artist Showcase by Rosana Sullivan
I included this book in our Mother’s Day list, but I wanted to review it again. It’s a gorgeous book about the relationship between a little girl and her ill mother. As a mom with a disability, I love seeing disability narratives in children’s literature. It’s written and illustrated by a Pixar animator, and they apparently have a series of picture books showcasing their animators. I have not read any of the others. This book takes place in Malaysia, where Sullivan’s mother lived. Marian liked this one as well, though it’s geared toward the early elementary crowd.
Joy by Corrinne Averiss, Illustrated by Isabelle Follath
This is such a sweet book about a little girl named Fern who sets out to catch some joy for her grandmother. I love books about grandparents, and this one explicitly deals with the depression many elderly people feel when their health starts affecting their ability to live an active lifestyle. But this book isn’t depressing at all. Fern loves her Nanna so much, and she’s such a happy little girl. She brings so much joy to the page, both in the writing, but especially in the illustrations, which are magical. This also has the thicker pages Marian likes to turn. It’s still definitely a picture book and not a board book, but the slightly thicker paper makes it easier for Marian to turn every single page, which is a thing she’s insisting on doing right now.
Thank You, Omu! by Oge Mora
Omu has cooked up a delicious pot of stew for supper, MMMMMmmmmm as Marian would say. And unfortunately the entire town says the same thing, for everybody starts showing up on Omu’s doorstep begging for some of that delicious smelling stew. By the time it’s supper, Omu doesn’t have any left! But that’s when there’s a knock on the door, and the community pulls together in an unexpected way. This is such a fun story, and the boldly colored paper cut illustrations are equally fun and vibrant. Even though this is for older kids, Marian enjoyed it.