PPBF: While Grandpa Naps

Needed to show off all the pollen on my porch!

Author: Naomi Danis
 Junghwa Park
Publisher: POW!, 2019
Themes: family, multigenerational life, responsibility
Opening: Grandpa comes to visit on Sunday. He brings salami, rye bread, mustard, and pickles for the whole family.

Summary: (from the publisher) Gilbert spends a sunny summer afternoon obediently keeping watch over his napping grandpa to shoo the pesky flies away. Unsure of exactly how long he’s really supposed to sit there, watching for non-existent bugs, he passes time contemplating his ever-changing family: His grandma Sarah recently died, a new baby is on the way, his siblings and cousins race in and out. While the temptations to abandon his post beckon, Gilbert’s loyalty to his grandpa stays true, and his quiet dedication finds a sweet reward.

I read this book because: someone recommended it, so I also looked for a Kirkus review that lead with a strange remark: “Typographically overdesigned …”. I have to admit that was hook enough for me (reformed graphic designer) to search it out! But first off, the illustrations are so charming, I would have read it anyway! And while the text positioning may seem unconventional, I thought it in no way detracted from the story, in fact it was easier to read than so many others that add multiple blocks of text across a spread. And I enjoyed the font choice too! Aside from all that the story charmed my socks off! The more I read the closer I felt to the main character, despite never having had a similar experience. Now I long for a snooze in a hammock – and salami on rye with mustard!

Resources/activities: make a list of things kids know about their grandparents, including all the senses! (I cannot think of my father’s father without smelling his pipe!); have a garden picnic. Watermelon is a must – and at least try a version of Grandpa’s sandwich: salami on rye with mustard and pickles!

For more Perfect Picture Book Friday picks with teacher/parent resources, check out the list on Susanna Hill’s blog  HERE. 

PPBF: The King’s Golden Beard

Author/Illustrator: Klaas Verplancke
Publisher: minedition, 2021
Themes: beards, rulers, vanity

Opening: see spread above.

Summary: (from my library catalog) The lush, golden royal beard is a wondrous thing–especially to the king himself. He spends his days admiring and grooming it, and passes laws making it a crime punishable by death for anyone else’s face to sport even a single hair. As the people of the kingdom nervously shave daily, the royal beard grows and grows until it appears at the palace’s back gate. What happens next will have readers laughing along–and cheering for the astronomers who, unlike the tyrannical king, know that the earth is round.

I like this book because: the very strong, graphic compositions, and I love a good cautionary tale! And perhaps because of all the hair I’ve had to deal with as a mother of two who’ve always preferred long hair! I also admire the masterful use of a limited palette and simple but effective use of texture in the art. The story itself is a well-told and humorous tale of too much pride – great for discussions too!

Resources/activities: Klaas shared a really fun drawing lesson over at kidlit tv: https://youtu.be/oZkcA5Ei6ck

A little excitement to share – knowing that an appearance in PW may never happen again!

For more Perfect Picture Book Friday picks with teacher/parent resources, check out the list on Susanna Hill’s blog HERE.

PPBF: The Big Bad Wolf In My House

Author: Valérie Fontaine, transl. Shelley Tanaka
 Nathalie Dion
Publisher: Groundwood Books, 2021, org 2020 in French
Themes: family violence, domestic violence, wolves
Opening: see image below

Summary: (from the publisher) The young girl tells us that her mom’s new friend is just like the big bad wolf. At first the wolf is sweet and kind to her mom, though the girl notices the wolf’s cold eyes from the very beginning. When her mom arrives home late one day, the wolf suddenly hurls angry words and terrible names at her. From that day on her mother doesn’t smile anymore. The girl is careful to clean her room and brush her teeth and do everything to keep the peace, but the wolf is unpredictable, throwing plates on the floor, yelling at her mother and holding the girl’s arm so tightly she is left with bruises. Whenever the yelling begins, she hides under the covers in her room. How will she and her mom cope as the wolf becomes increasingly fierce? Valérie Fontaine and Nathalie Dion have created a powerful, moving story about violence in the home that ends on a note of hope.

I like this book because: it’s so important, and it’s been written and illustrated simply, clearly and with such thoughtfulness – for readers who can identify as well as readers who may not. Especially knowing the level of hidden domestic violence has risen due to the pandemic, I feel it’s more important than ever to address the topic. I also know from people I’ve met serving my neighbors experiencing homelessness that 50% of homeless women are domestic violence victims. I will definitely be donating a copy to a local school.

Resources/activities: easy – read the book!

For more Perfect Picture Book Friday picks with teacher/parent resources, check out the list on Susanna Hill’s blog  HERE. 

PPBF: How to Build a Hug

Author: Amy Guglielmo and Jacqueline Tourville
 Giselle Potter
Publisher: Atheneum, 2018
Themes: Temple Grandin, animal scientist, autism spectrum disorders in children
Opening: Temple loved folding paper kites, making obstacle courses for her dog, and building lean-tos with real hinged doors.

Summary: (from the publisher) As a young girl, Temple Grandin loved folding paper kites, making obstacle courses, and building lean-tos. But she really didn’t like hugs. Temple wanted to be held—but to her, hugs felt like being stuffed inside the scratchiest sock in the world; like a tidal wave of dentist drills, sandpaper, and awful cologne, coming at her all at once. Would she ever get to enjoy the comfort of a hug? Then one day, Temple had an idea. If she couldn’t receive a hug, she would make one . . . she would build a hug machine!

I like this book because: I think it relays her feelings as a child well making her trajectory in life so easy for all kids to relate to. I recently watched a book talk with Jeff Kinney for her newest book for kids, The Outdoor Scientist (see below). Glad this is out as summer is about to begin for kids and adults to explore together, but I’d suggest reading this with kids too! I had first heard about Grandin in an article I read in Germany almost 30yrs ago, and was fascinated to learn – at the same age – that not everyone thought visually like myself! And I was delighted to hear she worked in the town I was moving to in the States. I’ve seen her speak numerous times and have even spotted her in the wild in town!

Resources/activities: easy – read the book!

For more Perfect Picture Book Friday picks with teacher/parent resources, check out the list on Susanna Hill’s blog  HERE. 

And take a peek at my uncut Corona hair in the video below with Laura Backes form writeforkids.org below!