PPBF: Thumbelina of Toulaba

Author: Daniel Picouly, after Hans Christian Andersen, transl. by Claudia Zoe Bedrick
 Olivier Tallec
Publisher: Enchanted Lion, 2007
Themes: fairy tale interpretations, girls, emotions

Opening: Once upon a time in Toulaba, a country at the far end of faraway, there lived a woman, young as the sweet breeze of spring and dark as the night when the moon merely smiles.

Summary: (from my library’s catalog) In this retelling of the Andersen fairy tale, a tiny girl is stolen from her loving mother and many siblings, has adventures with a wise caiman, an injured bird of paradise, and other exotic creatures, and learns how to say no while fending off suitors. Includes a glossary of plants and animals.

I picked this book because: I picked it up because I am a big fan of Tallec’s work, but I really enjoyed the lyrical, almost folkloric feel in the telling. I like the fact that Thumbelina is much more in control of her destiny in this retelling. The vocabulary might be challenging to a group of older toddlers, so I might only read it to one or two on my lap so we can take the time to explain, but this would be great to use in an elementary classroom. And just gorgeous!

Resources/activities: read the original Andersen version if your kids are up for it; locate Martinique, where the author comes from, on a map, and Paris, where he lives now. List the animals in the book (both if you read another) and talk about which animals appeal to readers more and why. Would you have acted differently than Thumbelina in some instances?

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

PPBF: Bedtime for Bo

Author: Kjersti Annesdatter Skomsvold, transl. Kari Dickson
: Mari Kanstad Johnsen
Publisher: Enchanted Lion, 2022
Themes: bedtime, imagination, mother and sons

Opening: It’s evening and Bo is being silly. he does tumblesaults on the sofa and sings as loud as he can.

Summary: (from my library catalog) It is time for bed, but Bo is not ready to stop playing, so Mommy joins in the fun with imagination and love, while still guiding Bo through his nighttime routine.

I picked this book because: I love the BIG loose images, the simple flat palette that still manages to fill in so many details, like animal characters that we can’t be quite sure of – are they real or stuffies? Essentially, a bedtime-comparison concept book with lots of fun and drama that goes beyond!

Resources/activities: discuss your bedtime routine and what you you might like to change and what to keep the same; read companion books to learn more about the habits of familiar animals; visit this post: Where Children Sleep Around the World !

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

PPBF: The Runaways

Author: Ulf Stark; translated by Julia Marshall
Illustrator: Kitty Crowther
Publisher: Gecko Press, 2019; orig. title Rymlingarna, by Lilla Piratförlaget, 2018
Themes: grandfathers, islands, death

*It’s a pity when library jackets cover the endpapers. See the other half below.

Opening: Outside the hospital, maple leaves glowed red and gold. I watched them through the window and thought: It’s strange how leaves are brightest the moment before they fall.

Summary: (from my library’s catalog) Grandpa’s in the hospital and hating it. He swears at the nurses and makes trouble for everyone. Dad finds it too stressful to visit, but Gottfried Junior visits Grandpa as often as he’s allowed, and when he’s not allowed, he goes anyway. Grandpa thinks only of the place he was happiest–the island where he lived with Grandma before she died. He wants to go back one last time, but they won’t let him out of the hospital. Gottfried Junior and Grandpa take things into their own hands. If running away is the only way to get to the island, then they’ll be runaways.

I cheated! I am picking this chapter book because I am a fan of the illustrator’s many picture books and just fell in love with this. So many people ask for recommendations of books on grieving for young children and I really think this could be a good one to read together even for the picture book crowd. The concept of running away with a grandfather really appealed to me, and the setting, but it’s the main character’s inner voice and observations that warmed my heart. Perfect read with a blanket on your lap and a cup of tea in hand – but it’s so good your tea may get cold!

Resources/activities: the holiday season may provide a good opportunity to interview an older person in a child’s life – we will never know all the stories, but bets to take the opportunity before it’s gone. Oh, and don’t favor one over another: interview all the grandparents! More great books on grandparents, death, and grieving: Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs/Tomie dePaola, The Invisible String/ Patrice Karst, illus. by Geoff Stevenson, Badger’s Parting Gifts/Susan Varley – explore more at your public library.

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

PPBF: How I Learned to Fall Out of Trees

Author/Illustrator: Vincent X. Kirsch
Publisher: Abrams, 2019
Themes: best friends, moving, tree climbing

Opening: When Adelia told me she had to move away, she was up in her favorite tree. “Roger, before i go, I’m going to teach you how to climb a tree.” “What if I fall?”

Summary: (from my library’s catalog) Edward and Adelia have been best friends for many years, so when it is time for Adelia to move away she plans a special parting gift for him.

I picked this book because: I love the message. I am already a fan of Kirsch’s somewhat quirky characters and details and his loose, energetic drawing style, so I was immediately drawn to the cover. What I really liked in this book is the message of learning something new, easing your fears by preparing for a hard landing just in case, and for letting go – one of the hardest lessons of all.

Resources/activities: learn to climb a tree with the help of a friend or an adult; learn about how to identify trees by their shape and leaves in order to find the best climbers; practice on playground equipment designed for climbing; read more tree themed books!

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