PPBF: Shirley Chisholm is a Verb!

Author: Veronica Chambers
Rachelle Baker
Publisher: Dial , 2020
Themes: US Congress, African-American women, legislators
Opening: (see opening pages below).

Summary: (from my library catalog) A picture book biography celebrating the life and contributions of Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman in Congress, who sought the Democratic nomination to be the president of the United States.

I like this book because: I admire the way the author was able to combine a straightforward biography with such a strong layer focused on language and education, which ties back to who this courageous woman really was, and leaves the reader so inspired at the same time. I understand that a spread was included to show that others were standing on her shoulders in their efforts to get elected, but in my personal opinion I don’t believe some of those represented on the pages come remotely close in integrity and purpose, so I would rather have seen other voices more in line with Chisholm’s path. I certainly know kids feel inspired to learn more about her work after reading the book!

Resources/activities: explore the Kids in the House website HERE; more about Shirley Chisholm HERE; 10 ways kids too young to vote can get involved in elections HERE

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

PPBF: Flix

Author/Illustrator: Tomi Ungerer
Publisher: Tomi Ungerer/A Treasury of 8 Books, Phaidon, 2016
Themes: treasury, story collection, Tomi Ungerer

Opening:  Flix: Mr. Zeno Krall was a happy cat. He was well off, he loved his wife Cola, and they were healthy. He was even happier when she announced, “ Darjeeling, I am expecting!”

Summary: (from my library catalog) Flix, a dog born to cat parents, finds himself able to exist in two cultures, marries a cat, and campaigns for mutual respect between cats and dogs.

I like this book because: I appreciate this collection of 8 of Tomi Ungerer’s stories for all the extras: details about each one as to their origins, early sketches, process, and hidden tidbits! I’ve always admired his work and was happy to find this volume through my library. Flix is one of my favorites for the ability of the characters to adapt to absurdity as well as hardship, and above all getting along with people and family members, not just tolerating differences. But above all the humor in his illustrations!

Resources/activities: read all 8 stories and especially the “Behind the Scenes” details in conversation with Phaidon editor, Maya Gartner.

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

PPBF: Over the Moon

Author: James Proimos
 Zoey Abbott
Publisher: Chronicle , 2020
Themes: families, identity, wolves
Opening: (see opening pages below).

Summary: (from my library catalog) Two wolves find a baby girl floating down the river and take her home to raise her and teach her about good and evil, light and dark, right and wrong (although wolf two thinks of dinner); but when she grows up she is drawn to the human world–although the wolves are waiting to take her home each night.

I like this book because: sometimes I pick up a book I am not sure about, but something intrigues me. And sometimes I am so pleasantly surprised because I find the book has far surpassed my original expectations! This is one and what a delightful discovery! The story feels simple but I am drawn in right away and find empathy with all the characters to the point of wanting to be with them in their story! The humor is subtle, the seemingly soft palette picks up on energy as the pages turn. Enchanting! Do read it!

Resources/activities: learn fascinating facts about wolves – HERE; research stories of children who survived on their own in the wild under “feral children”; learn to draw a wolf – HERE

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

PPBF: The Goat in the Rug

Author: as told to Charles L. Blood & Martin Link
 Nancy Winslow Parker
Publisher: Aladdin , 1990 (orig.1976)
Themes: goats,weaving, Navajo stories
Opening: My name is Geraldine and I live near a place called Window Rock with my Navajo friend, Glenmae.

Summary: (from my library catalog) Geraldine, a goat, describes each step as she and her Navajo friend make a rug, from the hair clipping and carding to the dyeing and actual weaving.

I like this book because: of the humor! I love that this is a straightforward description of how a goat’s wool is traditionally woven into a rug – told by the goat herself. The illustrations are also simple and straightforward, lovely and so funny! I hope others can find this through their library systems too!

Resources/activities: watch A Loom With a View HERE; learn about other natural materials and how they are used in textiles; learn to weave on a simple loom for kids, like this HERE.

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

PPBF: Owl Babies

Author: Martin Waddell
 Patrick Benson
Publisher: Candlewick, 1992
Themes: owls, siblings, separation anxiety
Opening: Once there were three baby owls: Sarah and Percy and Bill.

Summary: (from my library catalog) Three owl babies whose mother has gone out in the night try to stay calm while she is gone.

I like this book because: it’s a great story to study for picture book writers! Yes, it’s a classic favorite that warms the heart, and its simplicity has so much to offer. The opening line: the sole focus is on the babies, not the mother/family; the names are listed without a comma which shows the reader the mother’s love is equal and unconditional. And the name choices, the older sibs have two syllables, the littlest only one – and it’s a nickname a pun! Already I know Bill will be the one to steal my heart! (Please let me know what else you may see.)

Resources/activities: listen to their calls here: Cornell Lab of Ornithology website. If you are in a classroom setting – even a virtual one – this would be a nice piece to act out, with a chance to discuss how voice and intonation can contribute to the drama of a play.

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

PPBF: The Nest That Wren Built

AuthorRandi Sonenshine
 Anne Hunter
Publisher: Candlewick, 2020
Themes: wrens, nest building, stories in rhyme
Opening: These are the twigs, dried in the sun, that Papa collected one by one to cradle the nest that Wren built.

Summary: (from my library catalog) In the rhyming style of “The House That Jack Built,” this poem about the care and specificity that Carolina wrens put into building a nest is at once tender and true to life. Papa and Mama Wren gather treasures of the forest, from soft moss for a lining to snakeskin for warding off predators. Randi Sonenshine’s lilting stanzas, woven with accurate and unexpected details about Carolina wrens, and Anne Hunter’s gentle, inviting illustrations reveal the mysterious lives of these birds and impart an appreciation for the wonder of the life cycles around us. Back matter includes a glossary and additional interesting facts about wrens. Nature lovers and poetry fans alike will be drawn to this lyrical picture book depicting how Carolina wrens build a nest for their young.

I like this book because:I admit I was completely sold by the cover! And was not disappointed by the beautiful interior art at all! The is truly a perfect marriage of word and art, but the description already says it all! Definitely one of my favorites this year!

Resources/activities: try and build a nest from all the components in the book – or as many as you can find; look up the calls and songs of wrens, and maybe some other favorite birds on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website. I used to drive my kids crazy listening on a loop! Read more books with animal stories illustrated by Anne Hunter .

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

PPBF: The Wild Baby Goes to Sea

Author: Barbro Lindgren, translated by Jack Prelutsky
 Eva Ericsson
Publisher: Greenwillow Books, 1983 (orig.1982)
Themes: Mothers and sons, imaginations, stories in rhyme
Opening: Baby Ben was twice as wild as any other ten, there never was another child as wild as Baby Ben.

Summary: (from my library catalog) While his mother cleans house, rambunctious baby Ben sets sail in a wooden box and has many adventures.

I like this book because: the main character is just too cute! For those of us cooped up inside today, Baby Ben shows us we can still have adventures, you just need a little imaginative. Perfect book for these difficult times!

Resources/activities: get out the cardboard boxes, the laundry baskets, the pillows, blankets, and brooms! Bon voyage!

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

PPBF: Our Apple Tree

Author: Görlitz Kristina Näslund
 Kristina Digman
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press, 2005 (orig.2002)
Themes: apples, trees, seasons
Opening: All winter long, our apple tree rests. But not everyone is asleep.

Summary: (from Amazon) Here’s a whimsical and very useful look at the life cycle of the apple tree. With two helpful tree sprites as guides, readers travel from spring, when the apple tree blossoms, through summer, when the fruit grows, to fall and the harvest. Along the way, you’ll learn about the life of the tree and the animals that visit – from insects that pollinate the flowers to deer that eat the fallen fruit.

I like this book because: the story and pictures do so much more than describe the life cycle of apple trees. I love the magic that is brought to the experience, and amplified by the illustrations! A crisp and juicy example of the chemistry of a perfect picture book!

Resources/activities: Visit an apple orchard if possible, or take your time at a farmer’s market to talk to apple growers, taste a variety and bring them home to share with others! Make apple prints on paper (save to use as gift wrap during the holidays!), make a special apple dessert, or ne of my favorites: grated apple and carrot salad with a bit of lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.

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

PPBF: The Turnaround Wind

Author/Illustrator: Arnold Lobel
Publisher: Harper & Row, 1988
Themes: wind, chaos, perspective

Opening: One afternoon in summer, the sky was clear and blue. The countryside was filled with happy beings.

Summary: (from my library catalog) The reader turns the book upside down to see what happens when a fierce wind blows through a country town one afternoon, affecting many different people and animals out enjoying the summer air.

I like this book because: I love novelty books that invite the reader to interact and see things from another perspective – sometimes literally! The strength and energy brought with the pencil illustrations refreshing now, maybe because we see less of it in contemporary picture books. Both the humor and the interaction is something kids would return for , and that’s all a creator wants – for kids to return!

Resources/activities: look at more books that either break the 4th wall (The Monster at the End of This Book), ask the reader to move the book (Shake the Tree!), or break the idea of what we assume picture books to be (Peter Newell Books).

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