This selection is one of seven finalists for fiction picture books, and I am a participating judge for round 2. Which means I have to read them. Tough work, huh? For information on the Cybils Awards,click HERE
Author: Daniel Beaty Illustrator: Bryan Collier Publisher: Little, Brown and Company, 2014 Ages: 3-6yrs (according to Amazon, but, again, I think it’s for older children) Themes: fathers and sons, separation, diverse books Opening:Every morning I play a game with my father. He goes KNOCK KNOCK on my door, and I pretend to be asleep till he gets right next to my bed. Summary: (from the publisher) A boy wakes up one morning to find his father gone. At first, he feels lost. But his father has left him a letter filled with advice to guide him through the times he cannot be there.
I like this book because: it’s powerful and beautiful, both in the writing and the illustrations. For a variety of reasons many children have to deal with separation from or the absence of a parent, and this selection deals with incarceration, though it’s not mentioned. I believe it would make a good addition to classroom shelves, helping kids understand and navigate the difficulties some are forced to deal with and to encourage hope. The multi-layered mixed-media illustrations are rich and warm, and invite the reader to take time to see there are often more layers to life’s complexities if we take a closer look.
Resources/activities: check out this pinterest board on building self-esteem.
For more PPBF selections including resources and activities, go to Susanna Hill’s blog: HERE
Author: Stein Erik Lunde Illustrator: Øyvind Torseter
Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books, 2013 Age Level: 4 and up Themes: fathers and sons, death Opening:My dad isn’t listening to the radio. He’s sitting in the living room, where the only sound is the crackling of the fire. When I was there with him, I saw the tongues of the fire lick his face. I went over and put my hand on his arm, and he patted my hand. Then I went into my room and got into bed. Summary: Unable to sleep, a young boy climbs into his father’s arms and asks about birds, foxes, and whether his mother will ever awaken, then under a starry sky, the father provides clear answers and assurances.
Why I Like This Book: I don’t think I need to explain why I think the artwork is breathtaking, but so is the story it tells, and the concept – too rarely found in American books. Looking for images I found a touching review which ‘hit the spot’ perfectly – HERE, at A Teacher’s Perspective. Life’s stories don’t usually end on a high note – it’s what we make of them that matters. I have to return this book to the library. I’ve had it out for the maximum of weeks allowed. But you can bet I ordered it. It won’t take much convincing to have my local indie bookseller stock this one.
Activities: I feel the illustrations will motivate any child to draw and cut his or her own pictures, to sculpt the paper and create a three dimensional scene, or a diarama in a capsized shoebox – like the ones HERE at Art Lessons for Kids. And if a child wants to talk about death, what better opportunity than while creating and expressing? My own daughter’s first experience came with the coverage of Princess Diana’s death. We drew a lot of princesses after that. Once she drew a rectangle around hers, and another preschool mom asked her what the box is for . Olivia informed her, “She’s dead.”
Go to Susanna Hill’s blog for more Perfect Picture Book selections and activities.