PPBF: The Stray Dog

Author/Illustrator: Marc Simont (from a true story by Reiko Sassa)
 Scholastic, Inc,
Age Level: 3-7
Themes: dogs, pets, family outings
Opening: It was a great day for a picnic.
Summary: (From my library catalog) A family befriends a stray dog, names him Willy, and decides to keep him.

Why I like it: That was some summary from my library! Luckily the illustrations stole my heart from the start, even before the book had a lovely Caldecott Honor sticker on it. The story itself is simple, not quirky, not a mold breaker, but is what I would have wished for as a child: find a stray, and have my parents eventually melt down and want to keep it too. And Simont treats the art as if it were a memory, soft, sweet and tender. A hugable.

You probably remember Simont’s illustrations from the Nate the Great books written by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat, but if you don’t GO READ THEM! They’re not technically picture books, but they are perfect! Or maybe another book – he illustrated over a hundred! You can read another I reviewed HERE.


PPBF: Many Moons

Author: James Thurber
Illustrator: Marc Simont
Publisher: Harcourt 1990, Text ©1943
Themes: princess, moon, cleverness, imagination
Age Level:  Pre-school to Grade 3
Opening: Once upon a time, in a kingdom by the sea, there lived a little princess named Lenore. She was ten years old going on eleven. One day Lenore fell ill of a surfeit of raspberry tarts and took to her bed.
Summary: Princess Lenore asks her doting father for the moon: “If I can have the moon, I will be well again.” After his wise consultants cannot help him, the King finally calls on his lowly but clever Jester to help solve the problem.
Why I like this Book: So clever and delightful, I cannot believe, after reading at least 3,500 picture books this year alone,  it has taken me so long to find this gem! This really celebrates the intelligence and creativity of children! The original edition of Many Moons, illustrated by Louis Slobodkin and beloved by so many, remains in print alongside this newly illustrated version. Click here for a peek at Slobodkin’s illustrations.
Resources/Activities: Read and compare another great PB about pleasing a princess, like Clever Jack Takes the Cake, by Candace Fleming, illustrated by G.Brian Karas; ask students to imagine what they might have asked for (like the princess) that would seem impossible to fulfill, and imagine ways to solve the task!
For more PPBF selections: go to Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog – any day!