PPBF: Ways to Make Friends

Author: Jairo Buitrago; transl.: Elisa Amado
Illustrator:
 Mariana Ruiz Johnson
Publisher: Greystone Kids, 2022; orig.: Leetra Final, 2021
Age: 
3-6
Themes: friendship, social interaction, toads

Opening: To make friends you should sit under a huge tree.

Summary: (from my library’s catalog) A quirky and uplifting guide to making new friends for kids 4 to 7 from a beloved, internationally renowned author. What’s the best way to make friends? Toad has the most magnificent ideas! Sometimes they don’t go according to plan… but that’s okay. Eventually Toad tires of making new friends, but comes to a marvelous conclusion: sometimes being with yourself is a good way to pass the time too. A hilarious and heartfelt read for kids who are starting school or experiencing other unfamiliar social situations, Ways to Make Friends will give them the courage to stand on their own–and maybe try one of Toad’s unconventional methods to make a friend for themselves.

I picked this book because: Sold by the cover again! I like to point that out, but also admit that more often than I’d like the story doesn’t necessarily meet the expectations I form based on cover art – and vice versa. I guess I am trying to say there is no shame in judging the cover! I just love the quirky ideas this toad has and think this will have kids giggling and wondering what works and what doesn’t. The best books make us think a lot after reading!

Resources/activities: This is a great text for discussion: each of Toad’s suggestions could be contemplated and chewed over – some seem simple, but are they really good ideas to try when we want to make friends? Read companion books on making friends; share stories of how we made friends; share some ideas that didn’t go as planned and how we might try better next time. And don’t forget to ask, what does being a friend mean and how many friends does one need to get by?

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

PPBF: Pip and Zip

Author: Elana K. Arnold
Illustrator:
 Doug Salati
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press, 2022
Age: 
3-7
Themes: ducks, eggs, life cycles

Opening: Once, when we all had to stay home for the whole long springtime, when schools were closed and work was closed and everything fun was cancelled,…

Summary: (from my library’s catalog) When a family brings home two abandoned duck eggs and waits for them to hatch, they read, learn and laugh, until one day Pip and Zip are born!

I picked this book because: Lots of layers here : bit of science, bit of contemporary timeframe (lockdown), family life, unusual experience, and all so heartwarming! The illustrations are the perfect fit too. I love the writing, feels almost lyrical, poetic, and like slipping on a soft glove. Find it, enjoy it!

Resources/activities: discuss your own lockdown experiences, or encounters with wildlife. Visit a local bird sanctuary or city park with duck – but don’t feed them, especially not bread! Take a walk in a natural space and notice changes upon returning a month later – repeat!

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

PPBF: Thumbelina of Toulaba

Author: Daniel Picouly, after Hans Christian Andersen, transl. by Claudia Zoe Bedrick
Illustrator:
 Olivier Tallec
Publisher: Enchanted Lion, 2007
Age: 
4-8
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
Illustrator
: Mari Kanstad Johnsen
Publisher: Enchanted Lion, 2022
Age: 
3-6
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
Age: 
5-11
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
Age: 
3-7
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.

PPBF: Still This Love Goes On

Author: Buffy Sainte-Marie
Illustrator:
 Julie Flett
Publisher: Greystone Kids, 2022
Age: 
3-8
Themes: Indigenous communities, family, love, songs

*The blast of color on the lower left came from a crystal in my window!

Opening: Sat beside a beaver dam and watched the winter grow

Summary: (from my library’s catalog) A love letter to Indigenous communities everywhere, this picture book gorgeously celebrates seasons, nature, and community. Based on Academy Award-winning Cree icon Buffy Sainte-Marie’s song of the same name, this gem of a picture book is accompanied by: Sheet music so that readers can play along and a note from Sainte-Marie about her much-admired song.

I picked this book because: I will read any book illustrated by Julie Flett, and now I’ll have to extend that courtesy to Buffy Sainte-Marie! The writing is so beautiful and touching and is perfectly paired with Flett’s skill in bringing emotion through her palette and composition. Most readers of my posts know I favor humor in picture books, but when a team does “quiet” and “thoughtful” this well, I go weak in the knees!

Resources/activities: Look for stirrings in nature, growth, change, and tracks in snow, sand, mud together with loved ones. Repeat.

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

*tracks in the recent snow in my garden

PPBF: Your Birthday Was the Best!

Author: Maggie Hutchings
Illustrator:
 Felicita Sala
Publisher: Tundra, 2020
Age: 
4-8
Themes: parties, birthdays, insects

Opening: Your birthday was the best! Everyone said so.

Summary: (from my library’s catalog) The story of an eager cockroach who gate-crashes a birthday party — with hilarious results. It’s your birthday, and little do you know that an unwelcome guest has joined in on the festivities. A friendly cockroach has snuck undetected into the house, and has proceeded to join in on all of your fun party games. You were so excited to finally spot him napping on top of your birthday cake, having eaten his fill, that you couldn’t help but scream! You think he’s gone when your dad sucks him up in the vacuum cleaner . . . but with a birthday party this good, he’s going to be nearly impossible to keep away! This laugh-out-loud picture book is the perfect birthday gift for young readers.

I picked this book because: I saw it suggested on twitter as a humorous picture book, and I can’t get enough of humorous picture books. Sure, I can appreciate many of the meaningful books that have dominated the picture book market over the last 5 or 6 years, but I miss a more balanced proportion of pure, unadulterated fun. I need more humor as well as solid stories for my own peace of mind – and I’m sure I am not alone! Ands this one delivers! In story and amplified by the art. Being an adult I missed a few introductory clues so I was taken surprise – pleasantly – by the narration. There is drama in the text as well as the art, and plenty of details to keep the reader coming back again and again. Friends, it hit the spot!

Resources/activities: read more humorous picture books of course! have I written about Sir Ladybug by Corey Tabor yet? I will, but go ahead and look for it anyway – it would be a perfect companion book!

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

PPBF: One Boy Watching

Author/Illustrator: Grant Snider
Publisher: Chronicle Books, 2022
Age: 
3-7 (but anyone would love it!)
Themes: school bus, observations, curiosity

Opening: Seven a.m.

Summary: (from my library’s catalog) This lyrical picture book follows one boy’s early morning bus ride to school and the many things he observes.

I picked this book because: I totally fell for the cover! And there’s nothing better than a book that lives up to it’s cover! I love the sheer simplicity of the text, the bright illustrations so full of energy, and the sense of wonder the author-illustrator has for everyday things. A gem!

Resources/activities: Take more deliberate time to get where you are going, and to note what you see along the way. Repeat!

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

PPBF: Luna’s Green Pet

Author: Kirsten Pendreigh
Illustrator:
 Carmen Mok
Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press, 2022
Age: 
4-8
Themes: pets, houseplants, devotion

Opening: Luna longed for a pet, but her apartment building had very strict NO PETS! policy.

Summary: (from my library’s catalog) A young girl named Luna circumvents her apartment building’s no-pet policy by rescuing a houseplant which she names Stephanie.

I picked this book because: This book brought back memories, not of the first bean I sprouted in the 2nd grade windowsill, but of my very own, very first houseplant – a cactus. I took what I believed to be the best care, and in all seriousness I understood the responsibility of caring for this little life. I may have loved it a little too much! But reading about Luna and her very own houseplant brought back all the good feelings I had and I figure those feelings are why I am an avid gardener today. The story is so endearing and has many slyly-educational layers amplified by sweet, cozy illustrations! I sincerely hope this book inspires other kids who may not have the pet they initially desire to take on a “little life” of their very own!

Resources/activities: Read up together on houseplants before deciding which to bring one home (one can be overwhelmed at a garden center), or choose a spot or planter to keep a one outside. Collect seeds on walks or in your own garden, or connect with a neighbor who is willing to share. Make your own pot/planter, like these upcycling ideas HERE.

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