PPBF: The Caiman

2″ wider than HARE! No wonder I was drawn to it!

Author: María Eugenia Manrique, transl. Amy Brill
Illustrator:
 Ramón Paris
Publisher: Amazon Crossing Kids, 2021; orig. Ediciones Ekaré, 2019
Age: 
3-8
Themes: alligators, pets, Venezuela,
Opening: see opening page below image of title page.

Summary: (from my library catalog) When Faoro the clockmaker adopts a baby caiman, he has no idea that someday their story will travel far and wide. But the town of San Fernando de Apure would never forget this kind young man and his adoring alligator, who played with the neighborhood children, took part in Faoro’s wedding, and, eventually, mourned his loss.

I like this book because: I was hooked by the cover (and format!). The bold colors and use of black and white, but also because of the author’s own real life experience with this story and her intriguing bio. The story did not disappoint. I love examples of human-animal connection, as I’m sure many others do, but also of cultures other than my own. There is sadness, but so much love in this beautiful tale – no pun intended!

Resources/activities: Look into the life-cycle of Caimans, their habitat, and how they might be different than other alligators. Are there other real-life stories of bringing an alligator into a home? What does a Caiman egg look like? Does it take as long to hatch as a chicken’s egg? All fun facts to discover together.

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

PPBF: The Smile Shop

Author/Illustrator: Satoshi Kitamura
Publisher: Peachtree, 2021 (orig. Scallywag Press, 2019)
Age: 
3-6
Themes: pocket money, markets, smiles

Opening: see spread below.

Summary: (from my library catalog) A small boy has saved all his pocket money and visits the market with high expectations. When disaster strikes and he loses his money, he feels very devastated. But wait, what’s that? A Smile Shop? He could really do with a smile. What will happen if he goes in?

I like this book because: it’s a sweet story that may introduce to young readers that we are indeed in charge of our outlook on life. AND the illustrations: rendering, composition, gentle palette, legibility are perfect! Pretty vague? Read it!

Resources/activities! Great jumping off point for discussion questions on spending money, allowance, shopping, street markets, attitudes, and outlook on life. Make a play market in the classroom and give everyone a chance to spend as they see fit (would actually LOVE to see a classroom act it out!).

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

PPBF: The Froggies Do Not Want to Sleep

Author/Illustrator: Adam Gustavson
Publisher: Charlesbridge, 2021
Age: 
2-5
Themes: frogs, sleep, bedtime

Opening: The froggies do not want to sleep.

Summary: (from my library catalog) The froggies do not want to sleep and refuse to head to bed; they’d rather play their accordions, go for long drives in the country, or sing opera while shooting themselves out of cannons.

I like this book because: of the silliness! I have been missing “silly” in my life in the last year and a half, and I am certain “other kids” have too!! The compositions and rendering are marvelous, the physicality of the humor so delightful, and those froggy eyes! So while the story line may not offer something particularly new in bedtime-ruckus books, there is more than enough here to bring smiles and giggles to all readers!

Resources/activities: imagine what kind of car you would like to take on a drive, what household objects you might use in a joust, which planets you would visit, if you just didn’t have to go to bed!! Set your visual images to paper and color them in!

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

PPBF: The Snail and the Whale and a WINNER!

Needed to show off all the pollen on my porch!

Author: Julia Donaldson
Illustrator:
 Axel Scheffler
Publisher: Dial, 2004
Age: 
3-8
Themes: snails, whales, stories in rhyme
Opening: see opening page below image of title page.

Summary: (from my library catalog) Wanting to sail beyond its rock, a tiny snail hitches a ride on a big humpback whale and then is able to help the whale when it gets stuck in the sand.

I like this book because: it’s such fun to read aloud, written so well that one doesn’t stumble trying! And the vocabulary for younger kids (as well as for people like me!) is exhilarating! The story is so heartwarming and humorous, and the illustrations are rich – I love when an illustrator can use a lot of black for drama! Yes, this book needs no boosting from me, but a reminder of a good book to pull out for pure enjoyment is always welcome!

Resources/activities: The relationship between the two main characters may not be a real-life symbiotic relationship, but there are numerous in nature – would be fun to lest ones we know and research more. Have kids write a poem – in rhyme or not – about a symbiotic relationship.

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

And now for the winner of LOUIS’s #picturebookpicnic giveaway is… ptnozell, better known as Patricia, Head Cheerleader of Picture Books!!! Thanks to everyone who participated! It was such fun to share picnics – and a few cupcakes!

Day 4 #picturebookpicnic giveaway!

LOUIS will be celebrating World Picnic Day with picnics and his picture book friends – and stuffies – all WEEK! I’ll post pictures on Instagram where anyone (in the US) can comment – on any of the week’s posts – for a chance to win. Deadline is Thursday, 6/24/21 12pm MDT. Winner will be announced on the next Perfect Picture Book Friday!

Today LOUIS chose to have the picture book picnic on the bench! Meet Elk, Puffinski, McEelface, Brownie the Pup, Walross and Komodo! Puffinski is holding a barely visible butterfly net and there is a bucket of chalk (*always use just a little at a time, if at all, to protect water organisms!) under the bench, and a pair of klompen to klomp around in the garden! If you are asking, Where is LOUIS?, he ran back inside to get napkins for the cupcakes!

There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight, by Penny Parker Klostermann, illus. by Ben Mantle, Random House, 2015: In this variation on the traditional cumulative rhyme, a greedy, hungry dragon eventually learns moderation.

The Road That Trucks Built, by Susanna Leonard Hill and illus. by Erica Sirotich, Little Simon, 2017: Rhyming text follows the story of a team of vehicles that work together to build a new road.

Arnie the Doughnut, by Laurie Keller, Henry Holt, 2003: Arnie the talking doughnut convinces Mr. Bing that not all doughnuts are meant to be eaten.

A Morning With Grandpa, by Sylvia Liu and illus. by Christina Forshay, Lee & Low, 2016: Curious and energetic Mei Mei attempts some t’ai chi forms as her grandfather demonstrates them, then tries to teach him basic yoga poses. Includes introductions to t’ai chi and yoga, as well as instructions for the exercises described in the text.

*Book descriptions form my library’s catalog.

AND LOUIS is on SALE right now on Amazon: HEREDon’t forget to enter by commenting for the GIVEAWAY on my Instagram page: @jrzoch

PPBF: Pierre and Paul: Dragon!

Needed to show off all the pollen on my porch!

Author: Caroline Adderson
Illustrator:
 Alice Carter
Publisher: Owl Kids, 2021
Age: 
4-8
Themes: imagination, bilingual stories, dragons
Opening: see opening page below image of title page.

Summary: (from my library catalog) Pierre speaks French and Paul speaks English, but that doesn’t stop them from being friends and exploring together. Today is garbage day, so the duo sets out to find hidden treasures in the trash. Treasure map in hand, they encounter poisonous swamps, dark forests, a dragon, and even a tsunami! (Or maybe it’s a garbage truck driving through a puddle). When the tsunami sweeps away their treasure map, they think all is lost–until they finally find a treasure lying in plain sight. Told half in French and half in English, this uses simple phrases and clues in the illustrations to make the story accessible to readers in both languages. Full of imagination this is a story of friendship.

I read this book because: my friend Julie Abery recommended it on IG, and I was immediately intrigued by a book that seemed so good on so many levels: imagination, friendship, language, and the sense of adventure! And it delivers on all fronts! in our family’s bookshelf my dad kept what looked like a French comic book and I poured over it hoping my efforts would magically teach me French! Well, it achieved something better, the desire to learn other languages and the sound of words! That and my second grade teacher, Mrs. Beck who taught us a bit of Spanish! This was a fun way to test what I have retained form HS French! And I bet my dad would enjoy it too!

Resources/activities: go to your library’s foreign language sections – hopefully they have one with kids books – and take home a pile to try out your pronunciation skills and detective skills! Watch a kids show

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

PPBF: The Wanderer

Author/Illustrator: Peter Van den Ende
Publisher: Levine Querido, 2019


Age: 
3+
Themes: wordless picture book, boats, voyages

Opening: see spread below.

Summary: (from my library catalog) Without a word, and with Escher-like precision, Van den Ende presents one little paper boat’s journey across the ocean, past reefs and between icebergs, through schools of fish, swaying water plants, and terrifying sea monsters. The little boat is all alone, and while its aloneness gives it the chance to wonder at the fairy-tale world above and below the waves uninterrupted, that also means it must save itself when storms approach. And so it does. We hope that readers young and old will find the strength and inspiration that we did in this quietly powerful story about growing, learning, and life’s ups and downs..

I like this book because: this is an absolute pleasure to look at! All black and white pen and ink drawings, and endless beauty to get lost in! Take your time and savour it! If anyone knows of a child who has read it, I would love to hear back whether they were as enchanted as I am with this book!

Resources/activities: just dive in to the book; and if that isn’t enough, a video featuring the book and it’s maker featured at the bottom of this post.

A little excitement to share – knowing that an appearance in PW may never happen again!

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

PPBF: While Grandpa Naps

Needed to show off all the pollen on my porch!

Author: Naomi Danis
Illustrator:
 Junghwa Park
Publisher: POW!, 2019
Age: 
3-7
Themes: family, multigenerational life, responsibility
Opening: Grandpa comes to visit on Sunday. He brings salami, rye bread, mustard, and pickles for the whole family.

Summary: (from the publisher) Gilbert spends a sunny summer afternoon obediently keeping watch over his napping grandpa to shoo the pesky flies away. Unsure of exactly how long he’s really supposed to sit there, watching for non-existent bugs, he passes time contemplating his ever-changing family: His grandma Sarah recently died, a new baby is on the way, his siblings and cousins race in and out. While the temptations to abandon his post beckon, Gilbert’s loyalty to his grandpa stays true, and his quiet dedication finds a sweet reward.

I read this book because: someone recommended it, so I also looked for a Kirkus review that lead with a strange remark: “Typographically overdesigned …”. I have to admit that was hook enough for me (reformed graphic designer) to search it out! But first off, the illustrations are so charming, I would have read it anyway! And while the text positioning may seem unconventional, I thought it in no way detracted from the story, in fact it was easier to read than so many others that add multiple blocks of text across a spread. And I enjoyed the font choice too! Aside from all that the story charmed my socks off! The more I read the closer I felt to the main character, despite never having had a similar experience. Now I long for a snooze in a hammock – and salami on rye with mustard!

Resources/activities: make a list of things kids know about their grandparents, including all the senses! (I cannot think of my father’s father without smelling his pipe!); have a garden picnic. Watermelon is a must – and at least try a version of Grandpa’s sandwich: salami on rye with mustard and pickles!

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

PPBF: The King’s Golden Beard

Author/Illustrator: Klaas Verplancke
Publisher: minedition, 2021
Age: 
3-8
Themes: beards, rulers, vanity

Opening: see spread above.

Summary: (from my library catalog) The lush, golden royal beard is a wondrous thing–especially to the king himself. He spends his days admiring and grooming it, and passes laws making it a crime punishable by death for anyone else’s face to sport even a single hair. As the people of the kingdom nervously shave daily, the royal beard grows and grows until it appears at the palace’s back gate. What happens next will have readers laughing along–and cheering for the astronomers who, unlike the tyrannical king, know that the earth is round.

I like this book because: the very strong, graphic compositions, and I love a good cautionary tale! And perhaps because of all the hair I’ve had to deal with as a mother of two who’ve always preferred long hair! I also admire the masterful use of a limited palette and simple but effective use of texture in the art. The story itself is a well-told and humorous tale of too much pride – great for discussions too!

Resources/activities: Klaas shared a really fun drawing lesson over at kidlit tv: https://youtu.be/oZkcA5Ei6ck

A little excitement to share – knowing that an appearance in PW may never happen again!

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

PPBF: The Big Bad Wolf In My House

Author: Valérie Fontaine, transl. Shelley Tanaka
Illustrator:
 Nathalie Dion
Publisher: Groundwood Books, 2021, org 2020 in French
Age: 
4-8
Themes: family violence, domestic violence, wolves
Opening: see image below

Summary: (from the publisher) The young girl tells us that her mom’s new friend is just like the big bad wolf. At first the wolf is sweet and kind to her mom, though the girl notices the wolf’s cold eyes from the very beginning. When her mom arrives home late one day, the wolf suddenly hurls angry words and terrible names at her. From that day on her mother doesn’t smile anymore. The girl is careful to clean her room and brush her teeth and do everything to keep the peace, but the wolf is unpredictable, throwing plates on the floor, yelling at her mother and holding the girl’s arm so tightly she is left with bruises. Whenever the yelling begins, she hides under the covers in her room. How will she and her mom cope as the wolf becomes increasingly fierce? Valérie Fontaine and Nathalie Dion have created a powerful, moving story about violence in the home that ends on a note of hope.

I like this book because: it’s so important, and it’s been written and illustrated simply, clearly and with such thoughtfulness – for readers who can identify as well as readers who may not. Especially knowing the level of hidden domestic violence has risen due to the pandemic, I feel it’s more important than ever to address the topic. I also know from people I’ve met serving my neighbors experiencing homelessness that 50% of homeless women are domestic violence victims. I will definitely be donating a copy to a local school.

Resources/activities: easy – read the book!

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