Remembering Ethan by Leslea Newman

Remembering Ethan

Lesléa Newman, Author

Tracy Bishop, Illustrator

Magination Press, Fiction, Apr. 7, 2020

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes: Death, Sibling, Loss, Grief, Family relationships, Healing, Hope

Opening: My big brother Ethan was so tall, he had to duck his head when he walked through the front door. My big brother was so handsome, somebody once thought he was a movie star and asked for his autograph.

Book Jacket Synopsis:

Ethan. Ethan. Ethan. Sarah misses her adored big brother with all her heart. She wants to celebrate all the fun times she and her parents spent with him. But ever since Ethan died, Mommy and Daddy won’t mention him. Sarah can’t even say his name without upsetting them.

Why don’t they want to remember Ethan?

Why I like this book:

In this time of the COVID 19 pandamic, Lesléa Newman’s picture book is a timely one to share with readers who may be searching for books to help their children and themselves deal with with the loss of a loved one. That is why I’m sharing it today.

Newman’s delicate perspective on Remembering Ethan shows the heartbreaking impact of the loss of a sibling on a younger child. Sarah tries to cope with the death of her big brother with little support from her grieving parents.

The story is told from Sarah’s viewpoint, which is quite powerful as it gives voice to her feelings. She is sad, but she wants to talk about all her happy memories of Ethan! She wants to say his name out loud. She wants to write his name. She wants to draw happy pictures of Ethan and hang them on the refrigerator. She is angry that her efforts upset her parents. In desperation, Sarah stomps upstairs to Ethan’s room and shouts, “Doesn’t anyone but Buttons and me even remember Ethan?”

Grief is tricky and I applaud the author for sharing Sarah’s family’s first reaction to dealing with their loss. It highlights how each family member finds coping mechanisms when they are overwhelmed with grief. I observed a very similar situation in our family, when a grandson died.  Sharing memories is an important way for children to keep favorite memories and stories of a lost sibling or loved one near them.

Tracy Bishops beautiful illustrations are in soft pastels. They are expressive, comforting, and hopeful.

Resources: This book is a wonderful resource. Make sure you check out Note to Readers at the end of the book provides valuable information to parents, caregivers, and teachers about the many different ways to deal with childhood grief. The information will touch the entire family and help them through a rough time.

Lesléa Newman has created over 70 books for readers of all ages, including A Letter to Harvey Milk; October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard; I Carry My Mother; The Boy Who Cried Fabulous; Ketzel, the Cat Who Composed;Heather Has Two Mommies; Sparkle Boy; and Gittel’s Journey: An Ellis Island Story. Visit Newman at her website  or on Twitter @lesleanewman.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

*Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for a review.

Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera by Candace Fleming

World Bee Day – May 20, 2020

Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera

Candace Fleming, Author

Eric Rohmann, Illustrator

Neal Porter Books/Holiday House , Nonfiction, Feb. 4, 2020

Suitable for Ages: 6-9

Themes: Honeybees, Life cycle, Bee colony, Collecting nectar

Opening: One summer morning deep in the nest, a brand-new honeybee squirms, pushes, chews through the wax cap of her solitary cell and into…a teeming, trembling flurry. Hummmmm!

Book Summary:

And so begins the story of Apis mellifera.

Follow the life cycle of this devoted and extraordinary worker as she cleans the hive, tends to larvae and the queen, builds wax comb, and guards the hive from invaders — before embarking on her first flight to seek nectar.

Why I like this book:

Candace Fleming’s nonfiction book about the secret life of bees is a story about the wonder of nature. I have always been fascinated with honey bees, but I have never  understood them as much as I do now.  I am in total awe!

Fleming’s text is lyrical and full of suspense. It is storytelling at its best. Children will have a close-up view of the birth of a honeybee, watch her grow and instinctively know what she has to do to fill her destiny as a worker in the hive.  Her life-span is only 35 days.

Readers (including adults) will be captivated with Eric Rohmann’s breathtaking oil paintings that are larger than life. The illustrations are so detailed that children will see each fuzzy hair on the honeybee, her straw-like tongue (not visible to the human eye), and her antennae. The building of each comb in the hive is a marvel. There is a beautiful centerfold spread of the honeybee’s first flight.

Make sure you check out the fascinating information in the backmatter. It includes a two-page diagram of the different parts of a honeybee; factual information about bees and the colony; the various flight dances that bees do to communicate flower sources; how to help the diminishing bee populations; and National Geographic online video resources.

Resources: Many children are afraid of bees. I remember being afraid as a child. This book may help them with their fears if they can study and talk about bees in their classroom or at home. Set aside an area in your backyard or school where you can plant a wildflower garden with the flowers and thistle that may attrack bees. Then watch and count the different kinds of bees that visit specific flowers.

Candace Fleming is the author of more than twenty distinguished books for children including The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion and the Fall of Imperial Russia, winner of, among other awards, the Boston Globe — Horn Book Award for Nonfiction, the NCTE Orbis Pictus Award, and a Sibert Honor.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

*Reviewed from a library copy.

Welcome to Your World by Smriti Prasadam-Halls

Welcome to Your World

Smriti Prasadam-Halls, Author

Jaime Kim, Illustrator

Candlewick Press,  Fiction, Mar. 10, 2020

Suitable for ages: 2-5

Themes: Babies, Animal babies, Mothers, Nature, Natural Habitats

Opening: Welcome, little baby, / round your mam curled. / Welcome, little baby. / Welcome to your world.

Synopsis:

With lyrical language and stunning illustrations, Welcome to Your World takes readers from ice-capped mountains to the depths of the sea. Tender scenes between animals and their babies encourage families to join in the loving bond that connects them to one another and to the wonders of our planet.

This beautiful book is ideal for sharing with new babies, new parents, and children just venturing out in the world, as best-selling author Smriti Prasadam-Halls and acclaimed illustrator Jaime Kim provide both a celebration of nature and a gentle reminder to protect it.

Why I like this book:

A stunning celebration of mothers (human and animal) introducing their babies to their bright new world. Mothers develop playful relationships as they bond with their new offspring — a cheetah, giraffe, fawn, whale, turtle, eagle, polar bear, and elephant. “Listen to the creatures of the air and land and sea, living whole and happily, living wild and free.”

The rhymic and repititive text will appeal to children senses. “Look up to the sky…look into the ocean…hear the gentle whisper of fields…taste the juicy berries…feel the raindrops…” Such lovely imagery. Children will love pouring over Jaime Kim’s breathtaking double-page illustrations and looking at the detail of different animal habitats. There is also a gentle reminder that we need to protect nature.

This inspiring book is a perfect Mother’s Day book as well a lovely gift book for new parents.

Resources: This is a book that older siblings will also enjoy. Read it together as a family. Encourage children to draw a picture of their family or a favorite animal pairing.

Smriti Prasadam-Halls is an award-winning, internationally best-selling children’s author whose books have been published in more than thirty languages. Her titles include the Publishers Weekly #1 bestseller I Love You Night and Day, illustrated by Alison Brown. Smriti Prasadam-Halls previously worked at the BBC and in children’s publishing and television as a writer and editor for twelve years. She lives in London with her husband and three sons.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

*Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for a review.

Sleep: How Nature Gets It’s Rest by Kate Prendergast

Earth Day – Apr. 22, 2020

Sleep: How Nature Gets It’s Rest

Kate Prendergast, Author & Illustrator

Candlewick Press, Nonfiction, Sep. 10, 2019

Suitable for Ages: 5-8

Themes: Animals, Sleep, Habitats, Nature

Opening: Cats and dogs sleep curled up…when they aren’t playing.

Book Synopsis:

Giraffes sleep standing up. Sloths sleep upside down. Meerkats sleep in a heap.

From giraffes and sloths to horses and cows, every animal must find a way to get some rest. Discover the sleeping habits of animals around the world in this beautifully illustrated book that will spark wonder and fascination in the natural world for young readers.

Why I like this book:

Children will explore the sleep habits of their favorite animals in their natural habitats, making this a perfect bedtime picture book especially for Earth Day.

The narrative is simple and an easy book for young children who are learning to read books to themselves. This book is a concept book that introduces children to animals they may not be familiar with. It also has interesting and fun facts for children, like “Fish swim when they sleep and never shut their eyes.” Older children will enjoy the more detailed information about each species in the backmatter of the book: “Sloths snooze for about fifteen hours a day, high up in tropical treetops. They don’t move very much, but they do come down from their trees once a week to go to the bathroom!”

You only need to look at the gorgeous cover to see how beautiful and realistic Kate Prendergast’s animal portraits are. The warm and cozy watercolors are richly detailed. Readers will want to reach out and pet the tiger. Lovely presentation of text and artwork.

Resources:  Visit a zoo, farm, or take a walk in the woods. Observe how the animals sleep and point out their behaviors, their differences and similarities. Take pictures or draw pictures of your favorite animals sleeping.

Kate Prendergast is the author-illustrator of Dog on a Digger. After working for years in the transportation industry and raising her children, she decided to get an MA in children’s book illustration at Cambridge School of Art. She lives in London.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

*Review copy provided free by the publisher in exchange for a review.

Mermaid Dreams by Janet Lucy

Mermaid Dreams

Sueños de Sirena

Janet Lucy, Author

Colleen McCarthy-Evans, Illustrator

Seven Seas Press, Fiction, 2019 (bilingual version 2020)

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes: Mermaid, Dreams, Caribbean Tale, Overcoming fear, Courage

Opening: Maya dreams of being a mermaid. / Her long dark hair hangs / in silky strand / down her back / nearly reaching the top / of her favorite skirt – / the one her mama made / with seven tiers of turquoise net. 

Synopsis:

Maya is a dark-skinned girl who dreams of being a mermaid. She dances to Caribbean mermaid music as her favorite skirt rises and falls about her. She loves swimming and diving for coins in the pool. But she is afraid of swimming in the ocean and has frequent nightmares.

She listens to her mother’s bedtime stories about living on an island in the Caribbean sea where the beaches are sandy and the water is turquoise. One night, her mother tells her about her namesake, Yemaya, a river spirit and mermaid of the Yoruba people and a Goddess of the Ocean. That night she meets Yemaya in her dreams and they go on a magical undersea journey together. Mermaid Dreams shines a light on the universal fears of children and the vastness of the ocean.

There is now a bilingual version of Mermaid Dreams/Sueños de Sirena, 2020.

Why I like this book:

Janet Lucy has penned an enchanting and magical tale about a girl who wants to be a black mermaid, like her namesake, Yemaya, from a Caribbean legend. Yemaya is courageous, kind and full of wisdom. Lucy’s lyrical and richly textured prose invokes both the turbulence and beauty of the ocean. Colleen McCarthy-Evans illustrations are dreamy and have a mystical quality to them.

The story empowers children to face their fears, no matter what they may be. For Maya, it is an overwhelming fear of the ocean — even wading in shallow water. She lives along the California coast, where the waves are big and crash loudly onto the beach. One of the lessons Maya learns is that she has the power to change the ending of her scary dreams and take baby steps to dealing with her fear.

The author was inspired to create Maya after a real little girl who is a beautiful blend of her Caribbean and American parents. Her heritage reaches back to Africa, Europe and the Americas, “representing multiple threads of the extraordinary tapestry of humanity.” I love that quote. Visit Lucy at her website.

Resources: There is a Discussion Guide with 15 questions to help parents and teachers to continue a discussion with children about Mermaid Dreams.  There is also a list of fun activities for children ranging from drawing pictures of a mermaids and their dreams to listening to Caribbean or Yoruba music on the Internet. And there is a list of resources and a note from the author.

Janet Lucy is an award-winning writer and poet, and author of Moon Mother, Moon Daughter – Myths and Rituals that Celebrate a Girl’s Coming of Age and The Three Sunflowers/Los Tres Girasoles. Janet is the Director of Women’s Creative Network in Santa Barbara, California, where she is a teacher, therapist/consultant, facilitates women’s writing groups and leads international retreats. She has lived in Mexico, Costa Rica and Italy, connecting with the Divine Feminine in all her glorious guises and cultural richness. Janet is the mother of two radiant daughters.

*Review copy provided by the author.

Fantastic You by Danielle Dufayet

Fantastic You

Danielle Dufayet, Author

Jennifer Zivoin, Illustrator

Magination Press, Fiction, Sep. 3, 2019

Suitable for Ages: 5-8

Themes: Emotional development, Making mistakes, Self-esteem, Love, Kindness

Opening: There’s one special person I’m alsways with…can you guess who?

Bookjacket Synopsis:  There is one special person you get to spend your whole life with: You! So go ahead, cheer yourself on! Shine Bright! You are the best person to take care of yourself. When you show yourself love and kindness, the world will smile back at you — fantastic you!

Why I love this book:

Danielle Dufayet has written an inspiring and beautiful concept book that teaches children how to create a loving relationship with themselves. The narrative reminds me of a self-nurturing pep talk. Each page nudges readers to be loving, kind, and positive towards themselves. “Hello, Awesome!” And making mistakes is also part of learning and a time to take special care. “If I mess up, I say sorry. I do what I can to help make things right, even if it’s an accident. Then I remember to forgive myself.”  Every page energizes readers with a special nugget of self awareness and wisdom that children will easily grasp..

This book is brilliant and I love it’s simplicity. Adults will enjoy reading it with their children. It is a gentle reminder to take care of ourselves first, because we have a lifetime relationship with ourselves.

I wish you could see the actual book cover. It has a shimmer to it and is gorgeous! Jennifer Zivoin’s illustrations convey the Dufayet’s upbeat narrative and shows a variety of emotions as children try to be their best self. They are beautiful.

Fantastic You is perfect for all children, ranging from pre-K to elementary — and adults.  I recommend the book for every home and school. This is a perfect gift book!

Resources:  There is a special Note to Parents and Caregives by Julia Martin Burch, PhD, with more information about to help children cope with big emotions, self-soothe, and use helpful self-talk, like “I can do this.”

Danielle Dufayet is the author of another favorite book, You Are Your Strong. She also teaches English and public speaking/self-empowerment classes for kids. She lives in San Jose, California. Visit Danielle at her website.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

*Review copy from publisher.

Way Past Mad by Hallee Adelman

Way Past Mad

Hallee Adelman, Author

Sandra de la Prada, Illustrator

Albert Whitman & Company, Fiction, Mar. 1, 2020

Suitable for Ages: 5-7

Themes: Anger, Emotions and feelings, Families, Friendship

Opening: Nate messed up my room. It made me mad.

Publisher’s Synopsis:

Keya is mad. Way past mad. The kind of mad that starts and swells and spreads like a rash. She kicks, rocks and yells at her best friend and says things that hurts.

Now Keya doesn’t like what her mad made her do. Can she find a way past mad?

Why I like this book:

Hallee Adelman’s entertaining picture book opens a lot of opportunities to talk about emotions and feelings. The cover on the book is priceless and hints at what’s to come. Sandra de la Prada’s illustrations are bold, colorful and perfectly express Keya’s emotions and compliment the entire story.

There are many books that deal with childhood anger, but there is a parent in place to guide the child.  In Way Past Mad, Keya finds her own way to deal with her anger even if it means making big mistakes. First she kicks rocks as she walks, runs off pent up energy, trips and falls on the sidewalk, and says hurtful things to her best friend. Do they help her feel less angry? No! But hurting her best friend wakes her up to what her anger can do to someone else. You’ll have to read the story to find out how Keya resolves her anger. Kids will laugh when they see and hear themselves in similar situations. There are many teachable moments in this story. 

Resources:  This is a wonderful opportunity to talk with children about how they deal with their emotions. Encourage them to draw a picture of what their anger looks like.  Ask them what they do when they feel angry — yell, throw things, leave the room? Is it fun feeling angry? Help children make a list of things that will help them face their anger in the future. Then ask kids to draw a picture of when they feel happy, peaceful, surprised and excited. Which picture do they like better — angry or happy?

Hallee Adelman tries not to stomp or yell when she’s mad. Most days, she uses her PhD in education, works on documentary films, and eats sour gummies (which make her face look extra mad). She lives near Philadelphia, where he funny family and two dogs make her smile. Visit Hallee at her website.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

*Review copy provided by author.

The Little Lamp by Dave Dellecese

The Little Lamp

Dave Dellecese, Author

Ada Konewki, Illustrator

Dandy Press, Fiction, Feb. 12, 2019

Suitable for Ages: 4-7

Themes: Lamp, Love, Purpose, Obsolete, Resilience, Re-purpose, Rhyme

Opening: In a tiny brick apartment, / at Jasper Drive and Main, / Lived the custest little couple / Known as Jack and Jane McShane.

Synopsis:

Little Lamp shines his light on the Jane and Jack McShane. A gift from Gramma, it always sits on a table while they read books in the evening and sip their tea. When they have their first child, Little Lamp is beside them as they play and read books to Baby.  At night time he watches the baby sleep. Little Lamp is very happy.

Then one day Jack McShane brings home a big, shiny lamp. Little Lamp is sad when he’s taken to the cold basement and set on a top shelf next to cans of paint and old boxes. Years later, the McShanes clean the house and set Little Lamp out with the trash. He begins to doubt himself and doesn’t feel very useful. Then he hears the rumble of the garbage truck. What will be Little Lamp’s fate?

Why I like this book:

Dave Dellecese has written a heartwarming story about a little lamp that manages to deal with change in its life and still find purpose no matter the challenges. There are many teachable moments for children to learn about disappointment, doubt, change, self-worth, hope and optimism — all presented in the tale of Little Lamp.

Dellecese uses clever rhyming and word play to emphasize his main theme to children, “Everyone has a purpose.” The characters are memorable, and Little Lamp is so expressive and adorable.

Ada Konewki’s bold illustrations are expressive, charming and compliment Little Lamp’s story. The art is happy and colorful when it needs to be, and a bit somber when Little Lamp’s fate is unknown.

Resources:  Purpose is a big word for children.  Parents and educators may want to first focus on what matters most to a child. Help them think about their own best qualities. Ask questions about whether they have a good relationships with their family and friends. Do they care about others? Do they remember a time when they have made a difference? Have they made someone’s day brighter with a hug or a fist full of flowers? Do they offer to help an elderly neighbor by walking their dog? These simple questions will help kids think about how they may make their own contribution to the world.

Dave Dellecese writes a variety of books and comic books, and blogs about parenthood at The Dorky Daddy  He lives in central New York with his wife, kids and cats — all but his wife dictating his sleep patterns. Find out more and contact Dave at his website.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

*Review copy provided by the author.

Grandpa’s Top Threes by Wendy Meddour

Grandpa’s Top Threes

Wendy Meddour, Author

Daniel Egenéus, Illustrator

Candlewick Press, Fiction,  Sep. 3, 2019

Suitable for Ages: 2-5

Themes: Multigenerational Families, Grandparents, Love, Loss, Hope

Opening: “Henry was talking…But Grandpa was gardening. Again.”

Book Synopsis:

Henry loves talking with Grandpa, but Grandpa has stopped listening. Mom says to just give him time. But Henry wants to talk to his grieving Grandpa now. So Henry tries his favorite game: Top Threes. And something amazing happens: Grandpa starts talking again. Out of a tale of favorite sandwiches and zoo animals, outings and trains, emerges a moving story about love, loss, and the wonder of grannies and grandpas.

Why I like this book:

This is a heartwarming story about love, loss and the strong bond between a grandson and his grandpa. When Grandpa is lost in grief for his wife, Henry comes up with a clever game to help him move forward and return to living.

Wendy Meddour’s sweet story is a perfect share with children who may be dealing with a death of a grandparent or family member for the first time. It is respectful, honest and fun as Henry and Grandpa move from talking about their top three sandwiches to talking about granny’s top three things and sharing their memories. The ending is a surprise. I love the simplicity of the text as it encourages children to read the book on their own.

Daniel Egenéus’s expressive and playful watercolors show Grandpa coming out of his funk, engaging with Henry and living life again.

Resources: This book is a lovely resource for both children and parents to use to help children deal with grief.  Play Henry’s top three game.  It’s fun and catchy.

Wendy Meddour was a lecturer at Oxford University before becoming a full-time writer. She is the author of numerous picture books, but Grandpa’s Top Threes is her Candlewick Press debut. She lives in the U.K.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

*Review copy provided by publisher.

Earth Hour: A Lights-Out Event for Our Planet by Nanette Heffernan

Earth Hour 2020 – Global Event

March 28, 2020 8:30 p.m. (local time)

Earth Hour: A Lights-Out Event for Our Planet

Nanette Heffernan, Author

Bao Luu, Illustrator

Charlesbridge, Nonfiction,  2020

Suitable for Ages:

Themes: Energy conservation, Climate changes, Earth Hour, Global events

Opening: “All over the world, millions of people use energy, every day, every night.”

Bookjacket Synopsis:

Each year, Earth Hour is celebrated on a Saturday night near the equinox in March. At 8:30 p.m., in every time zone across the world, lights fade to black for this special event.

Observing  Earth Hour is a promise to conserve energy. Turning out nonessential lights at home and in public places for one hour is a symbol of global action.

From the Sydney Opera House to the Great Wall of China, from the Eiffel Tower to the Statue of Liberty, and from one home to the next, every light matters.

Why I like this book:

Nanette Heffernan empowers children to see how they can conserve energy and make a positive change and difference at home, school, in communities and around the world. This is my favorite kind of book to share, because kids can do amazing things to help climate change on the planet — and they know it!

There is simplicity in her lyrical text , which allows children to read, study and question how they use energy personally and how it’s used globally. What would their lives be like without energy?  There is a lot of diversity depicted in text and artwork.

Bao Luu’s richly-colored illustrations compliment her text with short visual scenes depicting how children and their families use energy daily to how energy is used to light up the iconic global landmarks at night.  His artwork momentarily plummets readers into darkness when the lights are turned off, but are replaced with beautiful midnight blue illustrations accented by the moon and stars shining brightly on Mother Earth.

The author first encountered the lights going out on the Golden Gate Bridge one night as she crossed. She later learned it was in honor of Earth Hour and became an instant fan. She pledged “to share this event with one million people.” For Heffernan, “We turn off out lights as a pledge to live more sustainably and conserve energy – not just during Earth Hour but during every hour and every day throughout the year.”

Resources: Read the back matter at the end of the book. Check out the Earth Hour website to learn about ways of getting involved or events near you. On March 28, for one hour, turn off the lights, TVs, and other appliances in your home. Invite your neighbors and friends to do the same. Light candles, play board games. Write a short story about your experience and your thoughts about the importance of conserving energy.

Nanette Heffernan is a children’s author and sustainability consultant. Her lifelong goal is to make Earth a better home for children whether by making them laugh or addressing environmental issues that will affect their generation. Although she loves her leadership roles in the community, she is most fulfilled while dressed in school lunch trash and visiting schools and festivals to talk to thousands of kids about the importance of protecting our environment. She is pleased to share her efforts have earned her three Environmental Awards of Excellence. She lives near San Francisco, CA with her family, Koda the dog, George the cat, and eight chickens, all named Companion.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

*Book reviewed from a library copy.