Papa, Daddy and Riley by Seamus Kirst

Papa, Daddy, & Riley

Seamus Kirst, Author

Devon Hozwarth, Illustrator

Magination Press, Fiction, 2020

Suitable for ages: 4-8

Themes: Families, Love, Diversity, Gay fathers, LGBTQ+

Opening: “On the first day of school, my parents walked me to my classroom. My friends were being dropped off by their families, too….I was with my dads.”

Book Jacket Synopsis:

Riley is Papa’s princess and Daddy’s dragon. She love her two fathers! When Riley’s classmate asks her which dad is her real one, Riley is confused. She doesn’t want to have to pick one or the other.

Families are made of love in this heartwarming story that shows there a lots of ways to be part of one.

Why I like Papa, Daddy, and Riley:

Seamus Kirst has written a sweet story about different families that is both contemporary and realistic. It is an important book for young children as it demonstrates how curious, open and honest kids are with each other. When Olive sees Riley’s two fathers on the first day of school, she asks, “So, which one is your dad dad? And where is your mom?” The question confuses and upsets Riley. She has to choose? Both Daddy and Papa reassure Riley that she doesn’t have to choose and tell her that “Love makes a family.”

This is the first time I’ve seen the expression “belly mommy” in reference to the woman who gives birth to Riley. This is a nice inclusion. Riley even has a picture of her. (This meant a lot to me because we adopted two children and I always wished we had photographs of their birth mothers.) 

The different family representations throughout this book, will suit many families. Some kids have one parent, some have two. Some families have stepparents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents who care for them. Some kids have foster parents. Kids need to see their families represented in books. That is why this book is so important.

Devon Holzwarth’s beautiful illustrations are rendered in bright pastels and watercolors. The children’s facial expressions and body language are spot on and so truth to life. The pages are filled with different family representations. I love the diversity.

Resources: This book is a resource. It will prompt many interesting discussions among many different or diverse families.  

Seamus Kirst is a writer who work has been published in The Washington Post, The Guardian, Teen Vogue, Forbes, The Advocate, and Vice. He has always loved reading picture books and is still in slight disbelief he has published one of his own. He is absolutely honored to be able to contribute to LGBTQ representation that he wished he could have read and seen when he was young. He lives in New York with his two cats, Sugar Baby and Bernie Sanders.  Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @SeamusKirst or on Facebook @seamuspatrickkirst. 

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.
 
*Copy provided by Magination Press in ecchange for a review. 

 

 

Love in the Library by Maggie Tokuda-Hall

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month – May 1 – 31, 2022

Love in the Library

Maggie Tokuda-Hall, Author

Yas Imamura, Illustrator

Candlewick Press, Historical Fiction, Feb. 8, 2022

Themes; Japanese Americans, Relocation camps, Library, World War II, Love, Hope

Suitable for ages: 6-9

Opening: “Tama did not like the desert. She brushed the dust from her eyes as she walked to the library. The barbed wire fences and guard towers cast long shadows over her path. She always did her best not to look at the guards.”

Book Jacket Synopsis:

“The miracle is in us. As long as we believe in change, in beauty, in hope.”

Tama works in the library at the Minidoka incarceration camp, where she is imprisoned because she is Japanese American.  Life in the Idaho camp is relentless and getting through each day is hard. Tama prefers to escape into her books, with their stories of honor and adventure. 

But every day, George is there, too — with a smile, yet another stack of books, and his comforting presence. It is George who helps Tama understand that she isn’t alone, and in that realization, hope if found.

Based on the experience of author Maggie Tokuda-Hall’s own grandparents, who met in Minidoka during World War II, this is a wrenching and beautiful tale of two people who find each other during a time of extreme darkness, and the family born out of their love. 

Why I like Love in the Library:

Love in the Library is an inspiring book for young readers who are introduced to one of America’s darkest periods in history — the internment of Japanese American families living on the West Coast. Mothers, fathers, grandparents, children and babies, shared single rooms in these prison camps. This is an important story to tell because of the fear that pervaded our country during World War II and the social injustices that occurred.

The material is age-appropriate, very factual and allows for a lot of discussion. The lovely gouache and watercolor illustrations will give children a peek into the stark and dreary camps and offer a glimpse of hope.

Even though this is based on the true story, the author helps readers understand how important it is to hope and dream, even under the worst circumstances. It is difficult for Tama to leave college life, but she finds a way to cope by working in the library. It is a place she can escape to and find books that lift her spirit. They are a constant companion, as is the daily visitor, George, who checks out stacks of books. They fall in love in a prison camp where people feel less than human and show their deep inner strength during a challenging time.   

Resources: Make sure you read the Author’s Note at the end of the story. There is a picture of Tama and George Tokuda. This book is a timely read for students today with so much pain and suffering going on in the world around them. It will lead to many interesting discussions. Ask children what helps them cope when they face a difficult situations? Make a list. 

Maggie Tokuda-Hall is Tama and George’s granddaughter, Wendy and Richard’s daughter, and Mikka’s sister. She’s the author of the Parents’ Choice Gold Award-winning picture book Also an Octopus; the YA novel, The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea; and the graphic novel Squad. She lives in Oakland, California, with her son, husband, and dog.

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 Candlewick Press, in exchange for a review.

 

Ani’s Light byTanu Shree Singh

Ani’s Light

Tanu Shree Singh, PhD, Author

Sandhya Prabhat, Illustrator

Magination Press. Fiction, Jun. 23, 2020

Suitable for ages: 4-8

Themes: Mothers, Parental illness, Depression, Hope, Love 

Opening: On a night when the moon shone and little specks of light danced on the ceiling, Ani Lay awake. “It’s dark,” he said.

Book Jacket Synopsis:

Ani’s stuck in a dark cloud because his mother hasn’t been home. His friends and family try to brighten his mood, but nothing helps. When Mama finally comes back, but with her hair missing, Ani’s light gets brighter and brighter, chasing away his darkness. The unconditional love between Ani and his mother shines through as the two enjoy their precious time together, whether it’s forever, or just for now.

This sensitive, hopeful story will help kids explore their sadness when a close family member is undergoing medical treatment, while highlighting sources of light that can bring stability during uncertain times. It is also a terrific resource for anyone who wants to understand the ups and downs of coping with a parent’s illness.

Why I like Ani’s Light:

Ani’s Light is a realistic and heartfelt story about a boy dealing with his mother chronic medical illness. I am thrilled to share this book with you because I’ve only reviewed a few picture books about a parent dealing with cancer. Unfortunately, there need to be more books. This is a good book to have in your home library.

I love Tanu Shree Singh’s brevity of words and her lyrical text. It is enough to know that Ani’s mother is gone and he is very sad. Reader’s only know when she returns home that “Mama’s hair is gone.” This book could be used for many other medical issues (including COVID) that occur among family members, including grandparents.

I like the contrast between darkness and light, which Sandhya Prabhat uses beautifully to show the dark cloud surrounding Ani. But, when his mother returns home a cloud of light envelopes mother and son, and Ani is hugging his mother — his source of light — and offers to shave his head. The world is once again full of color. She sets the story in India. Just look at that gorgeous book cover!

My favorite line is when Ani’s expresses he was scared she’d never come back, and his mother responds “I’m here now and so are Dobby, Nani and your friends.”  “As long as you let others love you,” Mama said, “you will be okay.”

Resources: Ani’s Light includes a Note to Parents and Caregivers explaining ways to help a child through a parental illness. It is written by the Singh, a professor of psychology. She says it is important to honest. It’s okay not to know all the answers. And it’s important to help kids deal with their emotions. A good book to have in a home or school library.

Tanu Shree Singh, PhD, is an assistant professor of psychology in the Department of Higher Education, Haryana, India. She completed her studies in positive psychology at Maharshi Dayanand University and writes extensively on issues related to parenting. Her passion for reading and getting more children to read led her to set up two libraries in Faridabad and Tirthan Valley. She lives in Faridabad, India. Visit her on Twitter @tanu75 and Instagram @tanu.shree.singh.

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 Magination Press in exchange for a review.

 

A Secret Shared by Patricia MacLachlan

A Secret Shared

Patricia MacLachlan, Author

Katherine Tegen Books, Fiction, Sep. 28, 2022

Suitable for ages: 8-12

Themes: Secrets, Family relationships, Love, Adoption

Book Jacket  Synopsis:

Nora and Ben’s younger sister Birdy loves to keep secrets. She surprises her family more than once. She hides a kitten in her room. She writes a beautiful poem. One day Birdy watches her mother spit into a tube, ready to send it off to find out more about herself and where her family came from. Birdy spits into another tube, when no one sees her, and slips it into the envelope.

But when the test results come back, there is a surprise. Nora happens to see a second letter in the discarded envelope about Birdy. She discovers Birdy is seemingly not related to Nora and Ben’s parents. But if she is adopted, how could that have happened without the children knowing?

Nora and Ben must learn when to keep a secret, and who to go to for help—and eventually, how to solve this secret for the entire family.

Why I like A Secret Shared:

When I find a new novel written by master storyteller Patricia MacLachlan, I’m excited to curl up with what I know will be a touching and comforting book. With her short and simple sentences, MacLachlan conveys an intimate and loving family devoted to one another. The plot is engaging and the pacing is perfect for readers with just the right amount of tension.  

Nora narrates the story, so readers will feel her shock and confusion when she discovers Birdy isn’t her biological sister. How could this be? How could she and Ben not know? MacLachlan offers readers an opportunity to see the DNA isn’t what makes up a family, it’s unconditional love and honesty. 

All of the characters are unique and memorable. Mom is a columnist and poet. Dad is an artist and a professor. They encourage their children to express themselves. The entire family is joyful. Even though there is a secret, the real emphasis is on how beautifully the family deals with it together. And, because they are okay with it, so is Birdy. As a parent of two adoptive children, Birdy’s reaction put a smile on my face.  

Patricia MacLachlan is the celebrated author of many timeless novels for young readers, including Newbery Medal winner Sarah, Plain and TallWord After Word After WordKindred SoulsThe Truth of MeThe Poet’s Dog; and My Father’s Words. She is also the author of countless beloved picture books, a number of which she cowrote with her daughter, Emily. She lives in Williamsburg, Massachusetts.

Greg Pattridge hosts Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts on his wonderful Always in the Middle website. Check out the link to see all of the wonderful reviews by KidLit bloggers and authors.

*Reviewed from a library copy. 

The Beatryce Prophecy by Kate DiCamillio

The Beatryce Prophecy

Kate DiCamillo, Author

Sophie Blackall, Illustrator

Candlewick Press, Fiction, Sep. 28, 2021

Suitable for ages: 8-12

Themes:  Girl, Goat, Monk, King, Prophesy, Medieval, Folktale, Love, Friendships  

Publisher’s Synopsis:

In a time of war, a mysterious child appears at the monastery of the Order of the Chronicles of Sorrowing. Gentle Brother Edik finds the girl, Beatryce, curled in a stall, wracked with fever, coated in dirt and blood, and holding fast to the ear of Answelica the goat. As the monk nurses Beatryce to health, he uncovers her dangerous secret, one that imperils them all—for the king of the land seeks just such a girl, and Brother Edik, who penned the prophecy himself, knows why.

And so it is that a girl with a head full of stories—powerful tales-within-the-tale of queens and kings, mermaids and wolves—ventures into a dark wood in search of the castle of one who wishes her dead. But Beatryce knows that, should she lose her way, those who love her—a wild-eyed monk, a man who had once been king, a boy with a terrible sword, and a goat with a head as hard as stone—will never give up searching for her, and to know this is to know everything. With its timeless themes, unforgettable cast, and magical medieval setting, Kate DiCamillo’s lyrical tale, paired with resonant black-and-white illustrations by Caldecott Medalist Sophie Blackall, is a true collaboration between masters.

We shall all, in the end, be led to where we belong. We shall all, in the end, find our way home.

Why I like this book:

The Beatryce Prophecy is an engaging medieval folktale and adventure that is exquisitely imagined by Kate DiCamillo. Her language is lyrical and her powerful storytelling will captivate the hearts of readers. The fast-paced plot is packed with tension, yet offset by the right amount of humor. It is a very special book that is soulful and moving.  

Captivating and lovable main characters are pitted against an evil king. Beatryce is a girl who can read and write, which is forbidden in the kingdom. She has suffered a trauma that is so terrible that she has tucked the memory away. She only knows her name. She’s smart, clever and wise beyond her years. Brother Edik is a monk in the Order of the Chronicles of Sorrowing who sees beauty everywhere and paints that beauty into his letters, despite a war and violence that surrounds the kingdom. He is a compassionate soul who is the ideal protector for Beatryce along with the strong and playful goat, Answelica, who can send the monks flying with a single butt. But the goat loves Beatryce and appears to communicate with her in a way that only the two understand. A brave orphan boy, Jack Dory, becomes her friend and helps Beatrice escape when the king’s soldiers search the kingdom for the “girl in the prophecy.” Jack, Answelica and Beatrice embark upon a dangerous journey to confront the king and find her mother. 

The Beatryce Propheccy is divided into “six books” with very short chapters, making this fable a perfect bedtime read for younger children. Each chapter begins with an ornately designed letter, much in the style of Brother Edik’s luminous letters. Sophie Blackall’s beautiful black-and-white illustrations pull readers into this medieval adventure and give readers a peek at Beatryce’s world. Verdict: This timeless fable will become a favorite among readers.

Kate DiCamillo is the author of Because of Winn Dixie, The Tiger Rising, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, The Tale of Despereaux, The Magician’s Elephant, Flora & Ulysses, and the Raymie Nightingale series. She also is the author of the chapter books series Mercy Watson and the Tales from Deckwoo Drive. A former National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, she lives in Minneapolis.

Greg Pattridge hosts Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts on his wonderful Always in the Middle website. Check out the link to see all of the wonderful reviews by KidLit bloggers and authors.

*Review copy provided by Candlewick Press in exchange for a review.

Louis by Tom Lichtenheld and Julie Rowan-Zoch

Louis

Tom Lichtenheld, Author

Julie Rowan-Zoch, Illustrator

HMH Books for Young Readers, Fiction, Oct. 6, 2020

Suitable for ages: 4-7

Themes: Boy, Teddy Bear, Underappreciated, Humor, Love

Opening: “From day one…things have gone downhill. I’ve been a pillow… a hankie…”

Book Jacket Synopsis:

Louis the bear has had enough. He feels overlooked and underappreciated.  If he’s not being used as a hankie, he’s being hung out to dry — literally. This teddy can BEAR it no longer, so he’s sneaking away just as soon as he can!

Then again, there’s no use running off in the rain. Or during show-and-tell. Or when there are delicious snacks to be had. Maybe Louis has something to lose, after all…

New York Times best-selling creator Tom Lichtenheld and newcomer Julie Rowan-Zoch’s hilarious peek into a teddy’s secret life is salty and sweet, grumpy and tender, and a heartfelt tribute to those we cherish.

Why I like this book:

Tom Lichtenheld’s Louis is packed with kid appeal! His text is spare, but delivers bear’s grumpy comments with humor and fun wordplay. Most children have a beloved Teddy Bear or favorite comfort animal they drag around and love to death. How clever to tell the story from the bear’s perspective. Children will giggle at his comments.  But they just may think about how they treat their own favorite bear. Golly, aren’t bears and comfort animals meant to be loved and squeezed to death — literally?  Louis is a fun read aloud at bedtime or in the classroom. Will bear ever have a change of heart?

Julie Rowan-Zoch’s colorful and expressive illustrations are a nod to children that this bear is upset and had enough! Bear’s body language is priceless — the look of utter disgust at having his paw used as a hankie, tightly closed eyes as he’s poked with needles, the dismay at being left on the school bus, and the frowns and forehead wrinkles.  Rowan-Zoch’s creative use of white space make each adorable illustration pop. Make sure you check out the end papers.

Resources: Draw a picture of your own bear or favorite stuffed animal. Name three things you love most about your bear. What are three things you like to do with your bear?  Do you think your bear get’s lonely?

Tom Lichtenheld might seem a little old to have a teddy bear, but he’s a kid at heart and I like hanging out in his studio. To pay him back for many years of free crayons, a warm bed, and chocolate-strawberry cupcakes, I decided to let him write a book about me. You can learn about his other  — less interesting — books by checking out his website.

Julie Rowan-Zoch grew up collecting freckles and chasing hermit crabs in New York, and spent years slicing rich breads in Germany before waking up to 300 days of blue Colorado skies. If she doesn’t answer the door, look in the garden! Visit Julie online at her website or on Instagram @jrzoch. She has authored and illustrated a debut picture book, I’m a Hare, So There!

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 purchased copy.

Merci Suarez Can’t Dance by Meg Medina

Merci Suárez Can’t Dance

Meg Medina, Author

Candlewick Press, Fiction, Apr. 6, 2021

Suitable for ages: 9-12

Themes:  Middle School, Friendship, Family, Love, Alzheimer’s, Latino, Dance

Publisher’s Synopsis:

Seventh grade is going to be a real trial for Merci Suárez. For science she’s got no-nonsense Mr. Ellis, who expects her to be as smart as her brother, Roli. She’s been assigned to co-manage the tiny school store with Wilson Bellevue, a boy she barely knows, but whom she might actually like. And she’s tangling again with classmate Edna Santos, who is bossier and more obnoxious than ever now that she is in charge of the annual Heart Ball.

One thing is for sure, though: Merci Suárez can’t dance—not at the Heart Ball or anywhere else. Dancing makes her almost as queasy as love does, especially now that Tía Inés, her merengue-teaching aunt, has a new man in her life. Unfortunately, Merci can’t seem to avoid love or dance for very long. She used to talk about everything with her grandfather, Lolo, but with his Alzheimer’s getting worse each day, whom can she trust to help her make sense of all the new things happening in her life? The Suárez family is back in a touching, funny story about growing up and discovering love’s many forms, including how we learn to love and believe in ourselves.

Why I like this book:

Meg Medina’s much anticipated sequel is a heartwarming and compelling novel that tackles big topics for Merci Suárez, who is now a seventh grade student at Seward Pines Academy. Medina’s narrative is engaging and immersive.  Her plot is classic middle grade tension and  — losing a BFF to a more popular crowd; a mean, rich-girl bully; racism; and the differences in culture and social status.  

Merci’s adventures in school paint a clear picture of a curious and resilient 12-year-old trying to make sense of who she is. She’s smart, has a good business head and is a talented photographer. She worries about her looks, is conscious about her changing body and dreads PE shower rooms. She can’t dance and doesn’t want to go to the big school dance.  She finds boy-girl relationships confusing. Is it scary or nice? She wants to know about holding a boy’s hand, kissing for the first time, dating, and breaking up. Medina also includes a very diverse cast of memorable characters: Edna who’s from the Dominican Republic, and Wilson who’s Louisiana Creole and Cajun, is differently-abled and wears a short ankle brace to straighten his leg when he walks. Merci’s friendship with Wilson, a math whiz, may mean a little more to her.

This richly textured Latino story is peppered with Spanish expressions from her Cuban-American family. Medina uses humor in this true-to-life story that is topsy-turvy, yet filled with heart. The Suárez family is a large multigenerational family that live in a group of three homes where all family members come and go, regardless of who lives where. Papi runs a painting business. The Suárez family is a close-knit family that work, cook and eat together, share childcare responsibilities, and support each other, even if money is tight. There is a lot of chaos at all times. Merci is often in charge of keeping an eye on her grandfather (Lolo), whose Alzheimer’s is rapidly progressing and babysitting her aunt’s active twin boys. And they all answer the call to help Tía Inez, when she decides to open a school of Latin dance.

Medina dedicates her book to “Merci fans who wanted to know what happened next.”  And fans will cheer for Merci, enjoy watching her grow and hope that Medina continues her story. Merci Suárez is a humorous and satisfying read.  

Check out the Teacher’s Guide, published by Candlewick Press.

Meg Medina is the author of the Newbery Medal-winning book, Merci Suárez Changes Gears, which was also a 2018 Kirkus Prize finalist.  Her YA novels Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass, for which she won a 2014 Pura Belpre Author Award; Burn Baby Burn, which was long-listed for the National Book Award; and The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind. The daughter of Cuban immigrants, she grew up in Queens, New York, and now lives in Richmond Virginia. Visit Meg Medina at her website.

Greg Pattridge hosts Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts on his wonderful Always in the Middle website. Check out the link to see all of the wonderful reviews by KidLit bloggers and authors.

*Review copy provided by Candlewick Press in exchange for a review.

Love Is Powerful by Heather Dean Brewer

Love Is Powerful

Heather Dean Brewer, Author

LeUyen Pham, Illustrator

Candlewick Press, Sept 8, 2020

Suitable for ages: 5-8

Themes: Women’s March, Peaceful protests, Child activist, Love, Making a difference

Opening: “Mari spilled her crayons onto the table. They made a messy rainbow. / “What are we coloring, Mama?” / Mama smiled. “A message for the world.”

Synopsis:

Mari and Mama are making a sign, a message for the world.  But Mari wonders how something so little will be seen by the whole world. And how can someone as small as Mari be heard over the hundreds of thousands of people gathered to march? But Mama isn’t worried, because their sign is a message of love.  And love is powerful.

Inspired by the real-life experience of one little girl at the 2017 Women’s March in New York City, author Heather Dean Brewer and Caldecott Honor-winning illustrator LeUyen Pham demonstrate that no matter a person’s size, the message of love can always be heard.

Why I like this book:

I love to share true stories. The author participated in the 2017 Women’s March and saw Mari lifted onto her mother’s shoulders shouting her message “Love Is Powerful,” as the crowd around her responded and began to chant her message down the street. Mari’s small voice did make a difference that day.

This beautiful and uplifting story introduces children to the power of peaceful protests, activism, using your voice to stand up for what you believe in, and creating change. I can’t think of a better time to show kids what a peaceful gathering means. This is the democracy we live in.  LeUyen Pham’s illustrations are joyful and filled with so much love. She also marched in the Women’s March in Atlanta. Her beautiful pallet of colors enhance the exhilarating energy and mood of those participating in marches across the country that cold day in January day.

Make sure you read the note at the end of the book from Mari about that January day in Michigan. There is also a picture of Mari on her mother’s shoulders.

Resources:  There are so many peaceful causes in local communities. Find one that represents your values and talk about it with your children. Ask them what is important to them. What would they like to see change.  Encourage them to draw or write a sign with what they’d want to communicate.  Perhaps in the future, you can take them to a peaceful gathering.

Heather Dean Brewer is a writer and artist. She works as an art director, designing books for both children and adults. About this books, she says, “I’ve often felt quiet and small and that no one could hear me. But when I joined others in the Women’s March and say my friend Mari lifted above the crowd, her voice echoing down the streets of New York City, I learned that even the smallest voice has power to change the world.” Heather Dean Brewer lives in Michigan with her family and loves to ride her bike in the woods. Visit Heather 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.

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

Why Am I by Colleen McCarthy-Evans

Why Am I

Colleen McCarthy-Evans, Author

Sarah Dietz, Illustrator

Seven Seas Press, Fiction, Aug. 31, 2020

Suitable for ages: 3 -103

Themes: Love, Respect, Humans, Animals, Nature, Life, Inspirational

Opening: “Why Am I / Said the Boy to the Sky / You bring us great joy / Said the Sky to the Boy”

Amazon Synopsis:

Come along on a journey through a dreamy day in our amazing world, starting in the dewy dawn and ending with a dance by the light of the full moon. We’ll meet charming characters and learn about their purpose and preciousness, through fun and playful rhythm and rhyme. This joyful book is a meditation that reminds us that every person, animal and thing in the world has special qualities we can appreciate, value and love about them. And we are all so much more than we believe we are. For ages 3 to 103.

Why I like this book:

Colleen McCarthy-Evans’s Why Am I, is a captivating ode to the wonder and mystery of our world. “Why Am I” is a universal question that children and adults like to ask and ponder. The lyrical narrative reminds readers that nature, animals and human beings have qualities that we all love, appreciate and respect — from the joy of a child to a kiss from a mother; from the sweetness of a honeybee to cheerful chirp of a bird; and from the motion of the ocean to our trust in the galaxy. The language is easy for little ones to understand and yet appropriate for older children and adults. Readers will learn to love and  respect themselves and the wonderful world they live in. This is a very timely picture book.

Why Am I is a perfect quiet time story that will encourage soul-searching conversations between children and parents.  The book is a perfect blend of gentle words and Sarah Dietz’s inspiring and beautiful illustrations, which will capture readers imaginations.

The Spanish edition of the book, Por Que Soy / Why Am I, was published on November 9.

Resources: Make sure you read the Author’s Note at the end. The author has also created two pages of Discussion/Activities  for parents and teachers to use to spark discussions. For example: Take a walk around your school or neighborhood and name a quality for each person, animal, tree, garden, and park that you see. There are so many ways to use this beautiful book.

Colleen McCarthy-Evans is an award-winning creator of books and board games for children and families.  She is the author of The Little Blue Dragon. She’s a co-founder and former Director of Operations of the Santa Barbara Charter School (est. 1993), whose mission is to teach Conflict Resolution along with Academics and the Arts. She lives in Santa Barbara, California with her husband and dogs, loves to practice and teach yoga, and enjoys being in and out of the garden with her two grown sons, extended family and friends.

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 in exchange for a review.

The Gift of Gerbert’s Feathers by Meaghann Weaver and Lori Wiener

The Gift of Gerbert’s Feathers

Meaghann Weaver and Lori Wiener, Authors

Mikki Butterley, Illustrator

Magination Press, Fiction, Feb. 4, 2020

Suitable for ages: 4-8

Themes: Geese, Migration, Serious illness, Death, Family, Love, Courage

Opening: “From the moment his eggshell cracked, and his bill first peeked out, everyone knew Gerbert was a special goose.”

Book Jacket Synopsis:

Gerbert is strong and brave young goose and has fun times with his family and friends, but he knows that one day soon, he won’t be able to keep up with them anymore.

No matter how much Gerbert eats, he barely gains weight. His neck is shorter, his bill smaller and his wings are shorter.  His family migrates every year, and each season he grows weaker. His feathers begin to fall out.

As Gerbert prepares for his final migration, his family rallies around him to make sure his days are filled with love and comfort, and he finds a way to show his flock that he will always be with them.

Why I like this book:

Meaghann Weaver and Lori Wiener have written a tender and sensitive story for children who have a serious illness, for children who have a sibling or other family members who are living with an illness. It is a comforting story about courage and love that can be used in many different situations, even if the family member isn’t facing death. It will also help parents talk about death in a gentle way.

Gerbert is a joyful, loving and courageous gosling. He splashes in the water and plays follow the leader with his siblings. No matter how small Gerbert is, he is determined to have fun.  With each season, he struggles to keep up when his family migrates. Finally, he begins to tire and spend more time in the nest. His family worries about the upcoming migration and know he may not make the journey. Gerbert worries his family will feel sad to leave him behind and will miss him.

Mikki Butterly’s delicate and beautiful illustrations of Canadian geese and their habitat, will evoke emotions. But they are also soothing and comforting.

Meaghann Weaver, MD, MPH, FAAP, is a pediatric oncologist and Chief of the Division of Palliative Care at the Children’s Hospital and Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska. She works with a wonderful interdisciplinary Hand in Hand team which strives to foster the strengths and graces of children and families in the Heartland. Dr. Weaver’s favorite life moments are spent painting, dancing, cooking, and gardening with her amazing daughter, Bravery. Dr. Weaver dreams of one day returning to Africa with her family.

Lori Wiener, PhD, DCSW, is co-director of the Behavioral Science Core and Head of the Psychosocial Support and Research Program at the pediatric oncology branch of the National Cancer Institute. As both a clinician and behavioral scientist, Dr. Wiener has dedicated her career to applying what she has learned from her work with seriously ill children and their families to create new therapeutic, communication, and educational tools. She lives in Annapolis, Maryland with her family and several animals, including a pup named Tessa, a rescue cat named Tupelo, and a pond filled with goldfish, koi and noisy frogs. One of Dr. Wiener’s favorite pastimes is photographing the migration of snow geese.

Resources: There is no easy way to approach the discussion about a seriously ill child. But the authors have written a Note to Parents and Caregivers with sample discussion questions and a Kid’s Reading Guide for siblings who have a brother or sister with a serious illness. But, reading The Gift of Gerbert’s Feather is an important start. It is also a perfect book for hospital settings.  There is also a printable feather coloring sheet.

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.