Posts tagged Children

Stormy Night, a must have for every library.

Stormy Night

 

Picture Book (see page count)

Ages 8 and up

240 pages

By Michèle Lemieux

Kids Can Press

1996

 

The first time I read Stormy Night I was stunned. This was exactly the kind of book I wish I’d seen when I was a child, but one I still very much needed to see as an adult. The ideas raised and questions asked can sometimes be unnerving but the whimsical art is comforting and the overall tone is uplifting and encouraging. Profoundly addressing questions of self and the world around us, this book is a necessary reminder that we are never alone.

Stormy Night is not a typical picture book in format or content. It’s two hundred and forty pages long and 5.75 by 8.5 inches, an unconventional trim size. The text is sparse and largely philosophical, interspersing unanswerable questions with expressions of delight, despair, confusion and curiosity.

Beautifully rendered in black and white, the art perfectly complements the text in mood and tone. Some illustrations are full spreads, saturating the reader’s feelings. Other illustrations convey the enormity of life with only a small, understated line drawing.

The book opens with a storm brewing outside; inside a young girl is getting ready for bed. Her dog is by her side. The first text appears several pages in:

“I can’t sleep! Too many questions are buzzing through my head.”

 

The young girl, lying awake in her bed, ponders questions of science, of self and of life.

 

“Where do we come from?”

 

“Who am I?”

 

“Sometimes I feel like I don’t fit in my body!”

 

She expresses feelings of joy, sadness, anger and uncertainty.

 

“I’d like to be able to do things no one else can do…”

 

“What exactly is fate?”

 

At the closing of this book our young thinker, finally able to sleep, curls up with her dog and a new and beautiful day dawns outside.

 

This perfect little package of a book is an absolute treasure and a must have for every library. It offers comfort to children, and reassurance to adults, that we are not alone—that the questions and feelings swirling around in our heads are normal, natural and universal.

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13 Words: A delightful picture book, about a despondent bird.

13 Words

 

Ages 4-7

Written by Lemony Snicket

Illustrated by Maira Kalman

40 pages

HarperCollins Publishers

2010

Book trailer

 

Maira Kalman has an illustration style unlike any other. Her art is immediately recognizable. She has illustrated several books, for adults as well as children, and has been featured on the cover of The New Yorker multiple times. She paints odd-looking people and animals that look somewhat human which, in 13 Words, are set against surreal landscapes. Her art is playful and the colors are reminiscent of ribbon candy.

Lemony Snicket, author of the highly popular A Series of Unfortunate Events, has a flair for words. Though the majority of his books are for older readers, his voice is perfect for the picture book audience. This story is based around thirteen words—some familiar, others unusual. The diverse list is displayed inside the front cover where the books description would normally be. Surely there are some words children will not know. Word number 1 is bird. Word number 2 is despondent.

Bird is despondent, dog(4) would like to cheer her up. While bird is busy(5) sulking and painting ladders, dog visits a haberdashery(9) owned by a baby(11).

These words, and seven more, are joined in a lovely story about how dog worked to cheer up his friend bird.

Parents take note: there’s a song to sing in this book. I’ve found when singing made up songs to little ones, the worse it sounds, the funnier it is. So belt it out!

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Jamberry: A book you’ll read again and again.

Jamberry

 

Board book

Birth-2 years old

By Bruce Degen

32 pages

HarperCollins Publisher

1983

 

This is a perfect book and holds a permanent spot on “my top twenty books for a baby” list.

The illustrations are colorful, detailed and whimsical. And there are fun things going on in the background to point out and talk about.

The text has a flawless rhyming pace, making almost any adult feel like the most practiced preschool teacher or librarian while reading it aloud. When there’s a perfect rhythm to follow you can almost sing the words, making it that much more fun to read.

Jamberry is a simple story about a boy and a bear going berry picking and the friends they meet along the way. They travel down a river in a canoe, dance in meadows, hop on a train, and take part in a Berryband concert! Then, an already perfect day of berry picking and festivities draws to a close with fireworks.

Be prepared—little ones will want to hear this story over and over and over.

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