Tag Archives: Deborah Freedman

Favorite Picture Books of 2017

Happy New Year, everyone!  It’s been months since I last posted… any spare writing time was spent trying to finish my new book so I  didn’t have time to blog.  But now the book is FINISHED!  (what a relief!)  So I hope to get back into my routine of regular blog posts!

Before launching into some of the new books for this year, I thought I would do a recap of my favorites from 2017 –  in case you have missed any of these great titles!  Nearly impossible to narrow it down – and I’m sure I’ve missed many but, in no particular order, here my favorite picture books of the last year….

 

King of the Sky – Nicola Davies

King of the Sky is a beautiful, moving story that touches on immigration and inter-generational relationships.   It is the story of a young, displaced boy from Italy and a retired, elderly Welsh coal miner who races pigeons. The book is a gentle meditation on loneliness, courage, and finding your place in the world when you feel out of place.  I love everything Nicola Davies writes – this sweet story is one of my favorites.  Gorgeous illustrations.

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Now – Antoinette Portis

Love this peaceful book about mindfulness, living in the moment, and appreciating what’s in front of you.  A little girl takes readers on a delightful journey that shows all her favorites and ends with an especially lovely one.  Love the bright autumn pallet.  This would be a perfect book for primary students for making connections to favorite things; with intermediates, I would use it for inferring a deeper message.

Questions Asked – Jostein Gaarder

Any book that promotes deep thinking and deep questions is going to be on my list of favorites!   This gorgeous book poses some of life’s most difficult, unanswerable questions in quiet and nonthreatening ways, opening the possibility for further thought and discussion.  A perfect book for introducing deep thinking questions.

A Different Pond – Bao Phi

This book combines family and cultural traditions, inter-generational relationships, and the challenges of the immigration experience all in one.  Beautifully crafted – so quiet and honest, with subtle text and beautiful imagery.  Bao Phi tells the story of an early early morning fishing trip with his father. The trip is not for recreation; it is for food.  There are so many quiet references to the challenges of the immigration experience (Bao makes reference to his father’s English, how hard his parents have to work, how everything costs so much).  This would make an excellent book for inferring and a focus on the hardships of immigration.

The Antlered Ship – Dashka Slater

A gorgeous epic filled with equal parts adventure and philosophy, this is one of those books that caught me by surprise when I first read it.  This sweet story features a curious fox who seeks answers to many big questions. Together, with his unlikely group of animal friends, they embark on a wondrous adventure.  Stunning illustrations by the Fan brothers – each page is its own piece of artwork.   Love the lessons in kindness, boldness and friendship.

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Crown – An Ode to the Fresh Cut – Derrick Barnes

This book made me smile a big wide smile and brought a bit of a tear to my eye at the same time.  It is just that good.  In a simple way, it is the story of a young black “tween” getting a haircut from the local barber.  But underneath it is a powerful message about dignity and empowerment and the feeling of importance.  Rich, beautiful, and joyful.

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Here We Are:  Notes for Living on Planet Earth – Oliver Jeffers

“Some things about our planet are pretty complicated, but things can be simple, too: you’ve just got to be kind.”   This beautiful book is a message to our little citizens about the mysterious world that they live in and how to understand and take care of it. Originally written as a message to his new born son, add this to your shopping list for any new babies being born, or for birthday presents for the littlest ones in your life!  Simple message for children but equally important and surprisingly deep message for grown-ups.  Gorgeous illustrations.

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Windows – Julia Denos

A warm little book about neighborhoods and the people within them. It’s a story about a child walking through a neighborhood and noticing people in the windows.  Comfort, belonging, community – all wrapped up in this beautifully illustrated book.

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    That Neighbor Kid – Daniel Miyares

In this almost wordless picture book, a young girl curiously watches her new neighbor begin a creative project.  While he struggles with his plans, she offers her help.   A celebration of creativity, friendship, collaboration and determination.  Love the way the illustrations begin as black and white and, as the friendship blossoms, so does the color.

The Bad Seed – Jory John

This humorous tale of a bad sunflower seed who eventually turns good makes a great read-aloud for primary students.  Sunflower is a BAAAAAAAAAD seed!  How BAAAAAAAAD?  He cuts in line, lies, doesn’t listen, has no manners…the list goes on!   I like how this book explores how he got to be so bad as well as focusing on his transformation to the “good side”.   Expressive illustrations – lots of laughs but great message.

                                                    Why Am I Me? – Paige Britt

Another stunning book that poses philosophical questions – this one with a deep pondering on identity and diversity.  Gorgeous mixed-media illustrations in an urban setting and great examples of point of view and inner dialogue.  Great discussion starter.

Life – Cynthia Rylant

Cynthia Rylant is definitely one of my top favorite children’s writers. I find her books to be so life-affirming, full of wonder and hope. Her new book “Life” is simply stunning. “What do you love about life?” is the question asked to many different animals. Through their responses, we are gifted with a wonderful message about life: how it constantly changes, the beauty of it, the darkness, and the wonders all around it. Simple, lyrical text and beautiful illustrations by Brendan Wenzel – it is a calm and reassuring book. Love.

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Wolf in the Snow – Matthew Cordell

So many great moments, great emotions and great sound effects in this moving, nearly wordless picture book about friendship, kindness, and compassion.  So much to love about this tale of a young girl who gets lost in the woods in deep winter as a wolf cub gets separated from her pack. The cub is afraid and in danger and the girl carries her to her mother. But the girl is now hopelessly lost, and in even greater danger. The pack, sensing this danger, howls to help the girl’s parents find her.  This is a must read, must share and must have little book.   (Kleenex required)

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Come With Me – Holly M. McGhee

What can we do to make the world just a little bit better, despite the fear, devastation and hatred we see everyday?  In this timely book, a young girl, frightened by what she is seeing on TV, asks her parents what she can do to make the world a better place. They respond by telling her and showing her that every person can make a difference by being kind, brave and showing compassion.  “Come with me…we can make this world better together.”  A wonderful book for launching a compassion project.

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When’s My Birthday? – Julie Fogliano

I so enjoyed this enthusiastic celebration of all things birthday!  Perfectly captures the agony and ecstasy of waiting for that one special day.   This book has rhyme and repetition; it’s bouncy and infectious and full of joy!  A great connect book for children – and even better one for parents!  “How many more days til my birthday?”

This House, Once – Deborah Freedman
Thought-provoking and beautifully poetic story about a house – and the oak tree, bricks and stones that it once was.  Though-provoking book invites readers to think about where things come from and what nature provides.  Soft, quiet, dreamy.  A note to readers at the back is great for promoting discussions.
There you have it!  So many more I could add but have to stop somewhere!  What were your favorite picture books of 2017?  Would love to hear your titles!
Watch for upcoming lists featuring favorite novels and early chapter books of 2017!

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Filed under 2017 releases, Connect, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books, Picture Book, Question

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – New for Spring Part 2!

IMWAYR

It’s Monday and I’m happy to be participating in a weekly event with a community of bloggers who post reviews of books that they have read the previous week. Check out more IMWAYR posts here: Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers

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Wolfie, the Bunny – Ame Dyckman

I have heard a lot of positive things about this book since its release in February but I had not read it.  Now I know why everyone loves it so much!  It is a charming tale of a family of bunnies who discover a wolf on their doorstep.  While the parents are overjoyed and welcome the new baby, Dot, their only daughter, is more than a little skeptical about her new sibling and fears they will all soon be eaten!  This book is so much fun to read, full of wonderful illustrations and hilarious lines. Dot is a great character – full of spunk and insight.   I love the way she keeps shouting about how Wolfie’s going to eat them with slight variations, finally just giving up.  “Oh, skip it!”   A brilliant book about new babies, sibling rivalry and unconditional love.  Laughs, surprises, suspense – this book has it all!  Perfect read-aloud and would also make a fantastic Reader’s Theater!

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Zoo – Suzy Lee

This is an interesting almost wordless picture book about a girl visiting the zoo with her parents and ends up getting lost.  The two parallel stories, one told in words from the girl’s perspective, the other totally different story is told through the pictures from the parents’ perspective.   Reminiscent of “Voices in the Park” by Anthony Browne,  there is distinct contrast of the cooler tones for the parents’ perspective and the warmer, brighter, more energetic tones for the girl’s perspective.  I would definitely recommend this book to use with older students to practice inferring.

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By Mouse and Frog – Deborah Freedman

This charming story is about two friends who co-write a book together.  Thoughtful Mouse has his quiet ideas for writing, while exuberant Frog has his own great ideas he wants to include.  This is a wonderful book to teach kids about working together and the importance of listening and valuing others’ opinions.  The illustrations are adorable.  This is definitely a book for sharing with a class.   

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Fisherman Through and Through – Colleen Sydor

This was a book that stayed with me after I finished with it.  (Always a good sign for me that there was some “transformed thinking” occurring!)  It tells the tale of three dedicated fisherman – Peter, Santiago and Ahab – who fish the waters every day but long for a more interesting life.  During their long days, they share their dreams of better days.  One day, they catch an extraordinary and unusual fish they have never seen before – a lobster.   The lobster attracts much attention and soon they are surrounded by photographers and are offered a great sum of money for it, enough money to fulfill all their dreams.  (major connections to John Steinbeck’s The Pearl)   But the fisherman realize it is impossible to imagine their life without the water, their fishing rods and each other — and return their special catch back to the sea.  Whimsical illustrations, rhythmical text and for older students, could be the starting point for discussion on sustainability and human interaction with the environment. 

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 Outstanding in the Rain – Frank Viva

Oh!  The creative cleverness of this book!  The story of a young boy and his mother spending the day at an amusement park is told through a series of die-cut “holes”.  As you turn the pages, different cut shapes reveal different scenes and different words.  Balloons become frozen treats, for example.  Clever word play and crafted illustrations.  Lots of fun to read and re-read!

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Prickly Jenny – Sibylle Delacroix

This book is a perfect “connect” book for younger children.  We have all had “prickly” days – when we just can’t make up our minds what we want!  Jenny wants to be left alone, but she cries when her mom goes away; she wants to wear her old T-shirt instead of her new dress, and that’s that.  Jenny wants things her way, but she’s not always sure what her way is.  I loved the small format of this book and the lovely chalk pastel illustrations focusing on Jenny’s expressive face. And my new favorite word for grumpy is “prickly”!

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Welcome to the Neighborwood – Shawn Sheehy

Oooooo – you must see this stunning pop-up book that focuses on the interconnectedness of animal homes.  (Hummingbird builds a nest with Spider’s webs, Spider eats Honeybee, etc).   This is an impressive debut picture book with dramatic pop-up paper-collage illustrations,  similar to Steve Jenkins.  Readers are introduced to seven woodland animals, each of whom uses unique construction to build their home independently, yet live together as part of an ecosystem.  This one is a show-stopper!

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Math at the Art Museum – Group Majoongmul (author’s collaborative)

Math concepts can sometimes be difficult to explain or illustrate to young children. This is a charming and very clever picture book that introduces math concepts through concrete examples found in art. Two children and their parents are viewing famous artwork (including Picasso, Kandinsky and Seurat) in a museum. Their father explains that there is math, both hidden and visible, in works of art. While at first the young boy doesn’t believe him, as he begins to look at the art in a new way, he begins to discover the “hidden” math. Hands-on activities and elementary mathematical concepts that relate to perspective, composition, symmetry, patterns are included. This is certainly a book that can be used for both Art and Math lessons – a “2 for 1 text”! Love it!

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Tell the Wolves I’m Home – Carol Rifka Brunt

For Book Club this month, we are reading this debut novel by Carol Rifka Brunt.  The story is set in 1987 and is told through the voice of June, a 14 year old girl who has just lost her favorite uncle to AIDS.  Her uncle was an artist and right before he dies, he paints a portrait of June and her older sister, Greta.  Her uncle leaves behind his partner, Toby, who forms an unlikely friendship with June after Finn’s death.  Together they find comfort in sharing their grief for the person they each loved most in the world.  There is also a story line of June’s fractured relationship with her troubled sister Greta.   The book kind of snuck up on me – I wasn’t expecting to feel so much when I first started reading it.  At times, it was difficult to read and I felt overwhelmed with emotion.  This book is haunting, beautiful, tragic, powerful, gut-wrenching, complex, poignant.  The writing is achingly beautiful – with so many lines and quotes I marked as I read.  This book has earned a coveted place on the “top shelf” of my book club collection.

 

Thanks for stopping by!  Please let me know which book caught your eye!

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Filed under Book Club, Connect, Infer, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books

Summer Reading – Day 13 – Friends who live in a book!

Please be patient with me as I am trying to navigate through my own blog (I’m trying to re-configure it but am still at the “what’s the difference between a post, a page, a parent and a tag!” stage)

But I don’t want to miss out in my daily book recommendation so here’s today’s top pick:  my most recent favorite friendship book!

16101066[1]       The Story of Fish and Snail by Deborah Freedman gets double thumbs up and a big fist pound.  Loved it!  The illustrations are AMAZING and the story not only is about friendship (between an introvert and an extrovert) but also touches on adventure, courage, taking risks and moving out of your comfort zone.

Fish and Snail live in a book.  Every day, Fish ventures out to other books and comes back to tell the story to Snail.  After visiting a pirate book one day, Fish is so excited that he insists Snail join him on his next book-visiting adventure.  Snail, who has a few Scaredy Squirrel tendencies, prefers to live in the safety of his own book.   An argument ensues and eventually, Snail needs to decide what is more important – facing his fear or possibly losing his friend.

The writing is straightforward and simple, yet fits the story perfectly.  It is an excellent book for sharing with children and would promote a lot of conversations about friendship, taking risks and accepting differences, not to mention a discussion about how fun it would be to live in a book!  What book would you like to live in?

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Filed under Friendship, New Books