Oh So Kind!

March 22nd, 2021 · Books

OH SO KIND! is author Joy Cho’s third book in a series of “Oh Joy!” board books for babies and toddler-age children. It follows an unnamed llama, who uses a wheelchair, throughout their day. The little llama’s friends are kind, and everyone helps each other as apples spill from a shopping basket, a little sister falls down and cries, and their mother returns from a business trip. Everyday kindnesses are performed and saying “thank you” when they are received is demonstrated, as is reaching out when someone is having a tough time.

The art by Angie Stalker shows a variety of brightly colored and happy animals going about their days. The illustrations are simple but expressive, and children will delight in the bird’s joyful feathers and discovering faces on doorways or counting different details like hearts and balloons.

This board book has the added aspect of also being a flip-book. The pages and flaps are sturdy, but the flaps may be difficult for little fingers to open at first or even notice if they are looking at the book on their own. However, the simplicity and positivity in the book will ensure that the first time reading OH SO KIND! won’t be the last.

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Seaside Stroll

March 16th, 2021 · Books

SEASIDE STROLL by Charles Trevino will convince families with even the most ardent aversion to cold to venture out for a beach walk no matter the weather. Written as a narrative collection of S-words, this beautiful picture book follows a rambunctious little girl as she explores the snowy, sandy beach with her mother. Seagulls, stones, shells, seaweed, and more are all a part of the adventures as our protagonist delights in her surroundings. Children can find barnacles and crabs of different types as well as sea starts, anemones, and a variety of seaweed in the pictures.

The words are sensory and descriptive, and Trevino’s skillful ability to lead readers through the story without “telling” it is impressive. One particularly effective part of the story involving a favorite doll: “Steady step, stolid step, shaky step…stumble. Swish…swirl…surge…surprised! Slip…splash…sink…soaked!” Not only is this an excellent book to have fun with onomatopoeia, but for pre-readers and early readers, the words will be fun to repeat aloud and read on their own. For caregivers who want to go the extra mile, pointing out nouns, adjectives, verbs, and interjections will be easy and fun. The author also discussing his inspiration and elaborates on the use of each type of word and the format in the end pages.

The SEASIDE STROLL illustrations by Maribel Lechuga are powerful in their storytelling as well. The waves splash against the shore and the wind blows hair and lifts seagull wings. The expressions of wonder and joy convey just as much personality as the shock and sniffling sadness the little girl shows. The joyful activity on the beach becomes contemplative stillness from one page to another using colors, textures, and details galore. There are myriad details for children to discover and notice throughout.

Highly recommended!

 

 

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You Are Enough: A Book About Inclusion

March 15th, 2021 · Books

YOU ARE ENOUGH is an inspirational and encouraging picture book inspired by Sofia Sanchez, a young girl with Down Syndrome. Written by Margaret O’Hair, who has a series with Sofia, the book is a first-person narrative from Sofia’s point-of-view. After sharing a short history of how Sofia arrived to the USA from Ukraine, sharing that she and one of her brothers have Down Syndrome, Sofia as the narrator launches into the thrust of the book: We are all beautiful, just as we are.

Being different, being unique, and being the star of your own story is emphasized again and again without feeling repetitive or mundane. The book acknowledges that sometimes being different can be scary to some people, and that can make someone feel lonely. Sofia enthusiastically encourages readers to be stronger than their fears and to have courage when trying something new. Each page contains supportive mantras for readers who are doubtful or unsure of themselves.  “You are just right exactly as you are,” “Be YOU wherever you are. If people stop and stare, just keep going!” and “Never say no to being yourself” are just a few examples.

The joyful pictures by illustrator Sofia Cardoso show children of all abilities, races, gender identities, religions, and interests, emphasizing the “Different is Beautiful!” message. Two children are shown with vitiligo, and another child who is an amputee uses crutches. Characters who are blind have a cane and a seeing eye dog. Different body types are represented as are children using wheelchairs, wearing hijab, wearing glasses, and one girl with albinism. The diversity extends to the adults depicted as well.

YOU ARE ENOUGH: A Book About Inclusion will be a picture book children will return to whenever they need a pick-me-up after (or before!) a difficult day. Recommended for ages 3+.

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Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas

January 30th, 2021 · Books

ELIZABETH, QUEEN OF THE SEAS by Lynne Cox is a sweet fictionalized picture book retelling of the true story of an elephant seal who seemed to prefer freshwater and city surroundings to the ocean despite the community attempting to help her back to the wild. The author’s note at the beginning of the story explains how Cox learned about Elizabeth and her adventures. For families concerned about how humans impact and respond to wild animals, this book will provide opportunities for discussions and different perspectives.

Cox presents a little boy, Michael, as a focus of the story after Elizabeth the sea lion has been introduced. His devotion to Elizabeth and his joy when he interacts with her is reflected by the community of Christchurch, New Zealand. Despite a beginning that depicts an idyllic existence in freshwater and parks surrounded by humans, the perils of city life for a wild animal are shown when Elizabeth chooses to warm herself in the road. After three attempts to bring Elizabeth to other sea lion colonies, which were followed by Elizabeth returning three times to Christchurch, the residents adapt by erecting a sign warning drivers of an Elephant Seal Crossing. Brian Flora’s illustrations personify Elizabeth without making her cartoonish, and the drawings help widen the meaning of the text with a variety of scenes and personalities detailed.

While the book is heartwarming and gives what is meant to be a happy ending with Elizabeth ending up “exactly where she belonged,” it lightens some of the true-to-life events for a younger audience. Families who focus on animal welfare will have opportunities to discuss how humans attempted to assist Elizabeth and they can also compare the elephant seals in the wild versus Elizabeth’s life in the city. The end of the book also has a page of facts about elephant seals to further discussion and research.

Overall, ELIZABETH, QUEEN OF THE SEAS is a delight to read with children.

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