Spending quiet time in the garden yields countless opportunities to observe nature at work. In the case of this story, a boy observes local fauna after local fauna eating and commenting on the different ways one another feeds. The tone is quiet and observant and the illustrations hint at all of the animals any child could see when he or she spends some time in the garden.
From the creator of Lucy and the Bully, a book about dyslexia handled in a really, really normal way. It's Mr. Slippers's (the principal's) birthday and Stan's class decides to throw a party. Stan is awesome at drawing, but is filled with dread when the class brainstorms sentences for the students to copy onto cards for Mr. Slippers. Stan's brain reads the letters back to from and upside down as he tries to copy, but all is not lost. With a classmate's empathy and a teacher's (Miss Catnip's) patience and devotion, Stan eventually manages to write a letter for Mr. Slippers and feels pretty good about it when he's accomplished his task.
Reading this I couldn't help but feel that a lot more of our students struggle on the dyslexia spectrum than I give credit. Another testament to the power of children's literature.
The title explains it all, but the timing couldn't have been better. Our boy has been home from school for four days as his body battles a stomach bug. It's not a groundbreaking work about contracting viruses (Ha! Is there such a thing?!), but there is definitely something here that resonates with readers. Being at home and quarantined from friends is no fun at all and this story speaks to that experience.
It is not often that a picture book feels so counter cultural to me, yet when it comes to speaking about the affects of the Iran-Iraq War on children I think it's a very powerful thing that picture books can challenge our perceptions of world events.
At the risk of oversimplifying the plot, this story focuses on a boy who is about to meet his new mommy. His mother was a victim to the casualties of war and the boy is determined to avenge his death. His family gathers for dinner at his house. All the while he envisions his encounter with the enemy, pulling himself across his bedroom floor with the help of his prosthetic leg. When he finally encounters the enemy (his future step-brother), the two lock (toy) guns on one another in a difficult scene that escalates to both boys shouting, "If you don't drop your gun, I'll shoot." The situation deescalates when the main character realizes the enemy boy is also disabled. They part on a hopeful note and the main character shares to the reader that he feels ashamed he did not avenge his mother.
It's probably the most challenging picture book I've ever read, but I'm thankful it's in our collection for the very unique audience it will reach.
Some books are written for a specific audience. A very specific audience. But they are still written for everyone. Those books give us a wind into worlds we may know nothing about. Unfamiliar, strange, and truthful.
That said, You are the Best Medicine was written from a mother to a child. The mother is undergoing treatment for breast cancer. The text is delivered as a wish for the child to understand and find comfort in the strength her love gives her mother.
The story is told in the future perfect tense, which is in and of itself unconventional, and the affect is a feeling that the parent is looking out for the child beyond the parent's own suffering.
I want to meet Jon Agee and the notion is solely based on his books. He writes some of the most imaginative, unhinged, perfectly-tuned-to-children stories and this is a perfect example. A boy picks up a rhinoceros from his local exotic pet store. The rhinoceros doesn't really do anything and the boy starts to feel disappointed in his decision. A pet trainer asks how good the rhino is at popping balloons and poking holes in kites. The story takes a turn. And the reader is left with a sense of wonder. Very excellent stuff indeed.