Mom Read It

If the kids are reading it, chances are I have, too.

What is it that Lou can’t do? February 10, 2017

louThe Thing Lou Couldn’t Do, by Ashley Spires, (May 2017, Kids Can Press), $17.95, ISBN: 9781771387279

Recommended for ages 3-7

Lou and her friends are adventurers! They run faster than airplanes, build mighty fortresses, and rescue wild animals. One day, though, Lou’s friends decide to make a nearby tree the location of their pirate ship, and Lou balks. She’s never climbed a tree before. She likes her adventures to be down, on the ground. Her friends scurry up the tree, but Lou’s not going. What will it take for Lou to get up that tree?

Kids will recognize themselves in Lou, whose got a vibrant imagination, a great group of friends, and a healthy fear of a climbing a tree, which – let’s be honest – can be a pretty scary thing. Like most kids, Lou tries to divert her friends’ attention by suggesting “not-up-a-tree games” and stalling (changing her shoes, claiming an injury, spotting an asteroid heading right for them). With her friends’ encouragement, Lou does attempt that climb – and when she doesn’t make it, her friends are right there for her, heading for a playground to continue their game. Is Lou defeated? Nope. She’s going to try again, maybe even tomorrow. Showing a child overcome her fear and her self-reliance when she doesn’t succeed the first time sends a positive message to kids who may struggle with anxiety over new situations; surrounding her main character with supportive friends sends a message to all kids, to support one another and to compromise.

The digital art is fun and will appeal to all kids; the group of friends is diverse and no one is relegated to “girl” or “boy” roles here – they’re all pirates, race car drivers, or deep sea divers. They’re kids, playing together, like kids do.

I loved Ashley Spires’ award-winning book, The Most Magnificent Thing, and her Binky the Space Cat series has been a winner at any library I’ve worked at. I love her positive messages of self-reliance and the power of imagination, and I can’t wait to get this book on the shelves next to my other Spires books. A great book for elementary collections and kids who are learning that it’s okay to be scared sometimes.

Check out Ashley Spires’ website for more of her artwork and information about her books.

 

Enter a dream world with Nightlights January 13, 2017

nightlights_1Nightlights, by Lorena Alvarez, (March 2017, Nobrow), $18.95, ISBN: 9781910620137

Recommended for ages 9+

Sandy loves the stars that appear out of the darkness in her bedroom each night. She plays with them, catches them, creates wonderful dreams with them, and in the morning, creates drawings that cover her room. A new girl named Morfie shows up at Sandy’s strict Catholic school and befriends her, but she also starts showing up in Sandy’s dreams, demanding Sandy’s time and drawings. Sandy’s exhausted, but Morfie is always there, always asking her to draw for her.

Nightlights is an unexpected, beautiful graphic novel that looks at fear, insecurity, and creativity. The colorwork is stunning and the dream sequences are breathtaking. Lorena Alvarez’s imagination runs free on the pages of her novel, and she invites readers to join her for the ride.

Nightlights is a very good addition to graphic novel collections and has received a starred review from Kirkus. See more of Lorena Alvarez Gomez’s beautiful and colorful illustration at her website.

 

Suite for Human Nature is a musical folktale made art April 23, 2016

suite for human natureSuite for Human Nature, by Diane Charlotte Lampert/Illustrated by Eric Puybaret (May 2016, Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books)$17.99, ISBN: 9781416953739

Recommended for ages 4-10

A musical collaboration between legendary songwriter Diane Lampert and Jazz legend Wynton Marsalis becomes a beautifully illustrated parable on humanity in this gentle story about Mother Nature and her challenging children.

Mother Nature is busy. She’s got seasons to change, flowers to wake up and put to bed, and all of Earth’s creatures to care for. But she really longs for children of her own, so using bits and pieces of nature – sticks, stones, seeds, leaves – she ends up making five children: Fear, Envy, Hate, Greed, and Fickle. Each time, she’s taken aback when she realizes how tough it is to raise a child, and asks humans – the creatures that can’t fly, swim, roar, or gallop – to keep an eye on her unruly children once she buzzes off to tend to another season. Each time she returns, she creates another child, hoping to even things out, and each time, things get a little more complicated, especially when the children’s personalities start rubbing off on the humans. When she takes some advice from the Winds, and creates Twins, though, things change.

Suite for Human Nature is told in old folktale tradition, telling the story of human nature; its strengths and its weak spots, and the one thing that conquers all. Breathtaking acrylic and linen illustrations by Eric Puybaret make this a joy to read and gaze at. This is a better read-aloud for slightly older listeners, who can sit for a little longer and use their imaginations to fly away with this story. Ask your listeners to draw their feelings – what materials would they use? What colors would they give them? Older kids doing a unit on fairy tales and mythology could compare this story to the myth of Pandora’s Box.

Absolute must for collections. I would love to get hold of the actual music.

Diane Lampert (1924­–2013) was a renowned songwriter who contributed to lyrics for artists from The Beatles to Brenda Lee and over twenty movie title tracks such as The Snow Queen, I’ll Take Sweden, Billie, and Silent Running, as well as songs for The Wild and the Innocent, and Trees Lounge, and for Bob Hope, Gary Grant, and Buster Keaton, among others. Suite for Human Nature first debuted at a concert at Jazz at Lincoln Center, with the world-famous Boys Choir of Harlem.

Eric Puybaret has illustrated many children’s books, including Suite for Human Nature; the bestselling Puff, the Magic Dragon; The Night Before Christmas; Over the Rainbow, as well as many others in his native country, France. Eric’s critically acclaimed work was praised by The New York Times as “elegantly rendered” and Publishers Weekly calls it “graceful [and] whimsical.”

Have a look at some of Eric Puybaret’s beautiful art:

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