As I was reading Pax by Sara Pennypacker, I was so worried that the fox was going to die. It just seemed like it was going to be that kind of story. And it didn’t help that one of the blurbs on the back calls the ending “heartwrenching.” What else can happen besides death? I put off reading the last few chapters for several days because I didn’t think I could take it. Is it fair to give happy spoilers for those who haven’t yet read Pax? I will simply say that if you’ve been avoiding it because you’re worried the fox will die, it’s ok. It is kind of a heartwrenching ending, yet I found it fully satisfying. I do think Pax is the strongest children’s fiction I’ve read this year. Pennypacker’s character work with the fox is especially strong. I am now completely in love with red foxes.
The Poet’s Dog was a bit of a struggle for me. I like the clarity, simplicity, and elegance of Patricia MacLachlan’s writing, but I couldn’t quite suspend my disbelief here. Dogs talk–but only to children and poets. It’s very short with not a word to spare and worth a read even if talking dogs aren’t quite your thing.
One Day in the Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus Tree is such a delight: hilarious and clever rhyme, brilliant illustrations by Brendan Wenzel (who has had quite a year), and a cumulative story that had me giggling in the bookstore.
An Artist’s Alphabet is an absolutely gorgeous rendering of the alphabet with some seriously creative takes on letters, as the cover C suggests. Messenger even uses negative space to form letters. I rarely buy alphabet books but I might have to make an exception for this one.
A sweet story about reality vs expectations and how we can learn to let go of our expectations and fall in love with reality. A little girl sends in a quarter to a magazine ad and gets her very own unicorn in return. She had the most marvelous visions of this creature, but then Sparkle arrives and he is far from the unicorn of her dreams. Still, she patiently learns to work with him and even grows to appreciate his unique way of being in the world. A great story for talking about what to do when things don’t go as planned.
There is such a need for some new titles focusing on adoption, and there is much to appreciate in Renata Galindo’s My New Mom & Me. I especially liked that she focused on the challenges of a new family from the perspective of the adopted child rather than the more typical adoptive parent-centric approach of “you needed a mom and I was meant to be your mom” I’ve seen in most picture books about adoption. There is a lovely line at the end: “Mom is learning how to be a Mom and I’m learning how to be Mom’s kid.”
I’m not sure there is anything new in the storyline of Hector and Hummingbird: Hector gets annoyed by the incessant chatter of Hummingbird and crankily sends him away only to discover that he really misses his best friend. But it’s sweetly told and the color palette is absolutely astonishing.