I’m in kind of a reading slump. Only kind of, because I’m reading some each day and enjoying what I’m reading. I just don’t feel fully committed to anything. Even graphic novels haven’t been working for me: my last two graphic novels have each taken me over a week to read, and as we all know, graphic novels don’t take a week! So I decided to try a picture-book-a-day challenge in November as a way to kick my kind of reading slump. I also have high hopes for NCTE and the many, many books I will hear about, see, and bring home!
Antoinette Portis’s Now was my favorite of the week and pretty much picture book perfection. A simple but powerful story about the joys of living fully in the present moment.
Margarita Engle’s All the Way to Havana is another new favorite that I look forward to sharing with my students. The text reads like a poem, and the story works so well as a descriptive slice of life. And Mike Curato’s illustrations are simply dazzling.
I liked the overall concept of Emma and the Whale (who doesn’t like to see baby whales rescued and reunited with their mamas?), but the story didn’t entirely work for me. Transitions are abrupt, and there was a magical realism element to the communication between Emma and the whale that didn’t feel supported by other elements in the story. But Lee White’s illustrations are wonderful. Worth a look for the illustrations alone.
The illustrations may be the star of Red & Lulu, but there is a solid story here as well. Red and Lulu are a cardinal couple that are separated when the tree they call home is cut down. Red must follow the tree as it’s being hauled away to catch up to Lulu. Even though the final destination of the tree is clearly revealed on the cover, I was still pretty much clueless as I was reading and managed to be surprised by that particular plot development. There’s an interesting little Author’s Note about the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree as well. This book will surely become a new Christmas favorite for many.
A mostly wordless picture book from Patrick McDonnell about a little bird that misses out when its flock flies south for the winter and the cat who helps him out. A sweet story of adventure, kindness, and friendship, told through McDonnell’s usual charming illustrations.
Invisible Lizard is the story of Napoleon, a spiffy chameleon who lives on a spiffy tree in the jungle. Napoleon’s problem is that he wants to make friends, but he’s such a great chameleon that no one ever sees him. I think the story could have used one more edit to heighten the climax, but it’s an entertaining story with some eye-popping illustrations by Andy Atkins.
Right after reading about Napoleon, I happened to pick up this book about Bonaparte, a skeleton boy whose bones are constantly falling off. This wouldn’t be too much of a problem, except that sometimes the bones roll away and he can’t find them and he’s about to start school and worried that all the kids will make fun of him. His friends, Franky Stein, Blacky Widow, and Mummicula, come up with all kinds of creative ways to keep his bones together, but nothing works. At least not until they meet a bone-loving dog who agrees to be Bonaparte’s service animal. I liked that it’s a goofy, pun-filled story that still contains a thoughtful central message about physical challenges and the supports that those with challenges may need.