Monday, February 1, 2016

Mind nourishing books to share with children

As adults resolve to get fit and eat better in 2016, it is also a great time to grow a child’s mind - both their curiosity and vocabulary. From babies to students just learning to read, invite your child to snuggle on your lap and enjoy a great book. You’ll find plenty of mind nourishing titles in the Children’s Room at the Peter White Public Library.
I Will Chomp You by Jory John.  Sometimes toddlers can be demanding. In this book a grumpy monster threatens to “chomp”’ the reader if he or she turns any more pages. The monster seems irrationally irate - sound familiar parents?  But it is not until the middle of the book that the audience learns the monter's prized cake collection is featured on some of the last pages. He does not want to share. This tale about communicating emotions is a fun read-aloud that both children and parents will enjoy. Although be warned – you might want cake after reading it. 
As a young girl I loved stories of the Hundred Acre Wood – of Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends. I never knew that A.A. Milne’s inspiration was a real bear, named Winnie, who spent most of her life in the London Zoo. Winnie caught the eye of Milne’s son, Christopher Robin, and the rest is history. Winnie’s story is truly fascinating and lovingly presented by Lindsay Mattick in Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear. It recently received the Randolph Caldecott medal for its illustrations by Sophie Blackall. After a Canadian soldier rescued Winnie from a trapper who planned to shoot her, the soldier and his company took Winnie as a mascot to the warzone. When that became too dangerous she was temporarily lodged at the London Zoo, where she captured visitors hearts and remained for the rest of her life. Mattick’s descriptions of the relationship between the Winnipeg native Harry Colebourn and Winnie points to what a special bear Winnie was and why she was the inspiration for the best known children’s literature of the 20th century.  
A grandparent’s love for a grandchild is captured beautifully in Mr. Frank by Irene Luxbacher.  In the book Mr. Frank, a tailor, makes an outfit that he deems “perfect.” With illustrations depicting clothing from each decade passed, he compares the outfit with the other special outfits he has sewn over a 50 year career. Yet they all seem less grand than the garment he tailored for this one customer. After Luxbacher reveals the outfit is a superhero costume for Mr. Frank’s grandson, readers are left with the image of a young boy eagerly watching his grandfather create art with love.    
With its rhyming, short text the story of NHL legend Bobby Orr’s childhood is now accessible for the youngest readers in The Boy in Number Four by Kara Kootstra.  Ontario author Kootstra captures the commitment, drive, and love of hockey Orr had as a young boy. Regan Thomson’s illustrations of predawn and after dark practices, driveway drills, broken bones, wins, losses, and a play-by-play of a specific game engage readers as they cheer on the boy wearing jersey number four. An afterword by Orr, who was inducted in the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1979, offers a glimpse into his boyhood dream, like many young boys and girls today. His story is relatable to all those who loved to play outdoors with their friends.
The dynamic duo are back in Mo Willems’ latest installment of the “Elephant and Piggie” series. What happens when your best friend finds your favorite food, well, disgusting? This is the story in I Really Like Slop. What Piggie finds delectable, delicious, and a very important part of pig culture –green  slop- Gerald finds stinky, unappetizing, and just plan yucky. But in a heartwarming display of friendship, Gerald agrees to try Piggie’s slop. This easy to read and fun to digest tale of friends accepting and engaging their cultural differences opens the door to multicultural conversations with young readers.
When babies learn first words, “happy” might be included in that vocabulary list. Emma Dodd creates a rhythmic prose in her book Happy, capturing the joy of language at an early age. Using flecks of gold and a beautiful night sky, Dodd draws a mother and baby owl engaging in typical parent - toddler behavior – all the things that bring the young one sheer happiness. Parents won’t mind when their child uses another new word for this book: “more.”

--Jenifer Kilpela, Youth Services

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