Thursday, March 30, 2017

New of Youth

The Best Bear in all the World by A. A. Milne
This book is a treasure for both young new Pooh lovers, and those who want to re-capture a moment from their childhood with old friends from the Hundred Acre Wood. Written by four authors to celebrate Pooh’s 90th birthday in the style of A. A. Milne, and artwork in the style of E. H. Shepard, this collection of four stories brings us four new tales from the Hundred Acre Wood in Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer. 

The Journey
by Francesca Sanna
This is a stunning picture book of immigration, both the illustrations and the plot line. A child and her family lived in a city and spent summers at the beach-but then a war came. What follows is a journey through many countries, by lands and sea, across borders, with fear present almost all the time. While at the end, the family has yet to reach the place where they will be safe, there is a hopeful feeling that they will be there soon. This story is unique in that the reader doesn’t know what war the family flees from, what country they leave, or where their destination is-it simply shows the story of A family, fleeing and hoping to find a better life. It is widely encompassing of the immigration experience without being generic. The text is sparse and perfectly complimented by illustrations that reflect the feelings of the family as they flee. Highly recommended to help children understand what immigration is and feels like, without being too dark or scary for the younger readers.

Sachiko, A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor’s Story by Caren Stelson
This is a haunting work of non-fiction, telling the story of the 6-year-old girl who survived the atomic bombing of Nagasaki. The author does not pull back from relating the horror of the bomb being dropped, but does avoid being too graphic. Sachiko’s narrative is broken up with historical documentation of the politics going on in both Japan and America, including blurb about the pilot who flew the plane that dropped the bomb. These interruptions are done seamlessly, and add to the narrative, rather than distract from it; and in fact are a relief, reading about the more impersonal historical facts, and giving the reader a break from the emotional pain that stems Sachiko’s narrative. Sachiko has lived a full life since that time, drawing inspiration from Heller Keller, Gandhi and Martin Luther King, JR as she went through difficult times in her teens through her 40’s. Highly recommended for discussions about war and racism, historical study of World War II, and to show older children history from a different perspective. Be warned that it can be difficult to read the descriptions of death, pain and suffering-make sure your children are ready for such content and be prepared for discussion about things such as radiation sickness and more.

Tallulah: Mermaid of the Great Lakes by Denis Brennan
While not an earth-shattering story, it definitely is worth a read as a local-interest story! This picture book is about Tallulah, a mermaid with a dull tail. All the mermaids in the ocean find gemstones that match their colorful tails, but Tallulah doesn’t find one to match her tail-so Turtle suggests that she search the Great Lakes. The story follows Tallulah as she searches the Great Lakes, finally ending up in Lake Michigan and finding the Petosky stone, with a beautiful sunburst pattern. Though many of the landmarks are Canadian, downstate or in Wisconsin, Tallulah visits a few well-known U.P shorelines, making this story worth checking out for locals.

The Storyteller by Evan Turk
This is a visually stunning story, worth reading for the illustrations alone. Set in the kingdom of Morocco, a young boy discovers the power of storytelling and stories themselves. To say much more would give away too much- but for those who love stories and gorgeous artwork, this picture book is highly recommended.

They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel
This picture book is just plain awesome. It is a great book to introduce concepts, perspective and sight words. In the story, a child sees a cat. The cat moves on and sees, and is seen, by many different animals. The illustrations show how perspective changes how the same object (in this case a cat) is seen and known. For example, a mouse sees a huge, scary monster. A bird flying overhead sees a smaller creature below almost lost in the tall grass. And the worm underground “sees” the cat through the vibrations the cat makes while walking on the surface of the ground. At the end, the illustrations show how the cat sees itself in the reflection of a pond. Very cool book.

--Sarah Rehborg, Youth Services Librarian

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