A giant squid is the center of attention in I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean by Kevin Sherry. Look at him! He’s so big! And he’s not ashamed of announcing it to anyone who’ll listen. Is he bigger than an octopus? He sure is! How about a shark? Definitely (but don’t let the shark hear you say that)! Is he bigger than all the sea turtles? You betcha! How about this fish, and that fish, or that fish, and this fish? Yep, he’s bigger than them too. He’s the biggest thing in the ocean, or so he thinks, until he’s swallowed by a whale decidedly larger than him. You might think this would soil his ego, but you’d be wrong. He’s perfectly content to be… the biggest thing in the whale!
To celebrate the birthday of Dr. Seuss, who was born 105 years ago this month, we held a large celebration at our library centered around his masterpiece Horton Hears a Who, the story of a kind-hearted elephant who discovers an entire city of tiny people living on a dust speck and vows to protect them because, after all, “a person’s a person no matter how small.” It was a pleasure to share my love for Horton with the children who attended our party. Like many of Seuss’s works, Horton Hears a Who teaches us valuable lessons, in this case about tolerance for others’ cultures and beliefs. If everyone was as caring and open-minded as Horton, I believe the world would be a better place. So please read this book to your child! A young person can’t have much of a better role model than Horton the elephant.
Enjoy a clever take on an old nursery rhyme with Mary Had a Little Lamp, by Jack Lecher, illustrations by Bob Staake. It’s not unusual for a child to carry a blanket or a favorite toy around every where they go, or for child to be trailed by a loyal pet. But the girl in this story has formed a strong and strange attachment to an office lamp. She drags it with her to school, to the playground, even to therapy (which her bemused parents become convinced she needs). Mary takes her lamp to the movies, her cousin’s wedding, even out for chinese food, and at night when she gets tucked in, the lamp gets tucked in too. But one day Mary seems to old for the lamp. She sets it on the shelf. (Now she carries a toaster instead!)
Slowly Slowly Slowly Said the Sloth is my favorite book by well known author/illustrator, Eric Carle. The sloth is a fascinating creature. It lives most of it’s life hanging upside down, living in trees, and sleeping for 15-19 hours a day! It’s certainly a gentle, peace loving creature, moving so slow the animal itself becomes a habitat for moss and insects. In this story all the other rain forest animals want to know why the sloth is so slow. He just hangs there! So lazy! So boring! Finally the sloth defends his lackadaisical nature–he just appreciates tranquility! This book offers a lot for a child to learn: first to stop and smell the roses, simply enjoy life around them, and take things slow, and also facts about the sloth in general, an interesting species threatened by deforestation.
Best Friend on Wheels by Debra Shirley, illustrated by Judy Stead, is a great way to teach your child that people with disabilities are still people. Our narrator is a second grader who’s teacher asks her to show “the new girl” around. She is surprised to see that “the new girl,” Sarah, was in a wheelchair. At first she didn’t know what to do, but once she got to know Sarah, she discovered they had a lot in common! They became best friends and now do all their favorite things together: painting, reading, having sleepovers, scrapbooking, and hot air balooning! They even go dancing–Sarah loves ballet–“Shes spins on her wheels and twirls every which way.” Some people only see a wheelchair when they look at Sarah, but our narrator only sees her best friend.
Pinduli is one of my favorites by fabulous author and illustrator Janell Cannon. It’s the story of an adorable little hyena named Pinduli. At least, her Mama thinks she’s adorable–everyone else makes fun of her big ears, her straggly fur, and her disorderly stripes. In effort to look more presentable, she pushes her ears flat, soaks down her fur, and rolls in the white dust. She certainly looks different. She looks like a ghost! So much so, she strikes fear into all the animals who objected to her appearance. She takes advantage of this and threatens to haunt them unless they become more tolerant (and leave food offerings). In the end Mama praises her: she’s not only a beautiful hyena, but a very smart one!