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!
Rough Weather Ahead for Walter the Farting Dog is the third in a bestselling series by authors William Kotzwinkle, Glenn Murray, and Elizabeth Gundy, and illustrator Audrey Colman about the titular gassy canine. In this installment, Professor Kompressor claims to have a secret formula to stop Walter’s flatulence. Father and Mother think it’s working perfectly, but the farts are just building up inside, turning Walter into a blimp! One night he floats away from home! He floats to the edge of town, before he finds a way to get down, saving some frozen butterflies in the process. Finally his owners accept him for the wonder dog that he is!
This book brings tears to my eyes every time I read it (I’m a very emotional librarian). Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope is an inspiring biography of our country’s 44th president by Coretta Scott King Award winning author Nikki Grimes and illustrator Bryan Collier. A young boy named David asks his mother who that man on TV is andwhy people are shouting his name. She tells him the story of a boy with inter-racial parents who grew up in Hawaii. He pursued higher education, and longed to change the world. That boy was Barack Obama and he grew up to be our president asking, “Can we make America better? Can we work together, as one?” Yes. We can.
The Lump of Coal is a charming Christmas story from the author and illustrator (respectively) of A Series of Unfortunate Events, Lemony Snicket and Brett Helquist, which presupposes “miracles can happen, even to those who are small, flammable, and dressed all in black.” In the story a lump of coal who “for the sake of argument” can walk and talk, and who, “like many people who dress in black” wants to be an artist. He could make beautiful black lines on a canvas, or a piece a chicken, if only someone would give him the chance! Maybe his dreams will come true when an drugstore employee dressed as Santa Claus puts the lump of coal in his disobedient stepson’s stocking.
John, Paul, George & Ben by Lane Smith tells the story of what some of our founding fathers were like before the birth of our nation, taking us back to when John Hancock, Paul Revere, George Washington, Ben Franklin, and Tom Jefferson were boys. John was quite bold, taking up the whole chalk board to write his name. Paul was always shouting since he suffered some hearing loss in a bell ringing club (that was “before fun was invented”). George was honest to a fault–when dad forgave him for chopping down the cherry tree, he readily confessed to leveling the whole orchard and a barn! Ben was very clever, constantly coming up with sayings, and Tom was independent (he probably refused to be included in the title). Read this as a fun way to teach your child about people who helped make our country free.