Martina the Beautiful Cockroach is a Cuban folktale, retold here by Carmen Agra Deedy, with lovely illustrations by Michael Austin. When Martina Josefina Catalina Cucaracha, most eligible of bachelorette pests, begins searching for a husband, her grandmother teaches her “the coffee test.” When a suitor comes to call, Martina spills the hot beverage all over their shoes. How they react will give her insight into how quick to anger they might be in marriage. Martina doesn’t hesitate to pour coffee all over the arrogant rooster, the hygenically challenged pig, and the sneaky lizard, but what happens when she falls for meek mouse gardener Perez? Perhaps he has a surprise in store for her…
Inspired by the well-known spiritual by the same name, Kadir Nelson brings us He’s Got the Whole World In His Hands, a wonderful book, filled with beautiful images of vast landscapes and multicultural faces. The lyrics of the song are complimented by illustrations of rainbows, sunrises, clear nights, blue skies, clean oceans, and one special boy enjoying them all with his loving family. Try singing it to your child! Children retain messages better with music. That’s why the alphabet is a song! If you like this book consider others you could sing, like Hush Little Alien by Daniel Kirk, or more stories featuring Nelson’s art like Please, Puppy, Please by Spike Lee.
A Mama for Owen, written by Marion Dane Bauer, is a charming story of a baby hippopotamus named Owen who loses his mother during a storm and is adopted by a 130 year old tortoise. It’s based on a true story! After a tsunami, in 2004, a baby hippo was rescued by Kenyan fishermen and taken to the Haller Park wildlife preserve. Upon his arrival, the hippo began following around an ancient male tortoise named Mzee, and Mzee didn’t seem to mind at all! This strange pair became best friends, subsequently garnering a lot of media attention. To this day tourists come from across the globe to witness the unique relationship between these mis-matched animals. A Mama for Owen features adorable illustrations by John Butler and is a truly heartwarming story for children 1-5.