Who is Melvin Bubble by Nick Bruel is a very clever book that might help introduce your child to the concepts of identity and perspective. Melvin Bubble appears to be a regular kid. But who is he really? If you ask his dad, he’ll say he’s a chip off the old block! If you ask his mom, she’ll ramble on about his messy room. If you ask his friend Jimmy, he’ll say Melvin is the coolest ever because he can whistle through his nose! But don’t stop there–ask his dog: “Woof Woof Arf Woof,” ask his teddy bear: “He really likes hugs!” Ask a talking zebra, or a magic rock, or even Melvin himself. They’ll all have something different to say. Because a person can be significant for multiple reasons, and everyone has a unique opinion.
Cat & Mouse by Ian Schoenherr was one of my favorite books last year, but it kicked up a bit of controversy among my colleagues in the children’s librarian community (and what a community it is! I’m so proud to be a member). Schoenherr adapts a few well-known nursery rhymes, “I Love My Little Kitty,” “Hickory Dickory Dock,” and “Eeny Meeny Miney Mo,” into a Tom-and-Jerry-esque romp between a saucer-eyed cat and an acrobatic mouse, natural enemies who turn out to be best friends in the end. The illustrations are strikingly detailed. I think they’re just gorgeous! But you may want to have a discussion with your child about the proper way to treat animals, before and after you read it (some might say the mouse is a little malicious).
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.
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.
Don’t Worry Bear is an adorable book by Greg Foley. The titular protagonist, a little bear, is concerned for his friend the caterpillar. Caterpillar is hard at work on a cocoon. He’s going to stay inside it for a while, but promises Bear he’ll see him soon. Bear comes to check on him at night with a flashlight, but Caterpillar assures him he’s not afraid of the dark. Bear comes again when it’s windy and rainy and snowy, but Caterpillar assures him he’s well protected from the elements. Bear is almost care-free until one day he visits the cocoon and find it lying empty on the ground. Caterpillar is gone, but in his place is Bear’s newly transformed friend, a beautiful silk moth!
A Visitor for Bear is an endearing tale by Bonny Becker with soothing illustrations by Kady MacDonald Denton. Bear seems quite sure he does not like visitors. He even has a sign on his door saying “NO VISITORS ALLOWED” which is why he’s taken aback by a persistent mouse who continues to show up uninvited. “Vamoose!” he tells the mouse and “Be gone!” but he keeps appearing again and again. Finally Bear gives in. The mouse can stay for one cup of tea, but then he must leave. But when the mouse compliments Bear’s home, appreciates his headstands, laughs at his jokes, Bear discovers he does enjoy company after all tears his sign down.