Finally the book we’ve all been waiting for! A biography of Gertrude Stein for children! Seriously, when I first saw Getrude is Gertrude is Gertrude is Gertrude by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Calef Brown, I wondered “Is this really necessary?” But I found it to be a wonderful, kid-friendly, and interesting story. Gertrude Stein is known for her poetry (which inspires the title and text of Gertrude), her friendship with many avant-garde modern artists such as Picasso and Hemingway, her long-time companionship with Alice B. Toklas (which is summed up gracefully with “Gertrude and Alice are Gertrude and Alice”) and her poodle, Basket!
City I Love is a love letter to the city. Which city? All of them! Eighteen poems by Lee Bennett Hopkins are skillfully illustrated by Marcellus Hall to take you on a whirlwind international journey. Hopkins and Hall praise the skyscrapers of New York, the traffic sounds of Paris, and the neon lights of Tokyo. The heat of Rio and Cairo, and the brisk temperatures of Moscow and Toronto. Landmarks like the The Golden Gate Bridge of San Fransisco and the Millennium Wheel of London. Subways, and taxis, even gondolas (oh my)! I hope you enjoy this urban romance as much as I did. It’s a great conversation starter–a fabulous lead in to discussion with your child about how people live differently in different parts of the world. One can never be to young to develop an appreciation and tolerance for foreign culture.
The Neighborhood Mother Goose is one of my favorites by the fabulously talented Nina Crews. Crews was inspired by her neighborhood in Brooklyn to create this urban reprinting of traditional nursery rhymes. Each verse is illustrated photographically–pictures of real children with beautiful multi-cultural faces accompany each selection. Every page is a delight, whether it’s Pat-a-cake with two girls in front of a bakery, Georgie Porgie on the playground, to market to market to buy a fat pig at the grocery store, or Mary Mary quite contrary watering her garden. It really modernizes and brings meaning to stories that seem trite and old-fashioned to the new generation. Check this book out for a spicy new taste of Mother Goose!
Jabberwocky by Christopher Myers is a fantastic re-imagining of the nonsensical poem from Lewis Carroll’s classic Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There. Myers interprets the piece to be about a particularly intense game of basketball (an analysis, by the way, he backs up with a tremendous amount of research on both Carroll and James Naismith, the “inventor” of basketball, and their mutual interest in an ancient Aztec ritual called ollamalitzli). The words of the story are practically gibberish, for instance, the narrator warns us to “beware the jubjub bird and shun the frumious bandersnatch!” The illustrations that accompany the poem really tell the story of a David-and-Goliath-esque courtside battle of epic porportions, held on a hot summer day in the inner city.
There’s probably no historical figure I find more admirable than Abraham Lincoln. That explains why I love Abe’s Honest Words by Doreen Rappaport, featuring illustrations by the fabulous Kadir Nelson. This is a lovely juvenile biography of our sixteenth president, who had the unenviable job of leading our country through, and out, of the Civil War. Rappaport treats us to Lincoln’s life story–his upbringing after the death of his mother, his love for reading and writing, his election and presidency, to his tragic assasination–insterspliced with his own words. The book is a touching tribute to the man who wrote “If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong. I cannot remember when I did not so think, and feel.”
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.