This Bridge Will Not Be Gray, story by Dave Eggers, art by Tucker Nichols
published in 2015 by McSweeney’s
The more you read, the more you discover things you didn’t know that you didn’t know.
And here is one of the things I just discovered I didn’t know that I didn’t know: Why the Golden Gate Bridge is orange.
I mean, I knew it was orange because they painted it orange. Yes.
But why orange? That was not something I had thought to ask myself.
However, now I know why and I am here to tell you: it is worth discovering. It is a curiously interesting story, and leave it to Dave Eggers to tell us in a curiously interesting manner.
In his winning, new, book you will also find out about Life Before the Bridge and Who Built It and Who Designed It and a Number of Other Interesting and Somewhat Obscure Facts. All presented in a most engaging voice.
Tucker Nichols’ cut paper illustrations are brazen, bold, Matisse-esque figures in colors as unusual as…as…as an orange bridge!
The storytelling and art works together swimmingly, captivating us, regaling us with this slightly-quirky,refreshingly-original story of a guy who saw beyond gray and stuck with orange.
A treat for ages 5 through adult.
We’re gearing up for American Thanksgiving this Thursday, so today’s five are focused on gratitude. There are lots more Thanksgiving titles in the Subject Index under Holidays.
This first title is a breezy, cheerful catalogue of folks busy about different jobs — waitresses, dancers, doctors, beekeepers — and what they are thankful for in particular.
That’s everything from afternoon tea to the green sprouts in the garden.
The brief, rhyming text is accompanied by carefree, sunny illustrations of a brother and sister play-acting all these different roles. There’s no diversity here, unfortunately, but it’s a playful happy world for ages Under-Two and up.
How Many Days to America?: A Thanksgiving Story, by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Beth Peck
published in 1988 by Clarion Books
This decades-old story has poignant new relevance this year as it traces the harrowing flight of a group of refugees towards peace.
Fleeing from an ominous threat of soldiers, a family of four hurries out in the night. Secrecy, fear, an overcrowded boat, a journey that becomes a miserable ordeal, and finally the welcome arms of strangers. As it happens, they’ve arrived in America on Thanksgiving Day. Clearly the giving of thanks for safety in a new land has double meaning for this particular dinner party.
Beth Peck’s beautiful illustrations portray these seekers handsomely, with dignity, throughout their plight. Their country of origin remains unnamed which nicely keeps the story ever-timely. Ages 4 and up.
The Thanksgiving Door, written and illustrated by Debby Atwell
published in 2003 by Houghton Mifflin
Here’s another story of welcoming.
Ed and Ann are alone for Thanksgiving this year and unfortunately, Ann has just majorly burned their dinner.
With black smoke curling up from the oven (my smoke detector would be shrilling off at this point) Ed suggests they try the little restaurant down the street. The doors are open, and a long Thanksgiving-looking table has been set, so all seems well.
What they don’t see is the ruckus they’ve caused in the back kitchen as the restaurant owners, an extended family of Russian immigrants, debates what to do about these folks who have wandered into their private family gathering.
Leave it to Grandmother to set everybody straight and extend an Old World welcome in this New World. It’s a lovely, warm story with Atwell’s equally warm, primitive-style illustrations. Ages 3 and up.
What are you thankful for?
The little boy in this book describes the many pieces of his life that make him thankful, such as the ladybug that landed on my finger, a little red flying surprise, and his Abuelita, who always winks and gives me a dollar when nobody’s looking. The text is in both Spanish and English.
John Parra’s bold, colorful paintings have a distinct Hispanic-mural quality to them. The vivid pages create an exuberant tone for the brief text. A happy choice for ages 2 and up.
Thank You and Good Night, written and illustrated by Patrick McDonnell
published in 2015 by Little Brown and Company
Clement, Jean and Alan Alexander are three little stuffed animals belonging to Maggie. Tonight is a very special night because they are having a lovely pajama party!
Dancing and games, yoga and goodies, then it’s time for brushing teeth and a bedtime story. Maggie is a whiz at organizing one swell party and tucking her tired peeps into bed.
The last moments of the day are for talking about what they’re each thankful for. It’s quite a happy little list and such a peace-inducing way to fall asleep.
Darling and tender, with charming illustrations of this little crew that will steal your heart. References to Goodnight Moon are scattered among the pictures, which observant eyes will notice, as well as a few other classic storybook characters. It’s a clear winner, a lovely bedtime read, for ages Under-Two and up.
Posted in fiction, picture books | Tagged bedtime stories, bilingual books, book reviews, children's literature, gratitude, immigrants, multicultural books for kids, picture books, refugees, thanksgiving | Leave a Comment »
By far the most popular post I’ve written in five years of blogging is my musing on the role of children’s literature in a sorrowing world.
I wrote that in March of this year. Here we are in November, and what a year it has been, with earthquakes of suffering reverberating across widening circles. So, I thought I’d bring that post into the light of day again.
Read it by clicking on this link: In a World of Sorrow, Shall I Dish Up Green Eggs and Ham?
May we all strive to spread peace, empathy, and goodness in our spheres.
The Teddy Robinson Storybook, written and illustrated by Joan G. Robinson
this edition published in 2014 by Macmillan Children’s Books
I know Pooh Bear and I know Paddington, but I’ve never before met Teddy Robinson, though his stories have been around since the 1950s.
He’s a nice, middling-sized bear belonging to a small girl named
Deborah. The two of them happily share in adventures, holidays, and sundry outings, chatting amiably together all the while.
The 15 brief, stand-alone stories collected in this volume are the essence of quaint British children’s fare. Tea parties and afternoons
at the park, Wellington boots and miniature jellies in egg cups. Sunny days and pleasant friends. Heaps of imaginative play. And a little something called dolly mixture, just the ticket for birthday tea.
Joan Robinson based these warmhearted stories on her daughter’s stuffed bear, and illustrated them with uncomplicated black line drawings. Whether the two of them are going to the seaside, the hospital, or dance class, Teddy frequently faces some wee problem, not dramatic enough to disturb a young child, but still, just the sort of niggling concern a small person feels — feeling left out, feeling upstaged, feeling afraid — which must be navigated. Never clobbering us with any tiresome lessons, Robinson winsomely brings the little bear through every trouble with all of his pluck intact.
The closest parallels I can think of for the feel of these stories are the Milly Molly Mandy books. They would make an ideal read-aloud for young children, ages 3-6, who are ready to try stories without many pictures. Short and happy, these will hopefully inspire imaginative, non-electronic ideas for playtime and daydreaming.
Child Soldier: When Boys and Girls Are Used in War, by Jessica Dee Humphreys and Michel Chikwanine, illustrated by Claudia Dávila
published in 2015 by Kids Can Press
There is no shortage of terrible realities to mourn in our world, but one of the bitterest must surely be the use of child soldiers.
Some subjects are almost too painful to look at, and for me, this is one of them, but look we must if we would respond with humanity, justice, generosity towards the precious victims of such abominable crimes.
Michel Chikwanine was kidnapped and brutally forced to become a child soldier when he was just 5 years old, living in the Democratic Republic of Congo. His heartbreaking, courageous account of captivity with the rebel militia is here to open our eyes to the needs of all such children.
This book is Michel’s story, told in graphic novel format, of his happy early years, his traumatic time under rebel control, his escape, and the nearly-impossible task of reestablishing a sense of normalcy. In the years following his abduction, Michel’s home and community were torn apart by the ongoing violence. Michel and several family members were eventually able to take refuge in Canada, where he now lives.
One important reason for Michel’s story to be told just now, at this moment in time, is the message of insulation and callous indifference being voiced even as overwhelming numbers of traumatized refugees flee unspeakable violence in their homelands. ISIS gloats over their use of child soldiers. If I were a mother in that region, I would do anything, anything, to get my children out of their reach. I challenge you: read Michel’s account, and then consider what it means to relegate these desperate people to a life of such appalling danger.
Additional material in the book includes statistics and further information about the use of child soldiers around the world, what is being done to help, and how you can take action.
This is not a book for young children. I might suggest ages 12 and up. It would be a good book to read together with your kids. While it is painful, it also provides rich insights and introduces us to an incredible hero — an endurer. We are definitely the richer for hearing his story.
Another terrific entry in the Citizen Kids collection from Kids Can Press. Thank you, Canada.
Posted in graphic novels, non-fiction, picture books | Tagged book reviews, child soldiers, children and war, children's literature, Democratic Republic of Congo, graphic novel, humanitarian kids books, Kids Can Press, Michel Chikwanine, refugees, war | Leave a Comment »