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Posts Tagged ‘kindness’

I don’t know about you, but lately my heart feels as though someone has been scouring it with steel wool.

Raw. Abraded. Grieving over violence and suffering, abuse of power and abuse of Earth, caustic tongues and acrimony, overwhelmingly loud day after day.  

As we move towards a series of holidays celebrating gratitude, light, and love, I want to share some powerful titles that console me with their messages of generosity, kindness, and working to alleviate suffering.

These books suit ages 2 through teens. Pick one or two, read them together, and dream of ways you can help mend the brokenness in our world.

At the end of the post, I have links to a couple of non-profits where your gifts can make a difference to people in extreme need.

You Hold Me Up, written by Monique Gray Smith, illustrated by Danielle Daniel
published in 2017 by Orca Books

Page through this gem and feel your heart glow with the warmth, strength, and richness of community, family, togetherness. 

You hold me up. I hold you up. That’s the bottom line, isn’t it? Monique Gray Smith quietly illuminates humanity’s best self with her minimal, just-right words.

Daniel’s striking palette and touching scenes mean each page delivers a wallop of goodness, all with that beautiful First Nation’s flavor. A total delight from our good neighbors in Canada that’ll woo readers of all ages toward being holder-uppers.

 

Love the World, written and illustrated by Todd Parr
published in 2017 by Little, Brown and Company

Todd Parr’s jubilant colors and relentless optimism radiate from every page in this simple call to love for the very young.

Love yourself! Love the world! Mix and repeat. What a great recipe! A warm-as-a-hug book for ages 18 months and up that fills minds and imaginations with smiles, welcome, and kindness. 

 

Can We Help? Kids Volunteering to Help Their Communities, by George Ancona
published in 2015 by Candlewick Press

Children engaged in knitting hats for homeless families, harvesting vegetables for soup kitchens, delivering meals to the elderly, training assistance dogs, skiing down mountains with physically-disabled kids, picking up trash along highways, and more, briefly describe their activities…

…all accompanied by copious color photographs. No glitz. Just ordinary kids pitching in to help their neighbors. Heartening and inspiring. Ages 3 and up. What can you think of to do together?

It Takes a Village, written by Hillary Rodham Clinton, illustrated by Marla Frazee
published in 2017 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

In her Author’s Note, Clinton says “this book is meant to spark a conversation with our youngest about what children can do to help make the world what they hope it will be.”

Short phrases comprise the text, some more meaningful than others. The main theme is almost completely borne out by Frazee’s ever-tender, inclusive illustrations… 

… a sequence of vignettes showing folks banding together to build a prime playground. A neighborhood gathering place. You can’t miss the vibe of hope, collaboration, and warm community shining through here, a lovely antidote to weariness and cynicism. Ages 3 and up.

Letters to a Prisoner, by Jacques Goldstyn
published in Canada in 2015 as Le prisonnier sans frontiéres; English edition 2017 by Owlkids Books

A powerful, wordless story unfolds when one man and his young daughter (could be a son) set off to protest a powerful regime. Soldiers attack and the father is thrown into prison. 

As his hope dwindles, a little bird flies through the prison window and delivers a letter. So cheering! But it’s confiscated by an angry guard. More letters come, only to be burned. The plight of this prisoner becomes known around the world, however, and all manner of individuals write letters — fortress-loads of letters. What is the result?

It’s a wordless story, vibrant, poignant, triumphant, taking its inspiration from Amnesty International’s letter-writing marathon and seeking to inspire participation in this annual event. What a wonderful movement to take part in! Ages 4 and up.

The Happy Prince: A Tale by Oscar Wilde, illustrated and adapted by Maisie Paradise Shearring
original edition 2016; published in 2017 by Thames & Hudson

Shearring retells Oscar Wilde’s famous short story featuring the ornate, bejewelled statue of a happy prince and a swallow who alights on it. 

The prince, so oblivious of others’ needs throughout his life of opulent wealth, sorrows now from his heights as a statue, for he can see the ugliness and misery of the world from this new vantage point. Both the prince and the swallow are thus moved to sacrifice themselves for the good of the destitute in this fairy tale-esque story.

Shearring’s masterful artwork won the prestigious Bologna International Award for Illustration and you will easily understand why. Her emotive color palette and stunning compositions are utterly captivating. Wherein does true happiness lie — in hoarding or in laying down one’s life for others? Compelling ideas for ages 5 and up.

Manjhi Moves a Mountain, written by Nancy Churnin, illustrated by Danny Popovici
published in 2017 by Creston Books

As I read this story, I found myself thinking the author might have toned down the preposterously-inhuman task she relates — that of one poor Indian man digging, spadeful by spadeful, a gap through an actual mountain — if she wanted it to be at all believable.

Then, I turned to the back of the book and discovered that the story is true! Oh! 

Dashrath Manjhi lived in a small, impoverished village in India, separated by a mountain from a village equipped with “running water, doctors, a school, and jobs.” Manjhi keenly felt that if only a roadway could be opened up between these two communities, his own neighbors would be so much better off. Thus, with chisel and hammer, he spent 22 years (!) cutting a road through the mountain.

Read this astonishing story of perseverance with children ages 4 or 5 and up, then ask as Churnin does in her Author’s Note: What kind of “mountain” can you move to make things better in your community? 

Twenty-two Cents: Muhammad Yunus and the Village Bank, written by Paula Yoo, illustrated by Jamel Akib
published in 2014 by Lee & Low Books

In 2006, Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for demonstrating that “even the poorest of the poor can work to bring about their own development.”

This is the story of Yunus’ life, from his childhood in India when he was awakened to the distress of poverty, to his encounter with a woman named Sufiya who needed just twenty-two cents for bamboo to build the stools she sold for a living. Forced to borrow these small sums from lenders who took unfair advantage, Sufiya and thousands of women like her could never escape grinding poverty.

Yunus dedicated his life to re-thinking money, banking, and lending, and in 1977 launched the first of his village banks which give microcredit to groups of women. His story and the fruits of his work for millions of women around the world are encouraging and inspiring to say the least. This bio is accessible to children ages 9 and up.

Philanthroparites!: A Party-Planning Guide for Kids Who Want to Give Back, by Lulu Cerone
published in 2017 by Aladdin and Beyond Words, Simon & Schuster

I believe there are tens of thousands of middle-grade and high-school kids whose heartbeat is to make a positive difference in the world. Sometimes, though, it’s really hard to figure out just how to do that.

Then, there are the born organizers of the world, God bless them. Lulu Cerone is one of them. As a ten year old, hearing the news of the 2010 Haitian earthquake, she organized lemonade stand wars with kids from her school who wound up raising thousands of dollars for charity. 

This book is a solid collection of 36 great party ideas whose purpose is to raise money for charity or directly infuse kindness into communities. Organized by month to correlate with nationally observed days, Lulu’s creative, fun party plans include tips for success, decorations, themed food ideas, and more. She also includes planning-ahead checklists for a smooth, successful philanthroparty, and lists of organizations she supports in case you need a place to start.

I can easily see how this book would have inspired and instigated my kids to host philanthroparties. Do you know anyone ages 10 and up who would love to be a changemaker? Check out this book!

Inspired to help but don’t know where to start? I have two funds I’d love to see Orange Marmalade readers support:

 

 

To help provide fresh fruits and vegetables to malnourished Syrian and Iraqi refugees sheltering in a neighboring country, click here.

Just $25 provides enough fresh produce for one family for one month. This is a faith-based program in great need of donations to continue this feeding program, and I can vouch for the integrity of those administering it.

For those who prefer to donate to a non faith-based fund, I suggest Save the Children’s fund for Rohingya refugees, which you can access here.  These children have fled horrific violence and need water, food, shelter, and protection in Bangladesh.

 

Thanks for spreading kindness! 

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The devastation of Harvey is overwhelmingly present both for those on site and those helplessly watching from afar.

That’s not the only bad news that might be greying your spirit these days. Here’s a brief selection of some of my favorite books that swell our hearts with hope.

Each is linked to my original review.

Spirit of Hope

When a young family is forced out of their home, another most surprising place becomes available.

A Chair for My Mother

The classic story of a terrible house fire and the pluck, love, and community that bring about restoration.

Boxes for Katje

An American girl rallies her friends to ship boxes of needed supplies to a devastated community in post-war Holland.

My Heart Will Not Sit Down

A Cameroonian girl hears of the Great Depression in America and raises money to send from her impoverished community.

A Sick Day for Amos McGee

One gentle zookeeper falls ill and the dear animals he’s cared for so well return the favor. 

The Friend

An African-American maid acts as true companion, dear friend, and life saver to her small white charge.

The Promise

A broken city and broken soul are transformed by beauty.

The Family Under the Bridge

One of my all-time favorite chapter books, about a homeless young family, a homeless old man, and the power of love.

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Just looking at this stack of books today warms my heart. Lush illustrations and tenderhearted characters bring a palpable response of peace, security, belonging, and healing.

These days are filled with turmoil and conflict, and assuredly children pick up on that. It’s the perfect time to snuggle up together and read reassuring, beautiful picture books.

The Way Home in the Night, written and illustrated by Akiko Miyakoshi
first published in Japan in 2015; English edition published by Kids Can Press in 2017

Akiko Miyakoshi is making a name for herself with her gorgeous, flannel-soft, rosebud-tender illustration work and the rich themes of imagination and belonging thrumming through her books.  (See my review of The Tea Party in the Woods here.)

Here she explores the many varied life stories which surround us, the array of homes cocooning our neighbors, each holding an aroma of mystery, a tease of the unknown, and our common desire for repose.

As one little bunny goes for a quiet evening stroll with Mama, the glow of lamplight from within apartment windows gives glimpses of neighbors’ lives and piques curiosity. What are they talking about? What are they cooking up for supper? What happens next, after we lose sight of them? So many different narratives, yet ultimately bound together with deeply human needs — home, and a place to lay our heads to sleep.

Attuned to universal wondering, this hushed story will resonate deeply with young and old, ages 2 and up. Outstanding.

Little Fox in the Forest, a wordless book by Stephanie Graegin
published in 2017 by Schwartz & Wade Books

My word! This book is flooded with wave upon wave of adorableness, kindness, and imagination, with one well-shot arrow of childhood angst piercing through to create pitch-perfect tension for preschoolers.

It’s the ol’ lovey-gone-missing plot, portrayed with panache. A little girl’s favorite stuffed fox accompanies her to the playground one day. While she’s enjoying a hearty swing, a real fox kit spies the toy, snatches it, and hot-foots it into the forest.

With determination borne of desperation, the little girl tracks her beloved fox, a host of darling woodland residents and one schoolmate assisting her. What they discover — a splendiferous woodland village that’ll set your heart a-flutter — plus one small, pathetic fox kit, leads to a resolution sweet as a butter cookie.

Could anyone not feel their heart flood with warmth upon reading this story? I think not. A perfect picture book for ages 2 and up.

Home and Dry, written and illustrated by Sarah L. Smith
published in 2016 by Child’s Play Inc.

Coming to us from Australia, this quirky charmer features the Paddling family whose home on a rocky outcropping of an island looks mighty idyllic; plus a rainstorm to end all rainstorms; and dear Uncle Bastian, a lonely old fellow whose busy life has heretofore superceded pleasant holidays but who has decided to finally pay a long-overdue visit to his family.

The collision course of events here — picnics and paddlings and Paddlings and predicaments — makes for a rollicking series of near-misses and thorough wettings until all ends in coziness, hospitality, belonging, and everyone “home and dry.”

With a plot and illustrations crammed with affection and the humble joy of home and family, this is a delight for ages 3 and up.

The Giant Jumperee, written by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury
originally published in the UK; first U.S. edition 2017 by Dial Books for Young Readers

Two UK childrens’ literature rock stars teamed up to create this sunny, funny, jolly tale, and what a joy it is!

Something is lurking in Rabbit’s burrow! It calls itself the Giant Jumperee! Good heavens! What can it be?

Rabbit is affrighted! And as each of his animal friends stoutly offers to help remove this unseen monster, they become just as alarmed! After all, it shouts out such dire warnings!

When even Elephant is left cowering, Mama Frog calmly steps up to the challenge and what do you know — that Giant Jumperee is heading home to tea in a merry minute.  Timeless and happy, for young lapsitters, ages 18 months and up.

Time Now to Dream, written by Timothy Knapman, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury
published in the UK in 2016; first U.S. edition 2017 by Candlewick Press

Here’s another book awash in the perfection of Helen Oxenbury’s art, with a story brilliantly balancing delicious ingredients: tingly mystery, tenderness, bravery, sibling camaraderie, and the warmth of home.

Alice and Jack are enjoying a fine day when, coming through the forest, a sound disrupts their playtime. It’s a weird sound. An uncanny howl. It goes something like this, “Ocka by hay beees unna da reees…”

Is it the Wicked Wolf?! Into the shadowy woods they go with a mixture of trepidation and curiosity, only to discover a most surprising scene! For at the height of tension, sunlight and warmth break through.  Despite Jack’s worries, everything really is all right, and the dreams they dream tonight will be full of sweetness. Absolutely top notch for ages 18 months and up.

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Yes, winter is here. The days are cold and dark. But the warmth of human kindness goes with wintertime, hand in glove, in today’s wonderful stories.

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The Branch, written by Mireille Messier, illustrated by Pierre Pratt
published in 2016 by Kids Can Press

Wintertime snows and howling winds are terribly exciting. Ice storms coat the world with a shimmer that dazzles in sunlight.

But…

…heavy ice and raucous winds can be scary, too. They break this little girl’s favorite branch off her tree; break her heart also, since she’s lost her lovely perch — a spy base, fairy castle, shelter for all sorts of playtime.

Books for Kids

You can’t glue a branch back on a tree, but Mr. Frank, her sturdy, kindhearted, neighbor, has a whip-smart plan for how to help that branch reach it’s full potential!

Books for Kids

Watch this dear pair apply a hefty helping of elbow grease to turn misfortune to a windfall. Pratt’s brazen colors make this one dance! His shards of ice, red flannel warmth and tender, intergenerational duo are full of zest. Such a hopeful, happy story, for ages 3 and up.

Here’s the Amazon link: The Branch

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A Hat for Mrs. Goldman, written by Michelle Edwards, illustrated by G. Brian Karas
published in 2016 by Schwartz & Wade Books

I am smitten with this book.

And it’s another intergenerational wintertime story! Mrs. Goldman and Sophia have a thing going for one another dating back to Sophia’s birth when dear Mrs. Goldman knitted her a sweet, tiny, hat to keep her wee noggin warm.

a-hat-for-mrs-goldman-interior2-edwards-and-karas

Sophia is much, much bigger now. Looks about six years old. She has big responsibilities to match, too, as the official pompom-maker for all of Mrs. Goldman’s hats. That’s a lot of pompoms because Mrs. Goldman is like a knitting warrior,  knitting hats for all sorts and sizes of people. It’s her mitzvah, her good deed.

When Mrs. Goldman gives her own hat away to a needy friend,  Sophia determines to knit a hat, start-to-finish, for her dear friend. This is not so easy. It takes pluck and creativity to pull off such a marvelous good deed.

a-hat-for-mrs-goldman-interior-edwards-and-karas

Oh my goodness. The end result of Sophia’s loving efforts is enough to gladden the gloomiest of hearts! Karas’s soft, tender illustrations, his chalky, muted colors punctuated by those merry, cranberry-red pompoms, are perfect. Plus, there’s a knitting pattern and pompom directions to make your own Sophia hat! Enjoy this generous, warm story with kids 4 and up.

Here’s the Amazon link: A Hat for Mrs. Goldman

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Leave Me Alone! written and illustrated by Vera Brosgol
published in 2016 by Roaring Brook Press

Another knitting story, this time with quite a different vibe!

If you think the old woman living in a shoe had lots of kids, let me introduce you to this old woman, living in a village, utterly beleaguered by her large family.

This quantity of children means she also has a deal of knitting to do so the poor dears will have sweaters to wear for the winter. The  kids, however, are preventing her from getting that knitting done. Oh, we feel her pain, don’t we?!

leave-me-alone-interior2-vera-brosgol

Finally, she’s at the end of her rope. She gathers her necessaries and clops out the door with a hearty, “Leave me alone!”  Going to find some peace and quiet. Alas! She encounters more and more interlopers who must be dealt with.

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Thank goodness she’s got the moxie to tell them all off, but you cannot believe the ends she must go to in order to get her knitting done!

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Every mother of small children ought to read this book. You might laugh…or cry…depending on the day, but you will cheer for her and her mission accomplished, that’s for certain. Bold, rich colors, a bushel-basket of personality, and heaps of humor enliven every page. Read it with kids ages 4 and up.

Here’s the Amazon link: Leave Me Alone

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How to Build a Snow Bear, written by Eric Pinder, illustrated by Stephanie Graegin
published in 2016 by Farrar Straus Giroux

The folks who brought us such a fabulous big brother in How to Share with a Bear are back with another episode in the lives of these two nice boys.

In their last go-round, little brother was ticklishly-difficult to avoid. Today, Thomas is building an enormous snow man and needs his little brother’s help. But that little fellow has got the serious drowsies. How do you wake up a snoozing bear?

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How do you coax him outdoors for snowman success and wintertime fun? It takes kindness, patience, and big-brother savvy, and Thomas has got that in spades.

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I adore the sweet relationship between these two brothers. Such a welcome perspective. Stephanie Graegin’s immensely-warm illustrations match the amiable tone of the narrative wonderfully. A lovely story to share with children ages 2 and up.

Here’s the Amazon link: How to Build a Snow Bear

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Mr. Putter and Tabby Hit the Slope, written by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Arthur Howard
published in 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Mr. Putter, Tabby, Mrs. Teaberry, and her good dog Zeke are back in this cheery, wintertime tale.

Mr. Putter feels that winter can be a bit slow. His gardening and hammock-lounging days are mothballed until spring. Then he recalls the days of his youth and the grand time he had sledding.

Of course Mrs. Teaberry is game! And of course Zeke is ready to careen down the hills! Tabby, however, is a bit bent out of shape over these icy antics!

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As always, Mr. Putter knows just how to soothe Tabby’s ruffled fur. Early reader’s lovelovelove Mr. Tabby for good reason. Hand them this one over Christmas break.

Here’s the Amazon link: Mr. Putter and Tabby Hit the Slope

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Five friendly stories to go with your chocolate hearts…

love monster and the last chocolate cover imageLove Monster and the Last Chocolate, written and illustrated by Rachel Bright
originally published in the UK; first American edition 2015 by Farrar, Straus, Giroux

Love Monster has a dilemma which you can perhaps relate to.

He’s just arrived home from a lovely vacation only to discover a large box of chocolates awaiting him on his doorstep. Before he can even open it, his chocolate-fanatic-brain goes zinging into serious overload! Just imagine all those delectable treats nesting inside!

love monster and the last chocolate interior rachel bright

Here’s the dilemma: He knows he should share with his friends, but what if there’s not enough and he misses out? Or, what if someone takes the very best one before he can nab it? Oh dear! What’s a Love Monster to do?!

This is a serious Hair-Twirling, Nail-Biting Ethical Tight Spot, don’t you agree? Ride along with Love Monster on his rocky journey in this sunny, friendly, funny, and heartwarming book. A winner for ages 2 and up.

here comes valentine cat cover imageHere Comes Valentine Cat, by Deborah Underwood, pictures by Claudia Rueda
published in 2016 by Dial Books for Young Readers

Cat is back and this time he’s feeling quite peevish about Valentine’s Day. He is not a fan. Mooshy-gooshy-yuk.

To make matters worse, Cat’s new neighbor is a dog, a horrible, mean dog. At least, Cat hasn’t exactly met him, but all signs point to it.

here comes valentine cat interior deborah underwood and claudia rueda

Rather than extend an olive branch at Valentine’s Day, Cat plans to teach that Dog a lesson. Until something quite surprising happens that puts everything in a new light.

Headstrong, lovable Cat is an eminently-relatable character, and Rueda’s a genius at creating his vivid personality with just the twitch of an eyebrow. Great choice for ages 2 and up.

who will comfort toffle cover imageWho Will Comfort Toffle?: A Tale of Moomin Valley, written and illustrated by Tove Jansson; English translation by Sophie Hannah
originally published in Finland, 1960; this edition 2010 by Enfant/Drawn & Quarterly

If you don’t know the Moomins, you can read a bit about them and their escapades here.

This book is one of the cartoon picture books Jansson created about these marvelous creatures and it stars Toffle, a mop-haired, extremely shy-and-retiring fellow.

Toffle has come to realize that his lonely, sad life needs some change, swho will comfort toffle illustration tove janssono he bravely sets out to take a look at the world around him. Along the way, he runs across lots of merry groups — whompses and fillyjonks, Hemulen and Snufkin, folks dancing and making daisy chains, fluting and feasting on pancakes. But he is so reserved and forgettable, it’s like he is invisible to them all.

Who will comfort Toffle?

Spoiler Alert: This book has a happy ending. Dive into the fanstastical world of Moomin Valley to meet all these fab friends and discover Toffles sweet solution. Ages 5 and up.

i love you already cover imageI Love You Already, by Jory John, illustrated by Benji Davies
published in 2016 by Harper

Bear and Duck are here again. (We saw them first in Goodnight Already.) Bear is just as content as ever to shuffle about his home in peace, lounge in his nightshirt while reading and sipping tea. Ahhhh.

And Duck is just as determined to Do Fun Things Non-Stop with his great pal, Bear.

i love you already illustration benji davies

The more Bear resists, the more Duck becomes a little worried. Maybe Bear doesn’t like him? How awful would that be?!

After a dayful of botheration, pandemonium, and a near-concussion, Duck hears the reassuring words he’s been waiting for. Goofy fun. Sparkling personalities. Bold, neon-bright illustrations. Great fun for ages 2 and up.

Hedgehugs cover imageHedgehugs, by Steve Wilson and Lucy Tapper
published in the UK in 2014; first American edition 2015 by Henry Holt and Company

Finally this prickly tale of Horace and Hattie, two hedgehogs who are the very best of friends, but who find a friendly hug to be a most pointedly tricky affair.

Hedgehugs interior Steve Wilson and Lucy Tapper

All year long, these two come up with hopeful solutions to their spiky situation. But, alas! Nothing works. Until one day, the solution literally blows their way on an opportune breeze.

Find out what it is, and solve another mystery that regularly occurs around your household, all in one swoop! Charming and cute for ages Under-Two and up.

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Arm yourself for the cold and flu season! Cook up some chicken noodle soup, fluff the pillows, and settle in with some misery-loves-company stories, such as…

sniffles for bear cover imageThe Sniffles for Bear, by Bonny Becker, illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton
published in 2011 by Candlewick Press

Bear tends towards the grumpity side even on the best of days, so when his throat gets “sore and gruffly” and his nose is all “sniffly-snouted” you just know he’s going to be extra tetchy.

sniffles for bear interior becker and denton

Cheerful, irrepressible Mouse is eager to be Nurse and Pleasant Companion, but Bear resists all his attempts to divert and comfort. Instead, he moans and groans with artful melodrama. Sheesh. Finally, after a long nap, Bear wakes feeling better, but now Mouse falls ill. How will Bear do when the tables are turned?

Every Bear and Mouse story is worth reading over and over. Lovable characters, a humorous clash of personalities, heaps of affection, plus Denton’s amusing illustrations of these two mismatched friends — it all adds up to first-rate charm. Ages 2 and up.

mr putter and tabby catch the cold cover imageMr. Putter & Tabby Catch the Cold, by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Arthur Howard
published in 2002 by Harcourt, Inc.

Here’s another warmhearted story of friends who care.

This time, it’s Mr. Putter who’s blowing and hacking and generally feeling miserable. He has fond memories of the pampering he had as a kid when he was in bed with a cold, but now he’s “old with a cold” and it’s no fun at all.

Leave it to Mrs. Teaberry, that neighborliest of neighbors, and her good dog, Zeke, to save the day. It takes quite a bit of ingenuity, a dash of convincing, and a dose of desperation, for it all to come together, but the result is fabulous. Almost worth getting sick, to give this little system a try!

mr putter and tabby catch the cold illustration Arthur Howard

I love the Mr. Putter stories. Perfect early-readers, with plots, writing, and illustrations fizzy enough to use as read-alouds with young children ages 2 and up.

never catch a cold cover imageNever Catch a Cold, written and illustrated by André François
originally created in 1966; published in 2012 by The Creative Company

This quirky, cautionary tale is a total riot. The material was created by legendary French illustrator André François for an advertising campaign back in the ’60s.

His trademark black-and-white ink paintings, all blobs and quavering lines, trumpet wry humor from the pages as he spins out this deadpan, informative lecture about Colds. A Cold, just so you know, looks like this:

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…and these Colds have survived since prehistory because little children, from time immemorial, are always taught to never catch a Cold. Thus, they have no mortal enemies.

never catch a cold illustration Andre Francois

François introduces us to the many varieties of Colds, the classes of Colds — good Colds and bad Colds, the ease with which one can catch a Cold, and the wisdom of NOT catching one.

never catch a cold illustration3 andre francois

Superlative humor. Epic imagination. A small-but-stout sized book. For children old enough to enjoy puns and satire, and definitely for grown-ups, this is a treat.

Here are a couple of titles for would-be doctors and nurses who just want a little practice:

doctor nice cover imageDoctor Nice, written and illustrated by Valeri Gorbachev
published in 2015 by Holiday House

There’s quite a line-up in Doctor Nice’s waiting room. Crows. Goats. A massive moose with the sneezles.

One at a time the fuzzy, furry patients tell the nice doctor their woes and he dexterously treats them all. Copious bandaging appears to be his special knack.

doctor nice illustration valeri gorbachev

When Mommy says it’s time for lunch, we get one last — surprising — glimpse of the invalids, which may inspire some doctoring in your household, too. Friendly, imaginative, fun for ages 2 and up.

nurse clementine cover imageNurse Clementine, written and illustrated by Simon James
published in 2013 by Candlewick

Young Clementine Brown gets a realio coolio nurse outfit and kit for her birthday and she is pumped to try it out. Large and in-charge, she begins taking care of the bumps and pains around the house. And once again, this bandaging business seems to be The Thing to do.

Annoyingly, her brother Tommy, whose recklessness results in Plentiful Opportunities to Bandage, is a completely unwilling patient. Insists he needs no Medical Attention. Grrgh. 

nurse clementine illustration simon james

Is it okay to root for Tommy to get hurt…just a wee bit? Just enough for Nurse Clementine to ply her trade? You’ll have to read this lighthearted story to see how dear Clemmy gets her chance. Illustrated in Simon James’ humorous, wibbly-wobbly line and gloriously-light watercolors. Ages 2 and up.

Finally, one look at a furry helper for kids with much more than a bad cold:

mogie the heart of the house cover imageMogie: The Heart of the House, by Kathi Appelt, illustrated by Marc Rosenthal
published in 2014 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers

This beautiful story is about a special dog named Mogie, a companion dog at the Ronald McDonald House in Houston, who has an unusual aptitude for knowing just which child needs his snuggly presence.

When a child is especially out of spirits or full of the miseries in their long battles with illness, Mogie makes a bee-line to them, sidles up, leans in, and exudes doggy-love. All of which is amazingly restorative. 

Take a tour of the Ronald McDonald world, meet this lovable fellow named Mogie, and watch him work his charms on several residents. He’s honestly the heart of the house.

Great, upbeat story for ages 3 and up which introduces kids to service dogs and to long-term childhood illness in a warm, not-at-all-scary way.

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I’ve got three gems today, and then I’m checking out for awhile. On my way to Scandinavia for a few weeks!!

This is Sadie, by Sara O’Leary, illustrated by Julie Morstad
published in 2015 by Tundra Books

this is sadie cover image

This author-illustrator team from Canada creates quiet beauty with every collaboration. I am over the moon with this latest story of dear little Sadie and her splendid imagination.

this is sadie o'leary and morstad interior

Meet her in this charming book, swimming in the freshness of simplicity, the elegance of innocence, the expansiveness of imagination. 

this is sadie illustration julie morstad

Everything you want to express about children engaged in real play is here, in brief, pleasant lines, and delicious illustrations. Ages 2 and up.

The Kind-hearted Monster: Two Classic Stories written and illustrated by Max Velthuijs
first published in Switzerland in 1973; this edition published in 2015 by NorthSouth Books

the kindhearted monster cover image

Max Velthuijs was one of the Netherland’s most illustrious children’s illustrators and if you have never met his work, just take a peek at this re-issued set of monstrously-wonderful stories. You’ll understand the love in about a second.

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You see, the illustrations do not reside on the pages! They burst out of them! They reach out and grab you and pull you, quite happily, right into the story! So bold and disarming and magnificent!

the kind hearted monster illustration velthuijs

Mervyn is a kind-hearted monster who is initially feared by the townspeople. Watch how misperceptions are set aright, and how peace and kindness win out over violence and fear. Rugged, rambunctious action full of tenderhearted kindness. A complete delight for ages 4 and up.

The Golden Plate, written and illustrated by Bernadette Watts
published in 2014 by NorthSouth Books

the golden plate cover image

And now — one of the loveliest of British illustrators with a new treat for us.

Bernadette Watts is known for her fairy tale illustrations and she brings the same qualities of delicacy and warmth, charm and softness, to this thoughtful story of wrongdoing and restoration.

the golden plate illustration detail bernadette watts

Isobel and Elisabeth are close friends. Both have doll’s houses, but Elisabeth’s is ever so much grander than Isobel’s. 

One day as Isobel plays with Elisabeth’s dolls, a worm of envy creeps into her heart. A tiny golden plate decorating the dolls’ kitchen shines so temptingly, and in a wink, Isobel slips it into her pocket. 

the golden plate illustration detail2 bernadette watts

Such a bitsy thing, yet it weighs on Isobel like a rhinoceros necklace. Read her story, watch her regain her footing and soak up the joy of a clear conscience and a loving friend. Ages 4 and up.

Hope you find your way to all three of these gems!

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