I’m back working at school and this summer is officially over tomorrow morning, so this is a good time for a round-up of what I’ve been reading during the long, lazy days of the holiday.
Lately, I have been reading and writing about old books, serious books. But browsing through the library feeling the full freedom of being on vacation inspired me to indulge myself in piles and piles of kids’ books! I found award winners, picked up some surprises in Grab Bags, found some brand new titles and authors, and revisited old ones. Here are the best:
No wonder the Pippi books stayed in my mind all these forty-some years! Pippi lives my own childhood fantasies of having exotic animals, traveling the world, living in dangerous jungles, spending most of the time outdoors, and enjoying complete independence. Her thoughts have no logical order but are creative and free, and Pippi—thanks to a supply of gold coins—can give gifts to everyone she meets. She talks to her hat, loves stepping in full gutters, and makes up “facts” out of her wild imagination. This story sails along with nothing but spontaneity, surprises, and laughter, until Pippi’s pirate-dad returns from the sea to take her back with him. But will her love of the tossing waves make up for the loss of her friends?
Dewey: There’s a Cat in the Library by Vicki Myron and Bret Witter, illustrated by Steve James
I’m so glad there is a children’s version of the adult book that is so precious. It’s uncanny how much Dewey the cat’s habits and personality are so much like my cat Ginger’s. The illustrator provided perfect drawings to endear kids to the story of the famous library pet.
Caldecott award winner The House in the Night by Susan Marie Swanson, illustrated by Beth Krommes
There is something gentle, rhythmical, predictable and comforting about poems with cumulative patterns. This book takes us through a dark but friendly and peaceful journey out the window, all around and back again. I was in awe when I read that all the intricate drawings were done on scratchboard. According to the author’s fascinating note at the end, the inspiration for this book came from a 1955 nursery rhyme book.
Caldecott award winner A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead
The whimsical drawings in this book set the tone, and they pleasantly remind me of many of the books I read as a child in the 1960’s. With one look at his ever-present grin, we are drawn into Amos’s simple daily life as he cares for animals of all personalities who have needs we wouldn’t have noticed unless we were as observant and considerate as he is.
Jennifer and Josephine written and illustrated by Bill Peet
I barely missed Bill Peet growing up, but my own sons were lucky enough to enjoy him and requested his first book, Hubert’s Hair-Raising Adventure, over and over. In this one, the two main characters are an old, abandoned car and a scrawny homeless cat, whose many emotions are perfectly depicted in the author’s illustrations. Bill Peet worked for Walt Disney as a sketch artist, helping to produce early films such as Fantasia, 101 Dalmations and Peter Pan.
During the extra-busy weeks at the end of my school year, one of my co-workers sent out a link where we could wish Robert Munsch a Happy 50th Birthday. That inspired me to catch up on all of his books I’ve missed since my kids stopped reading them. The illustrations by Michael Martchenko made me laugh almost as much as the words!
I love how the Robert Munsch picks up ideas as he travels to schools all around North America, talking to his young readers and finding out what makes them happy, mad, or frustrated, and then dedicates the book to them!
It was so much fun spending several weeks with kids’ books! If you’re looking for some smiles and heart-warmers to brighten your child’s—or your—reading times, you could start with these!