Saturday, September 22, 2007

Picture Book Saturday

The return of Picture Book Saturday!! Lately it's been really difficult for me to get in a lot of picture book reading, because of all the reviews I have to do for adult and YA books. This week however, I made sure I read some new picture books in order to have 3 reviews for you all today. Hopefully you'll find something you'll enjoy!

My favorite of the week was Henry's Freedom Box by Ellen Levine, illustrated by Kadir Nelson. The author did an amazing job of creating a book based on the true story of slave Henry Brown who mailed himself to freedom. Henry was enslaved in a tobacco factory where he met his wife whom he has three children with. One afternoon, out of nowhere, his wife and three children are sold to another slave owner and Henry knows he'll never see them again. With the help of an abolitionist doctor, Henry builds a sturdy box and mails himself to Pennsylvania, a free state. Little tidbits at the end of the story fill in facts that were not incorporated into the story, such as how long the trip in the box took.

Unfortunately, we do not learn anything about Henry's life as a free man, but you can bet I'll be googling it! This was a great story and one that could be very educational, as well as entertaining for older children.

On a lighter subject, I also really enjoyed Fred Stays With Me! by Nancy Coffelt, illustrated by Tricia Tusa. This was a very simple story of a young girl and her experiences of the custody arrangement of her divorced parents. She loves living at her mom's and she loves living at her dad's and she especially loves being able to take her dog Fred back and forth to each place. When each of her parents separately decide they no longer want Fred to stay with them, due to his variety of nuisances, the girl puts her foot down and makes a very important decision. If she is forced to live in two different places, no matter how much she loves each house, the dog stays with her.

This was a delightful book that allows kids to see that even if they have divorced parents, they have choices and input as well. In this case, the girl wasn't going to give up her dog when she already had to give up living under just one roof. The message is delivered subtly, with humor, as to not overwhelm the young reader.

Finally, my third selection of the week is The Colors of Us by Karen Katz. In it, the reader meets a variety of different characters, all described as being a different shade of brown. Lena and her mother take a walk, meeting the different girls and boys along the way and the artist mother describes each individual skin tone with beautiful comparisons, such as ginger, peanut butter, and caramel.

This is an excellent choice for teaching about race and how we are all really the same....with subtle differences. I thought the book was written extremely well and would be happy to use it with children for positive reinforcement.

Hope you enjoyed this week's books!

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