I have quite the variety of choices for you in the realm of picture books this Saturday!
Walking to School, written by the wonderful Eve Bunting and illustrated by Michael Dooling, is my only serious choice of the week. Based on the Irish conflicts between the Protestants and the Catholics of the country, our main character is a young girl, terrified to walk to school because she's Catholic and must walk through the Protestant territory. Her Uncle Frank, involved in demonstrations against the Protestants, is the one that walks her to school, one day walking right in the midst of a violent demonstration.
Allison is thrown in the middle of the protests and has a button ripped off her school blazer, only to be picked up and returned to her by a young Protestant girl. This allows Allison to believe that religion really shouldn't have to get in the way of people being friends, it's only a characteristic of someone's life and shouldn't be something to judge by.
Bunting has made a very difficult story of Northern Ireland's "Troubles" into a story that can be easily understood by a child and is not told from a single side of the story. This is not a book about the problems Protestants created or the mess Catholics made, but rather an overview of what it was like to be a child, simply trying to walk to school, during that time.
Dooley's illustrations are pretty amazing too...appearing to be done on canvas. This would be a great intro to social studies book, as well as nice addition for homeschoolers.
Walking to School
Mystery Ride!, written and illustrated by Scott Magoon, is definitely a much lighter choice than my first book, featuring three siblings and their often "mysterious" parents.
The kids (or animals of some sort) in the story, have learned over the years that when their parents tell them they are going on a mystery ride, it's never a good thing. Typically a mystery ride means going to the grocery store, the dump, or the hardware store...definitely not fun places for kids. They would much rather just be told where they're going, because those trips are almost always fun!
On one particular afternoon, the family piles into the car and dad announces they're going on a "MYSTERY RIDE!!!!!," which of course receives nothing but groans from the kids. When they slowly pass by all the typical, un-fun "mystery" destinations, they soon realize that they should never assume that all mystery rides will be bad. They just might be a blast!
The story is very simple and cute in this one, easy for children to follow and I'd be surprised if they aren't begging you for mystery rides after you've read this to them. I was not impressed by the illustrations at all (I really don't like not being able to tell what species the characters are), but the story was adorable.
Great for read alouds!
Harcourt Children's Books
Finally, Dogs on the Bed is written by Elizabeth Bluemle and illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf, telling the story of a family that's made up of more dogs than people!
All this family wants to do is go to sleep, but their beds have been taken over by dogs! Scrambling over each other to get closest to their owners, bringing slippers to chew, and making it impossible to sleep. Once dad gives them the "old heave-ho" the dogs howl and bark, make their eyes as sad as possible and then beg to be let out. After a long night of adjusting, everyone finally makes it to sleep, dogs on the bed and all!
The giggle meter with this book is sky-high, I was even chuckling my way through it as I was reading. The illustrations accompany the silly rhymes perfectly and those kids with dogs are definitely going to be able to relate to how little bed space is allowed for the humans in the house.
A great story time read aloud!
Dogs on the Bed