* Summer Reading 2015 *
Every Hero Has a Story
Learning to Fly
Reading List: Ages 5 – 8 years old
Summer reading for other ages? Look right!
All selections and annotations by
WPL Librarian Anna L. Nielsen
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Baldacchino, Christine; illus. Isabelle Malenfant. Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress. Berkeley, CA: Groundwood Books/ House of Anansi Press, 2014. Morris Micklewhite is a boy, a marvelous boy who likes a great many things; like his mother Moira because she’s his mom and Mondays too, because on Mondays he gets to go to school. And at school he likes the dress-up center with the tangerine dress that reminds him of “tigers, the sun and his mother’s hair,” and he especially likes to wear the tangerine when he is an astronaut in space visiting the elephants. Morris Micklewhite is a marvelous boy with a great imagination. The light yet firm take on gender roles is cheerfully supported by charcoal, watercolor, and pastel illustrations that show kids who know that play is much more important than clothes. Whatever the clothes may be.
De Kinder, Jan; trans. Laura Watkinson. Red. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2015. “It’s no big deal. It’s something so small. No one else even sees it…” This story of teasing that’s just a little teasing but still not nice, not even a little bit, and how it grows and grows until it’s dark and ugly and scary until the children screw up their courage stop it, is arresting and profound while remaining a story and never slipping into the pedantic. The illustrations of pencil, charcoal, ink, aquarelle, acrylic, and collage give depth and detail and drama to each blush, each moment of shame and fear, each moment of pride and rising, each moment of decency and friendship earned. A story worth reading.
Dubuc, Marianne. The Bus Ride. Tonawanda, NY: Kids Can Press Ltd., 2015. Deft sketches with a light touch add to the simple pleasure of a girl’s first bus ride all by herself to her grandmother’s house. And the other riders she meets! Fortunately, her mother packed extra cookies. Gentle and paced, Dubuc tells the story of one moment in everyday life, and the kind of person we can decide to be. For another stab at the everyday on the bus, try Last Stop on Market Street (de la Pena, Matt; illus. Christian Robinson, NY: GP Putnam’s Sons, Penguin, 2015), in which a boy travels across town on the bus, this time with his grandmother rather than to her, and learns to see and be the beauty in the world. Would that we all have nanas like these.
Lee, JiHyeon. Pool. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books, 2014. Wordless South Korean import. JiHyeon’s colored pencils and oil pastels on paper manage to convey the confusion and sometimes ugliness of mass lemming behavior and then the silent joy of conscious choice, and the pleasure of finding companionship with those who also opt to explore for themselves. A boy and a girl find a pool and decide to avoid the writhing crowd jostling their floaties and boats and glaring grimaces. The colors are blacks and whites and greys until the children dive underneath to the clear blue water and find creatures of the sea in absurd configurations and gentle eyes, both serving to change perspective, just a little bit. The boy and girl smile. The adventure has begun.
Manceau, Edouard; trans. Sarah Quinn. The Race. Berkeley, CA: Owlkids Books, Inc., 2014. Paper collage block figures painted bright start to race on a beige background. “It begins with a guy, a can of paint, and a paintbrush… and a nice straight line on the ground.” Soon, racers are racing and trying everything to win – it’s all about getting to that straight line - even cheating and playing tricks, “even really nasty ones!” One winner is declared and everyone else is a loser. Or are they? According to whom? This philosophical text begs the question: will you race on the prescribed lines? Or perhaps do something else altogether? Worth a read and a ponder.
Martins, Isabel Minhos and trans. Lyn Miller-Lachmann; illus. Bernardo P. Carvalho. The World in A Second. NY: Enchanted Lion Books, 2015. Sometimes being a hero is about having perspective – about knowing who you are and that you and your world are part of myriad lives in a global context. This Portuguese import dares readers to reflect, for example, that while an elevator gets stuck across the world a volcano rumbles, and if you take another angle or two, you’ll see a boy balancing himself on a bicycle for the very first time and a wave reaching the shore. Pair with At the Same Moment Around the World (Clotilde Perrin, San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books, 2014), which follows children around the world at the same moment through different time zones – while Yasmine plays with her mother in a Baghdad market at nine o’clock in the morning it is nine o’clock in the evening in Anchorage, Alaska and William is blowing on his bedtime tea. Information about time zones and a world map provided.
Meschenmoser, Sebastian. Learning to Fly. La Jolla, CA: Kane/Miller Book Publishers, Inc., 2006. This compact, tiny book tells the story of a man and a penguin. The penguin tells the man he can fly. The man replies, “But… penguins can’t fly.” Penguin goes flying. And then other birds reiterate that penguins can’t fly, and penguin thinks, “They’re right.” And with wild, whirling pencil drawings, penguin whips down. “That’s when he crashed,” we’re told. So man and penguin get to work. They try a lot of things. Penguin is going to learn to fly. Simple and spare. Highly recommended.
O’Leary, Sara; illus. Julie Morstad. This is Sadie. Plattsburgh, NY: Tundra Books, 2015. Morstad works in gouache, watercolor, and pencil crayon to give us Sadie, “a small girl with a big imagination.” When in a box she’s crossing the wide, wide sea. She has wings that are very hard to see but take her anywhere she wants to go. Her spirit is irrepressible, her desire to make something out of everything even less so. “The days are never long enough for Sadie. So many things to make and do and be.” Yes, Sadie. Yes!
Oskarsson, Bardur; trans. Marita Thomsen. The Flat Rabbit. Berkeley, CA: Owlkids Books, 2014. One of the best treatments of death in a picture book around, made especially so by the thoughtful and compassionate consideration of dog and rat. The line drawings show two animals worried about rabbit, the rabbit who is suddenly, without explanation flat. They know something happened, but what? And they know they must do something, but what? So they think and they think and they think, so hard that dog’s brain was “creaking.” The translated text superbly matches the effort of grappling with death and caring for a friend. And in the end, dog and rat come up with a plan. A very good plan. As to what happens next, who can say? Not dog, and not rat. But they do know that they have done their best.
Sarah, Linda; illus. Benji Davies. On Sudden Hill. NY: Simon & Schuster, 2014. In their cardboard boxes Birt and Etho are kings, soldiers, astronauts, and even pirates. “But always, always they’re Big friends.” And then another boy shows up and Birt feels strange – he loves their two-by-two rhythm and now it’s ruined. So he goes away and refuses to play until Etho and Shu draw him out, and Birt learns to feel glad and to love their three-by-three rhythm. The illustrations are melodious, managing to express the joy of friendship, the loneliness of fear of change, and the marvelousness of opening our hearts. “It’s new. And it’s good.”
Walters, Eric; illus. Eugene Fernandes. Hope Springs. Plattsburgh, NY: Tundra Books of Northern New York, 2014. Based on a true story. Boniface is the eldest child in an orphanage in Kenya – when he goes to draw water from the local spring, the local women chase him away and snarl, “This is our water for our families… There is no water for you!” There is a drought and the women are afraid. When the orphanage successfully digs a well on orphanage land, Boniface cannot stop thinking of the hissing women, still with barely enough water from the spring. He wonders what he can do. “You want to help the people who turned you away?” “Yes,” Boniface replied. “We are not desperate… so perhaps we can be kind.” Information and pictures on the real life story behind the story provided.
Beauvais, Clementine; illus. Sarah Horne. Sleuth on Skates. NY: Holiday House, 2014. “You’re not born a supersleuth on skates; you become one.” So begin the trials and tribulations of Sesame Seade, Supersleuth Extraordinaire. Her parents call her Sophie Margaret (Sesame can’t imagine why) and always begin their conversations with a big sigh and then the lament, “ The problem with Sophie is that she’s a <insert negative word here>.” Occasionally they insert a positive word instead. It’s a good thing they all adore each other. They all live in Cambridge, England, along with Sesame’s best friends Gemma and Toby and loads of students. As long as Sesame has her trusty roller-skates, the mystery solving can commence. Take that, Holmes!
Hale, Shannon & Dean Hale; illus. LeUyen Pham. The Princess in Black. Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press, 2014. By day Princess Magnolia is pretty in pink with frills and frou-frou who loves to sip tea and pet her pony Frimplepants. But by night! Ah, ha! Off with the fluff! On with the mask and cape! Even her pony loses his golden hooves! She is the Princess in Black and he the brave and faithful Blacky! Away they go to pounce on the goat-eating monsters! And then of course they return in time for tea with the Duchess, just a frilly girl again with her pony Frimplepants. The full-page illustrations add humor and animation to this very fun first beginning chapter book. We can’t help but root for the Princess, in pink and black.
Hunt, Elizabeth Singer. Jack Stalwart Book One: The Escape of the Deadly Dinosaur. NY: Weinstein Books, 2007. Jack Stalwart Series. Nine-year old Jack Stalwart is a secret agent who battles the world’s most dangerous villains all over the globe – Japan, Nepal, Egypt, Australia, all over the place. By day he’s a normal kid going to school, competing in swim meets, hanging out with his friends. But when the call comes, watch out! Jack Stalwart is on the case! Read the whole series for world travel, bad guy thumping, and general fun adventure.
Hunter, Erin. Warriors Book One: Into the Wild. NY: Harper Collins, 2003. Warrior Cat Series. In the forest, there are clans of cats who all abide by the Warrior Cade set down by the ancestors. But as in all societies, trouble stirs, and those who are courageous must lead the way. Rules are broken, alliances tested, sacrifices made, battles fought, and loves lost and regained. One you’re hooked, you’re hooked. Read all the books – there are over thirty, each written under the pseudonym that covers six authors who bring zest and flair to all the clans. To the forest!
Burgess, Matthew; illus. Kris Di Giacomo. Enormous Smallness: A Story of E.E. Cummings. NY: Enchanted Lion Books, 2015. There was once was a boy named Edward Estlin Cummings. And he didn’t waste time waiting until he grew up to be a poet, oh no. He started when he was very, very small. We know, because his mom kept excellent records. And when he did grow up, he kept writing, and writing, and writing, messing about with shape and form and lower-case letters and upper-case letters, doing what he did for love and language and meaning and joy. “in Just-spring,” he wrote, “when the world is mudlicious… when the world is puddle-wonderful.” Di Giacomo’s mixed media illustrations are a perfect accompaniment to Cummings’ words that splash up, down, and all around, every so carefully and wondrously all his life, from farm to city and war and back again. Excellent biographical detail and with a chronology, too. True perfection.
Moss, Marissa; illus. Yuko Shimizu. Barbed Wire Baseball. NY: Abrams, 2013. After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941, the United States government, through Executive Order 9066, sent more than 120,000 Japanese-American citizens to internment camps, without trials, imprisoned for their race. Baseball player Kenichi Zenimura was sent with his wife and two sons to the Gila River War Relocation Center in Arizona, where he painstakingly built a baseball field and organized teams and divisions of fellow prisoners, to play ball behind barbed wire. An important and often under-represented historical account of World War II. Ages: 9+.
Paul, Miranda; illus. Elizabeth Zunon. One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia. Minneapolis, MN: Millbrook Press, Lerner Publishing Group, 2014. The true story of a woman in Njau, Gambia who found plastic bags everywhere she walked and drank water, and decided to do something about it. Even the goats were nibbling and swallowing the bags, and dying of having stomachs full of plastic bags. So Ceesay found a way to recycle the bags and save her community, her village, and her planet. The collage illustrations nicely support the idea of the cooperative efforts.
Weatherford, Carole Boston; illus. Jamey Christoph. Gordon Parks: How the Photographer Captured Black and White America. Chicago, IL: Albert Whitman & Co., 2015. Gordon Parks was a photographer for the government in the 1930s and 1940s and moved on to publish in Life and Vogue. As an African-American, there was nothing usual about this, nothing at all. His teachers told him there wasn’t much he could be and the Civil Rights Act didn’t even pass until 1964. So who was he? He was Gordon Parks. The kind of man we could all be proud to be. Stirring narrative supported by illustrations of strong shades of brown with brush strokes that reach forward on every page.
Frost, Helen; photo. Rick Lieder. Sweep Up the Sun. Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press, 2015. A single poem urging young birds to fly supported by Lieder’s masterful photographs of wings in full flight. For the fliers among us.