* Summer Reading 2016 *
FITNESS: The Summer of Our Content
My Heart Fills with Happiness
Reading List: Ages 0 – 4 years old
Summer Reading for other ages? Look right!
All selections and annotations by WPL Librarian Anna L. Nielsen
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Davis, Jimmie; illus. Caroline Jayne Church. You Are My Sunshine. NY: Cartwheels Bks, Scholastic, 2011. The lyrics of the classic song accompanied by almost cartoon, lightly colored illustrations that manage to convey feelings of soft affection and happy children full of sunshine and love.
Downing, Sue. Look, Look! Baby Animal Friends. London: Bloomsbury, 2015. Padded pages of pastel colors with white block figures of animals go through the day, from a duck seeing a bear in the morning to a little fox seeing the moon. “It’s bedtime soon.” A perfect nighttime reader. Try also Downing’s Cheep! Cheep! Baby Animal Sounds (London: Bloomsbury, 2016).
Fox, Mem; illus. Helen Oxenbury. Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2008. The classic pluralistic board book story about children born all over the world, and no matter where they’re from or what their racial or ethnic make-up, they all have ten little fingers and ten little toes. The perfect rhyming read-aloud.
Smith, Monique Gray; illus. Julie Flett. My Heart Fills with Happiness. Victoria, British Columbia: Orca Book Publishers, 2016. Glorious. Children bask in simple and ebullient gratitude for all the things that make them happy – from singing to holding the hand of someone they love to walking barefoot in the grass to drumming. Glorious. Perfect to read over and over, again and again.
Alexie, Sherman; illus. Yuyi Morales. Thunder Boy Jr. NY: Little, Brown and Company, 2016. Possibly the best father-son picture book ever. Award winners Alexie and Morales team up for a soaring story of a boy named after his father who loves his Dad with all his might but thinks he might want his own name. His dad is called Big Thunder, a nickname that “is a storm filling up the sky.” People call the young boy Little Thunder, a name that doesn’t have quite the same effect. Dad is huge on the page, taking an entire spread and son is small in the corner, taking up just a little space on the bottom. So son begins to speculate some names based on the things he loves to do – Mud In His Ears because he loves playing in dirt, Touch the Clouds because he once climbed a mountain, Gravity’s Best Friend because he learned to ride a bike when he was three, to name a few – but nothing is quite right. He loves his Dad, and Alexie repeats the phrase three times to ensure readers know just how much, but the son wants his own name. But then! His “Dad read my mind!” His “Dad read my heart!” His dad gives him a new name, Lightning. Morales’s illustrations put the son on the giant dad’s shoulders and they both reach for the sky and become the sky and hug each other all the while. “Together, my dad and I will beceadinome amazing weather. Our love will be loud and it will be bright, ” says the son. “My dad and I will light up the sky.”
Bogart, Jo Ellen; illus. Sydney Smith. The White Cat and the Monk. Toronto/ Berkely: Groundwood Books, House of Anansi Press, 2016. Ink and watercolor illustrations in shades of earthy browns and greys help tell the ninth century Irish poem of what makes contentment. The solitary monk watches his cat, Pangur, each absorbed in his own work, each companion to the other, quiet and sure. The monk celebrates the fortune of good company, undemanding and true, lasting and sustainable, with purpose, alone and together. Contentment.
Farley, Brianne. Secret Tree Fort. Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press, 2016. Two sisters, one beautiful day – the older sister wants to read and the younger sister wants to play, together, with her older sister, now! Older sister flatly glares no. Younger sister begs, “Pleeeease!” yet still nothing but a flat glare of no. So younger sister says, “Fine!” And, “I have a secret tree fort, and you’re not invited!” And oh! What a tree fort she imagines - complete with a crow’s nest, visiting pirates, and a secret tunnel that goes to an underwater viewing area where she can play board games with whales. The charcoal, pencil, and ink drawings bring her tree fort to life with vivid coloring that gets brighter and brighter as the tree fort becomes more and more magnificent. Such a pleasure, especially when older sister finally, finally joins in.
Fleming, Denise. Sleepy, Oh So Sleepy. NY: Henry Holt and Company, LLC, 2010. Fleming’s pulp paintings are at their friendliest and most tender – baby animals from pandas to ostriches to giraffes to kangaroos snuggle up sweet with squishy closed eyes as their mamas whisper them to sleep. Perfect for bedtime reading.
Gavin, Ciara. Bear Is Not Tired. NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 2016. How fortunate when a writer follows a lovely book about a bear and his family of ducks, Room for Bear (2015) with another lovely book about said bear and his family of ducks. This time around, it’s hibernation time, and Bear is resisting. He does not want to go to bed. He does not want to miss anything. Thank goodness for Mama Duck. She understands. And even better, she has a solution! Lucky bear! Happy ducks. Satisfied readers.
Gravett, Emily. Bear & Hare – Where’s Bear? NY: Simon & Schuster, 2016. Gravett has done it again – with her expressive and colorful illustrations of pencil, watercolor, and wax crayons and simple cause and effect text, she provides an interactive story with a delightful resolution. Bear & Hare play hide-and-seek and when is lasts so long that Hare cannot find Bear, Hare is in despair. Ear-pulling agony! Whisker-tugging panic! Not to worry. Bear is there, and Bear & Hare will always be together. Read more tales of the two best friends in Bear & Hare Go Fishing (2015) and Bear & Hare: Snow! (2015).
Howe, James; illus. Randy Cecil. Brontorina. Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press, 2010. “Brontorina had a dream. ‘I want to dance!’ she said. ‘But you are a dinosaur,’ Madame Lucille pointed out.” What was Brontorina to do? What was Madame Lucille to do? “Welcome,” said Madame Lucille. “Please try not to squash the other dancers.” But as graceful as Brontorina is, when she dances the children have to flee her tremendous feet and dodge her stupendous tail and poor Brontorina bumps her head on the ceiling and her pointed toes on the walls. “A tear fell from Brontorina’s eye. Downcast, she turned to leave… ‘Oh, fiddlesticks!’ said Madame Lucille. ‘Why didn’t I see it before?’” Brontorina’s not too big – the room is too small! Brontorina is a dancer, and dancers must dance! Cecil’s earnest and determined illustrations lend color and scale to ambitions and problem-solving – facial expressions wrinkle in thought and hands fly up in the air when ideas strike and energy is renewed, and all the bodies dance in sync when all ends well.
Idle, Molly. Flora and the Peacocks. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Bks, 2016. Flora is back! This third time around in lush yet dignified shades of green and yellow, and this time dancing with two peacocks.
But friendships of three can be hard to manage, and Flora and the peacocks have to work out their kinks of insecurity and jealousy before they can unfurl together and play. And of course they do, in splendid foldout, feather spreading glory. Their toes point and their noses go up and down according to shyness or sharing or foot-stomping angriness – and all without text, just expressive illustrations. Pore over Flora’s additional friendships in Flora and the Flamingo (2013) and Flora and the Penguin (2014).
Isol. Daytime Visions: An Alphabet. NY: Enchanted Lion Books, 2016. An alphabet book with flair. The endpapers begin it with a sketch of a seriously contented girl backstroking through a sea of letters under a smudge of sun in the sky, outlined in rugged - not rigid - grey. G is for “Gentle soul” and H is for “Here I am.” O is two birds trilling, with one remarking to the other, “You are such an optimist.” How can we not fall in love with such letter and word combinations? The colors are muddy in tone – more settled with mess than messy – and the illustrations vary from pencil to paint to collage, depending on what’s right when. Isol is a master.
Rayner, Catherine. Smelly Louie. London: Macmillan Children’s Books, 2014. Basically, all books Rayner carry exuberance worth recommending. Her illustrations of pencil and thick ink with watercolors that are soft or richly bold, depending on the mood of her characters, add depth to the touching and humorous turns of her stories. Smelly Louie is about a scraggly dog desperate to get his smell back after his humans give him a bath in rosewater – the horror! Being a brave and determined kind of scraggly dog, he ventures forth over hill and dale to get his own special smell back – even the fox is impressed. Another favorite is Augustus and His Smile (Intercourse, PA: Good Books, 2006) about a tiger who loses his smile. So he stretches, in a “HUGE tigery stretch” of rich oranges and firm black stripes across a double-spread page, and “set off to find it.” Over green verdant trees and deep ocean blues and burnt yellow deserts and grey bouncing raindrops he travels until he realizes that “happiness was everywhere around him.” In Harris Finds His Feet (Intercourse, PA: Good Books, 2008) a very small hare bemoans his very big feet until his Grandad shows him all the wondrous things big feet can do. The hares’ ears flop and twitch and the giant feet, pads and all, take center page. Abigail (Wilton, CT: Tiger Tales, 2013) is about Abigail the Giraffe who loves to count. If only Zebra and Ladybug and Cheetah would stay still and count with her! Thank goodness for flowers and stars, and friends who are willing to learn. Read Rayner.
Ruzzier, Sergio. Two Mice. NY: Clarion Books, 2015. A counting tale of just twenty seven words, in perfect rhythm of 1-2-3 to 3-2-1 and back again. Ruzzier starts with one cottage, shows us two mice, and oh! – they get to share three cookies. The colors are in a sympathetically warm palette that creates a near perfect symbiosis of story and pictures. Three cheers for the two mice friends who make it back safely to the one cottage.
Sarcone-Roach, Julia. The Bear Ate Your Sandwich. NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 2015. Look at that face! Look at those eyes! And listen to the first lines: “By now I think you know what happened to your sandwich… It all started with the bear.” Really? A bear? The bear of the bright painted illustrations, the bear of the earnest ears and eyes who is desperately running and twitching about the countryside? Really? Well then who, exactly, is the oh-so-very unreliable narrator? Could it be the dog? Hmmm. We’ll never really know for sure what happened to the sandwich, will we? Poor bear. His story is so disastrous and his body language so sympathetically rendered in warm shades of earth and sun that we can’t help but wonder if maybe, just maybe, the dog did it. What do you think? Read it again to be sure. And pack an extra sandwich too, just in case.
Shaw, Nancy; illus. Margot Apple. Sheep Go to Sleep. Boston and NY: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015. The eighth title in a reliable rhyming series, perfect for reading aloud. “Sheep bleat, sheep sigh, a trusty collie wanders by. What would make the sheep feel snug? The collie gives the sheep a hug.” The illustrations are in approachable pencil colors – not too hard, not too soft - that match the tone of warmth and care. The sheep are tender and satisfied and the collie is affectionate and friendly and sure. Apple makes each face unique and recognizable – who knew, for example, that a sheep snout could be so expressive and that a collie could be so knowing and joyful? Come count sheep, and slip to sleep.
Stower, Adam. Silly Doggy! NY: Orchard Books, Scholastic Inc., 2011. The story begins with little girl Lily peeking out her second story window to her garden below where she spots something “big, brown, and hairy” that Lily had always wanted. What do you think it is? A dog? Lily thinks so, too. So she races outside and we turn the page and see… A bear! But Lily sees a silly doggy. The heart wants what the heart wants. The spring tones of the illustrations and perplexed expressions of the bear keep the antics amiable. Lily is winsome (her bright blue hat with earflaps barely covering her pigtails and her stance with her hands on her hips help the image) in her sturdy efforts to get the bear to fetch and sit, but the bear won’t, and so he remains a “silly doggy.” Poor Lily. Poor bear! Mom makes her put up a lost sign and by the end, neither bear or Lily want to part, no matter what the relieved zookeeper says. “But, the next morning, she sees something wonderful in the garden...” What could it be? Lucky Lily. Try Naughty Kitty! (NY: Orchard Books, Scholastic, Inc., 2015) for the next round of fun.