Friday, June 3, 2011

Picture Books Read To/By the Kids in May 2011

Written and Illustrated by James Rumford

Gotten from the library on the recommendation of Amy and her girls of Hope Is the Word, this fun picture book is about a sheriff in the old, wild west whose ten-gallon hat is his prized possession. He thinks his hat helps him do his job better, but finds out the hard, but hilarious way that he's wrong.
To make the story more fun, it is written in the Old West style of speech. Although the humour seemed directed more at the adult reader sometimes, both my girls and I thought this was one funny book.

Written by Susan Beth Pfeffer

A very kid-friendly (and adult-friendly) introduction to the inspirations behind 12 classic children's books. Interesting and well-written, with lots of phot
os to go along with it. My 7-year-old even picked this book up and read several entries, enthusiastically sharing her findings.
For ages 7 and up.

Written and Illustrated by James Rumford

A gentle story about a boy in Chad, central Africa, who is excited to go to school and finds out when he gets there that first they must re-build the school. My girls liked this look at the school experience for children in one part of Africa and so did I.
(When I saw this book at the library, I was excited to read it because Chad was the first African country I lived in when my parents brought me there as a newborn, and we visited monthly over the next three years when we moved over the border to Cameroon. I am somewhat hesitant to say that while the annual re-building of the school was something the author may have experienced, it was not exactly consistent with my own experiences in Africa. The reality my family and I saw in central and west Africa was that the rain doesn't wash the mud brick buildings away each year, but did make it necessary for the mud brick homes and schools to be repaired, re-mudded, and re-thatched in places every year. His version makes for a stronger, more easily explained story however, especially if one is trying to illustrate the importance of education.) 

Written by Jennifer Armstrong
Illustrated by Mary Grandpre

Chin Yu Min is newly widowed, but doesn't appreciate the kindnesses of her neighbours, and alienates herself. When a wise, talking ginger cat comes into her life and saves her from loneliness and starvation, she feels her life is complete and her independence justified. When the cat disappears one day, this haughty, snobby woman has to learn how to unbend and seek help.
The illustrations were a beautiful pairing with this folktale. My girls and I really liked this story.of a woman who learns she needs people.

Retold by Rika Lesser from the Brothers Grimm folktale
Illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky

Need I say more than this is one of the best retellings paired with the best illustrations of this folktale?

Written by Jane Yolen
Illustrated by David Small

Elsie is a girl who loves the city she lives in, and knows it intimately. When her mother dies and her father moves them to the lonesome prairie, Elsie feels so out of her element that she can't and won't give this new place a chance. She stays inside the house all day and only interacts with her pet bird. When her bird accidentally flies free of its cage and into the outdoors, Elsie goes after it, losing her way in the tall prairie grasses, something her father had warned her was dangerous. But in butting up against danger, Elsie becomes fully aware of her surroundings for the first time. And it changes her.
Beautiful story, beautifully told, with amazing illustrations by David Small. My girls and I really liked this one.

Written by Jane Yolen
Illustrated by Dennis Nolan

A fascinating biography about the man who gave us The Little Mermaid, The Steadfast Tin Soldier,
Thumbelina, etc. My older girls really liked this story, which kind of surprised me. Not that the story wasn't well done; it was excellently told and illustrated. I'm just vaguely surprised that they stayed interested.
(There was a lot going on each page: the regular text, which told the story of his life, plus a quotation from one of his tales that illustrates how his real life experience worked into his stories. While that was interesting for me to go back and read, it was too confusing for my little girls, so I just skipped that part and read the straight biography.)

Written and illustrated by David Wiesner

I can't really describe this book, you just have to read it. Fun book, interesting concept of de-constructing art.


  1. I love this post! Link it up at RAT next wee, too, please, so I'll remember to put it in! That wizard book (well, all of them) looks great!

  2. Aloha, Thanks for mentioning my two books! And what a surprise to hear that you lived in Chad! My wife and I were Peace Corps volunteers in the southern town of Kélo, where we saw that school. We were only there a year before we were assigned to the capital; so I never saw the school being rebuilt. Who knows? Maybe the school had been abandoned for longer than I had thought. I wrote more about this at my new website: I have also written two other books about Chad: Calabash Cat and His Amazing Journey and (in Portuguese only) A Chuva de Manga. Check them out when you get a chance. Shukran katir. Agot afe, as they say in Chadian Arabic. Aloha, James Rumford

  3. Amy, thanks for that. I'll link it next week.

    Mr. Rumford, thanks so much for stopping by and commenting! I love that your books are so diverse. We'll look into those you mention. Thanks for the work you do!
    (And yes, chances are high that the remnant you found was an abandoned building left for nature to reclaim. It does make good fodder for the imagination, though.)

  4. My 5-year-old loves Art & Max. I'll have to check out some of the other books--my 8-year-old is starting to get interested in biographies.

  5. LitLass, my girls loved all the biographies we've read this month. I'm so grateful to all these fabulous authors for writing such great non-fiction.