scrounge: /skrounj/ informal verb: to actively seek [books] from any available source
I enjoyed Laura Seeger's exploration of the color green in Green (see my review <a href="https://www.theproblemsite.com/book-scrounger/2018/01/green">here</a>), and I thought Blue was just as well done -- illustrations consisting of textured paintings, including cut-outs on each page that become something different when the page is turned. The text also follows the same pattern, describing (with occasional rhymes) different kinds of blue as displayed on each colorful double page.
This particular book is different in that it has a theme -- it follows the story of a boy and his dog, and thus illustrates even the feeling of "blue" as the boy eventually mourns the aging and loss of his friend. This is very simply communicated through the pictures and spare text, and will certainly tug at the heart-strings of any dog-lover. I'm not much of a "dog person" myself, but I can still appreciate the friendship portrayed here, and how adequately the feeling of loss can be summed up with just a color.
I think it would be wonderful to see a picture book like this for many more colors!
Scrounged From: Our local library
Author/Illustrator: Laura Vaccaro Seeger
Content Advisory: None
I've read many Bible stories for children over the years. We grew up on Kenneth Taylor's The Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes and now we like Sally Lloyd-Jones's Jesus Storybook Bible. We've also read many picture books featuring individual stories -- some I liked, others were more generic, poorly illustrated, or tried too hard to make the story into something it didn't need to be. Still, I could list many good ones, but here are some I really like, some of which are by authors who are well known even outside the realm of religious literature.
Jerry Pinkney is a Caldecott-winning artist who has illustrated many books for children, including a wordless version of The Lion and the Mouse. Here in Noah's Ark, Pinkney tells the simple story from the Bible without messing with the narrative -- but the attention to detail in his words and paintings capture the epic scope of this story, as well as the courage and sense of survival. (When it comes to this particular story, we also enjoy Peter Spier's wordless version of Noah's Ark.)
I enjoyed The Very First Christmas board book because it tells the story from a Christian perspective, and doesn't feel the need to embellish the narrative with speculation. The story is a bit choppy at first for this reason, but it relates Mary and Joseph's journey to Bethlehem, and the special visitors the baby Jesus received, paired with beautiful, reverent illustrations. See my full review of both versions of this book here.
I was pleasantly surprised to see a Creation picture book from Cynthia Rylant at our library, since I didn't realize that she was an illustrator as well. The text here is right from the King James version of the Bible, which is probably more familiar to many people despite the archaic language -- it does have a certain poetic feel to it. The paintings are fairly simple, with broad brush strokes and few details, but I think it works well and helps to capture the simplicity and repetitive nature of the text.
When I first saw the cover of this book, I assumed it was the story of the shepherd and the lost sheep, from the parable Jesus told. But it's actually a very modernized version of Psalm 23. Still, the illustrations show the commonalities between these two passages, and the title, Found, helps bring the ideas together. Love is the central theme here -- God's love never fails. This is a delightful (and sturdy) large-sized board book from Sally Lloyd-Jones, and I really liked the colors and texture in Jago's illustrations as well.
Psalms may not be "stories," but they can communicate many important ideas about God and people's relationship to him. Psalms of Praise takes a look at a few short verses from the book of Psalms, focusing on different postures -- a fun way to teach children how to relate to God, and also about different forms of movement, from walking, lying down, running, and even jumping over a wall! I've really enjoyed both titles I've read from this series of board books -- see my review for the "opposites primer" about the creation story here.
We Build Our Homes is such a cute, readable nonfiction book, telling the stories of animals who are known for building homes -- especially unique ones. Each species of animal has a beautifully illustrated two-page spread to tell its story from a first person perspective (as the "we" in the title implies), which I think makes the text more story-like for young children.
We learn about birds, insects, mammals, and more animals that build their houses out of many different materials and in many different settings. One of the most interesting to me were the edible-nest swiftlets, birds who build their nests in caves -- and their nests are made out of their own saliva!
The text here manages to be both informative and readable, while remaining at a level that preschoolers can still appreciate. For older children, the book is not too wordy to read in one sitting.
(Thanks to NetGalley for the review copy.)
Scrounged From: NetGalley
Author: Laura Knowles
Illustrator: Chris Madden
Content Advisory: None
Warbler Wave is a book featuring beautiful, detailed photography of bright yellow warblers, with poetic and gently rhyming text that describes their actions and migration events.
While I don't see many warblers where I am in Maine, I remember seeing them and reading about them while living in Maryland, and thought they were such cheery-looking birds. This was a nice way to learn more about them as an adult -- the book's text is fairly spare, but there are a couple more pages of information at the end, for adults and older children.
I think my favorite photos are the ones of warblers caught right in the act of catching flying insects to eat -- so neat! I enjoy any book that not only invites us to marvel at the wonders of creation, but provides quality, engaging photos to draw us in and appeal to our inner "birder."
Scrounged From: Our local library
Author: April Pulley Sayre and Jeff Sayre
Content Advisory: None
Halloween can be fun, but aspects of it can also be frightening for young children, or for older children who are more sensitive. These are a few books we've come across that cover Halloween without trying to be scary about it.
My children have really enjoyed the Leslie Patricelli board books featuring bright paintings of a bald, smiley toddler who introduces toddler-specific topics with few words. In Boo!, he enjoys October experiences such as picking out a pumpkin and deciding how to carve it, and picking out a costume and going trick-or-treating. At first he's a bit nervous about trick-or-treating in the dark, but once the candy comes out, he gets excited and decides he really does love Halloween.
Featuring Tasha Tudor's gentle illustrations, Pumpkin Moonshine involves Sylvie Ann, a little girl in a pumpkin patch who finds the perfect pumpkin, until it decides to roll away down the hill and into the farmyard, causing a bit of mischief. But by the end, Sylvie Ann and her grandfather manage to corrall the pumpkin and carve it into a moonshine (which is apparently another name for a jack-o-lantern).
I don't always like books that turn into series, but while the seasonal Little Blue Truck books lack the narrative of the original, they are still fun and feature the same lovely illustrations. In Little Blue Truck's Halloween, we meet a bunch of dressed up farm animals, which young children can "unmask" by opening the sturdy flaps. At the end, even Little Blue Truck takes a turn!
Curious George is a classic, and while this isn't my favorite of the bunch, Hooray for Halloween (previously published as Curious George Goes to a Costume Party) is still a fun story of George and the Man with the Yellow Hat attending a party that they didn't know was a costume party. Even though George ends up accidentally scaring the guests with his last-minute costume, it's not designed to scare any young readers.
This is a good book for children who may be apprehensive about Halloween, or who simply like to hear about the traditions. Herbert's First Halloween, by Cynthia Rylant, introduces a pig named Herbert and his caring, involved father who gently walks him through the process of choosing a costume, and in the meantime helps to pique his interest by sharing some of his own childhood memories of Halloween.