Making Room this Perfect Picture Book Friday

Back in college, I’d meet up with four of my friends on Friday’s for movie night. We’d take turns choosing both the movie and the mode of transportation to the theater. I didn’t have a car, so on my days, we caught the bus. Nine times out of ten, everyone knew I’d choose a rom-com. The world comes at us with enough reasons to be afraid; why add misery to that stew?

One Friday, it was Rick’s turn. Needing to make up for the mushy screen time he’d endured the previous Friday, he chose the testosterone-fueled, bloodbath movie, Scarface with Al Pacino. Big cast, few remaining survivors. I spent much of the movie pretending I’d lost something valuable in my popcorn. Meg Ryan would NEVER be in a movie like that!

But to give a reason for sharing this memory, Rick’s chosen transportation that day (for all FIVE of us) was his moped. We piled on each other’s laps like a stacked sandwich, and with all our weight, the poor moped strained forward at two miles per hour. Walking would have saved time. Somehow, we all managed to score a ride and turn a few heads on our way to the theater, which leads me to today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday Review of…

ROOM ON THE BROOM

Title – Room on the Broom

Written by  –  Julia Donaldson

Illustrated by  – Axel Scheffler

Published  – Puffin Books – 2001

Suitable for ages – 4 to 8.

Topics – Friendship and companionship

Opening – The witch had a cat and a hat that was black and long ginger hair in a braid down her back. How the cat purred and how the witch grinned, as they sat on their broomstick and flew through the wind. But how the witch wailed and how the cat spat, when the wind blew so wildly, it blew off the hat.

Amazon Review – HERE. The witch and her cat are happily flying through the sky on a broomstick when the wind picks up and blows away the witch’s hat, then her bow, and then her wand!  Luckily, three helpful animals find the missing items, and all they want in return is a ride on the broom.  But is there room on the broom for so many friends?  And when disaster strikes, will they be able to save the witch from a hungry dragon?

Why do I like this book? When I think about witch stories, I expect to read about old hags who, like the witch in Hansel and Gretel, got her jollies baking children into cookies to stand outside of her house of sweets. But the witch in Room on the Broom surprised me. She loves animals as much as I do, she makes room for them–no matter what, and she looks out for their best interests. Truly a sweetie! As it turns out, Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler are the dynamic writing and illustrating duo of the beloved picture book The Gruffalo and many others. You’re sure to fall in love with both the rollicking, rhyming story and the playful illustrations the second you open this book.

Learn more about Julia Donaldson HERE.

Listen to a read aloud of Room on the Broom HERE.

Watch an wonderful, 25-minute movie of Room on the Broom HERE.

Learn more about Axel Scheffler HERE.

I invite you to visit me next week for The Monday Poems.

Leslie

Perfect Picture Book Friday Embraces Autumn with Sophie’s Squash.

Outside the market, the wood stands sag under the weight of plump pumpkins, colorful gourds, and squash. Each one ready to cart home, carve into a jack-o-lantern, turn into delicious pie, or hearty soup topped with toasted seeds. Autumn, as I’ve mentioned in past posts, is my favorite season. Starting in September, I fill a cookpot with cinnamon sticks, cloves, a dash of vanilla, and enough water to simmer for a good, long time. The sweet steam curls around the rooms, reminding me it’s time to bake my favorite pumpkin chocolate chip muffins and roast up a squash for supper. And speaking of roasting up a squash…

For today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday review, I’m sharing a beloved picture book, a book my daughter calls iconic, about a determined girl named Sophie, who adores the squash her parents purchase at the farmers’ market. In fact, Sophie loves the squash sooooo much, she paints a face on it, names it Bernice, and considers the squash her best friend. Which raises the question: How do you cook up someone’s best friend?

The answer: You don’t.

Title – Sophie’s Squash

Written by  –  Pat Zietlow Miller

Illustrated by  – Anne Wilsdorf

Published  – Schwartz & Wade Books – 2013

Suitable for ages – 3 to 7.

Topics – Friendship, attachment, companionship, loyalty.

Opening – One bright fall day, Sophie chose a squash at the farmer’ market. Her parents planned t serve it for supper, but Sophie had other ideas.

Amazon Review –  HERE. On a trip to the farmers’ market with her parents, Sophie chooses a squash, but instead of letting her mom cook it, she names it Bernice. From then on, Sophie brings Bernice everywhere, despite her parents’ gentle warnings that Bernice will begin to rot. As winter nears, Sophie does start to notice changes…. What’s a girl to do when the squash she loves is in trouble?

Why do I like this book? Sophie’s Squash is more than a story about a girl who thinks of a squash as her best friend, Sophie names the squash Bernice and cares for it the same as a mother cares for her child. No matter what anyone says against her squash, Sophie defends and protects Bernice. And when her squash gets spotty and soft, Sophie stands by Bernice’s side, seeking help–the same as a parent would seek medical help for their child. For the love of squash, this is flat out one of the best picture books to share with a child (or enjoy all by yourself) this season.

And I have to sing out the praises for the creative talents of the illustrator, Anne Wilsdorf, who gave Sophie a bigger than life, child-pleasing appearance, showing clear emotions from cover to cover. Sophie’s impulsive ways and ginormous heart shine on every page!

Learn more about Pat Zietlow Miller HERE.

Listen to Sophie’s Squash read aloud by the author HERE.

Learn more about Anne Wilsdorf HERE.

I invite you to visit me next week for The Monday Poems.

Leslie

P.S. If you have a fond memory of the farmers’ Market, a family tradition for this time of year, or you just want to say hi, I hope you’ll scroll down to the comments.

Perfect Picture Book Friday Shares a Book (within a book)Written by a Mysterious Author.

Saturday was the day my dad drove into town to run errands. Saturday was also the day my sister and I climbed into the car to join him. Just the three of us. First, we’d head over to Lang’s News Depot, in the town square, to buy a newspaper. A group of regulars always sat along the counter, drinking coffee and chatting with the owner. From there, Dad took us to the bakery where I faithfully pointed to the bismarcks and savored every blessed mouthful of the sweet doughnut and divine raspberry filling. Next, we’d head to the hardware store where Dad reminded me of a little boy in a candy store. All of those marvelous nuts and bolts and screws and gizmos!

The second to the last stop was always the library. I still remember the feeling of awe, looking out at the vast sea of books and the sound of my wooden chair, squealing across the tiles when I pulled it out to spend time with a book. I can also hear the infrequent “Shhhhhhh.” from the librarian when people spoke above a hush. I chose my books for the week and carried them back out to the car. I’d already read the first pages and couldn’t wait to see if Charlie would find the last golden ticket or if Meg and her little brother, Charles Wallace, would ever locate their father, but we still had one more stop to make before we headed for home…

If you love reading, you already have something in common with the characters in the book I’m sharing with you today.

Title – Library Mouse – A Friend’s Tale

Written and illustrated by  – Daniel Kirk

Published  – Scholastic – 2009

Suitable for ages – 4 to 8.

Topics – Reading, writing, and friendship

Opening – Sam was a library mouse. He lived in a little hole in the wall behind the children’s reference books. Sam loved to read, and he loved to write, too. Everyone loved his little books. But Sam was very shy, and no one at the library had ever met him.

Amazon Review –  View it HERE. Celebrated writer and illustrator Daniel Kirk brings to life the joys of reading, writing, and sharing in this all-new Library Mouse adventure. Sam the library mouse loves to write, and the children love his little books, which he leaves on the library shelves for them to find. But no one at the library has ever met him. When Tom can’t find a partner for a book-making assignment and finds Sam’s secret hole behind the children’s reference section, will the pair be able to work together, or will Sam’s secret identity be spoiled forever? A heartwarming tale about collaboration and creative ambitions, this book will enchant any young aspiring author or illustrator.

Why do I like this book? I grew up with books, and I don’t mean a pile on the coffee table and one in the bathroom. My father built bookcases to hold many books with deep shelves that concealed extra rows of books. Yes, I would pull a book off of the shelf and find another behind it, and another behind that one. The book, Library Mouse, shares a similar love for books by the school librarian, a mysterious author named Sam, and a little boy named Tom. When small, handmade books appear in the library, Tom decides to discover the true identity of the mysterious author. What he finds is (spoiler alert, I’m about to reveal the author.) a mouse. Yes! A mouse who writes books. I think that’s pretty amazing! In time, Tom’s discovery of Sam grows into a rare and precious friendship that truly touched this book reviewer’s heart.

Learn more about Daniel Kirk HERE.

And what was the last stop my dad made on Saturday? 

Every Saturday, my dad visited a florist on the way home. He always took his time to look at every bouquet, always choosing the most beautiful one to bring home to my mom. He never missed a Saturday in over thirty years.

I invite you to visit me next week for The Monday Poems.

Leslie

P.S. If you have a fond memory of the library or a favorite book you read as a child, I hope you’ll share it with me in the comments.

Perfect Picture Book Friday Shares a Tender Topic.

I don’t know if I could single out one memory to share that ties into today’s Perfect Picture Book Review that delves, with gentle hands, into the tender topic of the cycle of life from birth to death.

Growing up on the top of a heavily wooded hill, surrounded by a quilt of farmland, my family encountered a number of animals in need of care. If you’ve been a long-time follower of my blog, you’ll remember a number of stories I’ve shared about the injured animals we welcomed to stay with us while we cared for them and readied them to return to the wild. Unfortunately, not all of the animals survived. I might have learned the concept of death, early on, but no matter how many animals passed away, death never became easier to understand or accept.

The picture book I’m sharing today tells the story of a loss from a unique perspective. Not only do we learn about the life cycle of a chicken from the moment it breaks free of its egg to its untimely death from a predator, but the story guides a child toward an understanding of the way nature works in the wild, and that understanding leads to forgiveness.

Title – Sonya’s Chickens

Written and illustrated by  – Phoebe Wahl

Published  – Tundra Books – 2018

Suitable for ages – 4 to 8.

Topics – The cycle of life, sadness, and comfort.

Opening – One day, Sonya’s papa came home with three fluffy chicks. He gave the chicks to Sonya. “It can be your job to take care of them,” he told her.

The chicks lived in a cardboard box in the house while Sonya and her parents spruced up the old coop in the yard. Sonya took good care of the chicks. She liked to keep them tucked in her sweater for warmth. “I’ll be your mama,” she told them.

Amazon Review –  View it HERE. A beautifully told story about love, loss, and the circle of life from Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator Award winner Phoebe Wahl. Warm, nostalgic illustrations capture the earthy feel of this book about a little girl’s chicken who is stolen by a fox.

Sonya raises her three chickens from the time they are tiny chicks. She feeds them, shelters them, and loves them. Everywhere Sonya goes, her chicks are peeping at her heels. Under her care, the chicks grow into hens and even give Sonya a wonderful gift: an egg! One night, Sonya hears noises coming from the chicken coop and discovers that one of her hens has disappeared. Where did the hen go? What happened to her? When Sonya discovers the answers, she learns some important truths about the interconnectedness of nature and the true joys and sorrows of caring for another creature.

Why do I like this book? Sonya’s Chickens approaches the subject of death with great compassion and tenderness, keeping a child’s emotional needs at the forefront from cover to cover. As a mom, few topics challenged me as much, during my daughter’s early years, as explaining the meaning of death. Phoebe Wahl helps both the main character, Sonya, and the reader understand this aspect of nature in which a predator takes the life of an animal in the child’s care. I was stunned at the power of words that turn Sonya’s sadness and negativity into feelings of understanding and forgiveness.

I would describe the illustrations as enchanting. Through the use of watercolor, collage, and colored pencil Phoebe Wahl presents us with detailed pieces of art that capture her deep love of nature, the innocence of childhood, and the highs and lows of an emotional journey. It isn’t often I find a book that speaks to my heart and delights my eyes and ears so well.

Learn more about Phoebe Wahl HERE.

Other books written and illustrated by Phoebe Wahl are…

Backyard Fairies

The Blue House

I invite you to visit here next week for The Monday Poems.

Leslie