The Birthday Party Pledge

Building a New Generation of Readers

Picture Books

E-readers are growing in popularity but nothing will ever replace the experience of holding a beautifully illustrated book in your hands—especially when there’s a child on your lap! These picture books make wonderful gifts for young readers.

(Descriptions from Amazon.com)

51uZiq5n+ZL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_Mirror written and illustrated by Jeannie Baker (Published by Candlewick Press, 2010, 48 pages; ages 3 and up, English and Arabic). Somewhere in Sydney, Australia, a boy and his family wake up, eat breakfast, and head out for a busy day of shopping. Meanwhile, in a small village in Morocco, a boy and his family go through their own morning routines and set out to a bustling market. In this ingenious, wordless picture book, readers are invited to compare, page by page, the activities and surroundings of children in two different cultures. Their lives may at first seem quite unalike, but a closer look reveals that there are many things, some unexpected, that connect them as well. Designed to be read side by side — one from the left and the other from the right —these intriguing stories are told entirely through richly detailed collage illustrations.

***

12629258Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match/Marisol McDonald no Combina by Monica Brown, illustrated by Sara Palacios (Published by Lee & Low Books, 2013; 32 pages ; ages 5-8) Marisol McDonald has flaming red hair and nut-brown skin. Polka dots and stripes are her favorite combination. She prefers peanut butter and jelly burritos in her lunch box. To Marisol, these seemingly mismatched things make perfect sense together. Other people wrinkle their nose in confusion at Marisol—can’t she just choose one or the other? Try as she might, in a world where everyone tries to put this biracial, Peruvian-Scottish-American girl into a box, Marisol McDonald doesn’t match. And that’s just fine with her.

***

9781596436039Viva Frida by Yuyi Morales, Photographs by Tim O’Meara (Published by Roaring Brook Press, 2014, 40 pages; ages 4-8) Frida Kahlo, one of the world’s most famous and unusual artists is revered around the world. Her life was filled with laughter, love, and tragedy, all of which influenced what she painted on her canvases. Distinguished author/illustrator Yuyi Morales illuminates Frida’s life and work in this elegant and fascinating book. Winner of the Pura Belpré Illustrator Award.

***

81X49InpBMLFirebird by Misty Copeland, Illustrated by Christopher Myers (Published by Putnam Juvenile, 2014; 40 pages; ages 5-8) In her debut picture book, Misty Copeland tells the story of a young girl–an every girl–whose confidence is fragile and who is questioning her own ability to reach the heights that Misty has reached. Misty encourages this young girl’s faith in herself and shows her exactly how, through hard work and dedication, she too can become Firebird. Lyrical and affecting text paired with bold, striking illustrations that are some of Caldecott Honoree Christopher Myers’s best work, makes Firebird perfect for aspiring ballerinas everywhere. Winner of the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award.

***

indexPlease, Louise by Toni & Slade Morrison, Illustrated by Shadra Strickland (Published by Paula Wiseman Books, 2014; 32 pages; ages 4-8) On one gray afternoon, Louise makes a fateful trip to the library. With the help of a new library card and through the transformative power of books, what started out as a dull day turns into one of surprises, ideas, and fun, fun, fun! Inspired by Pulitzer Prize–winning author Toni Morrison’s experience working in a library as a young girl, this engaging picture book celebrates the wonders of reading, the enchanting capacity of the imagination, and, of course, the splendor of libraries.

***

indexBeauty and the Beast by H. Chuku Lee, Illustrated by Pat Cummings (Published by HarperCollins, 2014; 32 pages; ages 4-8) In this remarkable retelling of Beauty and the Beast, award-winning illustrator Pat Cummings creates an enchanted fairy-tale world flavored by the art, architecture, and culture of West Africa, while writer H. Chuku Lee stays true to the story of this beloved classic. With breathtaking palatial settings inspired by the Dogon tribe of Mali and dazzling costumes reminiscent of the clothing seen on Cummings’s own trip to Africa, Beauty and the Beast becomes so much more than just a story—it’s a visual and cultural experience. When her father is taken prisoner by a fearsome Beast, Beauty begs the captor to take her instead. The Beast agrees, locking her away in his palace. Though he will give her whatever her heart desires—jewels, gowns, her own living quarters—she is forbidden to leave. Over time, however, Beauty sees the gentler side of the Beast, and an unexpected bond forms. But will it be strong enough to break a curse that threatens the Beast’s life?

***

indexLola at the Library by Anna McQuinn, Illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw (Published by Charlesbridge, 2006; 32 pages; ages 2-5)

Lola has a big smile on her face. Why?

Because it’s Tuesday–and on Tuesdays, Lola and her mommy go to the library. Join Lola in this cozy celebration of books and the people who love them.

***

indexNiño Wrestles the World by Yuyi Morales (Published by Roaring Book Press, 2013; 36 pages; ages 4-8)

Señoras y Señores, put your hands together for the fantastic, spectacular, one of a kind . . . Niño!
Fwap! Slish! Bloop! Krunch! He takes down his competition in a single move!

No opponent is too big a challenge for the cunning skills of Niño—popsicle eater, toy lover, somersault expert, and world champion lucha libre competitor!

***

540795All the Colors We Are: The Story of How We Get Our Skin Color/Todos los colores de nuestra piel: La historia de por qué tenemos diferentes colores de piel by Katie Kissinger (Published by Red Leaf Press, 2014; 32 pages; ages 3 and up) Celebrate the essence of one way we are all special and different from one another—our skin color! This bilingual (English/Spanish) book offers children a simple, scientifically accurate explanation about how our skin color is determined by our ancestors, the sun, and melanin. It’s also filled with colorful photographs that capture the beautiful variety of skin tones. Reading this book frees children from the myths and stereotypes associated with skin color and helps them build positive identities as they accept, understand, and value our rich and diverse world. Unique activity ideas are included to help you extend the conversation with children.

***

index

Jingle Dancer by Cynthia Leitich Smith, illustrated by Ying-Hwa Hu and Cornelius Van Wright (Published by Morrow Junior Books, 2000; 32 pages; ages 5-9) Jenna, a contemporary Muscogee (Creek) girl in Oklahoma, wants to honor a family tradition by jingle dancing at the next powwow. But where will she find enough jingles for her dress? An unusual, warm family story, beautifully evoked in Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu’s watercolor art.

***

indexThe Stamp Collector by Jennifer Lanthier, illustrated by Francois Thisdale (Published by Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2013; ages 6 and up) A city boy finds a stamp that unlocks his imagination; a country boy is captivated by stories. When they grow up, the two boys take different paths – one becomes a prison guard, the other works in a factory – but their early childhood passions remain. When the country boy’s stories of hope land him in prison, the letters and stamps sent to him from faraway places intrigue the prison guard – and a unique friendship begins.

***

51A65aKZU3L._SY300_Three Years and Eight Months by Icy Smith, illustrated by Jennifer Kindert (Published by East-West Discovery Press, 2013; 44 pages) Based on true events during World War II, Three Years and Eight Months tells a compelling journey of hardships and human endurance of ordinary people in Hong Kong during the Japanese occupation. A 10-year-old Chinese American boy secretly joins the Chinese war resistance group to help save the lives of thousands of prisoners of war, as well as allied American, British, and Canadian forces. The book features extensive historical notes and photographs documenting the Japanese occupation in Hong Kong from 1942 to 1945.

***

It Jes’ Happened: When Bill Traylor Started to Draw by Don Tate, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie (Published by Lee & Low Books, 2012; 32 pages; ages 6 and up) A biography of outsider artist Bill Traylor, a former slave who at the age of 83 began to draw pictures based on his memories and observations of rural and urban life. As an enslaved boy on an Alabama farm in the early 1860s, Bill Traylor worked in the hot cotton fields. After slavery ended, Bill’s family stayed on the land as sharecroppers. By the time he was 79, Bill was all alone in the world. Lonely, poor and eventually homeless, he wandered the downtown streets of Montgomery, Alabama. But deep within himself Bill had a reservoir of memories of his lifetime spent on the land. When he was 83 years old, these memories blossomed into pictures. Bill began to draw people and places from his earlier life, as well as scenes from the busy city around him. Today, Bill Traylor is considered one of the most important American self-taught artists.

***

Apple Pie Fourth of July by Janet S. Wong (Author), Margaret Chodos-Irvine (Illustrator). (Published by Sandpiper, 2006; 40 pages; ages 4 and up) Shocked that her parents are cooking Chinese food to sell in the family store on an all-American holiday, a feisty Chinese American girl tries to tell her mother and father how things really are. But as the parade passes by and fireworks light the sky, she learns a surprising lesson. From Jama Rattigan: This simple heartwarming story addresses the need to belong, living between cultures, and finding a community. It’s also a great reminder to everyone that America is both apple pie and Chinese food — and a lot of other colorfully delicious things. The definition of what it means to be an American broadens every day; we must keep our minds and hearts open, embrace the differences, and meet each other halfway.

***

My Diary From Here to There/Mi diario de aqui hasta alla by Amada Irma Perez (Author), Maya Christina Gonzalez (Illustrator). (Published by Children’s Book Press; 2009; 32 pages; ages 6 and up) One night, Amada overhears her parents whisper about moving from Mexico to Los Angeles, where greater opportunity awaits. As she and her family make the journey north, Amada records her fears, hopes, and dreams for their new life in her diary. What if she can’t learn English? How can she leave her best friend? Along the way, Amada learns that with her family’s love and her belief in herself, she can weather any change. With humor and insight, Pérez recounts the story of her family’s immigration to America. Maya Christina Gonzalez’ vibrant artwork captures every detail of their journey.

***

Same, Same But Different by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw (Author and Illustrator). (Published by Henry Holt and Co., 2011; 40 pages; ages 4 and up) Elliot lives in America, and Kailash lives in India. They are pen pals. By exchanging letters and pictures, they learn that they both love to climb trees, have pets, and go to school. Their worlds might look different, but they are actually similar. Same, same. But different! Through an inviting point-of-view and colorful, vivid illustrations, this story shows how two boys living oceans apart can be the best of friends.

***

SkySisters by Jan Bourdeau Waboose (Author), Brian Deines (Illustrator). (Published by Kids Can Press, 2002; 32 pages; ages 5 and up) Two Ojibway sisters set off across the frozen north country to see the SkySpirits’ midnight dance. It isn’t easy for the younger sister to be silent, but gradually she begins to treasure the stillness and the wonderful experiences it brings. After an exhilarating walk and patient waiting, the girls are rewarded by the arrival of the SkySpirits — the northern lights — dancing and shimmering in the night sky. This powerful story, with its stunning illustrations, captures the chill of a northern night, the warmth of the family circle and the radiance of a child’s wonder.

***

Lala Salama: A Tanzanian Lullaby by Patricia Maclachlan, illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon (Published by Candlewick, 2011; 32 pages; ages 3 and up) The rhythm of the day’s activities creates the melody of the evening’s lullaby in this sweet song of family life along the banks of Lake Tanganyika. As the bright day shifts to twilight, the lantern on Baba’s boat twinkles in the distance, sending the baby off into a peaceful sleep on Mama’s shoulder. Inspired by a visit to her son, his wife, and their child in Tanzania, Patricia MacLachlan writes a gentle story of an African family’s day from sunup to sundown. Rich, beautifully detailed illustrations by Elizabeth Zunon offer a restful complement to the Swahili refrain “lala salama”–an invocation to “sleep well.”

***

Uncle Peter’s Amazing Chinese Wedding by Lenore Look, illustrated by Yumi Heo (Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2006; 40 pages; ages 4 and up) Jenny’s favorite uncle, Peter, is getting married, and everyone is happy happy — everyone, that is, except Jenny. While her family runs about getting ready for the traditional Chinese wedding — preparing for the tea ceremony, exchanging good-luck money called hungbau, helping the bride with her many dresses — Jenny is crying on the inside. How is she supposed to still be Uncle Peter’s number-one girl, with her new aunt Stella around? Maybe if she can stop the day’s events from happening, he won’t get married at all… Mischievous kids will love following Lenore Look and Yumi Heo’s feisty heroine from Henry’s First-Moon Birthday in this charming story that also illuminates the many traditions of the Chinese wedding.

***

Selavi, That is Life: A Haitian Story of Hope by Youme Landowne (Published by Cinco Puntos Press, 2005; 40 pages; ages 6 and up) The true story of Selavi (“that is life”), a small boy who finds himself homeless on the streets of Haiti. He finds other street children who share their food and a place to sleep. Together they proclaim a message of hope through murals and radio programs. Now in paper, this beautifully illustrated story is supplemented with photographs of Haitian children working and playing together, plus an essay by Edwidge Danticat. Included in the 2005 ALA Notable Children’s Book List and the Texas Bluebonnet Award Master List.

***

A Place Where Sunflowers Grow by Amy Lee-Tai, illustrated by Felicia Hoshino (Published by Children’s Book Press; Bilingual edition, 2006; 32 pages; ages 6 and up) Under the harsh summer sun, Mari’s art class has begun. But it’s hard to think of anything to draw in a place where nothing beautiful grows — especially a place like Topaz, the internment camp where Mari’s family and thousands of other Japanese Americans have been sent to live during World War II. Somehow, glimmers of hope begin to surface — in the eyes of a kindly art teacher, in the tender words of Mari’s parents, and in the smile of a new friend. Amy Lee-Tai’s sensitive prose and Felicia Hoshino’s stunning mixed-media images show that hope can survive even the harshest injustice.

***

indexThis Is The Dream by Diane Z. Shore and Jessica Alexander, illustrated by James Ransome (Published by Amistad, 2009; 40 pages; ages 5 and up)

“With courage they rallied and answered the call . . . dreaming of freedom and justice for all.”

The United States of America was founded on the declaration that all men are created equal. But nearly two hundred years after that proclamation, America was still deeply segregated.

Slowly but surely, powerful leaders as well as everyday citizens spoke up for their dreams and beliefs. Soon, a people proud and strong stood up as one for their rights, and a new America came to be.

***

Lola’s Fandango by Anna Witte, illustrated by Micha Archer (Published by Barefoot Books, 2011; 32 pages; ages 4 and up) Lola is a young Spanish girl in awe of her glamorous older sister. However, she discovers her own talent and duende, or spirit, through secret fandango lessons from her father. The text is infused with the rhythms, movements and sounds of the dance and the humanity of Lola s family is beautifully portrayed by Micha Archer s collage-paintings.

***

Love Twelve Miles Long by Glenda Armand, illustrated by Colin Bootman (Published by Lee & Low Books, 2011; 32 pages; ages 6 and up) It’s late at night, and Frederick’s mother has traveled twelve miles to visit him. When Frederick asks Mama how she can walk so far, Mama recounts her journey mile by mile. Every step of the way is special, as it brings them closer together; and Mama passes the time by remembering, listening, praying, singing, and more. Set on a plantation in 1820s Maryland, this story based on the life of young Frederick Douglass shows the power of his mother’s love. The faith she has in her son puts him on a path to escape enslavement and to become a champion of human rights, an influential writer and speaker, and an unforgettable leader. Expressive, candlelit paintings illuminate the bond between parent and child in this heartfelt story. Love Twelve Miles Long will resonate with children of all backgrounds who cherish the tender moments they share with those they love.

***

When the Shadbush Blooms by Carla Messinger and Susan Katz, illustrated by David Kanietakeron Fadden (Published by Tricycle Press, 2007; 32 pages; ages 4 and up) My grandparents’ grandparents walked beside the same stream where I walk with my brother, and we can see what they saw. Today when a Lenape Indian girl ventures to the stream to fish for shad, she knows that another girl did the same generations before. Through the cycle of the seasons, what is important has remained: being with family, knowing when berries are ripe for picking, listening to stories in a warm home. Told by Traditional Sister and Contemporary Sister, each from her own time, this is a book about tradition and about change. Then and now are not so very different when the shadbush blooms.

***

Tia Isa Wants a Car by Meg Medina, illustrated by Claudio Munoz (Published by Candlewick Press, 2011; 32 pages; ages 3 and up) A little girl pitches in to help her tía save up for a big old car – and take the whole family to the beach – in a story told with warmth and sweetness. Tía Isa wants a car. A shiny green car the same color as the ocean, with wings like a swooping bird. A car to take the whole family to the beach. But saving is hard when everything goes into two piles – one for here and one for Helping Money, so that family members who live far away might join them someday. While Tía Isa saves, her niece does odd jobs for neighbors so she can add her earnings to the stack. But even with her help, will they ever have enough? Meg Medina’s simple, genuine story about keeping in mind those who are far away is written in lovely, lyrical prose and brought to life through Claudio Muñoz’s charming characters.

***

Bring Me Some Apples and I’ll Make You a Pie: A Story About Edna Lewis by Robbin Gourley (Published by Clarion Books, 2008; 48 pages; ages 4 and up) Long before the natural-food movement gained popularity, before greenmarkets sprouted across the United States, Edna Lewis championed purity of ingredients, regional cuisine, and the importance of bringing food directly from the farm to the table. She was a chef when female chefs—let alone African American female chefs—were few and far between, and she received many awards for her work. With lyrical text and glorious watercolor illustrations, author/illustrator Robbin Gourley lovingly traces the childhood roots of Edna’s appreciation for the bounties of nature. The story follows Edna from early spring through the growing season to a family dinner celebrating a successful harvest. Folk rhymes, sayings, and songs about food are sprinkled throughout the text, and five kid-friendly recipes and an author’s note about Edna’s life are included at the end.

***

Shin-chi’s Canoe by Nicola I. Campbell, illustrated by Kim LaFave (Published by Groundwood Books, 2008; 40 pages; ages 4 and up) When they arrive at school, Shi-shi-etko reminds Shinchi, her six-year-old brother, that they can only use their English names and that they can’t speak to each other. For Shinchi, life becomes an endless cycle of church mass, school, and work, punctuated by skimpy meals. He finds solace at the river, clutching a tiny cedar canoe, a gift from his father, and dreaming of the day when the salmon return to the river — a sign that it’s almost time to return home. This poignant story about a devastating chapter in First Nations history is told at a child’s level of understanding.

***

Ruth and the Green Book by Calvin Alexander Ramsey, illustrated by Floyd Cooper (Published by Carolrhoda Books, 2010; 32 pages; ages 6 and up) Ruth was so excited to take a trip in her family’s new car! In the early 1950s, few African Americans could afford to buy cars, so this would be an adventure. But she soon found out that black travelers weren’t treated very well in some towns. Many hotels and gas stations refused service to black people. Daddy was upset about something called Jim Crow laws…

Finally, a friendly attendant at a gas station showed Ruth’s family The Green Book. It listed all of the places that would welcome black travelers. With this guidebook–and the kindness of strangers–Ruth could finally make a safe journey from Chicago to her grandma’s house in Alabama. Ruth’s story is fiction, but The Green Book and its role in helping a generation of African American travelers avoid some of the indignities of Jim Crow are historical fact.

***

Pecan Pie Baby by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Sophie Blackall (Published by Putnam Juvenile, 2010; 32 pages; ages 5 and up) Gia is tired of hearing about the new baby. It hasn’t even been born yet, but everyone, even her friends, seem fixated on it. Gia thinks things are fine just the way they are! And she’s worried: if the baby’s such a big deal now, what’s going to happen to Gia’s nice, cozy life with Mama once it’s born? Beloved author Jacqueline Woodson and Sophie Blackall have created a heartwarming story for kids adjusting to the idea of a new family member. Young readers will be reassured by Gia’s eventual understanding that the baby won’t ruin the special bond she has with her mom, and might even be a sweet addition to the family.

***

The Upside Down Boy/El nino de cabeza by Juan Felipe Herrera, illustrated by Elizabeth Gomez (Published by Children’s Book Press, 2006; 32 pages; ages 6 and up) Fresh from the country, Juanito is bewildered by his new school. Everything he does feels upside down: he eats lunch when it’s recess and goes out to play when it’s time for lunch, and his tongue feels like a rock when he tries to speak English. But a sensitive teacher and his loving family help Juanito find his voice through poetry, art, and music. Juan Felipe Herrera’s playful language and the magical illustrations of Elizabeth Gómez capture the universal experience of entering a new school and feeling lost in a world that seems upside down — at first.

***

Tashi and the Tibetan Flower Cure by Naomi C. Rose (Published by Lee & low Books, 2011; 40 pages; ages 6 and up) Tashi loves listening to Popola, her grandfather, sing Tibetan chants to the click, click of his prayer beads. She also loves hearing Popola’s stories about the village in Tibet where he grew up. But recently Popola has been sick, and Tashi is worried. One of the stories Tashi remembers tells how people in Popola’s village use flowers to help themselves recover from illnesses. Will this healing tradition work in the United States, so far from Popola’s village? Determined to help Popola get better, Tashi recruits family, friends, and neighbors in a grand effort to find out. Lyrically told and illustrated with impressionistic paintings, Tashi and the Tibetan Flower Cure shines a tender light on the universal bond between grandchild and grandparent. Readers of all ages are sure to be inspired by the gentle power of this story and its spirit of compassion and community.

Advertisements

4 responses to “Picture Books

  1. janet wong says:

    What an outstanding list–with lots of titles that I didn’t know about. Thank you for including APPLE PIE 4TH OF JULY! (and praise from Jama is like a cherry on a chocolate cupcake)

  2. Yadira Perez Hazel says:

    Love this list! Thanks for such a wonderful resource.

  3. I’d also like to suggest the 2014 Charlotte Zolotow Honor Book, MY COLD PLUM LEMON PIE BLUESY MOOD by Tameka Fryer Brown, illustrated by Shane Evans.

    🙂

  4. shadrieka says:

    I own two copies of Beauty and the Beast! One is signed 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: