Thursday, November 1, 2018

Astronaut Annie, by Suzanne Slade

Annie (a black girl) comes home from school excited about career day, and each of her family members is positive that she plans on following in their footsteps.  Annie finds a way to connect her true goal to each of her family member's interests - and finally announces at a school assembly that she plans on being an astronaut.

This book shows a close family where the grandparents appear to live in the same home with grandchildren and parents.  Annie is supported, encouraged, and loved by the adults in her life.  My son loves this book because nobody (aside from him!) is able to guess what Annie plans on being as an adult.  After the story, there is a a brief summary of 4 female astronauts (we focus on 1 each time we read the story) as well as the phases of the moon.

BUY HERE (or request at your local library!)

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Rescue & Jessica: A Life-Changing Friendship, by Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes

This book is based on the true story of Jessica Kensky, the book's author, who was injured in the Boston Marathon bombing and ended up losing both her legs.  The book does not discuss the bombing or initial injury (aside from in an author's note in the back), but does an amazing job of keeping this age appropriate yet pushing children to understand what it may be like to suffer such an injury.  Plus (at least in our family), books are about ten times more interesting when they are based on true stories and we've spent a lot of time examining a photo in the back of Jessica Kensky with her REAL LIFE DOG RESCUE! 

What's best though, is that this is an engaging story.  Told alternatingly from Rescue and Jessica's point of view, it describes Rescue's training and relationship with Jessica and Jessica's rehabilitation and emotional struggle.  My son (newly 5, but we've been reading it for awhile) and I are entranced by this book and both recommend it highly!

BUY HERE (or request at your local library!)

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Saturday is Swimming Day, by Hyewon Yum

This simple story is extraordinarily appealing to children.  A little girl wakes up on the morning of her first swimming class and finds that her stomach hurts.  She still attends class, but the teacher lets her sit on the side of the pool and observe.  Miraculously, the little girl has another stomach ache the next Saturday but the teacher coaxes her into the pool.  Finally, the third Saturday the girl's stomach ache has disappeared and she finds out she loves swimming after all!  My son was entranced by the fact that the girl was attempting to get out of class by falsely claiming her stomach hurt, and has requested this book over and over to delve into her 'deception'.  He is also interested (albeit less so) in the fact that she gradually overcomes her fears. 

The Asian author/illustrator has sketched a cast including an Asian protagonist, a black swim instructor, and a diverse swim class.  The daughter's mom is white, and if you choose she can be read as an adoptive mother and/or a single mother (a father is not referenced).  The mother and swim coach are gently supportive and while they don't force the girl in the water, they nudge her along. 

BUY HERE (or request at your local library!)

Friday, September 28, 2018

Karate Hour, Soccer Hour, and Baseball Hour, all by Carol Nevius

This three book series is notable for its inclusivity and appealing to children who love sports.  All three books includes coaches and players of both genders and multiple races.  Karate Hour also includes a student using a walker (albeit just in the background in one photo).  The illustrations are realistic and gorgeous - the children look like your son or daughter's friends. 

The books take children through practice (or class, in the case of Karate Hour) from beginning to end.  The prose is simple, descriptive, and rhyming, perhaps better for younger children - my 4 (nearly 5 year old) is a bit bored by the simplistic narration of what the children are doing, despite the fact that he is very athletic and takes similar classes himself.  However, if he encountered these books at age 2 or 3 I think he would have spent much longer pouring over them. 

(or request at your local library!)

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

My Pet Wants a Pet, by Elise Broach

A black boy asks his white mother for a dog.  She (finally) agrees, but then his dog wants a pet.  And then the dog's cat wants a pet!  The boy's mother gets increasingly frustrated until he realizes that she is "a special and important someone, who wasn't happy."  As a solution, he gifts her himself in a box because "whenever you take care of something, that something takes care of you" - a theme that is repeated throughout the story. 

There are countless wonderful things about this book that both my son and I adore.  The writing is simple but catchy - the repetitive story leads to us both gleefully yelling out variations on "That worm is the pet of the pet of the pet of your pet!  He does NOT NEED A PET" over and over.  Both the illustrations and the story recognize the boy's mother as an important character with her own interests and needs - she is shown reading, doing yoga, washing dishes (with the boy's assistance), working at a desk, and gardening.  There is no father pictured, and they boy can be read as either her biological child or transracially adopted. 

BUY HERE (or request at your local library!)

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Dear Dragon, by Josh Funk

George (a black boy) and Blaise become pen pals and exchange rhyming letters, at the request of their teachers.  However, George is a human and Blaise is a dragon - a fact neither is aware of until they meet at the pen pal picnic at the end of the school year.  

While there is the obvious message that in forming true friendships it is what is inside that counts, I think most kids will skip over that and just think it's hilarious that a human and a dragon are exchanging letters and focus on the wacky misunderstandings that result from this fact.  I found this book pleasant enough, the rhymes are particularly enjoyable - but my 4 year old (who is a bit young to grasp everything that happens) asked to read this book over and over.

BUY HERE (or request at your local library!)

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

The Boy and the Whale, by Mordicai Gerstein

Abelardo and his father head out on their panga (boat) only to discover that a whale is tanged in their only fishing net.  The father is furious - they don't have enough money to repair the net and fishing is their only source of income.  Despite the fact that his father forbids him from doing so, Abelardo takes the panga back out and, despite the danger, repeatedly dives and cuts the whale free.  He is thanked by the whale's joyous leaps and spins.  His father pronounces what he did both foolish and brave, before quickly getting back to work.  

Part of the appeal of The Boy and The Whale is that it doesn't pander to its audience.  The story is exciting and tense - Abelardo is facing real danger, diving underwater with a knife near a giant whale (his size repeatedly illustrated in impressive drawings).  My son carefully listens each time we read this book, quietly absorbed (despite typically being chatty and full of questions while we read).  That said, I think I may enjoy this story more than him.

BUY HERE (or request at your local library!)

Astronaut Annie, by Suzanne Slade

Annie (a black girl) comes home from school excited about career day, and each of her family members is positive that she plans on followi...