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!)

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The Ring Bearer, by Floyd Cooper

I've hesitated to recommend this book since I've seen it so widely recommended already - but my son and I were reading it yet again today and so, why not?  It's a great book that can be read over and over without parent or child getting tired of it (and a must for children whose mom or dad is getting married).  Though this book was published in 2017, it already feels like a classic.

In this book entirely populated by black characters, Jackson's mom is getting married to Sophie's dad.  Jackson is worried about lots of things, but primarily about tripping while carrying the rings down the aisle.  However, when flower girl Sophie trips in front of him, Jackson forgets his fears and rushes to assist his little sister-to-be.  Everyone cheers, and a new family is formed!

BUY HERE (or request at your local library!)

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Teddy's Favorite Toy, by Christian Trimmer

I was so skeptical of this book - we once read a book about a boy who preferred to wear dresses and I think it had the opposite of its intended effect.  My son went from thinking that there was absolutely nothing unusual about a boy wearing a dress, to being a bit suspicious based on the reactions of all the children in the book.

This book is at the same time subtle and straightforward in addressing the fact that Teddy's favorite toy is a doll.  It starts by noting that Teddy has lots of cool toys such as a fire engine he can ride on (my son was blown away by this), a rocket ship, puzzles, a hula hoop . . . but his favorite one is a doll named Bren-Da, Warrior Queen of the Pacific.  Bren-Da enjoys a tea party and dressing up but also has the "sickest fighting skills."  When Teddy's mom accidentally throws away Bren-Da while cleaning his room, his mom uses all of Bren-Da's various talents (manners, cool moves!) to rescue Bren-Da from the garbage truck.  All in all, a pretty perfect introduction to a boy who just happens to love his doll.

In addition to all of the wonderfulness above, Teddy is a child of color and, if you choose, can be read as either adopted or biracial (his mom is the only parent pictured and appears to be white).

BUY HERE (or request at your local library!)

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Twindergarten, by Nikki Ehrlich

Dax and Zoey are biracial twins (with a white mom and black dad) are are starting kindergarten, but in different classes.  Dax is initially quite afraid of being separated from his sister, but it turns out that Zoey is the one who has a lot of difficulty being away from Dax on the first day of school.  In the end, Dax makes Zoey a card and Zoey starts to relax into school, and all is well!

This is a simple story with delightful details and presents school in a positive light.  My son is a couple years away from kindergarten (and is frightened at the prospect of being in a big kid school every single day), but seems to find this book soothing.  Dax, Zoey, and their classmates are presented as thoughtful, fun, and kind (a contrast to books which seem to highlight the worst aspects of kids... ahem llama llama). 

BUY HERE (or request at your local library!)

Friday, April 6, 2018

Lola at the Library, by Anna McQuinn

We received Lola at the Library recently as a gift.  I'd seen this book around and been a bit resistant to picking it up; honestly - it looked a bit boring.  But my son and I loved it!  Lola's trip to the library mirrors ours in many important ways and nearly every page lead to a discussion about how our trips to the library are either the same or different.  Lola (a young black girl) returns all her library books every week, but my son likes to hold on to his favorite ones for many, many, many weeks (our library has a liberal renewal policy).  Lola and her mom walk to the library, but we usually take the bus.  We also get a snack at the library (though not every week)!  The second we finished reading my son asked to read the book a second, then a third time.  At 4, he's probably at the upper age range of this book - but it's one I expect we'll be reading a lot.

I can't vouch for them, but it looks like the same author/illustrator pairing has come out with several books about Lola and her little brother Leo.

BUY HERE (or request at your local library!)

Thursday, March 29, 2018

We Are Family, by Patricia Hegarty

I typically don't like books without a plot, but this one is an exception.  It follows ten different types of families - two moms, two dads, parents with four children, a single mother and child, a child raised by his grandparents, and so on.  In addition, these families are made up of various races.  Our son was beyond delighted to find a family exactly the same as ours (a transracial adoption) and follow it through various activities and note the similarities - we also eat croissants! we all ride bikes! we like to cuddle on the sofa too, how did they know?!  If by chance your family is one of those pictured, I highly recommend this book.

BUY HERE (or request at your local library!)

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 huma...