In the past, I haven’t written anything about picture books, mainly because I don’t actually read picture books. I’m not entirely sure I’ve picked up a picture book since the days when my little brothers loved “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?”
But this year is a little different because of the Notable Book project I’m working on with my professor. Since June, when I started on the project, I’ve handled several hundred picture books that have been sent in by the publishers for consideration (actually, I cringe these days when a picture book arrives because we are completely out of storage space for them at the school).
Anyway, I want to give a little screen time to a few of my favorite picture books so far this year.
This book was unbelievably cute – I’ve made practically everyone I know listen to me rave about this book. Little Hoot is a good little owl, but he hates staying up late and wishes his parents would let him go to bed early like all his friends. But his dad tells him that he doesn’t care what all his friends’ parents are doing – in their house, owls stay up late. “You still have ten more minutes,” Mama Owl tells Little Hoot, when he begs to go to bed, “and I don’t want to hear you ask again.” I giggled through the book, and I fell in love with the beautiful illustrations. It’s a smallish square book and it was lovely just to hold it.
This book doesn’t actually come out for a few more weeks, but I got an advance copy sent to my house (may I pause here to say that getting an ARC on my doorstep was pretty much the coolest moment of my life. I suspect I can call it a life right here). Bart and I teach the 3-4 year olds at church and I always read them a few books at the end of class; I took this book and they all seemed to really like it. It’s a poem about a bunch of bats who sneak into the library one night when the window is left open. They play tag and such for a while, until they dive into the books. The illustrations are divine and the best ones are when they start reading and the illustrations are plays on famous children’s’ books – there are bats reading “Goodnight Sun” and a picture for “Make Way for Ducklings” but the ducklings are all bats instead. Or Mr. Toad’s car from “The Wind in the Willows”being driven by a bat. Or Alice talking to the Cheshire Bat. Oh, I adore this book.
This book is gorgeous and a true story – it’s about a young Polish boy named Herman who is sent to a work camp by the Nazis during WWII because he is Jewish. He’s tall and so his mother tells him to lie about his age and go with his brothers instead of staying with her. This saves his life as all the women and children are killed immediately, while the men are put to work. Herman is miserable and starving, but then his mother appears to him in a dream and tells him that an angel will soon come to help him. A few days later, while standing near the outer fence, he sees a girl in the trees outside the fence; she comes toward him, tosses him an apple and runs. Almost daily for the next two years, she comes with an apple, and both the food and the contact help him survive. When the war is over and Herman is free, he goes to the fence for the last time and tells the girl “You are my angel girl.” After the war, Herman goes to America, but is haunted by the war. Again, his mother appears in a dream and tells him an angel will come for him. A few days later a friend sets Herman up on a blind date and they soon discover that the date is the girl from the fence – his angel girl. They are married and currently have been for more than 50 years. Could anything be more touching? No. Get your kleenex before you read this one.