It’s September. Already there’s a bit of color in the trees. Soon the butterflies will leave and the cricket will sing its last song…
Before the butterflies de[art, I wanted to share two butterfly books with you.
The first is Butterflies Soar by Amber Hendricks, art by Gavin Scott.
Amber’s focus in this board book for little ones is on active verbs in her rhyming couplets – for example:
Stretch, stretch, curl.
Drying wings unfurl.
This beautifully illustrated board book uses beautiful lyrical language to teach young children about the life cycle of the butterfly.
For older readers, Maxwell Eaton’s The Truth About Butterflies is a hilarious, as well as informative, read. The author-illustrator uses a cartoon-style with speech bubble jokes to add funny, playful text. The book goes beyond the life cycle of the butterfly and discusses types of butterflies and their differences from moths, anatomy, defenses against predators, etc. The book ends with a science lesson on how to raise and release monarch butterflies. I have several friends who have done this.
Ella feels ordinary… but she is extraordinary. Amber Hendricks writes with feeling and humor. The main character, Ella, feels ordinary. She doesn’t have talents like her friends, sister and cousins. But her kindness shines brightly and at the end of the talent show, her generosity is rewarded. Ella gets a prize for helping everyone else to shine.
Luciana Powell’s bright illustrations bring diversity to this heartwarming tale.
Philip T. Basher is Imperfectphil, Imperfectphil Is Who I Am, and Imperfectphil Is a Friend are three books written by Sue Steinhardt and illustrated by Jessica Murr. Pictured above is Sue with her dog - Imperfectphil (who seemed pretty perfect to me). Sue is a high school English teacher; Jessica is one of her former students who is currently studying art. I met Sue and Phil at their Bookstore Plus book signing in Lake Placid, NY.
These three positive books remind kids that it is just fine to be - and to be who they were created to be. We are all different; we all have flaws; we are all imperfect - just like Phil the dog! And that's OK.
These two books have the same title: The Word Collector. Both authors – Sonja Wimmer and Peter H. Reynolds – are primarily illustrators, so both have beautiful pictures that tell the story. Both have the same message: words are important, and are meant to be shared.
In Sonja’s book, Luna’s magnificent, fun words disappear because people are too busy. She puts all her words in a suitcase, flies over the world, and scatters words of brotherhood, love and tolerance where there is hatred and violence. She scatters words of friendship and compassion where people are sad and lonely. Soon, her suitcase is empty – but she discovers that people are sharing the words, letting them fly among them. This makes her joyful and happy. The point of collecting is to share!
In Peter’s book, Jerome collects the words he hears, sees and reads. Words that are marvelous to say even if he doesn’t yet know what they mean. When he slips while carrying his huge collection, the words go flying and become jumbled. Jerome begins to string words together into poems. He learns that the simplest words – like ‘Thank you’ and ‘you matter’ – are the most powerful.
Jerome climbs a big hill and lets his words fly into the wind. Soon, children in the valley below collect his words – which makes Jerome happy. The point of collecting words is to share them!
Both books encourage us to seek our own words, and then use them to make the world a better place.
As an author and poet who has been a word geek since I was a little girl, that is just what I try to do – use my words to make the world a better place.
Once upon another time by Matt Forrest Essenwine and Charles Ghigna
Ill by Andrés F. Landazábal. Beaming Books, 2021, 32 p. 277 words.
With lyrical text, playful rhyme, and vivid illustrations, this book compares the world ‘before one human step was taken’ to the world of concrete buildings and street traffic. Illustrations contrast pristine landscapes with modern cityscapes.
Then, in a tribute to the natural world, the reader is encouraged to get outside, breathe the air, taste the rain and watch the cloud ballet in the sky.
“Once upon another time, the world was young and new. If you want to know this world, there’s something you can do.”
The Purple Shell by Maritza Martinez Mejia ill by Valerie Mojica
Luz del Mes Publishing, 2021 / independently published . www.luzdelmes.com 32p. ; 141 words..
A trip to the beach becomes a clean-up day when the main character of this story is upset by the trash left in the sand. When they’ve collected several bags of soda bottles, plastic fast-food containers and other trash, the girl and her mom go for a swim and are rewarded with a beautiful purple seashell.
The beautifully illustrated bilingual text (Spanish and English) shows the importance of taking care of our plastic garbage so it does not end up polluting the oceans. The story is augmented by backmatter that includes vocabulary, questions, facts, and several coloring pages.
On the first day of kindergarten Molly, Savera, and Hannah help each other and work together planting trees, and find they have lots in common, although they come from different backgrounds and religious traditions.
This wonderfully illustrated book teaches love and acceptance – friendship with those who are not like us. The three authors – also of different faith traditions – are friends who collaborated on this project.
This book should be part of every school library.
I have never understood why people can do such evil to other people… yet it is so common in our world: Cambodia; Rwanda; Myanmar; Sudan; Kosovo… where does it stop?
Genocide has been part of my own family history from World War II in Poland. In The Sandcastle Girls, through a love story, Chris Bohjalian exposes the horrors of the Armenian genocide – the slaughter of 1.5 million people just over a century ago that many Americans are unaware of.
Set in Aleppo, Syria, with well-developed characters and captivating plot, you won’t be able to set this story down.
This is the story of Stefania Podgorska, a Polish teenager who risked her life to hide Jews. With gripping first-person narration, this fast-paced historical novel captivated me as a reader. The story shows that, even in terrible times, there are good people. Knowing it meant certain death if they were caught, there were still people willing to hide Jews – like the folks who hid my mother and my uncle, who are also Polish Holocaust survivors. It’s a part of history we should never forget.
This is an excellent introduction to the culture and tragedy of Sudan and Darfur.
Author Andrea Pinkney uses narrative verse, vivid imagery and figurative language that immerses the reader in the Sudan landscape and culture.
12-year-old Amira and her family must flee as the Janjaweed militia invades and sets their village ablaze. They end up at the Kalma refugee camp where the gift of a red pencil sets Amira’s imagination on fire.
A good book, a comfy chair,