The year 2012 saw the release of several great children's books, including a handful selected for the 2013 Great Lakes Great Books list, recently released by the Michigan Reading Association. The list which includes books for kindergarten through high school students offers a selection of fiction and non-fiction. Schools across Michigan will vote on their favorites from each grade category. Books in the Kindergarten and First Grade group include a city overrun with chickens, a non-traditional twist on a classic fairy tale "The Princess and the Pea," and an animal adventure by Marquette's newest children's author. The eight books include: Bear Has a Story to Tell by Philip Stead, Boy + Bot by Ame Dyckman and the following.
A Warm Winter Tail by Marquette author Carrie Pearson offers a delightful twist on how animals stay warm in the wintertime. When baby animals ask their mothers how human's stay warm in the wintertime, they naively think human kids do it the same way they do, like a fox using its tail to wrap up on cold nights. Readers will learn how animals keep warm, in an informative and fun way. While the book is considered fiction, because animals can't talk, there are several animal facts included in the book. The rhyming text gives the story rhythm and makes it easy for beginning readers to tackle.
A Hen For Izzy Pippik by Aubrey Davis is a sweet tale of honesty and community, based on an ancient tale from the Babylonian Talmud. I love the sense of place this book offers readers. The Old World feel portrayed in both the text and illustrations are charming. Young Shania finds a lost chicken, next to a crate with a man's name "Izzy Pippik" written on the side. Shania's mission becomes caring for the chicken and its chicks and their chicks, which all belong to Pippik, until he comes back. When the story opens we learn that the town is going through tough times because people don't have money to spend in shops, so there are few jobs. It would therefore be tempting for Shania to claim the lost chicken for her family. She instead feels a responsibility to a person she's never met to preserve his chicken until he returns. Soon the chickens have multiplied around town by the dozens. Word spreads about the "chicken town" pumping tourism into the struggling economy. This boost in the economy turns the townspeople's grumbles into praise. The book provides a fun math lesson, (count the hatching chicks) and a look at foods and goods at the outdoor market. In the end, honesty is rewarded with generosity, which is a great lesson for everyone.
Smashing the princess stereotype, The Princess and the Packet of Frozen Peas by Tony Wilson is a book that champions girls who like the outdoors and sports. The prince in this tale is the outdoorsy type who wants to marry a princess who likes camping and hockey. He hatches a plan to test potential princesses by having them sleep in a sleeping bag, with a packet of frozen peas underneath. His friend Pippa finds the positive in the situation, using the peas to ice her shin, bruised from playing hockey. Her spunk and confidence win the prince's heart, causing him to propose outright. Oh yeah, their "Happily Ever After" includes camping.
Z is For Moose by Kelly Bingham is a hilarious book that takes a traditional leaf from an alphabet book. Zebra who plans the characters in the book to appear in alphabetical order is surprised when Moose butts in. In "Moose," the reader sees a zany fun character who loves being a part of the ABC lesson, but needs to learn patience and manners. Bingham creates both suspense and intrigue as the alphabet makes its way to M - Moose's letter. Kids will laugh out loud at his wittiness and learn it really is good to wait your turn.
Based on a true story, Little Dog Lost by Monica Carnesi tells the heroic tale of the people who rescued a dog drifting on an ice floe in the Baltic Sea near Poland. When the dog was first spotted off the Vistula River, near the city of Grudziadz in January 2010, volunteers tried in earnest to rescue him, but he floated away toward the Baltic Sea. Three days later crew members on a research vessel, the R/V Baltica spotted the weary dog bobbing on the ice. If the ship moved too close to the floe, the dog would fall into the water. Eventually a crew member was lowered on a pontoon boat into the sea to fetch the scrappy pup. He became a member of the crew as the world watched the news, happy that lost dog finally found a safe, warm home.
Who doesn't want the best for their friend? In Penguin and Pinecone by Salina Yoon, Penguin makes a new friend, Pinecone, a prickly hard-shelled fella who looks cold in the frozen north. So Penguin wraps a scarf around his new friend and takes him everywhere by sled. Still, Pinecone looks unhappy, so Penguin makes the tough choice to take his friend on a journey far, far away to a place he would feel more comfortable. When they finally reach a forest, Penguin bids farewell to his friend, wishing him well for his lifetime. Many years, or sometime later, Penguin languishes about his old friend, wondering how he is doing. He makes his voyage once again to find a large pine tree with the same color scarf as his old friend Pinecone. Penguin plays with "Pinecone" all day, running laps, hugging him, etc. This books illustrates the conclusion beautifully, if you love someone you have to let them go and they will grow.