PPBF – Follow the Moon Home: A Tale of One Idea, Twenty Kids, and a Hundred Sea Turtles

I’ve had the good fortune to view sea turtles in their natural habitat while snorkeling. And while I’m not currently traveling to anywhere I can snorkel, I can satisfy my desire to learn more about them by reading informative picture books, like today’s Perfect Picture Book.

Title: Follow the Moon Home: A Tale of One Idea, Twenty Kids, and a Hundred Sea Turtles

Written By: Philippe Cousteau and Deborah Hopkinson

Illustrated By: Meilo So

Publisher/Date: Chronicle Books/2016

Suitable for Ages: 4-6 (and older)

Themes/Topics: sea turtles, environmental activism, moving

Opening:

I always need help finding my way, especially in a new place.

“Before long you’ll feel right at home, Viv.”

I WASN’T SO SURE.

Brief Synopsis: When Viv moves to a new community and school near the beach and the teacher assigns a class project to spur community action, Viv learns about the local sea turtles, the issues turtle hatchlings face, and how she, and her class, can help.

Links to Resources:

  • Check out the fabulous back matter including a Letter to Young Activists, a note to Parents and Teachers, and information about Loggerheads and other Sea Turtles;
  • Find more ideas in the Teacher Guide;
  • “Swim” along on an online snorkeling trip in the Virgin Islands National Park to view marine life, including sea turtles;
  • What problems do people in your local community face? Even with many schools operating remotely and social distancing the norm right now, there may be ways you can help by organizing a food or holiday gift drive, coordinating a socially-distanced park cleanup, or sending cards and other encouraging messages to nursing or other group homes.

Why I Like this Book:

Follow the Moon Home is a multi-layered informational picture book with hooks to engage anyone. If you, like the narrator, Viv, have recently moved, read how she connected with her new classmates and community through the class project to help the sea turtles. If you love sea turtles and want to learn more about them, the book has plenty of facts and engaging watercolor illustrations to lure you in. If you’re interested in helping others or in environmentalism, read on and follow the steps Viv and her classmates took to spur community action. Interestingly, the problem the class tackles, the lights from beachfront homes that confused the turtles, is not one I’ve seen discussed much in picture books about protecting sea turtles.

Because Follow the Moon Home offers so much on so many levels, I think it would be a tremendous resource in classrooms, as well as a terrific family read (note that the actions taken are initiated by a class, but a family easily could identify a community problem to solve).

A Note about Craft:

Although primarily an informational picture book about sea turtles and environmental activism, Follow the Moon Home is also a story about Viv, who settles into a new home, school, and community by rallying her classmates and neighbors to help the sea turtle hatchlings. Using first person POV, the authors forge an immediate connection between the reader and Viv, as we empathize with her desire to find her way. This, in turn, helps the reader connect with the young sea turtles, who also struggle to find their way to the sea.

This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!

PPBF – Sharuko: El Arqueólogo Peruano/Peruvian Archaeologist Julio C. Tello

I don’t know about you, but after months of staying at home, I’m ready for some travel – some virtual travel to a new place and time. And what better way to do that than by reading this new Perfect Picture Book biography set in Peru!

Title: Sharuko: El Arqueólogo Peruano/Peruvian Archaeologist Julio C. Tello

Written By: Monica Brown

Illustrated By: Elisa Chavarri

Spanish Translation: Adriana Domínguez

Publisher/Date: Children’s Book Press, an imprint of Lee & Low Books/2020

Suitable for Ages: Grades 1-6

Themes/Topics: biography, archaeology, indigenous culture, bilingual, persistence, curiosity, #OwnVoices

Opening:

This is the story of Julio C. Tello, one of the most important archaeologists in all the Americas. He was born in Peru on April 11, 1880, in the rugged highlands just outside the capital city of Lima, in the shadow of the Andes mountains.

Brief Synopsis: The bilingual biography of Julio C. Tello, the first indigenous archaeologist of South America, who persevered to prove the longevity of the country’s indigenous cultures, who celebrated his ancestors’ accomplishments, and who shared his findings with Peruvians and the world.

Links to Resources:

  • Check out the comprehensive Teacher’s Guide;
  • Sharuko, which means “brave” in Julio’s native Quechuan language, explored and found bones and other artifacts from his ancestors. Explore your home or yard to find objects that belonged to your family and/or are culturally significant. Ask an older family member to explain more about them;
  • Check out these family history activities;
  • Learn about Peru, where Sharuko lived and worked.

Why I Like this Book:

With its focus on persistence, treasure hunting, and honoring the past, this picture book biography, about a man most of us never knew existed, and a country few, if any of us, have visited, left this reader eager to read on and learn about Sharuko, Peru, and the indigenous cultures that flourished there.

Targeting a slightly older reader than the typical picture book, Sharuko is a wonderful resource to encourage kids to explore their pasts, honor indigenous cultures, and be curious. I love how Brown shows Julio’s courage and persistence. We learn that he left his rural home as a child to study in Lima, the capital of Peru. Even with his aunt living there, how difficult this must have been!

As a young man, Julio worked many jobs, including carrying travelers’ luggage and working in a library. He studied medicine, and then he used that knowledge as a springboard to learn more about the artifacts he had seen in the mountains and caves of his youth. Perhaps as importantly, he shared that knowledge, so that the children of Peru could be proud of the civilizations that flourished there in the pre-Columbian era.

Filled with brightly-colored images of the artifacts Julio uncovered, studied, and shared with the world, this new bilingual picture book biography of the founder of modern Peruvian archaeology is a wonderful resource for home and school libraries.

A Note about Craft:

I noted above that Sharuko is targeted to a slightly older age range than the typical picture book. So why do I think Julio’s story is best told with words and images? Given the wealth of objects that Julio uncovered and its setting in a country with which most North American and European readers may be unfamiliar, I found the illustrations to be an invaluable part of this story. Especially for those of indigenous descent, seeing these artifacts must be a real treasure. And for those of us who don’t share that heritage, how wonderful to see and experience these pre-Columbian cultures in these pages.

Note that Brown does not gloss over the killings and destruction by the invading Spaniards, so this book is best read with an adult. Note though, too, that Brown also informs readers that “[a]lthough the Spanish tried to destroy Peru’s Indigenous language, culture, and customs, they were kept alive and passed on from generation to generation by families such as Sharuko’s.”

Brown is the daughter of a Peruvian immigrant, and Chavarri was born in Peru, so this truly is an #OwnVoices work. Among other works, Chavarri illustrated Rainbow Weaver/Tejedora del arcoíris, which I reviewed in 2017.

This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!

PPBF – Jacob Riis’s Camera: Bringing Light to Tenement Children

For today’s Perfect Picture Book, I’m happy to share a biography of a man whose name you may not recognize, but whose photographs live on and show how one person’s actions can improve the lives of many.

Title: Jacob Riis’s Camera: Bringing Light to Tenement Children

Written By: Alexis O’Neill

Illustrated By: Gary Kelley

Publisher/Date: Calkins Creek, an imprint of Boyds Mills & Kane/2020

Suitable for Ages: 7-10

Themes/Topics: social justice, immigrants, photojournalism, biography, New York City, tenements, STEAM

Opening:

Twelve-year-old Jacob hated Rag Hall. The rest of Ribe, Denmark, was filled with trim homes, sweet grass meadows, and fresh wind blowing from the sea.

But Rag Hall was a rat-infested, ramshackle dwelling.

As soon as he earned extra money, Jacob donated it to the poor in Rag Hall to help tidy things up.

Brief Synopsis: Jacob Riis, a Danish immigrant and newspaper reporter in late 19th century New York City, used flash photography to shine a light on the poor conditions in tenements crowded with new immigrants.

Links to Resources:

  • Check out the amazing back matter including a timeline, glossary, and much more;
  • Take or find a photograph of your home and compare it to one of Riis’s photographs of the tenements. What’s the same? What’s different? Where would you rather live?
  • Take a photograph of a darkened space without using flash and then with the flash working. How do these photographs differ? Which one more effectively shows the scene?
  • Try these photography activities for kids.

Why I Like this Book:

I first learned about Jacob Riis when I was a university student many, many years ago. His photos of New York City tenements, and the immigrant families who inhabited them, have haunted me ever since.

As readers learn in Jacob Riis’s Camera, though, Riis was a reporter first, and he only began taking photographs when he discovered that words alone were not enough to show people, including policy makers, the awful living conditions in the tenements. Through persistence, Riis mastered the new art of flash photography to shine a light on the filth and overcrowding that impoverished families endured, and he helped change conditions for the better.

As debates about fake news and immigration swirl around us, and as inequality has become more visible during this pandemic, I think the story of Jacob Riis and his desire to clean up the tenements, his persistence to find a way to do that using new technology to combine photographs with words, and his work with Teddy Roosevelt to effect reforms are important to share with children. Whether at home or in a classroom setting, this picture book biography is a wonderful resource to spur conversations about these topics, especially with the rich back matter.

Kelley’s etched ink and pastel illustrations really made me feel like I was there with Jacob in the tenements. In many ways they reminded me of Riis’s photos, a few of which are reproduced in the back matter.

A Note about Craft:

With longer text than the typical picture book, Jacob Riis’s Camera is targeted to a slightly older age group. Given the difficult subject matter, this is understandable.

Given Riis’s status as a founder of photojournalism, the illustrations in this picture book are particularly important. Kelley’s muted palate and renderings of Riis’ photos drew me back to the late 19th century and vividly highlight the conditions Riis was trying to alleviate.

This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!

PPBF – KHALIDA and the Most Beautiful Song

As I remember the events of nineteen years ago and reflect on the crises the world faces today, I find solace when I read picture books such as today’s Perfect Picture Book that reminds us of the power of creativity and the arts.

Title: KHALIDA and the Most Beautiful Song

Written & Illustrated By: Amanda Moeckel

Publisher/Date: Page Street Kids/2018

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: music, piano, creativity, determination, unscheduled moments, the power of art

Opening:

Perhaps it was the twinkling of a bright star or the wings of a high-flying owl that awoke the song one night.

It was time.

Brief Synopsis: An elusive song awakens a young pianist, but she struggles to capture it as the demands of everyday life get in the way.

Links to Resources:

  • Carve out some space and time to be creative, with musical instruments or art supplies;
  • Try to schedule some unscheduled “me” time each day or week and let your inner artist loose;
  • Read, or reread, Peter H. Reynolds’ The Dot, and join in the fun of International Dot Day 2020.

Why I Like this Book:

KHALIDA and the Most Beautiful Song is a lyrical, joyous celebration of creativity and a reminder that we need to step back from everyday tasks, schedules, and concerns to enable our creativity to flourish.

I was hooked from the opening, as the song mysteriously found young Khalida. As Moeckel notes in the opening scene, neither the song nor the reader knows why the song was awakened. But once awakened, and once it “tickled” Khalida’s “fingers and dipped into her ear”, Khalida knew that she had to recreate it on the piano, and share it with others.

I think even young children will relate to the obstacles that Khalida faces as she tries to express the creative impulse growing inside her. And I think everyone will appreciate the results of her determination as listeners “forgot everything else,” including meetings, being bullied, and a sick relative.

Moeckel rendered the illustrations in graphite, watercolor, and digitally. I especially loved how the song, depicted as graceful swirls, weave through the pages and become more colorful as Khalida performs them for an audience comprised of a diverse group of listeners.

A Note about Craft:

Moeckel begins this story not with Khalida, the over-programmed, talented pianist, but with the song that struggles to be played. By doing so, Moeckel encourages young children to think of their creative output as a character – a “thing” that needs to be out in the world. Switching the perspective in this way helps readers understand that creative individuals need to create, that society benefits when they are able to do so, and that we need to break down barriers to creativity.

I love the lyrical name, Khalida, and, because it is an Arabic name, I think this adds a multicultural layer to this beautiful story.

See a blog post about the creation and publication of this picture book at Writing and Illustrating. Note that Khalida finally plays the song in a park, where she performs it on a piano set there. In New York City, where Moeckel resides per the jacket flap, a not-for-profit, Sing for Hope, sets up artist-embellished pianos in public spaces for all to enjoy and donates pianos to city schools. Although this isn’t mentioned anywhere in the book, I’d like to think that Khalida is playing one of these pianos.

This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!

 

PPBF – One Earth

Welcome dear readers! It’s good to be back as the scent of pumpkin spice and the feel of dewy grass on chilly mornings remind us that fall is on its way.

Today’s Perfect Picture Book, a collaboration between an American author and a Brazilian illustrator, stars something that we all share: our beautiful earth. Enjoy!

Title: One Earth

Written By: Eileen Spinelli

Illustrated By: Rogério Coelho

Publisher/Date: Worthy Kids, a division of Hachette Book Group/2020

Suitable for Ages: 3-8

Themes/Topics: environment, concept book, counting, rhyme, low word count, multicultural

Opening:

One wide, sweeping sky.

Two honeybees.

Three bunnies in a nest.

Four redwood trees.

Brief Synopsis:

In this rhyming picture book, a diverse group of children count up to 10 to celebrate some amazing things about our one world, and then count down from 10 to share some simple steps to preserve this earth.

Links to Resources:

  • Spend an afternoon in your garden or a park and try to count groups of natural things that you find there (ie, one sun, two butterflies, etc.);
  • Make a list of simple steps you can take to help preserve the earth, and practice one or more of them with your family, friends, or classmates.

Why I Like this Book:

This simple, rhyming picture book encourages young children to experience the beauty of nature and to reflect on the ways even one person can help preserve it.

I love that Spinelli uses simple, rhyming text to create so many layers: One Earth functions as a counting book from 1-10 and back again, a reminder to explore and enjoy the beauties of nature, and a call to preserve our earth.

For those cooped up at home who are yearning to travel, Spinelli’s rhymes take readers from farm fields, to redwood forests, and to the beach where seagulls cruise. And the ideas to save the earth are simple things that young children can do themselves or with their families, like picking up trash and turning in deposit bottles.

Coehlo’s bright, detailed, and whimsical illustrations will appeal to young listeners, I think. I also love the diversity depicted, including varied locations and a multicultural group of children.

A Note about Craft:

One Earth is a rhyming poem without a clear story arc or main character, but it works on so many levels to draw readers in and encourage us to take action to save our earth. And with the multicultural cast of characters which Coelho includes, it’s a vivid reminder that, despite our different situations and abilities, each of us can take action to make the world better.

This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!

PPBF – Hello Goodbye, Little Island

Today’s Perfect Picture Book is set on the island of Singapore, a place I sadly have not visited…yet! But I think readers still wary/unable to stray far from home will enjoy this virtual visit. I know I did!

And while reading is a wonderful way to escape the confines of home, our library is only open on a limited basis for the foreseeable future with no interlibrary loan service (my “local” is one of the smaller libraries, so most books I review I order through interlibrary loan). In light of the difficulty of obtaining books to review at present, I’ve decided to take a break for the summer. If I’m able to get my hands on a book or two to review, I may post periodically, but otherwise, I look forward to resuming in the fall. Enjoy the summer! Happy reading!

Title: Hello Goodbye, Little Island

Written By: Leila Boukarim

Illustrated By: Barbara Moxham

Publisher/Date: Marshall Cavendish Children/2018

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: moving, friendship

Opening:

Maja had moved to the little island with her family not long ago.

Brief Synopsis: Sad to have left her former home, Maja begins to like living in her new island home when she meets a friend. But when that friend moves away, Maja is again sad and lonely, until she finds a new friend.

Links to Resources:

  • Have you moved to a new house, school, or community? How did you feel? Draw a picture of something that you like about your new home, school, or community;
  • If there’s a new student in your class at school this fall, try to help them feel welcome. Think of some favorite activities that you could share with them;
  • This story takes place on the island nation of Singapore. Singapore icons are incorporated into the illustrations, and they are explained in the back matter. Readers can search the illustrations for them as a seek-and-find game.

Why I Like this Book:

Moving homes, schools, and countries is difficult for anyone, but especially so for young children. So it is that Maja, the main character of Hello Goodbye, Little Island finds the food, vegetation, and climate strange in her new home, and she repeatedly asks when the family can return to their old, familiar home.

When Maja starts a new, larger school and meets a friend through whose eyes she can see the little island, “it was not so strange anymore.” But like several places where my family lived when our children were young, Maja’s new school was filled with expat families, who remained only a few years in one location. Maja’s new friend was leaving!

Once again, Maja “found herself in a strange land”, with everything seeming “different”. Until, that is, Maja discovered a new friend.

Boukarim captures Maja’s dejection at losing a friend and her happiness at finding a new friend, two feelings that children who have moved house, schools, or communities will be able to relate to well. I also like that Maja and Nour, her new friend, expand their friend circle to include a lonely boy who also is new and misses a friend.

Because Hello Goodbye, Little Island is set in Singapore, an island nation in which many expatriates live and work for a few years at a time, Boukarim populates the story with children from diverse backgrounds and cultures. I like how these characters see the beauty in their differences and learn from each other.

Moxham’s unique illustrations are a combination of collaged photographs and black and white illustrations, with icons of Singapore scattered throughout.

A Note about Craft:

In addition to featuring an endearing main character, Maja, who enjoys quiet time spent with friends, Boukarim features many items and activities found in Singapore. I think these specifics, which are new to Maja, help readers understand and empathize with her feelings of loneliness and being in a “strange” place. Adding the seek and find layer to the story increases its re-readability, and this also may expand the age range to older children interested in learning about Singapore.

This Perfect Picture Book entry will be added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!

 

PPBF – Acknowledges Juneteenth and World Refugee Day 2020

I perused my bookshelves to choose a Perfect Picture Book for today, which was no small feat, as our local library hasn’t reopened yet and even upon reopening, it’s unclear if interlibrary loans will be possible. But even if I had a pile of books at hand, it’s clear that any book I’d choose to review today would need to be special.

To honor the significance of Juneteenth and support and further the movement to fight systemic racism taking place in my local community, our country, and in many parts of the world, while not forgetting to mark World Refugee Day, and the ongoing, and even worsening, plight of the many refugees in the world – I frankly couldn’t choose just one picture book. I add to that the importance of ensuring that our children acquire the passion and tools to advocate for justice, to empathize with others, and to promote peace.

So, dear readers, instead of just one Perfect Picture Book today, I want to share a few picture books that I’ve read and reviewed in the past year, and that, I believe, are resources for some, but by no means all, of the momentous issues facing our children today. Please share some of the picture books that speak to you on these issues in the comments.

Dare

 

Making Their Voices Heard: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe

 

Peaceful Fights for Equal Rights

A Place to Land: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Speech that Inspired a Nation

 The Unexpected Friend: A Rohingya Children’s Story

Wherever I Go

Yusra Swims

 

Check out the other great picture books featured at Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book list, to which this post also will be linked.

 

Perfect Pairing Observes Refugee Week 2020

This Saturday, 20 June 2020, is the United Nations’ World Refugee Day 2020, and in the United Kingdom and other countries, this week is Refugee Week, a “festival celebrating the contributions, creativity and resilience of refugees.” As regular readers know, I read, and review, many picture books about the refugee experience. I’m happy to pair two of these recent books this week.

Boundless Sky

Author: Amanda Addison

Illustrator: Manuela Adreani

Publisher/Date: Lantana Publishing/2020

Ages: 4-6

Themes: migration, birds, refugees, welcoming, friendship

Short Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Nobody knew, nobody dreamed, nobody even considered the possibility that a bird that fits in your hand might fly halfway around the world looking for a place to nest . . . or that a young girl from northern Africa might flee halfway around the world looking for safety. This is the story of Bird. This is the story of Leila. This is the story of a chance encounter and a long journey home.

Read my review.

Wherever I Go

Author: Mary Wagley Copp

Illustrator: Munir D. Mohammed

Publisher/date: Atheneum Books for Young Children, an imprint of Simon and Schuster Publishing/2020

Ages: 6-9

Themes: refugee, resilience, imagination, resettlement

Short Synopsis (from Goodreads):

A hopeful and timely picture book about a spirited little girl living in a refugee camp.

Of all her friends, Abia has been at the Shimelba Refugee Camp the longest—seven years, four months, and sixteen days. Papa says that’s too long and they need a forever home. Until then, though, Abia has something important to do. Be a queen.

Sometimes she’s a noisy queen, banging on her drum as she and Mama wait in the long line for rice to cook for dinner. Sometimes she’s a quiet queen, cuddling her baby cousin to sleep while Auntie is away collecting firewood. And sometimes, when Papa talks hopefully of their future, forever home, Abia is a little nervous. Forever homes are in strange and faraway places—will she still be a queen?

Filled with hope, love, and respect, Wherever I Go is a timely tribute to the strength and courage of refugees around the world.

Read my review.

I paired these books because, though they differ in their storytelling techniques, and though neither sugarcoats the refugee experience, both leave the reader feeling hopeful about the fates of the refugees highlighted. In Boundless Sky, Addison parallels the migration of a bird with the journey of young Leila who migrates from Africa to Britain. In Wherever I Go, Wagley Copp reminds readers that refugees, like the narrator, Abia, are survivors who will enrich the community where they eventually settle.

Looking for similar reads? See The Unexpected Friend, about a young Rohingya refugee, and Yusra Swims, about a refugee who competed in the Olympics.

 

 

PPBF – Your Name is a Song

When I saw the title of today’s Perfect Picture Book and its gorgeous cover, and when I saw who wrote it, I knew that I had to read it as soon as possible. So I reached out to the publisher on a site for reviewers, and I requested an electronic copy (in exchange for a fair and unbiased review). I’m so happy I did so, and I know you won’t be disappointed when you get your hands on this not-yet-released picture book!

Title: Your Name is a Song

Written By: Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow

Illustrated By: Luisa Uribe

Publisher/Date: The Innovation Press/July 2020 (note: this launch date may be delayed due to Covid-19)

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: names, self-esteem, pride, heritage, multicultural

Opening:

“I’m not coming back ever again!” The girl stomped.

Brief Synopsis:

On the first day of school, a young girl is upset because neither her teacher nor fellow classmates can pronounce her name, until her mother reminds her of the musicality and beauty of her name and others like it and empowers her to sing it.

Links to Resources:

  • Do you have a name that others have trouble saying or spelling? How do you feel when someone mispronounces your name? How do you think a classmate feels if you can’t pronounce their name?
  • Try tapping out each syllable of your name or singing your own name;
  • Try these name games;
  • Check out the interview Thompkins-Bigelow had with Mr. Schu about the meaning and importance of names.

Why I Like this Book:

I think any child, and even adult, feels awful when peers or an adult can’t pronounce or spell their name, or when someone uses a nickname not generally used or liked. A name is such a personal aspect of identity, which even young children recognize, I think.

In Your Name is a Song, Thompkins-Bigelow captures that feeling and offers solutions that help the young main character find beauty in her name and others that some people may have difficulty pronouncing. The words of her mother empower this young girl to sing her name, and others, when her teacher stumbles on her name once again, and to help her teacher and classmates find beauty in names that had seemed unfamiliar at first.

I particularly like how Thompkins-Bigelow addresses not just the inability of someone’s mouth to form words, but the reality that some names arise from the heart.

Uribe’s colorful illustrations show the young girl and her mother journeying from school to home and then back again the next day, and include magical scenes in which made-up names come from dreams and emanate from the sky, appearing in clouds through which our young girl travels.

Your Name is a Song is a joyous celebration that will help bolster the self-esteem of children whose names are difficult to pronounce or which reflect a particular culture. It also provides a way for other children and adults to think about the importance and beauty of names that may, at first, seem difficult to pronounce or different, and a solution, via song, to overcome that difficulty.

A Note about Craft:

Thompkins-Bigelow doesn’t name the main character until near the end of the book (I’m not going to spoil the ending and reveal it here). I think she does this to keep the reader wondering what name has caused the other children, and even the teacher, to stumble on the pronunciation and to build tension.

A glossary of the names mentioned, their origins, and their pronunciations is included as back matter. The pronunciations also appear in parentheses within the text, to help readers who might stumble while reading.

This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!

 

Perfect Pairing – of Two Books Illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini

Imagine my surprise when I was shelving a picture book that I reviewed a few weeks ago and discovered that the illustrator had illustrated another picture book I had reviewed last year. Could this be the reason for a perfect pairing, perhaps?

Neema’s Reason to Smile

Author: Patricia Newman

Illustrator: Mehrdokht Amini

Publisher/Date: Lightswitch Learning, a Sussman Education company/2018

Ages: 4-8

Themes: school, Africa, poverty, dreams, multicultural

Short Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Every day, Neema balances a heavy basket of fruit on her head and traces the dusty path to town that unwinds like a cheetah’s tail. She wants to go to school, but Mama cannot afford the uniform and supplies. Neema saves her money and dreams big dreams, until one day hope skips down the street wearing a red skirt and white shirt.

Read my review.

 

Nimesh the Adventurer

Author: Ranjit Singh

Illustrator: Mehrdokht Amini

Publisher/Date: Lantana Publishing/2019

Ages: 4-6

Themes: imagination, adventure, multicultural

Short Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Nimesh is walking home from school. Except…there happens to be a shark in the corridor. And a dragon in the library! And why would crossing the road lead to the North Pole? A fun-filled story about a little boy with a BIG imagination, Nimesh the Adventurer will surely make even the dullest journey a dazzling adventure.

Read my review.

I paired these books because they feature the work of one illustrator, Mehrdokht Amini. In Neema’s Reason to Smile, Amini’s vibrant and colorful illustrations made me feel like I was journeying with Neema to the village and school. In Nimesh the Adventurer, Amini’s brightly-detailed illustrations render this picture book truly stunning, as they show how one child’s imagination can transform everyday scenes into the sites of true adventures. In both cases, Amini features main characters of color, and her illustrations transported this reader to another time and place.