PPBF – In a Jar

As a serial mover, I’m drawn to tales involving someone who moves houses. Today’s Perfect Picture Book is one of the more lyrical and beautiful recent ones.

Title: In a Jar

Written & Illustrated By: Deborah Marcero

Publisher/Date: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, an imprint of Penguin Random House/2020

Suitable for Ages: 3-7

Themes/Topics: collecting, wonder, friendship, loss, moving

Opening:

Llewellyn was a collector. He collected things in jars.

Brief Synopsis: When a young collector finds a like-minded friend, they enjoy collecting together, until this new friend moves away.

Links to Resources:

  • Do you collect anything? Draw a picture of something you’ve collected and share it with a friend;
  • Collect a memory by writing about it or by photographing or drawing a picture of the event. If your memory involves a favorite food, try making the special food for your family or a friend;
  • Ask an adult to add beans, marbles, coins, or buttons to a jar. Try to guess how many fit;
  • Find a pen pal and exchange letters with them. Here’s a listing of organizations that encourage letters to people like astronauts, authors, seniors, kids in other countries, and more.

Why I Like this Book:

This heart-warming story features a young rabbit, Llewllyn, who collects ordinary items and some hard-to-capture natural wonders in jars. When he shares a jar filled with a gorgeous sunset with Evelyn, the two become fast friends. They collect so much together, and I think kids will love the spreads filled with illustrations of collected memories in jars.

But when Evelyn and her family move away, “Llewellyn’s heart felt like an empty jar.” Experiencing the loss of a friend or family member because of a move, change of schools, or even death is so difficult for kids. Especially in this year of loneliness and loss, I think this exploration of how Llewellyn and Evelyn deal with loss will comfort many kids, and adults. I won’t ruin the ending, but I will share that Llewllyn found a way to continue the friendship from afar, and even make a new friend.

From the stunning spreads with so many details in the many featured jars and the lyrical language, to the message of friendship and sharing, to showing kids how to overcome loss, In a Jar shines on so many levels and is deserving of the many starred reviews it has received.

A Note about Craft:

I confess that when I first saw the title of this book, I couldn’t imagine what it would be about, although the cover illustration of two rabbits surrounded by bluebells instantly caught my eye and beckoned me to read on. But collecting things in a jar is such a kid-relatable activity. The idea of collecting larger items, memories, or intangible things like rainbows, sounds, and the wind in a jar could also seem plausible to little ones. I can imagine them pouring over the illustrations containing jars of all shapes and sizes filled with all of the wonders of nature and more.

Upon reflection, I think Marcero also uses the jar as a metaphor for memory and emotions. Most poignantly, she compares Llewellyn’s heart to “an empty jar.” How beautiful is that!

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 – In My Mosque

As Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting, draws to a close, I think it’s a perfect time to review today’s Perfect Picture Book.

Title: In My Mosque

Written By: M.O. Yuksel

Illustrated By: Hatem Aly

Publisher/Date: Harper Collins Children’s Books/2021

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: Islam, worship, diversity, #OwnVoices

Opening:

In my mosque, we are a rainbow of colors and speak in different accents. As-salaamu alaykum – I greet my friends and newcomers too. Everyone is welcome here.

Brief Synopsis: A diverse group of children explores their mosques and welcomes others to explore with them.

Links to Resources:

  • Do you have a favorite place you visit? Describe with words and/or pictures what you do in that special location;
  • If you attend services or classes at a church, synagogue, temple, or other place of worship, describe in words or pictures how it’s the same as or different from a mosque;
  • Enjoy this coloring page;
  • Find more resources, including an interview with Yuksel about creating In My Mosque at Teaching Books.

Why I Like this Book:

From the first spread to the final spread of In My Mosque, readers learn that “everyone” is “welcome here”. Featuring a diverse cast of smiling children and their adults, readers follow along as children prepare for worship, hear “stories of living in harmony,” told by the imam, pray standing “shoulder to shoulder” with friends, and sometimes even “get distracted.” In addition to worshipping in mosques, readers also see that charity and community are important features. One character exclaims that “I hope it’s never time to leave!” Seeing the joy on everyone’s faces, it’s understandable why they want to stay.

I consider myself fortunate to have visited one of the famous mosques listed in the back matter, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. I recall feeling overwhelmed by the beauty and vastness of the space and filled with peace, akin to the feeling I had when I first visited Notre Dame in Paris. That Yuksel mentions other places of worship, churches, temples, and synagogues, is important, I think, especially as she also adds that in mosques, as in those others, “we pray for peace, love, and joy”.

Aly’s vibrant illustrations are filled with smiling faces of all shapes and colors and intricate tile work that visitors would find in mosques. Pigeons are visible in several spreads – young children will enjoy searching for them.

Informative back matter that includes further information about mosques generally, a glossary, and a listing of some famous and historic mosques rounds out In My Mosque, making it a wonderful choice for homes, classrooms, and libraries.

A Note about Craft:

In My Mosque is a concept book that explores the many facets of mosques, the Muslim places of worship. To help render this topic kid friendly and interesting to both adults and children, Yuksel and Aly feature a diverse cast of children and their adults so that readers can picture themselves in the mosques. Interestingly, the title uses first-person singular rather than plural, even though each of the children featured is a narrator. I think Yuksel, or perhaps the editor, chose to use the singular pronoun to help connect readers to each narrator in turn, to help it seem like we’re receiving a guided tour from one child.

Nowhere in the text does Yuksel mention that males and females worship separately. But she shows these parallel worshipers in alternating spreads. Even when it isn’t clear from the text whether it’s males or females worshiping, Aly continues the pattern and shows either boys, or girls, in each spread.

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 – We Are Water Protectors

For the last Friday of National Poetry Month and Earth Month, I couldn’t think of a better book to choose as a Perfect Picture Book.

Title: We Are Water Protectors

Written By: Carole Lindstrom

Illustrated By: Michaela Goade

Publisher/Date: Roaring Brook Press/2020

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: water, #OwnVoices, Indigenous Peoples, ecology, social activism

Opening:

Water is the first medicine, Nokomis told me.

Brief Synopsis: When a black snake arrives and threatens the water sources, a young girl finds courage to rally her people to fight it.

Links to Resources:

  • Are you a water protector? How can you preserve and protect water in your community? Even simple actions like using less water to bathe or while you’re brushing your teeth, or cleaning up litter near a pond or river bank, helps;
  • Discover more activities in the Activity Kit.

Why I Like this Book:

As the many accolades attest, including winning the 2021 ALA Caldecott Medal, We Are Water Protectors is an exceptional picture book. Lyrical text that draws the reader in, a compelling problem that causes the reader to cheer on the brave main character, seamlessly blending the traditions and beliefs of Native Americans with the contemporary problem of saving the planet, this book would be a must read, even without Goade’s stunning illustrations. Starting with the words of a wise grandmother and scenes of a baby in utero, the text and the illustrations later in the narrative pan out to feature the entire earth, surrounded by animals, and the recognition that we “are all related.” And “we,” not just the narrator and not just her people, can stand together and be water protectors.

Back matter includes further information about water protectors, a glossary, and an Earth Steward and Water Protector Pledge.

A Note about Craft:

After reading We Are Water Protectors, I felt encouraged and empowered to join the fight to defeat the black snake, and I think others will be determined to join the fight, too. How did Lindstrom call me and them to action? Using the immediacy of first-person point-of-view personalizes the problem and helps the reader experience the world, and the water problem, from her perspective.  Using the first-person plural “we” in the title and throughout the narrative, Lindstrom goes one step further and shows the reader how the problem affects all of us, and how we are all vital to the solution.

That Lindstrom’s lyrical text is paired with Goade’s illustrations that also draw on Native American imagery and culture renders this collaboration more than the sum of its parts.

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 – The Wisdom of Trees: How Trees Work Together to Form a Natural Kingdom

With Earth Day this week, and National Poetry Month in full swing, I couldn’t resist sharing this Perfect Picture Book that includes poetry, gorgeous forest vistas, and even suggestions to help our forests.

Title: The Wisdom of Trees: How Trees Work Together to Form a Natural Kingdom

Written & Illustrated By: Lita Judge

Publisher/Date: Roaring Brook Press/2021

Suitable for Ages: 7-12

Themes/Topics: trees, nature, community, ecology, poetry, botany

Opening:

A Secret Kingdom

I am a single beech,/ but I am not alone./Together with my fellow trees,/ we form a secret kingdom.

Brief Synopsis: A series of free-verse poems and informative sidebars explore the hidden communities, communications, and cooperation that help strengthen trees and the world.

Links to Resources:

Why I Like this Book:

With gorgeous two-page watercolor illustrations, free verse poems, and informative sidebars, Judge introduces children to a world of trees. After the introductory poem of the opening, readers are asked to imagine the stories that ancient trees could tell. We then learn that trees have a “secret language” that humans can’t read or hear, that they communicate with each other to help trees live longer. How cool is that! What child wouldn’t be intrigued, especially when they learn that trees’ communication “begins deep underground.”

With catchy titles that invite reading and rereading, such as “How to Speak in Tree” and “Like the Bear”, the poems provide some basic information, like the role of fungal partners in communication and the role of hibernation. In sidebars that accompany these poems, Judge delves deeper, sharing the secrets of the “wood wide web” and the cork layers that form as temperatures drop to keep wood tissue from bursting like frozen water pipes in unheated houses.

Younger children can enjoy and learn some basic botany by listening to the poems and examining the detailed illustrations. Even the youngest toddlers can search for the birds and other woodland creatures in each spread. Older children and adults can learn much more from the sidebars and back matter.

I especially enjoyed the poem “We Are a Village” which reminds readers that a forest is comprised of a “diversity of trees”, each serving “a purpose in the rich fabric of life.” Just as diverse human communities are stronger and just as humans need each other, readers learn that “[t]ree diversity leads to healthier forests and helps multiple species of wildlife thrive by providing a wide range of food and homes.”

The extensive back matter includes an Author’s Note, further exploration of the topics covered, ways to help our forests, a glossary, sources, and more.

Whether for a home, classroom, or library, The Wisdom of Trees is a stunning resource that children and adults will find fascinating.

A Note about Craft:

Judge tackles a huge topic in The Wisdom of Trees, and she even shares some cutting-edge science. How does she make it accessible to children? I think she succeeds by dividing the subject matter into discreet topics, presenting basic introductory facts in each poem, offering more detailed information in the side bars and back matter, and completing the package with gorgeous illustrations of trees and forest animals. And to entice children to explore this wisdom, she begins in “A Secret Kingdom” where a single beech holds center stage. She then draws us in further by sharing that trees have their own stories and that we can learn about their communication by looking “deep underground”. What child or adult wouldn’t want to read on!

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 – Watercress

With Earth Day approaching, I had planned to review a picture book with a more overtly environmental theme. But when I read today’s picture book, I had to share it straight away. And as I mention below, there is an environmental theme if you look for it, one of the many layers of this Perfect Picture Book.

Title: Watercress

Written By: Andrea Wang

Illustrated By: Jason Chin

Publisher/Date: Neal Porter Books, a division of Holiday House/2021

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: immigrants, Asian-Americans, family, memories, family history

Opening:

We are in the old Pontiac, the red paint faded by years of glinting Ohio sun, pelting rain, and biting snow.

Brief Synopsis: Picking watercress for dinner becomes an opportunity to share some difficult family history.

Links to Resources:

  • Ask a parent, grandparent, or other adult to share a happy or sad memory from their childhood;
  • The family in Watercress prepares and eats sauteed watercress with garlic. Ask an adult to help you prepare a similar dish (note, fresh watercress is now available in some grocery stores);
  • Food and scent often bring back memories. Draw a picture of a happy time when you ate a favorite food.

Why I Like this Book:

In this gorgeous new picture book based on an incident from Andrea Wang’s childhood, an unnamed narrator recounts an afternoon when she unhappily helped her immigrant parents pick watercress by the side of a rural Ohio roadway. Wang sprinkles the text with descriptive adjectives  such as “biting”, “abrupt”, “jerking”, “rusty”,  and “dirty” that show the narrator’s distaste for the task and embarrassment that her family gathers food, rather than visiting a grocery store, as the narrator’s classmates do. But when the narrator’s mother recounts a difficult period from her past in China, the narrator tries the foraged watercress and realizes it is “delicate and slightly bitter”, much like her mother’s memories of China.

Reading Watercress will help children of immigrants, and other children, too, better understand the hardships their parents may have endured. With its Asian-American main character, reading and discussing Watercress is a wonderful way to encourage empathy for people of Asian descent. And as someone who grew up in a family in which money was often tight, Wang’s discussion of hand-me-down clothes, “roadside trash-heap furniture”, and “dinner from a ditch” resonated with me. I think it will resonate with children in households dealing with financial issues today, too.

Finally, the discussion of famine in China when the narrator’s parents were young may help children realize that climate change and its effect on weather systems and crop yields can affect some regions disproportionately. Perhaps this will lead to greater understanding of climate migration and empathy for those most affected by climate change.

Chin’s soft, earth-hued illustrations are gorgeous and wonderfully detailed. Interweaving scenes of China with scenes from the narrator’s life adds so much to the reader’s understanding of why foraging for watercress may not be as bad as the narrator first portrays it.

A Note about Craft:

In a note from the author, Wang reveals that Watercress is based on a childhood memory. Although the story is fiction and although Wang’s mother did not share her sad memories of life in China with Wang as a child, it’s clear that the feeling of being different is very real for Wang, and because of that, I think she is able to convey that very effectively.

Although not poetry per se, Wang uses very lyrical and emotion-filled language – Wang truly writes from the heart! Using first person point-of-view, it’s clear that the unnamed narrator views picking watercress as an unpleasant task, and she clearly is embarrassed by her heritage and ashamed of her family’s situation until she realizes what they’ve endured to survive.

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 – I Am the Storm

April is Earth Month and National Poetry Month. So I thought this is the perfect time to showcase today’s Perfect Picture Book. I hope you agree!

Title: I Am the Storm

Written By: Jane Yolen and Heidi E.Y. Stemple

Illustrated By: Kristen and Kevin Howdeshell

Publisher/Date: Rise x Penguin Workshop, an imprint of Penguin Random House/2020

Suitable for Ages: 3-5 and older

Themes/Topics: natural disasters, resilience, nature

Opening:

When the wind howled and blew, loud as a train,/ we had a party in the basement with Grandma, reading books and playing games with the flashlight.

Brief Synopsis:

In a series of fictional vignettes, young children and their families experience and survive natural disasters.

Links to Resources:

Why I Like this Book:

In I Am the Storm, four young children and their families survive four different natural disasters. With short, lyrical text and repeated phrases, Yolen and Stemple show what each family does as the natural disaster rages. And after the disasters, because, as the authors reassure readers, these disasters always stop, the children help clean up and help others, mimicking the disasters with their actions, “howling and blowing like the wind,” tossing “big handfuls of snow”, swaying “like a slow beautiful flame”, and returning home. Addressing readers, the authors acknowledge, “It’s okay to be scared.” But they remind readers, too, that they can be “strong and powerful” like nature, and afterwards, calm.

Illustrated with an inclusive array of characters and representing a variety of settings, I Am the Storm is an important book for kids who live in regions where natural disasters are prevalent, which is many places these days, or who are dealing with the aftermath of natural disasters or any type of traumatic event (which is most of us, after this COVID-dominated year).

The Howdeshells use sweeping, earth-toned double-page spreads to show both the disasters and the calmer scenes afterwards.

A Note about Craft:

With four distinct main characters facing four different natural disasters, in four varied settings, how did Yolen and Stemple tie these disparate stories together and craft a cohesive picture book? Using the same format for each, disaster strikes and families hunker down and amuse themselves together, followed by post-disaster clean up, with a repeated phrase “as…always do,” the authors show the resilience of each main character. And by acknowledging that it’s okay to be scared, and showing how these kids, and the readers, possess storm-like qualities, they offer hope to readers that they, too, will overcome these temporary disasters.

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 – Peace

In a week during which we celebrate two major religious holidays, Passover and Easter, and with Ramadan starting soon, I thought this is the perfect time to feature today’s Perfect Picture Book.

Title: Peace

Written By: Baptiste Paul and Miranda Paul

Illustrated By: Estelí Meza

Publisher/Date: NorthSouth Books/2021

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: peace, social action, wildlife preservation, rhyming

Opening:

Peace is a hello, a smile, a hug.

Brief Synopsis:

An exploration of the steps even the youngest kids can take to foster peace.

Links to Resources:

Why I Like this Book:

Featuring an inclusive group of children, including differently-abled children, this rhyming concept book is a wonderful way to explore with young children the meaning of peace and to offer examples of how they can help promote it. From simple actions, like smiling and making the effort to pronounce a name correctly, to saying “I’m sorry,” Peace provides many examples of everyday actions even the youngest among us can take to promote peace.

As the Pauls note in the Authors’ Note and as is evident in the illustrations, peace building doesn’t just affect people. In times and areas of conflict, nature and animals suffer. Especially during Earth Month, with the celebration of Earth Day coming up soon, I find this message an important reminder that our actions, good and bad, affect not just other people but our entire world.

Meza’s soft palette and folk-art inspired illustrations feature animals with the children in every spread. The end papers include peace trees with the word “peace” featured in many different languages, and there’s a lovely fold-out double spread at the end.

Whether at home or in a classroom or library setting, I think children and their adults will enjoy reading and rereading Peace and sharing its hopeful message, that we can all help foster peace in our world.

A Note about Craft:

In rhyming couplets, the Pauls define an abstract concept, peace, in ways that provide concrete examples to even young children of how to promote peace. And nowhere in the text do they explicitly mention that actions that promote peace also help the natural world. Rather, they mention that in the Authors’ Note and leave space for the illustrator to include the many birds, fish, and other animals that benefit when humans live in peace.

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 – Birdsong

For my first Perfect Picture Book of the spring, I chose a quiet book filled with friendship and nature. Enjoy!

Title: Birdsong

Written & Illustrated By: Julie Flett

Publisher/Date: Greystone Books/2019

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: moving, #OwnVoices, nature, intergenerational, creativity, friendship

Opening:

Spring

It’s a mucky spring morning as we pack up the last of our belongings and leave our little home in the city by the sea.

I’m going to miss my friends and cousins and aunties and uncles. I’m going to miss my bedroom window and the tree outside.

“Goodbye, tree friend,” I whisper.

Brief Synopsis:

When a lonely young girl moves to a new home, she becomes friends with an elderly neighbor who helps her discover the beauty of her new surroundings.

Links to Resources:

  • Have you moved from one house or neighborhood to another one? Draw a picture of something you miss from your old house or something you like in your new home;
  • In the summer time, Katherena’s new home “hums with peeps and whistles and ribbits and chirps.” What do you hear when you’re outside?
  • Check out the Teachers Guide for more resources.

Why I Like this Book:

Arranged by seasons and incorporating a few Cree words, Birdsong is a beautiful and multi-layered picture book that explores how one young girl adapts to her new home and life through her interactions with a kindly neighbor. As a serial mover whose kids have trouble naming their hometown, I can relate to Katherena’s sadness at leaving family and friends behind and venturing to a new, unfamiliar location.

An art lover, Katherena has no desire to draw in her new home until she meets Agnes, an elderly neighbor who shares her own creative endeavors and the beauty of her garden. Through Agnes, Katherena learns to appreciate the beauty of her new surroundings, and the two share their art and cultures.

I love that Flett highlights the power of intergenerational friendship, especially as both friends learn from each other and benefit from the relationship. I also love how nature, including the birds in the title, provides a bond between these neighbors.

The soft pastel and pencil illustrations provide sweeping views of nature, a lovely invitation to go outside and explore our own bit of the world.

A Note about Craft:

Flett perfectly ties together so many themes in this quietly beautiful picture book: moving, loneliness, creativity, Cree language and culture, friendship, and intergenerational relationships.

She arranges Birdsong by seasons, an apt metaphor, I think, for life as the two main characters, young Katherena and elderly Agnes, are in the different seasons of their lives.

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 – Oscar’s American Dream

With little opportunity to venture into and browse in bookstores since last March, I’ve purchased very few picture books. But when my local indie opened to limited in-store shopping last fall, and when I saw today’s Perfect Picture Book featured, I knew I had to grab my bike, don my mask, and head over to purchase it.

Title: Oscar’s American Dream

Written By: Barry Wittenstein

Illustrated By: Kristen & Kevin Howdeshell

Publisher/Date: Schwartz & Wade Books/2020

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: immigration, urban landscapes, dreams

Opening:

Oskar Nowicki arrived at Ellis Island carrying his life in a cardboard suitcase and a skinny roll of money in his coat pocket, a loan from his mother in Poland for a down payment on his dream.

Brief Synopsis:

From Oscar’s dream of a barber shop in the late 19th century to a candy store in the late 20th century, a small corner store reflects the hopes and lives of successive generations of New Yorkers.

Links to Resources:

  • Ask an adult about the home you or they live in. When was it built? How has it changed through the years? Draw a picture of the home then and now;
  • Ask an adult to share older photographs of the town where you live. Think about what has changed. Why do you think these places have changed?
  • See the Curriculum Guide for more ideas.

Why I Like this Book:

In Oscar’s American Dream, American history and the hopes and dreams of waves of immigrants come alive through the history of one corner store. From its first iteration as Polish immigrant Oscar’s All-American barber shop to years as a dress shop, soup kitchen, bodega, candy shop, and more, this one shop is a window into large events, like the Great Depression, and smaller neighborhood changes.

I think kids will better understand these changes as they see them unfold through the many iterations of the corner store. Most notable, I think, is the switch from the late 19th and early 20th century Eastern European immigrants who frequent Oscar’s barbershop, the dress shop, and the soup kitchen, and the mid-20th century newcomer from Puerto Rico who opens up a bodega followed by a television shop.

Although Oscar’s American Dream takes place in a large city, namely the lower east side of New York City, I think even children living in suburban or rural settings have experienced the changing faces of area businesses and will enjoy this book.

The Howdeshells’ soft-hued, detailed illustrations further illuminate societal changes.

A Note about Craft:

It’s no small feat to chronicle 100 years of American history in a way that’s accessible to young children. But by casting a building, a tangible place, as the main character of the story, I think Wittenstein has made it much easier for kids to understand the changes that occurred during the 20th century.

In addition to the corner store itself, the other main characters in this story are adults. To draw in young readers, Wittenstein adds a particularly kid-friendly detail to this fictional story: Oscar gave “lemon drops to all the boys and girls” who visited his barber shop. These same candies appear later as well, as Wittenstein circles back to tie up this story. The Howdeshells include children in almost every spread, too.

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 – I Am One: A Book of Action

I chose today’s Perfect Picture Book in honor of my daughter, my eldest child, who celebrates her birthday today. Not only has she met and worked with the inspiration of this book, and not only did she gift me a copy autographed by the awesome illustrator, but in her life and work she inspires me to action.

Title: I Am One: A Book of Action

Written By: Susan Verde

Illustrated By: Peter H. Reynolds

Publisher/Date: Abrams Books for Young Readers/2020

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: making a difference, social activism

Opening:

How do I make a difference?

It seems like a tall order for one so small.

But beautiful things start with just One.

Brief Synopsis:

A call to action for each person to take one step to start something beautiful, to help make the world better.

Links to Resources:

  • In the Author’s Note, Verde shares that I Am One was inspired by a quotation from the Dalai Lama, “Just as ripples spread out when a single pebble is dropped into water, the actions of individuals can have far-reaching effects.” Learn about the Dalai Lama and his work;
  • Drop a pebble in calm water and notice what you see. If you can’t do so outside in a pond, lake, or other calm body of water, fill a large bowl with water, drop in a small pebble, coin, or dried bean, and notice what you see;
  • Try the mindfulness exercise in the Author’s Note.

Why I Like this Book:

With sparse, lyrical text, Verde shares an important message in a very kid-friendly way. She reminds readers that just one person, YOU, can take action, start something beautiful, make a positive difference in this world. Whether it’s the first brushstroke to start a painting, the first seed planted in a garden, or the first brick removed from a wall, you can start to make positive changes at home, in your neighborhood, at school, and even in the world.

Paired with Reynolds’ colorful, lively illustrations, I think Verde’s words will inspire readers to take positive action.

A Note about Craft:

Verde’s direct, lyrical text leaves lots of space for her frequent collaborator, Reynolds, to show readers how seemingly small actions can make positive change possible.  

Midway through the book, Verde reminds readers that “We are each One. And we can take action.” From the sole protagonist at the start of the book, to a pair who undertake a journey, to a group who create together, Verde shows the actions of many “Ones” working towards a common goal.

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!