Monthly Archives: November 2020

PPBF – My Favorite Memories

Regular readers know that I gravitate to stories about moving, so when I find a new picture book about this topic, I just have to review it!

Title: My Favorite Memories

Written By: Sepideh Sarihi

Illustrated By: Julie Völk

Translated By: Elisabeth Llauffer

Publisher/Date: Blue Dot Kids Press/2020 (German edition, Beltz & Gelberg/2018)

Suitable for Ages: 5-8

Themes/Topics: moving, memories, change, resilience

Opening:

I was brushing my hair when Papa came in and told me we were moving. Mama was very excited. Papa too.

Brief Synopsis:

When a young girl and her family move to a new country, she wants to bring everything she loves with her.

Links to Resources:

  • What are your most favorite things? Make a list or draw a few of them;
  • Do your favorite things fit in a bag, box, or suitcase? How would you pack them if you, like the narrator in the story, were moving house or even country?
  • Have you and your family moved, or do you live far from close relatives or friends? How did you feel if you moved? How do you keep in contact with close relatives who live far away?

Why I Like this Book:

Change is difficult for everyone, especially when it’s a big change, like moving house or countries. And when leaving is expected to be permanent, it’s especially difficult to determine what to bring to your new home to remind you of your old life.

Such is the dilemma explored in My Favorite Memories. Narrated by an unnamed young girl in spare, direct text, this story draws readers in and helps children empathize with those who leave everything behind to seek safety and economic well-being in a new place.

The soft palette of the illustrations add to the beauty of this book. Whether you’re contemplating a move, just moved, or seeking to welcome others into your community, My Favorite Memories is a wonderful picture book to share at home or in the classroom.

A Note about Craft:

Sarihi’s use of first-person point-of-view brings an immediacy to the text which, I think, will help children empathize with the narrator. Per the jacket flap, Sarihi was born in Iran but immigrated to Germany in 2012. My Favorite Memories is thus an #OwnVoices work.

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 – A Thousand Glass Flowers: Marietta Barovier and the Invention of the Rosetta Bead

I always love reading about women who break barriers, as regular readers know. But you may not know that I collect colored glass vases and that I had the opportunity several years ago to try glassblowing and make my own vase.

I made the bright green vase on the right!

So when I saw this new picture book about a female glassmaker, you know I had to read and share it!

Title: A Thousand Glass Flowers: Marietta Barovier and the Invention of the Rosetta Bead

Written & Illustrated By: Evan Turk

Publisher/Date: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster/2020

Suitable for Ages: 5-9

Themes/Topics: glassmaking, biography, women, glass beads, persistence, breaking barriers

Opening:

Marietta loved to watch the sun. It was like a glowing ball of glass that rose each morning to give light and color to the world.

She lived with her family on the island of Murano, as all the glassmakers did, cut off from the main city of Venice.

Brief Synopsis:

Young Marietta grew up in a family of Murano glassmakers during the Renaissance, but glassmaking was a male profession. With her father’s encouragement and much determination, Marietta became one of the first female professional glassmakers and invented a beautiful glass bead.

Links to Resources:

  • Learn about Venice and the glass-making islands that surround this city of canals;
  • Check out the kid-friendly activities at Corning Museum of Glass;
  • Watch a fun video about the chemistry of glass and how it is made.

Why I Like this Book:

Pluck, persistence, a craft that combines science and artistic skill, and gorgeous illustrations – what’s not to like about the latest from the talented author-illustrator Evan Turk?

A Thousand Glass Flowers is the story of a young girl, Marietta, growing up in a family of male glassmakers at a time when glassmaking, like the vast majority of crafts and professions, was solely a male profession. But young Marietta was fascinated by the glass-making process, despite the noise and the heat of the furnace. Her father, a master glassmaker, not only noted her interest but encouraged her to learn more and test her skills.

After his death, Marietta continued his glassmaking processes. She also furthered the profession by learning to make delicate beads that looked like a thousand flowers, the so-called rosetta beads, or “millefiori” in Italian. Many readers may be familiar with these beads, which are still popular today.

I think children and adults will enjoy learning more about the fascinating process of glassmaking and the influence one woman had on its process and art in an era when men dominated the craft.

Turk’s jewel-toned with gold-accented illustrations really bring this story, glassmaking, and the era to life.

A Note about Craft:

As noted in an Author’s Note, little is known about Marietta’s early life, so Turk imagined several scenes in which Marietta’s father taught her the trade. A Thousand Glass Flowers therefore is not strictly-speaking a biography or pure non-fiction.

Despite the lack of information about Marietta’s early life, Turk went above and beyond doing research, including visiting Venice and Murano, meeting one of Marietta’s descendants (who happens to be an antique glass expert), and even visiting the world-famous Corning Museum of Glass, where he tried glassblowing himself.

Finally, regular readers know that the vast majority of the books I choose as Perfect Picture Books have a social justice theme. In addition to exploring historic barriers to careers for women, Turk explains in the Author’s Note that the beads Marietta invented were used by Columbus on his journeys and as payment for, among other items, slaves in Africa. I believe this information is important to consider, even as we marvel at the beauty of Marietta’s creations.

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!