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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!

PPBF – Poetree

Spring will be here soon. I hope! And while we’re awaiting its arrival, I found a Perfect Picture Book to get you in a springtime mood!

Title: Poetree

Written By: Shauna LaVoy Reynolds

Illustrated By: Shahrzad Maydani

Publisher/Date: Dial Books for Young Readers/2019

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: poetry, friendship, nature, spring, loneliness

Opening:

The snow had melted, the buttercups were blooming, and Sylvia celebrated winter’s end by writing a poem about spring.

Brief Synopsis: When a birch tree seemingly responds to the poems Sylvia had left for it, she is thrilled, until she realizes that someone other than the tree may be the mysterious poet.

Links to Resources:

  • Read or write a poem about a favorite place or season;
  • Take a walk and discover signs that the seasons are changing;
  • Do you know someone who can’t explore outdoors, like an elderly relative or neighbor? Send a poem, picture, or letter to that person, to help him or her experience the beauty of nature.

Why I Like this Book:

With lyrical language, Reynolds presents young poet, Sylvia, who shares poems with a nearby birch tree. Imagine Sylvia’s surprise when the tree seemingly answers each poem with one of its own! But Sylvia’s joy is short-lived when she discovers who really wrote the poems.

I won’t spoil the story by revealing the answer here, but this lovely picture book features not just beautiful poetry but also a reminder that friends can be found where you least expect to find them and that two people can bond over the beauty of words and nature.

Maydani’s graphite pencil and watercolor illustrations in muted shades perfectly complement the lyrical text and reveal the thoughts swirling through the young poet’s mind.

A Note about Craft:

In Poetree, Reynolds celebrates nature and poetry, and she reminds readers that friends can be found in unlikely places and that classmates aren’t always what they seem to be. The text blends poems that feature child-like simplicity with lyrical language such as “rhymes falling like autumn leaves” and “words…blossomed into her mind”. Although the individual poems are distinct from the lyrical language, including both encourages word-loving readers (and aren’t all readers word lovers?) to read this lovely picture book again and again.

Per the jacket flap, Poetree is Reynolds’ debut picture book. Maydani, of Iranian and English descent, grew up in Niger and Kenya, but currently resides in the US.

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 Refuge

With Mars and space exploration in the news right now, I thought this was a perfect time to feature a picture book that features a friendship born out of a shared love of astronomy.

Title: The Refuge

Written By: Sandra le Guen

Illustrated By: Stéphane Nicolet

Translated By: Danial Hahn

Publisher/Date: Amazon Crossing Kids/2020 (originally published in French, Éditions les P’tits Bérets/2019)

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: refugee, astronomy, friendship

Opening:

When Jeannette got home from school that day, she dropped her bag on the floor. She didn’t bother to take off her shoes, and she didn’t bother to have her afternoon snack.

When Jeannette got home from school that day, she hurried into her mom’s office. She opened the window wide. She pointed the telescope toward the sky and brought her eye up close.

Brief Synopsis: When a new girl, Iliana, who doesn’t speak the language arrives at Jeannette’s school, Jeannette and Iliana become friends, bonding over a shared love of the night sky.

Links to Resources:

  • Discover activities to learn about space with NASA;
  • Because Iliana doesn’t know the language in her new school yet, she uses hand motions and draws pictures of her home country and her journey to her new home and school. Try telling a story using only gestures and/or pictures;
  • Think about ways you could help a new student in your class or new neighbor feel welcome, especially if you and she don’t speak the same language.

Why I Like this Book:

In The Refuge, a French picture book translated into English, two young girls bond over a shared love of astronomy. I love that this book not only builds empathy for refugees from an unnamed war-torn country, but that it features two science-loving girls who bond over their shared passion.

I also love that Jeannette’s mother keeps a telescope in her office, and that she encourages Jeannette to use it. Similarly, Iliana’s mother calms Iliana during the perilous sea journey by encouraging her to focus on the stars in the sky and by reminding her that the sky “belonged to everybody”.

In many refugee books, a child seeks to teach a newcomer the language spoken at the new home. That happens in The Refuge, but, in addition, Jeannette also seeks to learn Iliana’s language. I love the mutuality shown, and I think kids and adults will enjoy seeing the English and Arabic words side-by-side.

Although le Guen doesn’t shy away from letting readers know that Iliana’s family has fled a war and experienced a life-threatening journey to reach Europe, the focus on a shared passion and friendship makes this a hope-filled book, perfect to help explain the refugee experience to children.

Nicolet’s expressive and fanciful illustrations transport readers to the young girls’ star-filled world.

A Note about Craft:

In The Refuge, a sky that knows no borders, that belongs to everybody, is the passion that unites two astronomy-loving friends. By focusing on the sky, le Guen shows, I think, how everyone is united, how these two friends, who speak different languages, can find a shared language over which to bond.

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 Day Saida Arrived

Since it’s still Valentine’s Day week, I thought it was the perfect time to feature a picture book about friendship. Enjoy!

Title: The Day Saida Arrived

Written By: Susana Gómez Redondo

Illustrated By: Sonja Wimmer

Translated By: Lawrence Schimel

Publisher/Date: Blue Dot Kids Press/2020 (originally published in Spain, El día que Saída Ilegó, Takatuka SL/2012)

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: friendship, immigration, language, empathy, respect

Opening:

The day Saida arrived, it seemed to me that she had lost all her words. So, I tried to look for them in every nook cranny corner drawer seam to see if, between them and me, we might get rid of her tears and throw away her silence.

Brief Synopsis: When a new girl, Saida, arrives at the narrator’s school, the two become friends as the narrator shares English words with Saida and learns words in Saida’s native Arabic.

Links to Resources:

  • Try to learn some words in another language from a relative, friend, or neighbor;
  • Saida has traveled to her new school from Morocco. Discover Morocco here;
  • Saida speaks Arabic and teaches the narrator some Arabic words. Check out the activities at A Crafty Arab to learn more Arabic words and discover Arabic culture;
  • Discover other ideas in the Teacher’s Guide.

Why I Like this Book:

With lyrical language and effective repetition, The Day Saida Arrived recounts the journey undertaken by the narrator and her new friend, Saida, as they explore each other’s language. I love that the narrator welcomes the young immigrant, Saida, and that she seeks to help her learn the language spoken at her new school. But rather than heading down a one-way street to teach her new friend this new-to-her language, the narrator seeks to bridge the language divide by learning Saida’s language, Arabic. Together, the girls forge a friendship by sharing both languages, learning about each other’s culture, and dreaming of a day when they can visit Saida’s home country of Morocco together.

With Arabic words and pronunciations sprinkled throughout the text, and English and Arabic alphabets set side by side at the end, I think The Day Saida Arrived is a wonderful introduction to Arabic language and culture. I also think it’s a good reminder that children, and adults, can welcome newcomers to their country by sharing their culture and by being open to learning about the immigrants’ culture. That way, everyone can learn a “world of new words.”

With its dreamy, surrealistic illustrations, The Day Saida Arrived is a gorgeous picture book. The inclusion of words in English and Arabic, with pronunciations, scattered within the illustrations makes this a book that I think kids and adults will want to reread numerous times.

A Note about Craft:

In The Day Saida Arrived, Redondo utilizes first-person point-of-view, telling the story of Saida’s arrival from the perspective of the young girl who befriends the newcomer. I think this perspective is particularly effective because it provides a roadmap to readers showing how they can welcome newcomers to their schools or neighborhoods.

Intrigued by the newcomer and wanting to help her, the narrator tells her parents all about Saida that evening. I love how Mama finds Morocco on a globe and how Papa explains that perhaps Saida doesn’t want to speak because she’s aware her words are different, just as the narrator’s words would be different and wouldn’t work in Morocco. Including these sympathetic adults, I think, strengthens the story because it shows the importance of supportive adults to expand children’s horizons.

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!

A Valentiny Story: Stella & Sparky and the Last Valentine

Today’s a very special day. It’s the day when we celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s birth and Lunar New Year 2021. It’s the Friday before the long-awaited Presidents’ Day Weekend, and it’s one day closer to spring. But most especially, it’s the day when children’s writers around the world submit a story to…  

The 6th Annual Valentiny Writing Contest

Now for those very few of you who may not be familiar with this special contest, you’re in for a real treat. Each and every one of the hundreds (maybe thousands) of the maximum 214-word stories for children (ages 12 and under) features a character who is feeling BRAVE!

To read these fabulous stories, hop on over to Susanna Hill’s blog. It’s free and pairs perfectly with hot cocoa, cookies, candy from your sweetheart, or your treat of choice. And if you leave a comment on a story you enjoy, you’ll warm the heart of its creator.

As to my entry, I’ve taken this opportunity to feature two characters who have been roaming around in my brain for quite some time: Stella, a miniature horse, and Sparky, a small but spirited pup. They’re based on real therapy animals who live and train at a ranch in Montana. Without further ado, may I present…

Stella & Sparky and the Last Valentine

(213 words)

Stella and Sparky delivered Valentines to the library Ready Readers, to young patients at Cancer Care, and to wounded soldiers at the Veterans Hospital. When they finished, one card remained.

“Let’s give it to Mrs. Stinkenblum.”

“That grump never smiles!”

“That’s why she needs it!”

“But she lives on the other side of the valley.”

“Easy-peasy! I’ll nudge the paddock gate open. You sniff out the trail. We’ll cross the snowy fields, tiptoe past the wolf’s den, and be there in no time!”

“Maybe…”

“What’s that noise, like the snorting of…”

“BISON! RUN!”

“Whew! That was close! But the rest should be easy-peasy.”

“Once I dig out of this snowbank.”

“What’s that noise, like the rumbling of…”

“AVALANCHE! RUN!”

“Whew! That was close! But the rest should be easy-peasy.”

“Once we scale these boulders.”

“What’s that noise, like the growling of…”

“THE WOLF! RUN!”

“Whew! That was too close!”

“I. Give. Up!”

“But we’re so close. Be brave!”

“Look! Mrs. Stinkenblum’s house!”

“Happy Valentine’s Day!”

“What’s that noise?”

“Snorting? Rumbling? Growling?”

“With hairy arms!”

“Slimy red nose!”

 “Gaping mouth!”

“MONSTER! RUN!”

“Stella! Sparky! It’s me, Mrs. Stinkenblum, in my furry robe, with such a bad cold. Ahhh-choo!

But this lovely Valentine is the perfect medicine. Thank you!”

Wide smiles spread across everyone’s faces.

PPBF – The Paper Kingdom

I read this newish picture book late last year, and it struck me how few picture books tackle income inequality and the difficulties that unskilled workers and their children face. Then when I read the Author’s Note and learned that this picture book is based on the author’s own childhood, you know that I had to review it!

Title: The Paper Kingdom

Written By: Helena Ku Rhee

Illustrated By: Pascal Campion

Publisher/Date: Penguin Random House/2020

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: imagination, cleaners, night shift, family, #OwnVoices

Opening:

Mama and Papa were night janitors. While they got ready for work, Daniel got ready for sleep.

Brief Synopsis: When the babysitter cancels, Daniel accompanies his parents to their job as nighttime office cleaners.

Links to Resources:

  • Daniel’s parents imagine that a king rules over a large office and that small dragons have been messy. Imagine a creature that creates a mess and draw a picture of it or tell a story about it;
  • Imagine a creature that battles messiness, dust, and dirt. How is this creature different from the messy creature?
  • Use household items, like a broom, vacuum cleaner, or an empty box to create your own kingdom;
  • Explore more ideas in the Reader’s Guide.

Why I Like this Book:

In The Paper Kingdom, Rhee presents a difficult situation, a young child who has to accompany his parents to clean in an “angry” looking building in the middle of the night, and shows how, with imagination, it can be turned into a hope-filled story. Although it’s clear at the outset that the parents are also tired and most likely aren’t looking forward to cleaning messy office space in the middle of the night, the parents don’t complain. Instead, they turn their chores into a game for Daniel, as he searches for the king, the queen, and the messy dragons. And as Daniel sits on the throne at the end of the story, he, and the readers, imagine a world when the dragons pick up “their litter” so that people like his parents don’t need to do so.

I think The Paper Kingdom is a picture book that can help raise awareness about the dignity of work, and how people, including children, can ease burdens for those who keep our schools and other public areas clean and safe. Despite his age, Daniel noticed that papers were strewn about the conference room and that the cafeteria was a total mess with items like banana peels left on the floor. Hopefully, after reading this story, kids will become more aware of the impact their action, or inaction, has on others.

Campion’s detailed illustrations complete the picture of this hard-working family. At the outset, readers see that Daniel sleeps in a bed in the kitchen, that Mama cooks on what seems to be a hotplate, but that a flower-filled vase and houseplant cheer the surroundings while books appear on a shelf and Papa reads a book at the small kitchen table. It’s clear that these hardworking parents have dreams to better their lives, and Daniel’s.

A Note about Craft:

Per the Author’s Note, The Paper Kingdom is based on Rhee’s experiences accompanying her own parents to work as night janitors in an office building. I think this experience has enabled Rhee to be particularly empathetic to kids in this situation and renders this fictional story more relatable.

Interestingly, the ethnic and even racial heritage of Daniel and his parents have been kept vague. I think that’s a good choice, as it will enable more children to see themselves in Daniel, and it may prevent readers from stereotyping that people from a particular ethnic or racial background are more likely to work as cleaners.

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!