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.

 

 

 

 

PPBF – Come with Me

With the barrage of heart-wrenching newscasts these past few months, I think many of us may want to curl up in a ball and try to tune it all out. But neither we, nor our children, can do so. So, what can we do? Today’s Perfect Picture Book may provide a few ideas.

Title: Come With Me

Written By: Holly M. McGhee

Illustrated By: Pascal Lemaître

Publisher/Date: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group/2017

Suitable for Ages: 5-8

Themes/Topics: kindness, overcoming fear, making a difference, diversity

Opening:

All over the world, the news told and told and retold of anger and hatred—People against people.

And the little girl was frightened by everything she heard and saw and felt.

Brief Synopsis: After watching the news on television, a young girl asks her parents what she, a young girl, can do to overcome the hatred and anger evident in the world.

Links to Resources:

  • Think about a few everyday activities you can do to show you care about others. Perhaps it’s including a person from another background or with another skin color in your group, perhaps it’s saying hello to someone who looks or speaks differently than you, or perhaps it’s just a smile on your face for everyone you meet;
  • Describe in words or pictures a time you felt afraid. Why did you feel afraid? What did you do to stop feeling afraid?
  • Describe in words or pictures a time you reached out to someone who looked frightened, lonely, or sad. How did you feel after you did so?
  • Watch the book trailer.

Why I Like this Book:

Written in the aftermath of the 9/11 and Brussels bombings, Come with Me features small, everyday actions that even children can undertake to overcome their own fears and spread kindness in the world. But while these twin aims certainly feature in the book, I think its message goes further: there are small, everyday actions we all can take to make the world better and more inclusive. Whether it’s thinking of others by wearing a mask in public, or wishing strangers a good day, we all can show kindness to others, especially those who may not look, speak, or act the same as we do.

Written from the point of view of a frightened child who doesn’t know what to do, I think Come with Me presents a unique opportunity for adults and even young children to discuss what children see on the television or what they overhear adults talking about, and how to overcome the fear or inaction that can grip any of us.

A Note about Craft:

Come with Me is a low-word count picture book that leaves lots of space for the illustrator to show the small and big ways the unnamed main character shows bravery in the face of fear, and is welcoming of others who differ from her. It’s unclear whether it was the illustrator’s choice to feature what seems to be a multiracial family or a neighbor who seems to be black, but in both cases, there’s nothing in the text that specifies these attributes.

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 Ideals that Matter

I don’t know about the rest of you, but this past week I’ve experienced feelings of profound disbelief, sorrow, outrage, anger, and so much more. As I perused my bookshelf looking for books that may empower others to action and/or bring healing, these two stood out.

Equality’s Call: The Story of Voting Rights in America

Author: Deborah Diesen

Illustrator: Magdalena Mora

Publisher/Date: Beach Lane Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division/2020

Ages: 5-8

Themes: voting rights, activism, people of color, rhyming, non-fiction

Short Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Learn all about the history of voting rights in the United States—from our nation’s founding to the present day.

A right isn’t right
till it’s granted to all…

The founders of the United States declared that consent of the governed was a key part of their plan for the new nation. But for many years, only white men of means were allowed to vote. This history of voting rights looks back at the activists who answered equality’s call, working tirelessly to secure the right for all to vote, and it also looks forward to the future and the work that still needs to be done.

Read a review at Miss Marple’s Musings.

Peace and Me: Inspired by the Lives of Nobel Peace Prize Laureates

Author & Illustrator: Ali Winter

Illustrator: Mickaël El Fathi

Publisher/Date: Lantana Publishing/2018

Ages: 7-11

Themes: peace, peace builders, non-fiction

Short Synopsis (from publisher’s website):

What does peace mean to you? This illustrated collection of inspirational ideas about peace is based on the lives of Nobel Peace Prize Laureates of the 20th and 21st centuries, among them Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa and Malala Yousafzai. A must for anyone interested in exploring this essential issue of our times, this child-friendly exploration of what peace means to you and me is a book for every bookshelf.

Amnesty International endorses this book because it shows how standing up for other people makes the world a better, more peaceful place.

Read my review.

I paired these books because they highlight differing aspects of the issues facing us today and how they have been dealt with by those with the courage to fight racism, injustice, and inequality.

Looking for similar reads? See, People of Peace, Peaceful Fights for Equal Rights.

PPBF – Nimesh the Adventurer

It’s Friday, the start of what is probably another weekend of social distancing and staying at or close to home for many of us. But with a book at hand, especially a picture book like today’s Perfect Picture Book, who knows what adventures await!

Title: Nimesh the Adventurer

Written By: Ranjit Singh

Illustrated By: Mehrdokht Amini

Publisher/Date: Lantana Publishing/2018

Suitable for Ages: 4-6

Themes/Topics: imagination, adventure, multicultural

Opening:

Hello Nimesh, is school over?

School? My friend, this is not a school! It’s an ancient cave, and shhhh! Or you’ll wake…the DRAGON!

Brief Synopsis: Nimesh, a young school boy, has many adventures as he departs his classroom to journey home at the end of the day.

Links to Resources:

  • Take a walk and think about the many familiar sights along the way. Perhaps you see a neighbor’s cat, trees shading the sidewalk, or a favorite shopkeeper. Think about what these could be, such as a tiger, a haunted forest, or an entertainer, and draw a picture or write a story to show what adventures may lie hidden around you;
  • If you were an adventurer, where would you travel? What would you explore?
  • Discover some Famous Firsts by members of The Explorers Club, an international organization founded in 1904 and headquartered in New York City to promote “the scientific exploration of land, sea, air, and space by supporting research and education in the physical, natural and biological sciences”;
  • Download the Teaching Resources and activity for more ways to enjoy this book.

Why I Like this Book:

In Nimesh the Adventurer, the reader follows along as a young school boy turns the everyday into the exotic. Like a magician, Nimesh conjures up fantastical situations and creatures, from the shark-infested waters of the school’s science wing hallway, to an unusually tall street crossing guard who formerly served a Maharaja, to a pirate ship that comes to life from a ship-shaped cake in a Pastry Shop window.

I especially enjoyed the opening spreads, where the illustration that accompanies the first lines of text quoted above shows Nimesh reading a book about dragon taming. What a wonderful way to show readers how books can spark imagination and transport us to new worlds!

In another particularly engaging scene, Amini’s bright, collaged and painted illustration shows an older woman on a park bench who, in Nimesh’s mind, is a princess. What a wonderful way to highlight the inherent beauty of the elderly!

And for those wondering what Nimesh finds when he reaches home, what fantastical things his imagination conjures, perhaps “a cave full of gold”, or an “emperor’s castle”, or even “a lush forest”, you’ll have to read Nimesh the Adventurer to find out.

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.

A Note about Craft:

As evident from the first lines, the entire picture book is told in a question and answer dialogue, with Nimesh informing the unnamed questioner, “my friend”, of the marvelous things he encounters traveling from school to home. By keeping the text minimal, Singh leaves more room for the illustrator. By letting the reader in on the conversation, Singh places readers more immediately into the action of the story, as we wonder what Nimesh will encounter next.

Page turns are particularly important in this book, as scenes change from the reality of the journey to the imagined adventures.

This is Singh’s debut. Learn more about Iranian-born, UK-based Amini’s illustrations in this blog post and see more of her work and some of the interior spreads at her website.

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 – Helps Save Nature

Today’s Perfect Pairing features two women, one famous and one not as well known outside her native Michigan, who loved the natural world and helped preserve it for future generations, including us.

Nature’s Friend: The Gwen Frostic Story

Author: Lindsey McDivitt

Illustrator: Eileen Ryan Ewen

Publisher/Date: Sleeping Bear Press/2018

Ages: 4-8

Themes: biography, ecology, women’s history, nature, art

Short Synopsis (from Goodreads):

The art and writing of Gwen Frostic are well known in her home state of Michigan and around the world, but this picture book biography tells the story behind Gwen’s famous work. After a debilitating illness as a child, Gwen sought solace in art and nature. She learned to be persistent and independent–never taking no for an answer or letting her disabilities define her. After creating artwork for famous Detroiters and for display at the World’s Fair and helping to build WWII bombers, Gwen moved to northern Michigan and started her own printmaking business. She dedicated her work and her life to reminding people of the wonder and beauty in nature.

Read a review at GROG blog.

Saving the Countryside: The Story of Beatrix Potter and Peter Rabbit

Author: Linda Elovitz Marshall

Illustrator: Ilaria Urbinati

Publisher/Date: Little Bee Books/2020

Ages: 5-9

Themes: countryside, rural England, biography, nature, women’s history, famous author/illustrator

Short Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Growing up in London, Beatrix Potter felt the restraints of Victorian times. Girls didn’t go to school and weren’t expected to work. But she longed to do something important, something that truly mattered. As Beatrix spent her summers in the country and found inspiration in nature, it was through this passion that her creativity flourished.

There, she crafted The Tale of Peter Rabbit. She would eventually move to the countryside full-time, but developers sought to change the land. To save it, Beatrix used the money from the success of her books and bought acres and acres of land and farms to prevent the development of the countryside that both she and Peter Rabbit so cherished. Because of her efforts, it’s been preserved just as she left it.

This beautiful picture book shines a light on Beatrix Potter’s lesser-known history and her desire to do something for the greater good.

Read a review at A Mighty Girl.

I paired these books because they both involve women who helped save natural spaces in their later lives. Both were known during their lifetimes first and foremost as artists, and, in the more famous Potter’s case, as an author-illustrator of one of the most famous series of children’s books and perhaps its most famous main character, Peter Rabbit. Whereas Frostic helped save nature by creating artworks directly based on it, Potter used the vast sums she earned from her books to purchase farmlands and open spaces in the English Lakes District to preserve them for future generations.

Looking for similar reads? See Spring After Spring: How Rachel Carson Inspired the Environmental Movement.

 

 

 

PPBF – Ariba: An Old Tale About New Shoes

This holiday weekend marks the start of the summer travel season in many places. But for most of us, travels may be out of the question, if not for the entire summer, at least for now. So, I thought I’d share a Perfect Picture Book that includes travel, adventure, and maybe even some ideas to enjoy our time at home.

Title: Ariba: An Old Tale About New Shoes (Based on a story that has traveled around the world)

Written & Illustrated By: Masha Manapov

Publisher/Date: Enchanted Lion Books/2019

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: favorite shoes, storytelling, intergenerational, multicultural

Opening:

From the moment Marcus put on his new shoes, he couldn’t stop moving. He bounced all the way from the living room to the kitchen, circled the house 3 times and the shed 3 times more, climbed the tree in Billy’s backyard, ran up and down the 19 steps to his front door, and accidentally stepped on Carlo’s tail.

Brief Synopsis:

When Marcus tells his grandpa about his new shoes, his grandpa shares an old tale about a pair of shoes, discarded by their owner, that keep returning to him.

Links to Resources:

  • Do you have a favorite possession? Why is it a favorite of yours? Draw a picture of it;
  • In his new shoes, Marcus moves all about his house and yard. Create an obstacle course around your house for your family to enjoy;
  • Marcus’ grandpa tells an old tale about new shoes. Ask an older relative to share a tale with you, either from their own childhood, or a tale they remember hearing when they were young;
  • Ask older relatives to tell you about favorite toys or outfits from when they were young.

Why I Like this Book:

In this quirky tale within a tale, young Marcus’ grandpa transports Marcus, and readers, to a village that seems to be in Africa. There, we meet Ariba, a youth similar in age to Marcus, who, like Marcus, has just been gifted a new pair of shoes. As this tale proceeds, the reader journeys with Ariba, wearing the shoes, of course, to a big city. Here the shoes seem out-of-place. Ariba replaces them, or at least tries to do so. Because every time he tries to donate or discard them, some kindly person remembers how much Ariba valued those shoes and thoughtfully returns them.

I think kids will enjoy guessing how the shoes return each time. I think adults will value the opportunity to discuss how we value our possessions and why we should strive to be our own person, even if our sense of fashion, or our family’s ability to “buy the newest thing”, isn’t the same as everyone else’s.

I won’t spoil the ending, but trust that everything comes together as the story circles back to Marcus and his beloved grandpa.

This is Manapov’s debut as an author/illustrator. The brightly-colored, collaged illustrations lend an air of fantasy to this story-within-a-story.

A Note about Craft:

I mentioned above that this is a story within a story. The tag line notes that it’s “based on a story that has traveled around the world.” I confess that I don’t recognize the folktale, but Ariba’s story certainly feels like one that could have been around, in some form or another, for ages.

Note that for much of the story, Ariba is an adult. So is the storyteller, Marcus’ grandpa. But Ariba and grandpa both exhibit child-like qualities and, perhaps more importantly, the story begins, and ends, with Marcus, a child.

Enchanted Lion Books “is an independent children’s book publisher based in Brooklyn, New York. We publish illustrated books from around the world, convinced by the power of cultural exchange to inspire curiosity, awareness, and wonder in children everywhere. We reach across time and oceans to find new authors and old treasures to share with a new generation of readers.”

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 – Sudses Up

With adults everywhere reminding children (and themselves) to wash hands, not touch faces, and stay clean, I thought these humorous books about bathing may add some fun to the situation.

The Bath of Least Resistance

Author: Gregory E. Bray

Illustrator: Steve Page

Publisher/Date: McLaren-Cochrane Publishing/2017

Ages: 5-8

Themes: pets, bath time, humor, ingenuity

Short Synopsis (from Goodreads):

A paint covered puppy.
A brothers unsuccessful attempts to get him clean.
What will it take to get Bogie into the bath?
Or is he destined to remain a colorful pooch forever?

Read a review at Picture Books Help Kids Soar.

 

When Your Lion Needs a Bath

Author: Susanna Leonard Hill

Illustrator: Daniel Wiseman

Publisher/Date: Little Simon, a division of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division/2017

Ages: 2-4

Themes: pets, bath time, humor

Short Synopsis (from Goodreads):

When your lion needs a bath, you have to be pretty sneaky! This charming and hilarious board book highlights the many ways to get your lion into that tub!

Does your lion need a bath? When your lion needs a bath, you must be a little sneaky. After all, have you ever met a cat who likes water? So gather up your towels and rubber ducks and get that lion into the tub! But be careful…or you just might end up in the bath, too!

Read a review at Little Red Story Shed.

I paired these books because they add humor to what often seems like a never-ending, messy job, especially as the weather warms and the little ones spend more time playing outdoors. And I think everyone needs some humor in their lives now. Don’t you agree?

 

Looking for similar reads? See When Your Llama Needs a Haircut (Susanna Leonard Hill, Daniel Wiseman/2018)

 

 

PPBF – Wherever I Go

I’m always so happy when I’m able to feature a new picture book by a debut author, especially when I’ve had the pleasure of meeting that author and discussing the book before it was published (or even under contract for publication). I know you’ll agree that my selection today truly is a Perfect Picture Book.

Title: Wherever I Go

Written By: Mary Wagley Copp

Illustrated By: Munir D. Mohammed

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

Suitable for Ages: 6-9

Themes/Topics: refugee, resilience, imagination, resettlement

Opening:

I AM QUEEN ABIA of the Shimelba Camp. Of all my friends, I have been here the longest—seven years, four months, and sixteen days. That’s what Papa says.

“Too long,” he adds.

I think it’s the perfect amount of time to become a queen.

Brief Synopsis: A young girl recounts her experiences as queen of a refugee camp, sharing the skills she’s acquired that will help her settle in a new country and home.

Links to Resources:

  • Try one or more of the 20 Simple Acts to learn about refugees or help one or more of them feel welcome in your school or community (for Refugee Week 2020, 15-21 June, the listed activities can be done at home);
  • Are you a queen or king? Make a crown from a paper plate, or make a real or paper daisy crown;
  • Queen Abia balances a large pail of water on her head. Try placing a book or a container of water on your head (you might want to do this outside!), and then try walking while balancing it there. How does doing this make you feel?
  • Queen Abia helps her mother to prepare fufu, a traditional African food. Try making fufu;
  • Learn more about the refugee experience in the Note from the Author and in the books for young readers listed.

Why I Like this Book:

In Wherever I Go, the imaginative, young Abia introduces readers to her life in a refugee camp. We learn how she marches with friends, pumps and carries water to her mother, helps prepare meals, watches her young cousin, drums while waiting for food distributions, howls at hyenas, and sleeps on a prickly mat. She even wears a crown because she is Queen Abia, who has remained in the camp longer than any of her friends. And when she and her family leave the camp to resettle in a new country and home, she will bring the stories of her reign and the many skills she has learned, because she’ll still be a queen.

In young Abia, Wagley Copp has created a narrator who is imaginative, brave, and resilient. Neither Wagley Copp nor Abia sugarcoat life in the camp. But Wagley Copp reminds readers that refugees, like Abia, are survivors who will thrive and enrich any community where they settle. For they are not victims but authors of their own destinies, who will still be queens or kings wherever they go.

Mohammed’s acrylic paintings transported me to Africa where much of this story takes place. Paired with Wagley Copp’s lyrical text, this debut picture book that tackles the difficult subjects of life in a refugee camp and resettlement afterwards is a must have for schools, libraries, and the homes of everyone who cares about those displaced by war or anhy other reason.

A Note about Craft:

As with many of the picture books about the refugee experience, Wagley Copp uses first-person point-of-view to bring immediacy to the story, to enable readers to experience life in the refugee camp from Abia’s perspective. I think this helps build reader empathy and greater understanding of the refugee experience.

In the Note from the Author, Wagley Copp explains that she never has been a refugee. She has, however, visited a refugee camp and met resettled refugees in her role as a documentary filmmaker. This first-hand knowledge helps bring authenticity to the story, as does the inclusion of small details, like the number of years, months, and days the family has been in the camp and the type of tree branches that form Abia’s crown.

Visit Wagley Copp’s website to learn more about this debut author and read an interview with her on Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog.

The author provided a digital copy in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

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 New Neighbours

You may not have “new” neighbors right now. But if, like me, you’re staying at home most of the time, you may be noticing your neighbors more, and maybe you’re even annoyed by some of their behaviors. If so, this is  just the Perfect Picture Book for you!

Title: The New Neighbours

Written & Illustrated By: Sarah McIntyre

Publisher/Date: David Fickling Books/2018 (republished in the US as The New Neighbors, Penguin Workshop, an imprint of Penguin Random House/2019)

Suitable for Ages: 3-7

Themes/Topics: preconceptions, prejudice, neighbors, gossip

Opening:

High on the roof, above the city, Mr. Pigeon had the latest news.

“You’ve got rats in your flats!” he burbled with glee. “They moved in today on the ground floor.”

Brief Synopsis: When rats move into an apartment building, the other animals react with dread, fearing the worst from these rodents.

Links to Resources:

  • Has someone new moved into your neighborhood recently? Draw a picture to help them feel welcome;
  • Think of 3 things that make your neighborhood special. Why are these places or activities important to you?
  • The new neighbors in this story are rats. Learn about them here. Why do you think McIntyre features rats in this story?
  • Download activity sheets from McIntyre’s website.

Why I Like this Book:

With hopping, and trotting, and tottering, a variety of animal neighbors rush to the ground floor of their apartment building to meet their new neighbors: rats. And as each neighbor joins the group, they share preconceptions about these new neighbors.

Using traits that kids will understand and relate to, the animal residents reveal that rats are messy, smelly, steal food, and more. With short sentences and loads of active verbs, the misconceptions and mayhem grow until everyone tumbles to the rats’ front door. I won’t spoil the ending, but as you can imagine, the reality does not match the escalating fear.

I think kids will enjoy this fast-paced and humorous story with its bright color palette and expressive animal characters. The New Neighbours also is a great introduction to a classroom or family discussion about prejudice, gossiping, and what it means to be a good neighbor or friend.

A Note about Craft:

McIntyre sets her story in an apartment building, where new neighbors, with new preconceptions, join a parade-like group that grows floor by floor. I think using this cumulative format helps build tension leading up to the encounter with the rats. I also love the expressive and kid-friendly language that quickens the pace and makes the text especially appropriate for younger children.

Discover more of McIntyre’s work at her website.

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!