Friday, February 21, 2014

PPBF: When Lions Roar

Title: When Lions Roar
Author/Illustrator: Robie H. Harris/ Chris Raschka
Publisher/Date: Orchard Books/2013
Genre/Audience: fiction/Ages 3-5
Themes: noise, fear, coping strategies

Opening: "When lions roar! When monkeys screech!"

Synopsis: (from School Library Journal)
Loud, unexpected and upsetting noises can send a child into a tailspin. Shrill sirens, earsplitting animal sounds at the zoo, a rumbling thunderstorm, and angry parents are a few of the sounds that distress this small boy as he goes through his day. When he's fearful, he takes control of his emotions, turns off “the scary,” and creates a haven for himself. He simply sits down, shuts his eyes, gathers his courage, and confronts his fear: “‘Go away,' I say. ‘Scary! Go away.'”  Brightly colored, deceptively simple crayon and watercolor illustrations in red, orange, green, blue, and brown showcase the character and the main noisemakers on a crisp white background. Use this title along with Florence Parry Heide's Some Things Are Scary (Candlewick, 2000) to discuss fear and methods to challenge it. Scary happens, you deal with it, and then you move on: a good lesson.–Maryann H. Owen, Children's Literature Specialist, Mt. Pleasant, WI

Why I Love This Book
Simple text, colorful and emotive illustrations, and a straightforward approach to handling fear make this a winner.

Resources:
A Parent Resource for Understanding Children's Fears

15 Books to Help Kids Overcome Their Fears

Chris Raschka bio

Craving more Perfect Picture Books? Author Susanna Leonard Hill compiles weekly book reviews from bloggers at www.susannahill.blogspot.com. Visit Fridays or click the Perfect Picture Books tab at her website for a subject listing.

Friday, February 7, 2014

PPBF: A Sweet Smell of Roses

TitleA Sweet Smell of Roses
Author/Illustrator: Angela Johnson/ Eric Valasquez
Publisher/Date: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers/2005
Genre/Audience: historical fiction/Ages 5-8
Themes: American History, Civil Rights Movement, March on Washington

Opening: "After a night of soft rain there is a sweet smell of roses as my sister, Minnie, and I slip past Mama's door and out of the house down Charlotte Street."

Synopsis: (from Booklist)

K-Gr. 2. History and politics get personal for young readers in this dramatic, large-size picture book about an African American child and her younger sister who steal out of the house to join the Civil Rights marchers and listen to Dr. King speak. The child's clear, first-person narrative draws on the language of the struggle ("we look farther down the road"), and Velasquez' realistic charcoal pictures, in black and white with an occasional touch of red, evoke the news footage of the time. The protestors confront the glowering police, and there are children among the racists who yell, "You are not right. Equality can't be yours." But this book is not only about segregation; it's also about the crowds of people "walking our way toward freedom," the thrilling portrait of Dr. King, and the two brave kids who cross the line. Hazel Rochman

Why I Love This Book
While African-American History is American History, setting aside the month of February to honor African-American leaders, writers, scientists, etc. is an important way to highlight achievements that have traditionally been marginalized. A Sweet Smell of Roses reaches into that space where young children are learning about the history of our country's inequality for the first time. It places them into the shoes of children who feel hope and pride and a powerful sense of positive change coming from the peaceful protests of the Civil Rights Movement. Children of all races and backgrounds need books like this to empower them and remind them of the important role they have to play. As Angela Johnson says in her Author's Note, this book is "a tribute to the … brave boys and girls who - like their adult counterparts - could not resist the scent of freedom carried aloft by the winds of change."

Resources:
The 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington was in 2013. Here is a list of resources, including a Civil Rights Interactive Timeline

Documentary Film (2005) - Mighty Times: The Children's March information

Nonfiction book (2012 - for middle and high school students) that delves into the role of young people in the Civil Rights Movement - We've Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children's March

Website telling the stories of those who were Kids in Birmingham 1963

Craving more Perfect Picture Books? Author Susanna Leonard Hill compiles weekly book reviews from bloggers at www.susannahill.blogspot.com. Visit Fridays or click the Perfect Picture Books tab at her website for a subject listing.