If You Come to Earth by Sophie Blackall

5 stars Children’s Book

This book is beautiful!  This book says it all.  If you were to buy one book to have in your library, this should be the one!  It’s almost brought tears to my eyes as the author explains how we are all unite on this one big planet. 

I really enjoyed the illustrations inside this book, from how much detail was included, to the color choice, to how much there was to look at, these illustrations were wonderfully done.  I was impressed with how the author used an assortment of each topic to get her point across.  When she addressed how individuals traveled:  she included a rowboat, tugboat, skateboard, taxi, tractor, airplane, hot air balloon, camper, police car, ambulance, race car, wheelchair, pickup, bus, etc.  The two pages were full.  The author covers a variety of subjects in this book including families, weather, food, what people do, feelings, etc.   There was this feeling of love and community that came over me as I read this book, that we all are together on this planet, breathing and hopefully working together. 

This is an oversized book (11.25 x9 approx.) with 74 pages.  This is not one book that will be read once and put away as the illustrations again, are interesting and many of them have lots of look at.  I think this one is a keeper.  I highly recommend this one and make sure you read the last page of the book as the author talks about how she arrived at writing this book. 

” There are lots of things we don’t know.  We don’t know where we were before we were born or where we go when we die.  But right this minute, we are here together on this beautiful planet.”

“We humans define ourselves be where we are born, where we live, what we believe, by the clothes we wear, and the languages we speak.  But there is no “typical” person.  We are all different.”

Outside Art by Madeline Kloepper

5 stars Children’s Picture

Art is in the eye of the beholder.  I remember hearing this when I was young and finally, someone explained this simple, complex statement to me. It has stuck with me ever since because it says so much with such few words.  These are the words that came to mind when I read this book. Everyone makes art in their own way. A baby can make art and so can a senior citizen.  It’s in its interpretation, that we label things art. 

As Pine Martin watches the Human inside and outside its log nest in the woods, doing odd things, Pine Marten tries to find the meaning behind them. I enjoyed Pine Marten’s view of the human world: “plucking the string-log to make noise” and “using mud to make a water holder” to refer to the playing of a guitar and to using a clay pottery wheel. It was a refreshing way to look upon the world that we live in.  When he watches the Human “putting colors on a board using a furry stick,” he’s confused. 

Chickadee explains what he has heard the Human is doing and how it refers to Art and he explains what he thinks Art is.  Soon, a variety of animals arrive one-by-one to give their own opinion of what Art is and how it relates to the Human’s activity.  I thought this was clever and I liked how the house cat got in on the action and tried to outsmart them all.  I said tried……. Is the Human the only one who can create Art?

The illustrations are beautiful and creative a peaceful feeling to the book.  There are many interesting ideas that come out of this book and ways that you can engage children using this book.  I think this book is good for children beginning around 6 years of age based on the concept, content, and language.  I really enjoyed it.    

Frankenstein Doesn’t Wear Earmuffs! by John Loren

5 stars Children’s Halloween

Ah, mom!  This book is cute, funny, and definitely a keeper! I think everyone will be able to relate to something that happens to the little boy inside this book and it’ll make you smile.  This rhyming book is geared towards Halloween, but it should be read throughout the year because it’s so entertaining.

On the inside book cover, there’s a play-by-play of a young boy getting himself all dressed up for trick-or-treating as Frankenstein.  Ready to go, the narration begins with a dark, spooky night which I imagined, was what the young boy was imagining inside his head.  As he emerges out of the bathroom, to head out into the dark and stormy night, he hears, “HOLD IT!”

It’s his father and he’s holding a pair of his old, red galoshes.  Afraid of rain, dad wants him to wear them.  O.K.! Wearing the giant, floppy boots he tries again to leave, when, “HANG ON!” Only this time, it’s his mom. She’s holding not 1, but 3 items that she wants him to wear before he heads out the door because she’s concerned about the weather. O.K.! Frankenstein is starting to look really silly now in all this gear.  This exchange between the young boy and his parents continues, the young boy just wants to have a fun Halloween.

This is a super book. The illustrations are fantastic and I liked how they flash between the boy dressed-up as Frankenstein and Frankenstein, himself.  The rhyming works throughout the book and ending was great. 5 stars!!

Sugar in Milk by Thrity Umrigar

5 stars Children’s Picture

Let me tell you a story….and with that, she saw herself and tried to change.  I like it when a story says it all and for this young girl, she heard the story and understood.

She had arrived to this country, alone.  Her family, friends and her cats were still back home and she misses them so much.   Her Auntie and Uncle were thrilled to have her with them and they showered her with love and presents. She wanted to make some friends, but how?

Her Auntie notices the young girl’s quietness and she asks her if she would like to take a walk together.  As they walk, the aunt unleashes a story filled with adventure which draws the girl in.  It begins with a group of Persia refuges who were traveling via boat, who had finally arrived on the shores of India.   The local king was refusing to let the Persia refuges stay.  The refuges were begging the king but unfortunately, they couldn’t understand what each of them were saying to each other.  The king decided to visually show them what he meant. The refuges saw what the king was doing and they too, responded to the king in a visual way.  Now, they both understood each other.

What a clever story and a clever technique!   What a surprise to both parties.  I thought the ending was great!   I loved the illustrations in this book too!  I enjoyed how the edges on each page of the Auntie’s story were artistly created.  These fancy edges, framed each picture and made it a notable journey.  The relationship between the girl and her Auntie was special and I liked how the couple tried to make the girl feel comfortable in their home.  A great story!     

Bowwow Powwow by Brenda Child

3 stars Children’s Picture

Windy Girl likes to hang out in her Uncle’s pickup truck.  She hears the best stories while sitting in his truck.  Her uncle can remember when he was a young child but Windy Girl’s favorite stories are when he talks about the powwow.   I thought this was so sweet that she sits with her uncle in his truck and that they have some bonding time. Without any outside forces, with just the two of them together, they can focus on each other.  As her Uncle talks about the powwow, this story reminds her of her own dog, Itchy Boy. 

Windy Girl and Itchy Boy loved their days at the powwow.   Everyone was happy at the powwow as they sang, danced and spent time with each other.  Typically, the celebration would last until late into the night and the night sky would dance with the Northern Lights.  The children and the dogs would fall asleep to the beating of the drums.   Windy recalls a time when she had a weird yet wonderful dream about a powwow.  Windy explains her dream and I do have to agree that this dream was weird and the illustrations make her dream, even more unusual.  It was after she had this dream that Windy made some observations about powwows.  

I liked how the story was written in two different languages, I thought that was interesting.   I liked looking at the Ojibwa language that was written out below the English language.  It seemed the language had longer words and it was hard to pronounce, at least I thought so.   I was disappointed in the illustrations.   I would have liked the illustrations to have been more realistic and softer to create   a more secure feeling.  I did enjoy reading the Author’s notes at the back of the book yet I wanted more of them.     3 stars

Woke: A Young Poet’s Call to Justice by Mahogany Browne

5 stars Children’s poetry

Beautiful, amazing pieces of poetry! Each work of poetry is unique and brilliant as it enlists each of us to look at the world around us and embrace it. After reading this book, the message is strong and empowering: 5 stars

We are all unique in our own ways but
we are all united. We all have the power.

We all should feel secure in our environment,
being able to be ourselves without ridicule,
lifting up our voice, without fear of harassment, just for being who we are.

Throughout history, individuals have tried: some success and some not.
Those that have fought, have not fought in vain.

What can I do? I cannot move bridges. I cannot lead a march.
I can be awake. I can support you. I can encourage you.
All voices don’t need to be loud to be felt.
They just need to be woke.

We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom

5 stars Children’s Picture

We all should know how important our water supply is.  It’s not something that we should take for granted, ask anyone who doesn’t have water or has had to go without their water for an extended amount of time and they will tell you, water is precious.  I really enjoyed how the author makes us look at water and how valuable it really is.   

       “It nourished us inside our mother’s body.

        As it nourished us her on Mother Earth.

         Water is sacred, she said.  (Nokomis)”

 I have to tell you that I went into this book blindly.  I knew that it was a popular book and that it was up for some awards but I didn’t know its subject matter.  For me, going into this book blindly was ideal as I had to guess what the author was referring to as she spoke of the black snake tainting the waters.   Something has to be done to stop the black snake but what?     She stepped forward, hoping to rally her people together to stop the black snake, but can they?  They march as many, to also carry the torch for those without a voice, to fight those who wear blinders. 

You definitely have to read the 2- page section at the back of the book, as I thought these notes and information gave the book more depth and force.   The illustrations were fabulous with striking colors and images.  Definitely a book that you have to read more than once.  5 stars. 

A Day With Yayah by Nicola Campbell

5 stars Children’s Picture

This was a nice picture book that is also an educational book as a Yayah (grandmother) spends time alone with her grandchildren, passing down the traditional natural world of their culture.   Although the scmem’i?t (children) don’t like to eat everything Yayah gathers, they love to be with her, when she collects her harvest and I understand why.  Yayah’s patience and knowledge flows freely from her and just being with her and learning from her is a wonderful day.

Yayah teaches the scmem’i?t new words every day and she reinforces those words as she speaks to them throughout the day.  Teaching them the Indigenous language, Yayah speaks to them calmly and in a gentle tone as she mixes this language with the English language, as they look and gather for the first spring crop.  Yayah teaches them, she educates them not in just the harvest but in the environment around them so that in the future, they will be able to gather their own harvest successfully.   There’s a Glossary of Words at the back of the book that helps.  I would love to hear this book being read.  A wonderful, good feeling book.   5 stars

How Sweet the Sound: The Story of Amazing Grace by Carole Boston Weatherford

3 stars Chilren’s Biography

This wasn’t what I thought this book would be like, but it’s a start.  This song was a favorite of my grandmothers and it’s also one of my mother’s favorite songs, when I saw the cover, I knew I had to read it.   I wondered what the song’s words came from and what they meant as it’s sang a lot at funerals and religious services. 

The song began with John Newton aboard a slave ship.  He’s a passenger as the ships being tossed about, during a stormy night.   John hears the crew complaining as he worries about the ship going down with the storm.  As the storm whips around him, John reflects back on his life. 

John’s father was a sea captain and his mother stayed home and took care of him. She took him to church and John was a good Christian boy.  When she died, John put on his sea legs and went with his father to the sea, where he got into trouble and he became a wild fellow.  This was the time that he also met his wife, Mary.

The storm grabs John’s attention as the boat is being torn apart.  Everyone fears the worse and hopes the best.  The illustrations capture the fear that these individuals felt. Fortunately, they do eventually find land and John later retires.  Once an individual who transported slaves, John now preaches to end slavery.  I had a few questions about things that were happening here as it seemed rather choppy.  John now writes the first lines to this famous song.  Those lines travel across sea and land where other individuals sing them and add their own words to them until ……..we have a song.   What?  Yep!  There are Author Notes at the back (which I highly recommend you read), Additional Reading and Info, and Amazing Grace (the song).

I feel that the illustrations captured the energy of this book.  They were bold, colorful, and the individuals presented were nicely done. I was surprised at how much of the book was devoted to the life of John and how much of the book was devoted to the song, itself.  Then, to find out that he only wrote the first lines to the song.  That was a huge surprise to me!   The Author’s Notes at the back of the book need to be read as I found them very informative.  They helped answer some of my questions and put the book together for me.  I also liked having all the verses of the song together in the back, with the nice illustration in the background, that was a nice touch.  I was disappointed that not more was written about the rest of the song though.   

Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera

5 stars Children’s Nonfiction

I am in awe! This book is breathtaking! As a nature lover, I am fascinated about the world around me and as I read about Apis, I was glued to this book. As Apis made her made into the world, her journey was just beginning. Each page of this book, brought new experiences and I was exhausted just reading about everything that she did. Only days old and she was working non-stop.

Image result for free honey bee  images

I learned a great deal about the Short Life of a bee and my mood quickly changed as the I got the end of the book. I liked how the author presented the information with facts and comments in a story-like narration. The illustrations are bright, engaging, and bigger than life. At the back of the book is a diagram of a honeybee with its different parts highlighted and there’s also a section about helping honeybees, facts about honeybees, online and books about honeybees. I highly recommend this book as I can’t stop thinking about this book!