Picture Books for All Ages
Reviewed at the Peace Arts Center
Bluffton University, Summer 2006
Allen, Pamela. Hidden Treasure. Putnam, 1986.
Two brothers find treasure and one spends a sleepless life protecting it from the world while the other lives a peaceful life surrounded by his family. For sophisticated readers and listeners from ages six and up. Available in used copies.
Appelbaum, Diana. Cocoa Ice. Orchard, 1997.
A large picture book for older readers, this book is divided into two personal stories: Cocoa is about a girl in Santa Domingo who tells how cocoa is harvested during the late 1800’s. Ice is the story of a girl who watches her family harvesting ice. The cut paper and gouache illustrations mirror the rich settings where people celebrate the “fruits of their labors.” Available in used copies.
Baumann, Kurt. Joseph, the Border Guard. Parents Magazine Press, 1971 or Macmillan, 1972.
From the German: Joachim Der Zollner. The border guard discovers there is more to life than checking passports and playing the horn for the king. Available in limited quantities. Simple but powerful art by David McKee.
Beckwith, Kathy. Playing War. Tilbury House, 2005.
Four boys like to divide up into soldiers and enemies and play war but when a new boy, Sameer, tells of losing his family in a real war, they feel differently about their game. Available in new and used copies.
Blair, Margot. The Red String. Getty Museum, 1996.
The adventures of a piece of red string as it winds its way from an open drawer to other parts of the country and back. One reviewer saw the book as a metaphor for the separation of mother and child. The art is simple yet charming as it teaches perspective, point of view and imagination. Available in used copies.
Boynton, Sandra. Chloe and Maude. Little Brown, 1983, 1985.
Three chapters divide the book into vignettes about a friendship between two cats, one who is sensible and patient and one who is imaginative and temperamental. The theme of being true to oneself is central to this book. Available in used copies only.
Bridges, Shirin. Ruby’s Wish. Chronicle Books, 2002.
A smart and confident young girl in China wishes to go to university even though very few girls are taught to read or write. Her determination leads her grandfather to break from tradition and help her to realize her dream. This book is based on a family story of the author’s grandmother. Authentic details of the Chinese culture are captured in the gouache artwork by Australian Sophie Blackall. Available in new and used copies.
Browne, Anthony. Voices in the Park. Doring Kindersley, 1998.
This oversized picture book provides four short first-person narratives as each animal character recounts the same outing from a different point of view and level of emotional response. Some readers believe that this is a symbolic representation of British politics. For grades three and up. Creative use of fonts and space adds to the sophistication of the book. Available in new and used copies.
Fuchshuber, Annegert. Carly. Feminist Press, City College of NY. 1997, 1995.
A homeless girl wanders the land searching for food and shelter but no one will help her until she meets a Fool, who is kinder than the others. Very mature images and themes in this picture book. Available in new and used copies.
Gantschev, Ivan. Two Islands. Picture Book Studio, 1985.
Two islands develop in different ways and ultimately find themselves in conflict with each other.
Available in used copies.
Hill, T.L. Morris and the Kingdom of Knoll. Getty Museum, 1996.
When Morris, the happy go lucky dragon, is true to himself, things work out for the best. Humorous illustrations by Jeff Colson. Available in new and used copies.
Jahn-Clough, Lisa. Simon and Molly plus Hester. Houghton Mifflin, 2001.
Two best friends learn that three can be friends, too. Simple and bold illustrations for young listeners, ages three to five. Available in new and used copies.
Johnson, D.B. Eddie’s Kingdom. Houghton Mifflin, 2005.
Colored pencil and pastels are used to create cartoon-like illustrations that depict a boy who draws a picture of his apartment building neighbors, showing that they are always fighting and yelling at each other. His art helps the adults see themselves differently. It is Eddie’s art that breaks down barriers and begins the path to harmony. Available in new and used copies.
Kasza, Keiko. The Mightiest. Putnam, 2001.
Competition is the theme when three animals find a golden crown in the woods marked for the
Mightiest. Sometimes mighty things come in small packages. Playful gouache paintings by Kasza add droll details to the telling of this tale for preschool listeners and beginning readers. Available in new and used copies.
Kidd, Ronald. Doorway to the World. Habitat for Humanity International, 1996.
Ben and his parents are selected to be International Partners for Habitat for Humanity. They travel to other countries, live with people and help them build houses in this picture book for preschool and early elementary listeners. Available in used copies.
Kitze, Carrie. We See the Moon. EMK Press, 16 Bethel Road, #219, Waren, NY 07059. http://www.emkpress.com/
A simple but elegant tribute to birthparents and a Chinese adoptee asking questions of her birthparents and re-assuring them that she is happy and loved, even as she will always love them. The art creates a sense of China but the message is universal. Best used by an adult who has previewed the text before sharing with a school-age child. Available in new and used copies.
Lindbergh, Reeve. The Circle of Days. Candlewick, 1998.
From the Canticle of the Sun by St. Francis of Assisi, this picture book and rhyme gives praise and thanks for all of creation. The illustrations by Cathie Felstead are in watercolor, gouache and collage. Available in used copies.
Lionni, Leo. Nicolas, Where have you Been? Knopf, 1987.
A mouse learns that not all birds are the same. Grab a copy when you see one!
Lobe, Tamara. Let’s Make a Garden. Herald Press, 1995
A simple, but colorful picture book about hope as each nation adds something to the garden. Available in used paperback copies.
Lobe, Tamara. A Right World. National Youth Advocate Program International, Washington DC. 1998.
A simple text and bold illustrations offer teachers the chance to introduce the concepts of human rights. A summary for adults is included at the end of the book. Available in new and used copies.
Macaulay, David. BAAA. Houghton Mifflin, 1985.
After all the people disappear, sheep discover their world and make the same mistakes so that they, too, eventually disappear. Available in new paperback format and used copies in three formats.
Moss, Peggy. Say Something. Tilbury, 2004. http://www.tilburyhouse.com/
A young narrator describes the many types of bullying she sees at school. As a bystander she comes to realize that she can reach out to one child and make a difference. Realistic watercolor illustrations show a diverse school and an active community. Available in new and used copies.
Nelson, Kadir. He’s Got the Whole World in his Hands. Dial, 2005.
Nelson uses a large picture book format with pencil, oil and watercolor art to depict childlike drawings of children from around the world to share his interpretation of this famous spiritual. The theme suggests that we should all see each other as brothers and sisters. The “He” in the book is never identified. The last double-page spread includes a historical note, the piano music and four more verses to the song. Available in new and used copies.
Oram, Hiawyn. Angry Arthur. Dutton, 1982 and Farrar, 1997 reprint.
A boy is so angry that he destroys the world and then wonders why he was angry in the first place. This is a picture book for older readers and for group discussion. Available in used copies.
Radunsky, Vladimir. Mannehen Pis. Atheneum, 2002.
This unusual book is the simple story of a boy who peed on a war in his desperate attempt to allay his own fears. The inspiration for this book came from a famous statue in Brussels. The art moves from bright oranges and greens to red and black as war begins to destroy the town. Available in new and used copies.
Raschka, Chris. The Blushful Hippopotamus. Orchard, 1996.
Although Roosevelt the hippopotamus’s sister teases him because he blushes a lot, his best friend helps him feel better about himself. The understated art carries the theme with a bright color scheme and generous use of white space. Available in used copies.
Saltzberg, Barney. The Problem with Pumpkins. Harcourt, 2001.
Hip and Hop’s friendship is tested when they both want to be pumpkins for Halloween. Three chapters and longer text make this a good match for 1-2 graders. Pen and ink, watercolor and colored pencil illustrations bring a humorous touch. Available in new and used copies.
Schotter, Roni. A Fruit and Vegetable Man. Little Brown, 1993.
Sun Ho loves to watch Ruby Rubenstein set up his fruits and vegetables in his shop on Delano Street. Eventually, Sun Ho and family take over as Ruby retires and moves to the country. The themes of taking pride in one’s work and helping others are worth sharing with preschool and primary listeners. Rich, colorful Illustrations by Jeanette Winter. Available in used copies.
Schur, Maxine. The Peddler’s Gift. Dial, 1985, 1999.
A young boy in rural Russia (1890’s) learns that appearances are often deceiving after he steals a dreidel from the traveling peddler named Shnook. The quaint watercolor and pencil illustrations are by Kimberly Root. Available in used copies.
Schwiebert, Pat et al. Tear Soup. A Recipe for Healing After Loss. Grief Watch, 2116 NE 18th Ave. Portland, Oregon 97212. http://www.tearsoup.com/, 1999. This story is also available in video format. 17 min. http://www.griefwatch.com/
This modern fable is the story of an unnamed woman who has suffered tremendous grief. She cooks up a special batch of tear soup with the ingredients of her life in it. Large, colorful illustrations by Taylor Bills add a formal and timeless quality to the text. For ages six and up. Available in new and used copies.
Seskin, Steve and Allen Shamblin. Don’t Laugh at Me. Tricycle Press, 2002. (Book and CD)
A Reading Rainbow book that illustrates the song, “Don’t Laugh at Me, pointing out that, in spite of our difference, we are all the same in God’s eyes. Mixed media illustrations by Glin Dibley are childlike and universal in their appeal to young listeners. The country style tune has become the theme for a program called Operation Respect, founded by Peter Yarrow. Ages 6 to 12 years. Available in new and used copies.
Shannon, George. Seeds. Houghton Mifflin, 1994.
A boy loves watching his neighbor’s garden grow, but when Warren’s family moves away he misses the garden. His neighbor sends him a letter and seeds so that Warren can begin his own garden. Interracial and intergenerational themes will work well with many age groups. Available in used copies only.
Villasenor, Victor. The Frog and his Friends save Humanity. Piñata Books, Arte Publico Press, Houston, TX, 2005.
In the Spring of Creation, the animals gather around a new creature and decide that it is cute especially when it farts. They wonder if it is a joke from Mother Nature. They decide to work together to save this first human child from extinction. Bi-lingual. Vibrant colors and stylized art match the creation myth spirit. For grades two and up. Available in new and used copies.
Walter, Mildred. Darkness. Simon and Schuster, 1995.
This picture book is a celebration of the many wonderful things that flourish in the darkness. The paintings by Marcia Jameson are acrylic on a dark surface. Available in used copies.
Wildsmith, Brian. Hunter and his Dog. Oxford University Press, 1969.
A dog cannot bring himself to retrieve wounded birds and so he takes them to an island and feeds them. Available in used copies in board book, paperback and hardback editions.
Yoh, Shomei and Yanase, Fusako. Not Mines, But Flowers. Association to Aid Refugees, 1996, 1997.
This is a simple picture book with a powerful message about land mines. Told in Japanese and English. Limited availability in used copies. If you have friends in Japan, try to get a copy.