I love picture books that stimulate a child’s imagination, books that make kids sit on the edge of their seats waiting to see what will happen next, and there’s nothing like reading a book that makes kids laugh – but sometimes the best book is a quiet book, a story to guide the transition from day to night or to enjoy over hot chocolate on a cold day.
Three new books are perfect for quiet moments:
The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles by Michelle Cuevas and illustrated by Erin Stead
A message in a bottle is the perfect vehicle for a child’s imagination. I remember hoping to find one, but since I lived in land-locked Ohio, it was a remote possibility. The “uncorker” of the story’s title has an important job: he finds and delivers messages that wash up on shore. Important, but lonely work. Naturally, he hopes one of the notes will be addressed to him. One day, he finds an invitation to a party – but there’s no name on it. He commits himself to finding the lucky invitee – asking people in the town to help him solve the mystery. At this point, you can kind of guess what’s going to happen – but that does nothing to spoil the story. Of course, he goes to the party – and the foggy and “watery” illustrations extend the mood of this quietly perfect book.
The Sound of Silence by Katrina Goldsaito and illustrated by Julia Kuo
A walk through the noisy streets of Tokyo and a meditation on the value of silence, Goldsaito’s book is an homage to the kind of quiet that has disappeared over the past twenty years. But Yoshio, a young boy who lives in Tokyo, meets a street musician who tells him that “the most beautiful sound…is the sound of ma, of silence.” Given the busy city streets and the sounds of “chopsticks and slurping and chewing and swallowing,” it is no easy task to find a quiet place. Of course, he does – and the journey is magical.
Samson in the Snow by Philip C. Stead
The setting of this story is a snowy place, but its warmth shines through. Samson is a woolly mammoth who treasures his patch of sunshine-bright dandelions. When a small red bird asks Samson if he could take some of the dandelions to a friend who is “having a bad day, and his favorite color is yellow.” Samson doesn’t just agree – he gives the bird three of his “best flowers.” Although Samson is happy to share, but wishes he had a friend. As the yellow fields turn to snow, Samson wonders about the little bird and decides to find her. Along the way, he meets a mouse who is looking for a lost friend….guess who that is! Ultimately, the three friends reconnect and wait out the storm together. This is a book for every library’s friendship shelf – and a perfect companion to the 2011 Caldecott Award-winning A Sick Day for Amos McGee, written by Philip Stead and illustrated by his wife, Erin Stead – the illustrator of The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles.
It brightens any school day when an author visits so this was a banner week – we welcomed two visitors from the children’s book world. On Tuesday, author and illustrator Brian Lies talked with Inly’s young students about Gator Dad, his new picture book – which follows his popular Bats series. The best part of Brian’s visit was watching the kids watch him.
Unsurprisingly, he draws confidently and fluidly so a blank piece of paper quickly transformed into…..a bat “Juggling French Flies!”
On Wednesday we turned our attention from Bats and Gators to Super Heroes! Marc Tyler Nobleman, author of, among other books, Bill The Boy Wonder: The Secret C0-Creator of Batman and Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman.
Marc told the stories of both the Caped Crusader and Clark Kent to two groups of 4th through 8th graders, and even the kids who told me they “don’t like superheroes” were completely engaged. For the superhero fans, I’m pretty sure it was the highlight of their school year – not a good peak to hit in early October!
Marc was clearly born to tell these stories. He began his presentation by sharing his childhood Halloween pictures in which he made his goals clear since he was often dressed in a superhero costume!
This is my favorite picture of the week….
The day after Marc’s visit, I heard voices coming from downstairs in the maker space. I looked down on a scene of two girls – one of whom was reading Marc’s book about Batman aloud to her friend – the power of an author visit!