It’s hard to know what to do about Black History Month. On one hand, it might be the only time of year that schoolchildren will learn about the important moments and people in black history that shaped our country and world. On the other hand, one month seems paltry when there are so many stories. This year, when the news of Ferguson, Missouri, #WeNeedDiverseBooks and #BlackLivesMatter were trending issues that only the most out-of-touch could ignore, we need books about Black History more than ever. Lucky for us, there are some wonderful books out this month.
Sally M. Walker likes to connect young readers with history. In her new picture book, Winnie, she does just that, telling the little-known story of the real bear who inspired A.A. Milne’s legendary children’s book character, Winnie-the-Pooh.
When young Ursula Brown reaches the estate of the Vaughns (who are also recognizable as the Three Bears) to be a governess for their son, Teddy, her story becomes less a simple fairy-tale retelling and more of a mash-up of classic literary tropes.
Young Elmore Green’s life seems perfect and orderly until one day when “somebody else came along,” and that someone happens to be The New Small Person. This new creature, whom Elmore refers to as “it,” squawks during Elmore’s favorite cartoons and once “actually licked Elmore’s jelly-bean collection, including the orange ones.”
Three months after her friend Sarah dies, Iris Abernathy and her parents move from sunny California to an old farmhouse in rainy Oregon, where the miserable weather suits Iris’ mood. While Iris’ mother is adjusting well to her new job at a university and her father has taken to gardening and raising chickens, Iris can’t move past her grief. She believes Sarah is a ghost living in her new house.
Finding the Worm is Mark Goldblatt’s second book about Julian Twerski and his 34th Avenue gang, based on the author’s childhood experiences in Queens, New York. The sequel to Twerp continues with language that is simple and accessible but packs a punch, especially when dealing with the sensitive topic of cancer.
Emily Jenkins will bring out the foodie in any reader as she traces the preparation of blackberry fool through four centuries in A Fine Dessert. Starting in 1710 in Lyme, England, a mother and daughter pick wild blackberries from the field surrounding their cottage. Then begins the labor-intensive process that includes milking the cow, skimming the cream, beating the cream with twigs, straining the berries through muslin to get rid of seeds and chilling the delightful blend of berries and cream in an ice pit in the hillside.
Slinking through the grass with panache, Duck believes he is a cat, just like his friend Cat. Or, at the very least, he will be when he grows up. But when Duck tries to follow Cat up a tree, his lack of claws (and general lack of catness) becomes sadly apparent.
Award-winning illustrator Carin Berger harbors in spring with this warm tale of a bear cub, who, just like impatient human children, has a bit of trouble with waiting.