Three picture books about racing use the excitement of competition to introduce themes of cooperation, collaboration and sharing.
By age 6, Kara Westfall has seen and suffered unimaginable loss: Her mother was convicted of witchcraft, and Kara was accused as well. By 12 she’s developed a dark sense of humor, but she’s a dutiful sister to younger brother Taff and tries to care for her grieving father. Their village hates and fears her, so when a strange bird appears in her path and leads her into the Thickety, the oppressive forest that surrounds them, she’s frightened but curious. What she finds there will reshape her destiny.
Alan Rabinowitz is a champion of wildlife conservation. He is president and CEO of Panthera, a nonprofit wildlife organization devoted to protecting big cats. As he shares in his charming picture book for children, A Boy and a Jaguar, Rabinowitz's passion for defending wildcats comes from the struggle to find his own words as a child.
BookPage Children's Top Pick, May 2014
I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that Shaun Tan’s books are breathtaking—just consider his wordless graphic novel, The Arrival. But the effect is even more astounding when he puts words and images together, as he’s done in Rules of Summer. There is an underlying beauty to his work that transcends our everyday lives. His design sense is striking, and he pushes the boundaries of picture books in delightful ways.
If you are—or ever were—a kid who couldn’t wait for school to start in September, get ready to meet Magnolia Jane Mayfield. It’s 1988, and Maggie’s starting sixth grade. She’s thrilled to have a lunch table all to herself, because she can spread out her books better that way.
Let’s hear it for the where-do-babies-come-from picture book of the 21st century, Sophie Blackall’s The Baby Tree! If any author-illustrator working today is going to address this topic—the one that makes parents squirm the most—I’m glad it’s Blackall. She does so with wit and honesty, never once talking down to children. And she executes it with her distinctive Chinese-ink and watercolor illustrations—and with good humor to boot.
The city of Hamburg has become a prison for its smallest citizens. Where once they ate their fill and ran the streets freely, the invention of the mousetrap has forced mice underground. Some flee by ship, but the ports are now guarded by cats, and owls watch from every steeple. One mouse has a revelation when he sees bats flying overhead: They’re little more than mice with wings, so who’s to say a mouse can’t fly? The adventures in Lindbergh: The Tale of a Flying Mouse are ready for takeoff.
For the first time ever, it will just be Adam, his mom and his aging grandmother at their cabin on Three Bird Lake. His parents have recently divorced, and although it will be a different kind of summer, 12-year-old Adam looks forward to escaping the routine of school, sitting on the dock by himself and watching the loons. But his grandmother has other ideas and decides he should learn to canoe around the lake by himself.
Featuring creatures with outsize personalities whose slightly subversive behavior is hugely hilarious, the picture books featured below are about defying expectations and bending the rules. Young readers, show the world who you really are!