Monday, July 14, 2008

Re-Visiting Picks Past

After quite some time writing Pick of the Litter columns, first for MommyBlogsToronto, and now for the awesome new Playdate, I have covered a fair bit of territory, topic-wise. Every once in a while, now, I run into a book that makes me think, Oh! I wish I has seen that one when I wrote about... Well, there are always new things to write about, so I hate to reprint the whole column with the new additions, but I thought I'd refer back and offer up a few of the things that would make good add-ons to some picks of the past.


This is the Sunflower, by Lola M. Schaefer, ill. Donald Crews

This cumulative, rhyming story about a sunflower that feeds the birds, who then spill some seeds, which in turn grow into a patch of sunflowers in the same garden that grew the first flower. A note at the back identifies a host of songbirds, as well as giving some sunflower facts, while Crews' trademark bold illustrations make the whole thing a great book for sharing with kids of a wide range of ages.

The Carrot Seed, by Ruth Krauss, ill. Crockett Johnson

A little boy planted a carrot seed. His mother said, "I'm afraid it won't come up." His father and brother doubt it, too, but he has a quiet faith in his seed, and waters and weeds it anyhow until one day, his patience is rewarded. This book is simple as simple can be, featuring drawings by the fabulous illustrator of Harold and the Purple Crayon, and is a great way to remind kids that patience may be tough, but it is worth it, and is especially necessary in gardens.

See more great gardening books in the original post, here.


Hello, Twins!, by Charlotte Voake

Voake, herself a twin, writes a simple and cute book about herself and her brother as children, though it is not told quite that way. Instead, she introduces us to Charlotte and Simon, who are not alike at all. Despite their very different ways of doing things (which read almost like a book of opposites), the twins love each other as they are. I have been a fan of Voake's for some time, and while this book is even sparser than most of hers, it has the same breezy, slightly sweet style that I love in her work.

Find other titles for two in this post.

All That Jazz

This Jazz Man, by Karen Ehrhardt, ill. R. G. Roth

Set to the tune of This Old Man, this fun and funky counting book highlights the sounds of jazz, and many ways that music can be made, from the snapping of fingers, through numerous instruments, and right up to the conductor. By the time we have met all ten, "these jazz men make one great band!" Notes at the end introduce the jazz legend associated with each of the players, for those who want to tie this to real-life musicians.

Find other swinging titles in this post, from deep in the archives.


I Wished for a Unicorn and

A Sea-Wishing Day, by Robert Heidbreder, ill. Kady McDonald Denton

I love a good example of children playing games of the imagination, losing themselves in a world of their own making, rather than surrendering to manufactured realms of television of being entertained by electronic toys. It's a great thing for a child to build that creativity! This pair of books features of child of ambiguous gender who goes on adventures in her (?) own backyard with her dog - exploring fairy tale worlds in one, and going to sea (running into pirates, even!) in the other. It's a bit like Backyardigans without the commercialness, in fact, in the fact that the backyard disappears, and other surroundings take shape, only to melt away at the end, as the child returns. Wonderfully fun romps, these books are given great shape with Denton's typically jaunty illustrations.

Find more great flights of fancy in this post from last summer, here.


The Purple Balloon, by Chris Raschka

This simple, lovely book is specifically written for terminally ill children and the friends and family who love them. It is based on an observation by psychologist Elizabeth Kubler-Ross that across many cultures and faiths, children who draw their feelings about their impending death often draw a free-floating purple or blue balloon. Working from this point, Raschka has illustrated the ill child as the purple balloon, and the others around him or her as balloons of other colours. The extremely simple text addresses how difficult it is to talk about dying, the many people who try to make dying easier, the support to be found among family and friends. Good help can make it easier. There are also some short notes for children about how they can help a friend who is dying in simple ways by continuing to be a friend, for those children who are reading this book to understand another's illness better. I love the simplicity of this book, a little gem that addresses a tough topic with sympathy, but without overexplaining.

Find more books on this topic in this post, from deep in the archives - my very first Pick.

There are always new titles to find, even for us pros!

Check your local library often for treasures new and newly discovered.

Originally posted on MommyBlogsToronto/Better Than a Playdate.

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