Staff Picks Grades K-2

February 2019

My Wish For You
by Kathryn Hahn

An affirming wish list for girls. It opens with: "My wishes for you are many. / But at the top of the wishes: / I want you to be you." Some spreads, such as this one, include several children; others depict only one. Throughout, Barrager's appealing digital illustrations include girls with a range of skin colors and hair textures participating in many activities. Ultimately, this is an affirming, empowering text with accompanying illustrations that charm but don't rise to meet its promise. Hopeful, playful girlhood guidance.

by Shauntay Grant

A young girl reminisces about a place of dreams and hope: Africville. She takes the reader home with her, where waves come to rest / and hug the harbor stones, where the scent of freshly baked fruit pies awaits, where children play in fields, go rafting on the pond, and later feast on freshly caught codfish. Through the poem, readers visit this sparkling seaside community that sustains itself through the bounty of nature and the legacy of history. This last element might be lost on younger readers, for whom a fuller context will need to be provided. Grant, Poet Laureate of Halifax, and acclaimed artist Campbell recreate the once-thriving black community of Africville, Nova Scotia. The poem itself will intrigue readers, and fortunately, there are resources provided for those who wish to learn more.

Mina Vs. The Monsoon
by Rukhsanna Guidroz

Typically, the monsoon season is welcomed in India for the respite it brings from heat and drought. But for Mina, the rainy season means she can't be outside doing what she loves most: playing soccer. Captive to the weather, she finds ways to entertain herself. She drums on her tablas to the beat of the raindrops, but that doesn't cheer her up. In the midst of her gloom, Mina's mother has a surprise for her: a gift and a piece of information that Mina would never have guessed. Ultimately, Mina realizes that sulking is pointless, and that chai, samosas, and time with her mother are the silver lining to the heavy monsoon clouds. This charming bilingual book has universal appeal and cultural specificity, with a guide to the story's Urdu and Hindi words appended. A richly colored palette and crisp digital illustrations combine with a story that is refreshingly free of stereotypical tropes, making this a delightful addition to the #OwnVoices offerings for younger readers.

We are Family
by Patricia Hegarty

With its vibrant illustrations and cheerful rhyming narrative describing the ups, downs, and everyday routines of 10 different families, this book will appeal to a wide audience. The message is undoubtedly one of recognizing and affirming a range of family structures, all of which provide safe, happy, loving environments for children and adults. Each two-page spread depicts an array of panels, each one featuring a different family unit located roughly in the same place on every page. This format allows readers to create their own stories as they choose one or more families to focus on from page to page. The daily events are as diverse as the families themselves, so that a day of fun can be as simple as a walk in the park or as exciting as a roller coaster ride. Troubles range from a flooded kitchen to a burnt meal or a lost pet. With a through line of togetherness, in good times and bad, this celebratory tribute will be enjoyed with every repeated reading.

Operation Rescue Dog
by Maria Gianferrari

Alma and her abuela get a rescue dog as a surprise for her mother's return from Iraq. Alma and Abuela are getting ready to pick up a dog "the color of Mami's eyes." It's a long way to the place where the Operation Rescue Dog truck will be. Meanwhile, readers also find out about Lulu, the dog they will eventually adopt. Lulu's story starts off in sad and somber shades of steel blue as readers learn of her abandonment near a highway, for weeks eating acorns and drinking from puddles. Eventually, Lulu finds herself on the Operation Rescue Dog truck heading for the place where she will meet her forever family. As humans and dog travel toward their meeting destination, not all is smooth sailing. But all's well that ends well, and dog and child are united. The mixed-media illustrations portray people of different skin colors, while Alma and her abuela have brown skin. The backmatter includes further information on pet rescue and a glossary. A very accessible story that will strike a chord with pet lovers and military families.

A Dot in the Snow
by Corrinne Averiss

When curious polar bear cub Miki (Inuktitut for little) decides that he wants to play in the snow instead of fish with his mom, he wanders far away from his comfort zone. He sees a dot in the snow and rushes to investigate. What he finds is a little girl in a red parka. Together they embark on a short, fun adventure and become fast friends. They face obstacles and hurdles but manage to help each other overcome them as one. The illustrations in this book are breathtaking and whimsical. The original pastel colors remind readers of a cold winter day. The mood is light and airy, capturing the innocence of childhood and child's play. With very few words on each page, the story unfolds in a well-paced manner for this age group. Parents and caregivers will be able to explain courage, the dangers of wandering off, and the value of friendship. Despite wearing Inuit-style parkas and mukluks, the girl and her mother are as white as the new fallen snow; Averiss and Woodcock sadly miss the opportunity to depict authentic Arctic cultural representation.

Goodbye Brings Hello
by Dianne White

This ode to growing up follows a diverse group of preschoolers as they change and learn in the days leading up to their first day of school. One by one, the kids are shown learning new skills such as tying shoes, riding a two-wheel bike, or learning to swim. Others are shown experiencing firsts such as getting a haircut and flying on an airplane. The ending shows the individual kids coming together at the bus stop for their first day of school. The rhyming text lends itself to being read aloud. On a spread showing a girl trying on shoes with laces, the text reads, "Loop the laces. Knot the bows. So long, Velcro-covered toes." The brightly colored illustrations add a cheerful positivity to the book. The expressions on the children's faces change from uncertainty, fear, or determination to proud smiles with their accomplishments.

You Can Read
by Helaine Becker & Mark Hoffman

Sure, you can read in a classroom or a library, but think of all of the other places you can read. You can peruse a best seller in the park or while cooking in the kitchen. Or you can pore over a book when cruising in a rocket while in deep outer space. Why not read under the sea or by a campfire? This work is a great way to teach children that they can read in a variety of locations. It also shows how books can take them anywhere they want to go and on all kinds of exciting adventures. This is an extremely entertaining offering for young listeners and their adults. Some of the side-by-side pages are pairs or opposites that provide good opportunities for discussion. There are also some hidden lessons on the pages. One such lesson focuses on proper etiquette and reading at the table. And when reading and walking down the street, watch where you walk or you might step in...YUCK! Children will find it amusing that they can read on the toilet or in their underwear!

Baby’s Firsts
by Nancy Raines Day

This book focuses on the new experiences of babies and their parents during the first 12 months of life. The title starts in the hospital when a mom holds up her naked little boy with his dad standing next to her and covers other milestones like the first burp, change, and laugh. Text and illustrations work well and show moms and dads taking care of babies. For example, there is a page with text that says, "First meal." On one page, a mom is breastfeeding her child. On the opposite page, a dad feeds his baby with a bottle. Expressive cartoon artwork conveys the joy and exhaustion of being a new parent. In the illustration where the baby is on the lap, the parents are in bed with mom fast asleep, while dad stays next to her entertaining the wide-awake baby. Sure to be enjoyable for those who like to review their early days.

Maybe Something Beautiful How Art Transformed a Neighborhood
by F. Isabel Campoy

Rafael López is both the inspiration for and illustrator of this beautifully dreamy picture book. Along with his wife, he initiated a program to revitalize San Diego's East Village, transforming it from a concrete desert into a colorful, inspired, and inspiring home for bright, cheery public art. The enthusiastic text follows a little girl in the neighborhood whose own passion for making art seems to usher in the muralist, who not only relishes her little paintings but puts a paintbrush in her hand and lets her go wild. Soon the whole neighborhood gets involved, dancing as they cover their walls and sidewalks in a rainbow of loud colors. López translates that energy into his multimedia illustrations, which fill each spread with warm tones and jaunty figures. Occasional vertical page spreads compel little ones to turn the book, which will add to a reader's engagement while emulating the sweeping rainbow swirl of the brushes. This empowering story of community engagement might inspire kids to get involved in their own neighborhoods.