Valentine’s Day is a fun and unique holiday because it is all about showing gratitude, friendship and most of all – love. On the other hand, President’s Day helps us reflect on some of the great U.S. presidents and our country’s past. All of the Valentine’s Day books are picture books and are good for all ages. The rest of the books will have the age appropriateness stated. Furthermore, I want to announce the 2015 Caldecott (the best picture books) and Newbery winners (the best literature) that were recently announced. The Newbery Medal went to “The Crossover” by Alexander. The Honor Books are “El Deafo” by Cece Bell and “Brown Girl Dreaming” by Woodson. The Caldecott Medal winner is “The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend” by Santat. The Honor Books are “Nana in the City” by Castillo, “The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky’s Abstract Art” by GrandPré and Rosenstock, “Sam & Dave Dig a Hole” by Klassen and Barnett, “Viva Frida” by Yuyi Morales, “The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus” by Sweet and Bryant and “This One Summer” by Mariko Tamaki
Guess How Much I Love You, by Sam McBratney, and illustrated by Anita Jeram, is the same wonderful story that has become a classic. But this newest version is small and configured in a pocket-guide. This beautiful book is uniquely packaged and can be read by slipping it out of its case and opening up the accordion folds to read and enjoy the same storyline. However, this edition also includes pop-up pages inside the story. There’s also a new, large anniversary edition celebrating twenty years since this special story was first written.
I Love Mom, by Joanna Walsh, and brightly painted by Judi Abbot, centers around two tiger cubs as they venture through their day with Mom. “And in the park nobody swings my swing so high. No one brings the sky closer to the seesaw“. Love for Mom abounds throughout this caring book.
When Otis Courted Mama, by Kathi Appelt, and brightly painted with gouache on watercolor paper by Jill McElmurry, is a story about dealing with a mom and dad who are divorced. Otis, a young coyote pup, lives with his daddy and stepmother part of the time and the rest of the time with his mama. He’s fine with this arrangement especially because he gets his mama all to himself. But when she begins dating another coyote, he’s not so sure about this. This is an excellent book to open discussions with children when parents divorce.
Did You Know That I Love You?, by Christa Pierce, is such a sweet declaration of love with a slight twist: a tiny bird declares her love for a fox. The opening page showcases the bird’s affection by declaring the book’s title. Every digitally enhanced display is shown on both sides of the open page and clearly displays fox’s joy at being loved by this adorning feathered friend. The last page also clearly states how the fox feels toward the bird.
Everything I Need to Know About Love I Learned from a Little Golden Book, by Diane Muldrow, is actually a collection of pictures from many different Little Golden Book stories. Ms. Muldrow has written simple yet helpful advice that goes with each delightful retro picture. This is just the perfect book for lovers everywhere.
Dear Mr. Washington, by Lynn Cullen, and painted with a combination of pen on paper, acrylic paint on canvas and digital media by Nancy Carpenter, is based on a true story when the president went to the home of Gilbert Stuart, a famous painter, to have his portrait painted. Each time he came for the portrait, Stuart’s children seemed to continually disrupt the setting. One time the family cat ran up the President’s shoulder. Another time, Baby John sucked on the President’s shoe. The format is designed in a series of letters from one of Stuart’s daughters to President Washington and kids will laugh as well as become a little more acquainted with this great president. This book, along with the next two books, is good for ages 7 to 12.
President Taft is Stuck in the Bath, by Mac Barnett, and vividly illustrated by using gouache by Chris Van Dusen, could be just a tale or could be true, no one knows for sure. But the event of getting stuck in his White House bathtub has been told and retold for years after he left the presidency. He was a large man and had a bathtub built to fit his girth. There’s more information about him found in the back of the book which includes a photo of his oversized bathtub as well as 4 men sitting inside of it.
Gingerbread for Liberty! How a German Baker Helped Win the American Revolution, by Mara Rockliff, and brilliantly illustrated by Vincent X. Kirsch, is about a little known hero, Christopher Ludwick, who was a well-known baker who was born in Germany and lived during the beginning of the Revolutionary War. He wanted to join the war, but according to legend, his wife told him he was too old and too fat to join. But he decided he could bake bread for the Continental Army. When he heard about the German Hessians helping England try to defeat America, he was sent on a special mission to convince these Hessians to abandon the English. His gingerbread was so good, he even convinced the Hessian prisoners to join America. The artwork is a unique blend of watercolor and a palette of gingerbread browns and cinnamon along with paper-cut shapes. There’s more information about Ludwick found at the back in the author’s notes. Lastly, check out the gingerbread recipe on the end-pages.