Posts Tagged ‘diversity in children’s books’

I wanted to love this book – The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade

Posted on July 18th, 2016 by Carolyn Hart


The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade written by Justin Roberts and illustrated by Christian RobinsonThe Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade written by Justin Roberts and illustrated by Christian Robinson
Antibullying Picture Book published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons: An Imprint of Penguin Group (USA)

You’ve really got to love a recording artist who has a very popular kids’ CD titled, Meltdown! and another called Not Naptime. The album titles alone are enough to bring a smile to a weary parent’s face. So, I wanted to think that The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade was terrific.

And, I do think it is a good book but, there are ways it could have been better.

Sally McCabe is both young and small. She is in the lowest grade at her school and she is the smallest child in the class. Kudos to the illustrator for depicting a racially diverse group of children in the classroom and at the playground. It would have been excellent to see similar diversity in terms of mobility (perhaps one child in a wheelchair or using crutches, for example).Illustration from The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade

Sally is unusually observant. She notices a kite that is tangled in a tree and she notices that the janitor’s ring has twenty-seven keys. Unfortunately, this is where my evaluation of the book begins to drop: one illustration of the janitor’s ring only shows seven keys and another shows five keys. I completely understand that twenty seven may have been essential to the rhyme BUT the illustrations should be true to the story. If the ring has twenty seven keys – the illustration of the ring should show us each one of them! Young children will pick up on this sort of disparity. They will want to know where the other twenty or twenty two keys are and the omission will detract from the important antibullying message the author is attempting to share.

When a bully pushes Sally’s classmate, the story tells us that he begins to cry but in the illustration, he is dry-eyed. These seemingly minor disparities really do make a difference and discerning young readers will notice them.

Adults may understand the (metaphorical) significance of wildflowers tipping toward light and cats meeting together in a parking lot but I doubt that, without guidance, young children will see any connection between the cats or the flowers and Sally’s story.

Essentially, Sally, observes bullying on the playground, in the hallway at school, in the classroom and in the school cafeteria. Eventually, she speaks up. She announces, “I’m tired of seeing this terrible stuff. Stop hurting each other! This is enough!”

This prompts all of Sally’s classmates and school staff members to point their fingers in the air in solidarity. Soon the school is a much more harmonious place. A somewhat “magical solution” to bullying? Yes, but, this is story that could be used to initiate discussions about bullying and social responsibility.

The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade at

The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade at

Isaac and his Amazing Asperger Superpowers! by Melanie Walsh

Posted on May 21st, 2016 by Carolyn Hart


Isaac and his Amazing Asperger Superpowers! by Melanie WalshIsaac and his Amazing Asperger Superpowers! written and illustrated by Melanie Walsh
Picture book about a child with Asperger’s Syndrome published by Candlewick Press

Written from the perspective of a boy with Asperger’s Syndrome, Isaac and His Amazing Asperger Superpowers! is a cheerful, positive and reassuring picture book that explains how Isaac’s thoughts and behavior sometimes differ from those of his friends. Well-suited to preschool-age children or early primary classroom use, bright, bold illustrations are visually appealing and will be easily seen and interpreted in a group or classroom setting.

Friends, family members and classmates will discover that children with Asperger’s Syndrome may have different interests, energy levels and ways of interacting than others do. For example, they may like to bounce rather than play team sports or they may fidget with a toy in order to relax and listen in class. They may have difficulty understanding jokes or some in social situations. Insights are shared matter-of-factly, with respect for both the Asperger’s child and a child who does not have Asperger’s.

Isaac and his Amazing Asperger Superpowers! spreadUsing meaningful examples and fun illustrations, Walsh helps young readers to understand that children with Asperger’s Syndrome have strengths including a great memory for facts, curiosity and a heightened awareness of sounds. She also shows the special relationship an Asperger’s child can have with pets and family members.

A great addition to a personal or professional library, end papers include a list of Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome links.

Isaac and His Amazing Asperger Superpowers! at

Isaac and His Amazing Asperger Superpowers! at

Read our reviews of other picture books about Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome

Storytime Standouts Shares Asperger Syndrome and Autism Picture Books

Never Let You Go by Patricia Storms Celebrates the Special Bond Between Parent and Child

Posted on May 6th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart


Storytime Standouts looks at Never Let You Go by Patricia StormsNever Let You Go written and illustrated by Patricia Storms
Picture book celebrating love between an adult and a child published by Scholastic Canada

I’ll be honest, I completely underestimated Never Let You Go when I first viewed the cover art. I assumed (wrongly) that it would be a treacly story about a mother’s love for her child. When I took time to carefully read the story and appreciate the playful illustrations, I discovered that this is indeed a special picture book that will be treasured by children and their adult caregivers.

Readers may assume that Never Let You Go is about a mother’s love for her child but one could argue that it could also be interpreted as a portrayal of a father’s love or a grandparent’s love. The beauty of the author’s words is that the affection shared by the adult penguin and the young penguin makes no reference to gender or relationship. The story will ‘work’ for Mother’s Day or Father’s Day. It will work for single parent families or families where the primary caregiver is not a parent.

Spread from Never Let You Go by Patricia Storms

Initially the adult penguin reassures the youngster, I will care for you, and treasure you always. And I will never let you go. But soon we discover, there will be times when the adult will give the child space to safely explore the world and gain independence. The adult won’t be there when nature calls or if the child is quietly working on a project. With humor, we discover that the adult prefers to grant space when the child has a tantrum and that the adult will visit with other adults while the boisterous young friends play together nearby.

Recommended for children aged three years and up, bright, bold illustrations and breezy, affirming text make this a great read aloud for small groups.

Never Let You Go at

Kid Lit Blog Hop

Learning About Chinese New Year – Highlighting Picture Books

Posted on January 21st, 2014 by Carolyn Hart


My First Chinese New YearMy First Chinese New Year written and illustrated by Karen Katz
Chinese New Year Picture Book published by Henry Holt and Company

An excellent introduction to the traditions associated with the holiday, My First Chinese New Year will be enjoyed by children aged three years and up. Highlighting traditional decorations, clothing, food, a large family dinner and a boisterous parade, colorful illustrations and text depict a family’s preparations for the special day and their joy in celebrating with family and friends.

We appreciate the ease with which Ms. Katz conveys information to young readers,

My sister and I sweep away the bad luck from last year. Now we are ready to welcome in good luck for the new year.

Recommended for preschool age children, the size and format is well suited to a group storytime.

My First Chinese New Year at

My First Chinese New Year at

Happy Happy Chinese New YearHappy, Happy Chinese New Year written and illustrated by Demi
(Non Fiction) Chinese New Year Picture Book published by Crown Publishing, an imprint of Random House

Unlike Ms. Katz’s picture book, Happy, Happy Chinese New Year will be best appreciated when read by one or two children. It could be used by a child doing research into the traditions associated with Chinese New Year. Detailed illustrations include numerous small, labelled figures preparing for a community celebration. A tremendous banquet is shown and is enhanced by a key that provides the name of each food item, in English and Chinese, as well as the significance of each of the dishes.

Part of getting ready for the Chinese New Year is making sure your home is neat and clean before the new year arrives. Tidy up your house and your room. Sweep out the old and bring in the New Year!

A good non fiction resource for primary grade children, this picture book offers considerable insight into the traditions associated with this holiday.

Happy, Happy Chinese New Year! at

Happy, Happy Chinese New Year! at

Demi was a nominee for the 2013 NSK Neustadt Prize

Exclamation Mark an Outstanding 2013 Picture Book

Posted on December 31st, 2013 by Carolyn Hart


Exclamation Mark outstanding 2013 picture bookExclamation Mark written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
Outstanding 2013 Picture Book published by Scholastic Press

Exclamation Mark is just not like anyone else. As much as he’d like to look the same, he’s always a standout in a crowd.

He was confused, flummoxed, and deflated.
He even thought about running away.

Clever wordplay and fun, expressive illustrations will captivate children old enough to understand punctuation and the important role it plays in our language. Older readers will enjoy the double entendre and will celebrate Exclamation Mark’s voyage of self discovery.Storytime Standouts looks at Exclamation Mark written by Amy Krouse and illustrated by Ton Lichtenheld

Why oh why is he different? He wants nothing more than to look just like the periods around him. It is only when Question Mark arrives on the scene that Exclamation Mark discovers something deep within – he discovers why and how he has an important role to play – despite his rather unique upright appearance.

An outstanding 2013 picture book, Exclamation Mark is highly recommended for readers aged five years and up.

Exclamation Mark at

Exclamation Mark at

Link to Make Your [Book]mark on Tom Lichtenheld’s website

Parent’s Choice Silver Honor Spring 2013
Kirkus Starred Review
Booklist Starred Review

Exclamation Mark has been nominated for a 2013 Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Award.

Celebrate the Holidays with a Christmas Picture Book

Posted on December 23rd, 2013 by Carolyn Hart

Christmas is just a couple of days away. In this post we look at two Christmas picture books that feature characters from popular picture book series

Pete the Cat Saves Christmas picture bookPete the Cat Saves Christmas written by Eric Litwin and illustrated by James Dean
Christmas Picture Book published by Harper Collins Children’s Books

Pete the Cat website

The first Pete the Cat’s picture book was (self) published in 2008. Now, there are several best-selling picture books about Pete and more will be arriving in early 2014.

In Pete the Cat Saves Christmas Santa is sick and in bed. He doesn’t want to cancel Christmas so he calls Pete the Cat and asks him to take care of his Christmas Eve toy delivery. Pete decides that despite his small stature, he can take care of the monumental job. Pete climbs into his mini bus and heads for the North Pole. With the help of some very cat-like elves, Pete loads up his minibus, he hitches up Santa’s reindeer and takes off.

Fans of Pete the Cat will enjoy his can-do attitude, his signature song and his enthusiasm for getting an important job done right!

Pete the Cat Saves Christmas at

Pete The Cat Saves Christmas at

Llama Llama Holiday Drama Christmas picture bookLlama Llama Holiday Drama written and illustrated by Anna Dewdney
Christmas Picture Book published by Viking a Division of Penguin Young Readers Group

Llama Llama website

Poor Llama Llama. December seems to be all about waiting. The days just don’t pass quickly enough. There is shopping to do and there are choices to make. There are cookies to bake and presents to wrap. It is just too much!

To much music, too much fluff
Too much making, too much stuff!
Too much everything for Llama…”

Thankfully Mama Llama stops everything and reminds LLama that the best gift of all is spending time with someone we love.

Readers will infer that Llama Llama is excited about Christmas given the references to a December calendar and gift giving along with a tree, Santa and a Christmas stocking in the illustrations but the story itself does not refer to Christmas. In addition to Christmas references, we see a Menorah and Challah bread and Llama plays with a dreidel.

Young children and their parents will recognize that any celebration can be stress-inducing for adults and children. Llama Llama Holiday Drama is a reminder to slow things down and make lots of time for snuggles.

Llama Llama Holiday Drama at

Llama Llama Holiday Drama at

How To by Julie Morstad Celebrates Play and Self Discovery

Posted on December 20th, 2013 by Carolyn Hart


How To by Julie MorstadHow To written and illustrated by Julie Morstad
Picture book published by Simply Read Books

“Play is the work of the child.” – Maria Montessori

There are shelves filled with how to books at my local library. How to change the oil in a car, how to sew a quilt, how to apply make up… These are all jobs for adults. When writing and illustrating a how to book for children, what should be the topic? What is there that children ought to do?

Julie Morstad’s How To is a celebration of play and self discovery. When a child wants to go fast, he might choose a scooter or a pair of stilts. When another child decides to go slow she may quietly lie in a grassy spot and enjoy the flowers and from how to by Julie Morstad

Beautifully drawn illustrations celebrate a diverse group of children at play – flying kites, drawing with sidewalk chalk, hiding, riding a bicycle, drumming on pots and pans and contemplating a steep, high slide. Minimal text and mostly white pages ‘leave space’ for thinking, appreciating the illustrations and imagining ways to enjoy more play.

Winner of the Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature Prize

How To has been nominated for a 2013 Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Award.

How To at

How To at

Picture Book About Divali – Lights for Gita

Posted on October 31st, 2013 by Carolyn Hart


Storytime Standouts looks at Lights for Gita, a picture book about Divali and  adjusting to life as a new immigrant.Lights for Gita written by Rachna Gilmore and illustrated by Alice Priestley
Picture book about Divali and a child’s experience as a new immigrant published by Second Story Press

When Gita arrives home from school, she is excited to celebrate Divali. She fondly remembers how Divali was celebrated in New Delhi. She recalls large family celebrations that included glowing diyas, delicious sweets (perras and jallebies) and brilliant fireworks.

Gita has invited five friends from her class to celebrate Divali with her family but a sudden ice storm means that most of her friends are not able to come. Gita and her mother light the diyas just before the electricity in the apartment fails. Darkness envelopes the street and the apartment building except for the shining diyas. When Gita sees one of her friends arriving at the apartment building, she rushes outside to meet her. She is overjoyed to step outside into an icy wonderland.

Lights for Gita provides an explanation of many of the traditions associated with Divali. As well, it is a thoughtful look at the adjustments faced by new immigrants when living in a new country.

Rachna Gilmore’s Teacher’s Guide for Lights for Gita

Lights for Gita at

Lights for Gita at

Lights for Gita by Michel Vo, National Film Board of Canada

Note – in Lights for Gita, the author refers to ‘Divali.’ The Festival of Lights is also called ‘Diwali.’

For additional information about Diwali…

Celebrations in my World Diwali picture book about DiwaliCelebrations in My World – Diwali written by Kate Torpie
Children’s book about Diwali published by Crabtree Publishing Company

Generously illustrated with photographs, Celebrations in my World – Diwali explores the Hindu holiday, also known as the ‘festival of lights.’ Photographs and text explain Diwali decorations (including rangoli), dancing (Garba), desserts (includes a recipe for Chocolate Barfi), symbols and clothing (dhoti kurta, henna tattoos). One two-page spread provides information about Hinduism and another explains Rama’s victory. Celebrations in my World – Diwali includes a table of contents and a glossary.

Diwali (Celebrations in My World) at

Diwali (Celebrations in My World) at

Follow Storytime Standouts’s board Diwali for Kids on Pinterest.

Discovering Diversity – Princesses in Picture Books

Posted on October 21st, 2013 by Carolyn Hart


Discovering Diversity and Examining Stereotypes - a Look at Princesses in Picture BooksIf you asked children in a preschool or kindergarten, ‘How does a princess behave?’ or ‘What does a princess look like?’ what sort of answers would you get? Would perceptions extend beyond Disney’s version of Cinderella, Ariel and Rapunzel?

How might children describe or draw a princess?

Is she helpless or is she capable?
Is she in danger and waiting for a brave prince to rescue her or is she resourceful and able to take care of herself?
Is she always physically beautiful? What is her hair color?
What sort of clothing does she wear?
Is she intelligent, quick-witted, wise, bold, courageous?
Is she kind to others?

Thoughts of a grade five student ~

A princess is a girl who has a dress and she’s very pretty. She’s the king’s daughter and he can choose someone to be the prince to marry her. Some books have princesses and some don’t have princesses. You might have seen movies about one or maybe you haven’t. Princesses often appear in fairy tales.

Here are some terrific picture books that depict princesses in unconventional ways

Discovering Diversity through Picture Books An African Princess An African Princess written by Lyra Edmonds and illustrated by Anne Wilson
Picture book about heritage and identity published by Random House Children’s House

Lyra’s mama tells her that she is an African Princess but she is not convinced. She and her family in a big city and she has freckles. Her schoolmates tease her and prompt her to question the story she has been told by her mama. One wintry day she learns that she and her family are going to travel to meet Taunte May, an African Princess. Lyra counts the days until the family boards a plane to the Caribbean. Once there, Lyra discovers and embraces her very rich heritage.

An African Princess at

An African Princess at

Discovering Diversity Picture Books Not All Princesses Dress in PinkNot All Princesses Dress in Pink written by Jane Yolen and Heidi E. Y. Stemple, illustrated by Anne-Sophie Lanquetin
Rhyming picture book about individuality, stereotyping, gender roles published by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers

Vivid illustrations and cheerful text highlight Not All Princesses Dress in Pink, a look at the many ways young princesses express themselves. Perhaps they play baseball or soccer or they roll on the ground. Whether working on a construction site, riding a bike or planting a large garden, these princesses challenge stereotypes and wear sparkly crowns.

Not All Princesses Dress in Pink at

Not All Princesses Dress in Pink at

Discovering Diversity through Picture Books The Paper Bag PrincessThe Paper Bag Princess written by Robert Munsch and illustrated by Michael Martchenko
Picture book about problem solving, courage, self esteem, and gratitude published by Annick Press

When a nasty dragon smashes her castle, burns her clothes and carries away her betrothed, Princess Elizabeth decides she must rescue him. Elizabeth’s wardrobe is in ruins so wears a paper bag as she follows the path of destruction to the dragon’s cave. Once there, Elizabeth uses a series of clever tricks to rescue Ronald. He is not at all grateful for her efforts on his behalf and gets exactly what he deserves.

- Read America! Classic
- NEA’s Cat-a-List for Reading
- Greatest Canadian Books of the Century List, Vancouver Public Library
- 100 Best Books List, Toronto Public Library

The Paper Bag Princess at

The Paper Bag Princess at

Discovering Diversity through Picture Books The Princess and the Pea The Princess and the Pea written and illustrated by Rachel Isadora
Traditional story set in Africa published by Puffin Books

The Princess and the Pea was originally published by Hans Christian Andersen in the nineteenth century. Rachel Isadora sets this version of the traditional story in Africa. A prince wants to meet and marry a ‘real’ princess. His travels take him all over the world but he fails to meet ‘the one.’

One evening there was a terrible storm. Suddenly a knocking was heard at the gate, and the old king went to open it. Sure enough, there is a sodden young woman outside the gate. She claims to be a princess but her appearance suggests otherwise. The queen decides to test her by putting a pea into her bed.

Beautiful collage illustrations nicely match the exotic African setting and costumes.

The Princess and the Pea at

The Princess and the Pea at

Discovering Diversity The Silk PrincessThe Silk Princess written and illustrated by Charles Santore
The legend of the discovery of silk in ancient China published by Random House

Emperor Huang-Ti is very fond of his two sons but never speaks with his daughter, Princess Hsi-Ling Chi. One afternoon, she and her mother visit the royal gardens. When a cocoon falls from a tree and lands in her mother’s teacup, Hsi-Ling Chi notices the cocoon unraveling in the hot liquid and soon sees a long strand of thread. Not realizing the length of the thread, her mother agrees to let her attach one end of the thread to her waist and walk away. Hsi-Ling Chi is astonished as the long, silky thread permits her to travel through the royal gardens, leave the grounds of the royal palace and explore the world beyond its gates. She travels into the mountains, knowing that she must be cautious because there is a dangerous dragon lurking nearby. Despite being careful to cross a bridge quietly, the dragon awakens and frightens Hsi-Ling Chi. The thread is broken and Hsi-Ling Chi is lost. While searching for the thread, she meets an old man. He is weaving thread from silkworm cocoons into beautiful, shimmering fabric. Hsi-Ling Chi learns from him and eventually returns home to share her discovery with her mother. Her mother instructs the royal weavers to create a new robe using the new material. The Emperor is captivated by Hsi-Ling Chi’s discovery and she becomes known as the Silk Princess.

Painterly illustrations are a wonderful match for this story of adventure and discovery. Best suited to kindergarten age (and older) children, there is considerable text – some in white and some in black. The font choice may make this a difficult read-aloud in a large group setting.

The Silk Princess at

The Silk Princess at

Free Printables – Crown Writing Paper and Royalty Picture Dictionary

image of PDF icon  Royalty / Fairy Tale Picture Dictionary

Free printable fairy tale picture dictionary for readers and writers in kindergarten and grade one.

image of PDF icon  Crown interlined paper

picture books about grandparents and family diversityYou will also be interested in our post about grandparents and family diversity.

Celebrating Grandparents – Picture Books Featuring Grandpa and Grandma

Posted on October 7th, 2013 by Carolyn Hart


picture books about grandparents and family diversity

Families come in all shapes and sizes and are more diverse than ever before. Taking a look at a variety of picture books that celebrate grandparents, we discover stories that depict wonderful relationships between grandchildren and their elders. We also find picture books that provide insight into mixed race families, second marriages, coping with aging and inter-generational conflict.

cover art An Alien in my HouseAn Alien in My House written by Shenaaz G. Nanji and ilustrated by Chum McLeod
Picture book about a boy and his grandfather as they adjust to living in the same house published by Second Story Press

When his grandfather moves into Ben’s house, it is as though an alien has invaded. Grandfather’s body comes apart like Lego; he wears a hearing aid and dentures. Conversely, Grandfather is appalled that Ben has hidden springs in his feet and his room is filled with stinky socks. Fortunately, the two gain admiration for each other and become best buddies. Humorous and lively while conveying a message of acceptance and respect.

An Alien In My House at

An Alien In My House at

cover art for Bagels from BennyBagels from Benny written by Aubrey Davis and illustrated by Dusan Petricic
Picture book about a boy learning from his grandfather published by Kids Can Press

Benny delights in helping at grandfather’s busy bakery. When grandfather encourages Benny to thank God for the mouth-watering treats, Benny decides to leave a big bag of warm, delicious bagels in the synagogue each Friday. Much to Benny’s dismay, it is not God who is eating the bagels, but a poor unemployed man. Benny is heartbroken until he understands that his gift to the poor man is also a ‘thank you’ to God. Bagels from Benny shares an excellent message about social responsibility. It is both gentle and heartwarming.

Bagels from Benny at

Bagels from Benny at

cover art for Emma's Story a picture book about families and international adoptionEmma’s Story written by Deborah Hodge and illustrated by Song Nan Zhang
Picture book about families and international adoption published by Tundra Books

Emma and her brother are baking cookies at Grandma’s house. They use cookie cutters to make a sweet cookie family and then decorate the tasty treats with candies and dried fruit. When Grandma lifts the cookie tray out of the oven, she admires the cookie family but Emma is surprised to see the cookie that Sam has decorated.

Sam had used raisins and strings of licorice to decorate the Emma cookie. Big tears rolled down Emma’s cheeks. “I want to look like everyone else,” she said. Emma’s sadness prompts Grandma to cuddle with her in a comfortable chair. She opens a photo album and tells her granddaughter’s story.

This is a story that Emma has heard before. In fact, she helps Grandma to tell the story properly. It seems that Mommy, Daddy, Sam and their dog Marley were very happy but they longed for a baby girl. They waited and waited for a little girl to arrive. Finally, they heard about a baby girl in China who needed a family.

Emma’s Story tells of the family’s excited preparations folowed by Mommy and Daddy’s long trip to meet Emma. We witness the new family’s first night and day together and their trip home to Canada. A large crowd meets the threesome at the airport and joyfully celebrate’s Emma’s arrival.

Emma has heard her story “a million times” and she is reassured by Grandma’s words, It’s not how we look that makes us a family, Emma. It’s how we love each other,” said Grandma.
“And we love each other a lot!” said Emma.

While perhaps not meant for every bookshelf, Emma’s Story offers a very reassuring message and one that bears repeating. Just as Emma likes to hear her story and be comforted by it, children who share the international adoption experience will be similarly reassured by this book.

Emma’s Story at

Emma’s Story at

Grand photos of children with grandparentsGrand written by Marla Stewart Konrad
Picture book featuring photos of children and their grandparents from around the world published by Tundra Books

The World Vision Early Readers series features minimal text and striking photographs from Romania, Uganda, Mongolia, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Pakistan, Cambodia, Vietnam. Grand depicts children and their grandparents enjoying quiet moments together, working in gardens, doing chores, playing games. The message is clear: the special inter-generational bond is universal.

Grand at

Grand at

cover art Grandads Prayers of the Earth
Grandad’s Prayers of the Earth – written by Douglas Wood, illustrated by P.J. Lynch
Picture book that highlights the relationship between a boy and his grandfather published by Candlewick Press

This lovely, award-winning book is a tribute to the natural world, the special relationship between a boy and his grandfather and the comfort of prayer.

While on a forest walk together, a young boy asks his grandfather about prayer. His grandfather pauses and then encourages the boy to look at the natural beauty around him and observe carefully, “These are all ways to pray, ” said Grandad, “but there are more…The tall grass prays as it waves its arms beneath the sky,and flowers pray as they breathe their sweetness into the air.”

A moving tribute to the love between a child and his grandparent, Grandad’s Prayers of the Earth is a book that can be enjoyed on many levels. Best suited to children five and up.

Grandad’s Prayers of the Earth at

Grandad’s Prayers of the Earth at

cover art Here Comes HortenseHere Comes Hortense! written by Heather Hartt-Sussman and illustrated by Georgia Graham
Picture book about jealousy, emotions and blended families, published by Tundra Books

When a six year old boy, his grandmother and her new husband go on vacation to a theme park, all is well until Hortense arrives. Hortense is Bob’s granddaughter and she is suddenly a threat. Nana shares her hotel room with Hortense, she sings “Lavender’s Blue” to her and she sits next to her for all the scary rides. To add insult to injury, Hortense even devises a special name for Nana!

Nana’s grandson is despondent. He can’t believe that Hortense has taken his special place with his grandmother.

It is not until Nana and Gramps take a ride in the Tunnel of Love that the two children are able to gain perspective and learn to like each other.

Note: Here Comes Hortense! is a follow up to Heather Hartt-Sussman and Georgia Graham’s picture book titled Nana’s Getting Married

Here Comes Hortense! at

Here Comes Hortense! at

cover art The Imaginary GardenThe Imaginary Garden by Andrew Larsen, illustrated by Irene Luxbacher
Picture book about a girl and her relationship with her grandfather published by Kids Can Press

Theo is blessed to have a very special relationship with her grandfather, Poppa. When Poppa moves into an apartment, they decide to create an imaginary garden on his balcony. The first Saturday of spring is marked by the arrival of a giant, blank canvas. Before long, Poppa and Theo have created a long stone wall and beautiful blue sky. Soon they have added beautiful spring flowers to their masterpiece. When Poppa leaves for a holiday, Theo worries about tending their special garden by herself. With gentleness and love, Poppa assures her that she will know what will nurture their imaginary garden. This lovely picture book would be a great gift for a special Grandpa.

The Imaginary Garden at

The Imaginary Garden at

cover art Lessons from Mother EarthLessons From Mother Earth written by Elaine McLeod and illustrated by Colleen Wood
Picture book about foods available in the wild published by Groundwood Books

Lessons from Mother Earth tells the story of a young girl who learns from her grandmother. They leave a small cabin and, with her grandmother’s guidance, the young girl discovers the bounty of fresh food provided by Mother Earth. Lamb’s-quarters, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries, rosehips, dandelions and mushrooms are all part of the bounty.

Appropriate for children aged four and up, Lessons from Mother Earth encourages appreciation of our natural world and of the wisdom shared by our elders.

Lessons from Mother Earth at

Lessons from Mother Earth at

cover art The Little Word CatcherThe Little Word Catcher Written by Danielle Simard, illustrated by Geneviève Côté
Picture book about a young girl and her relationship with her grandmother published by Second Story Press

Originally published in French, The Little Word Catcher won a Governor General’s Award for Illustration. It was written with Alzheimer patients and their families in mind but also illustrates the impact of aphasia (an acquired communication disorder that is often due to stroke). Elise’s grandmother is losing her words. When in conversation, she has difficulty coming up with the right word to use. The affliction is terribly difficult for her young granddaughter to understand. Eventually, Elise takes comfort in the thought that perhaps Grandma has given her the words to use. A lovely story about the special relationship between a grandparent and a child, The Little Word Catcher will have special poignancy for families dealing with aging and loss.

The Little Word Catcher at

The Little Word Catcher at

My Two Grannies story about two very different grandmothersMy Two Grannies written by Floelle Benjamin and illustrated by Margaret Chamberlain
Picture book about diversity within families published by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books

Alvina’s two grandmas come from very different backgrounds. Her Granny Vero was born in Trinidad whereas Granny Rose was born in England. The grandmas both live nearby now and Alvina loves to spend time with each of them, listening to stories. She learns that Granny Vero loved swimming in the warm waters of the Caribbean while Granny Rose visited the beach near Blackpool but avoided the cold water. When Alvina’s parents take a trip to celebrate their tenth wedding anniversary, Alvina works out a creative way for the three of them to enjoy time together and learn more about each grandma’s cultural traditions.

My Two Grannies at

My Two Grannies at

Old Dog a picture book about Grandpa Old Dog written by Jeanne Willis and illustrated by Tony Ross
Picture book about a grandpa who has some fun tricks up his sleeve published by Andersen Press

When the young pups are told that they will be visiting Grandpa, they whine, “He’s so boring. All he ever does is talk about the olden days.” “And he has dog breath,” they whimpered. “And he keeps scratching himself.” Mom insists and, before long, they arrive at Rose Kennel for a visit. After a chance remark by one of the pups, Grandpa disappears into the house. His grandkids are convinced that he’s gone for a nap. Moments later, Grandpa re-emerges in a clown costume. He’s more than ready for his detractors, ““Stand back!” he said. “Watch this, you young whippersnappers. You might learn something.”

Clever wordplay and delicious illustrations make Old Dog a delight for readers aged four and up.

Old Dog at

Old Dog at

image of cover art for Oma's QuiltOma’s Quilt written by Paulette Bourgeois and illustrated by Stéphane Jorisch
Picture book about loss and problem solving published by Kids Can Press

It is time for Emily’s grandmother to move into a retirement home. This will be a difficult transition for Oma, Emily and Emily’s mom. Many happy memories are left behind as Oma’s possessions are boxed up and she moves away. As Emily and her mom sort through Oma’s belongings, Emily comes up with a wonderful idea. She and her mom will create a quilt stitched from the fabrics of Oma’s life. Highly recommended for children and their parents. This gentle picture book deals with a difficult life transition beautifully.

Oma’s Quilt at

Oma’s Quilt at

Silas' Seven Grandparents picture book that depicts family diversitySilas’ Seven Grandparents written by Anita Horrocks and illustrated by Helen Flook
Picture book about family diversity published by Orca Book Publishers

Silas loves his seven grandparents and their enthusiasm for his activities and interests. Silas enjoys going on fun outings with his grandparents and appreciates their gifts. When his mom and dad go away on a business trip, Silas is invited to stay with his grandparents. His mom wants him to choose where to stay but it is not an easy decision. Lying awake on a moonlit night, Silas reaches a decision: he invites each of his grandparents to come and stay with him. Acrylic ink illustrations nicely match this happy story of life with seven grandparents.

Silas’ Seven Grandparents at

Silas’ Seven Grandparents at

image of cover art for You Can't Rush a CatYou Can’t Rush a Cat written by Karleen Bradford and illustrated by Leslie Elizabeth Watts
Picture book about a girl and her grandfather assisting a stray cat published by Orca Book Publishers

Jessica and her grandfather have a special project during her visit; they hope to tame a stray cat. Jessica is patient and respectful of the cat and assures her grandfather that, ‘You can’t rush a cat.’ Early one morning, Jessica sits quietly on the kitchen floor and waits for the little cat to approach her. By day’s end, her plan succeeds and Grandfather has a new furry friend.

You Can’t Rush A Cat at

You Can’t Rush a Cat at

cover art for 38 Ways to Entertain Your Grandparents38 Ways to Entertain Your Grandparents written by Dette Hunter and illustrated by Deirdre Betteridge
Published by Annick Press

Sarah, Violet and Joe spend a busy weekend with Grandma and Grandpa. Together they enjoy many fun activities – everything from playing traditional card games to cooking Belly Button Soup. Written as a storybook, 38 Ways to Entertain Your Grandparents includes child-friendly recipes as well as step-by step instructions for crafts and games.

38 Ways to Entertain Your Grandparents at

38 Ways to Entertain Your Grandparents at

Discover Mid-Autumn Moon Festival Picture Books

Posted on September 10th, 2013 by Carolyn Hart


Thanking the Moon a picture book about the Mid-Autumn Moon FestivalThanking the Moon – Celebrating the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival written and illustrated by Grace Lin
Picture book about the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival published by Albert A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House

Beautiful, detailed illustrations highlight Thanking the Moon. We join a family of five as they enjoy a nighttime picnic and honor the moon. While the youngest girl plays, the older daughters help to set up a moon-honoring table, pretty lanterns and an enticing spread of traditional food: hot tea, moon cakes, steamed cakes, grapes and pomelo.image of spread Thanking the Moon a Mid-Autmn Moon Festival Picture Book

Extensive afternotes explain the significance of the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival and the traditions associated with it. Young readers will certainly want to enjoy the story a second time, once they understand the significance of the fruit, the tea cups and the delicious moon cakes.

Well suited to children aged three and up.

Thanking the Moon: Celebrating the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival at

Thanking the Moon: Celebrating the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival at

A lovely complement to Thanking the Moon…

Mooncakes written by Loretta Seto and illustrated by Renne Benoit
Picture book about the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival published by Orca Book Publishers

Narrated by a young girl, Mooncakes echos Thanking the Moon. We observe a family’s preparations for the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival – the excitement about staying up late, anticipation of special treats to eat, glowing paper lanterns and a beautiful full moon.

Once the family is comfortably settled in a moonlit chair, we hear three stories. The stories are about Chang-E, the woman who lives on the moon in the Jade Palace, Wu-Gang, a woodcutter and Jade Rabbit who also reside on the moon.

The watercolour illustrations nicely portray the special celebration, bathing the landscape in silvery moonlight. When the traditional tales are shared, the colours are more vivid.

Afternotes are less detailed than those in Thanking the Moon but they do include a reminder, ‘Even relatives who are unable to be with their families can look up at the dark sky and know that their loved ones are watching the same moon.

Best suited to children aged four and up.

Mooncakes at

Mooncakes at

Follow Storytime Standouts’s board Mid-Autumn Moon Festival for Preschool and Kindergarten on Pinterest.

Allergies in Picture Books

Posted on May 26th, 2013 by Carolyn Hart


image of cover art for Aaron's Awful Allergies Aaron’s Awful Allergies written by Troon Harrison and illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes
Picture book about allergies published by Kids Can Press

Aaron is an animal lover, through and through. He loves to sleep with Clancy curled up next to him on the bed. He loves Calico and her six kittens. He loves looking after the guinea pigs from his classroom and celebrates when four babies are born. Unfortunately, over the summer, Aaron starts to feel miserable. His head aches and his eyes are itchy. Sometimes he sneezes and he has trouble breathing.

Aaron is diagnosed with allergies and his doctor says that he should not play with cats, dogs or guinea pigs. Aaron is devastated to know that they will have to find new homes for his pets. He is very reluctant to show any enthusiasm for his new fish until…

One morning Aaron noticed how the fish’s scales flashed in the sunlight and how its tail fluttered through the water.

Aaron’s Awful Allergies deals sensitively with a difficult subject. Aaron’s parents make the tough decision to disperse the various pets and Aaron is lonely and sad as a result of their decision. It is difficult to know if the arrival of a fish could really help to resolve Aaron’s heartache but Aaron’s Awful Allergies will certainly prompt discussion and encourage problem solving.

Aaron’s Awful Allergies at

Aaron’s Awful Allergies at

image of cover art for Horace and Morris Say Cheese a picture book about allergies
Horace and Morris Say Cheese (which makes Dolores sneeze!) written by James Howe and illustrated by Amy Walrod
Picture book about allergies published by Simon and Schuster Kids

Horace, Morris and Dolores love to eat cheese. Hardly a day goes by without them emjoying one cheese or another. One day, after trying a new recipe, Dolores develops itchy spots and she starts to sneeze. Dr. Ricotta does a thorough examination before she declares that Dolores is allergic to cheese. The very idea of giving up her favourite food is almost impossible to imagine especially because The 1st Annual Everything Cheese Festival is just around the corner. Suddenly Dolores is craving cheese more than ever. She dreams of cheese and finally decides that nothing else will do. She gives into temptation and shortly thereafter regrets her decision…

Horace and Morris Say Cheese (which makes Dolores sneeze!) is a fun look at cravings and food allergies. Young readers will share Dolores’ horror when she learns that cheese is the source of her problems and will cheer when she discovers life after cheese.

Horace and Morris Say Cheese (Which Makes Dolores Sneeze!) at

Horace and Morris Say Cheese (Which Makes Dolores Sneeze!) at

Picture book about Acceptance: My Princess Boy

Posted on April 3rd, 2013 by Carolyn Hart


A picture book about acceptance My Princess BoyMy Princess boy written by Cheryl Kilodavis and illustrated by Suzanne DeSimone
Picture book about acceptance, tolerance, bullying and gender identity published by Aladdin, an imprint of Simon and Schuster

Please have a look at our page about anti-bullying picture books for children, our page about anti bullying chapter books, graphic novels and novels for children , and our Pinterest anti bullying board

My Princess Boy is a non fiction picture book about acceptance, written by Dyson Kildavis’ mom, Cheryl. Dyson is a young boy who likes to wear pink, sparkly clothing including dresses. He also likes to dance like a ballerina. Dyson’s mom worried that her four year old son would be teased and bullied by classmates and that he would encounter intolerant people who would not respect his preferences, so she wrote this book in an effort to encourage acceptance and compassion.
spread from My Princess Boy, a picture book about acceptance
After introducing us to “My Princess Boy” and his preference for pretty pink clothing, we meet his brother and his father. Both are very accepting of Princess Boy. We also learn that Princess Boy has playdates with both boys and girls. We discover that he especially enjoys playing dress up and he wears a tiera when he climbs a tree.

Not everything is rosy for Princess Boy, however. When he shops with his mom, if he buys something that would typically be worn by a girl, people around them notice and laugh. When Princess Boy dresses up for Halloween, a lady reacts badly to the princess dress he is wearing.

My Princess Boy shares a message of acceptance and encourages tolerance. The reader is reassured that if Princess Boy wears a dress to school, his classmates won’t laugh. Friends will play with him even when he wears “girl clothes.”

The book then encourages readers to consider their own behaviour -

If you see a Princess Boy…
Will you laugh at him?
Will you call him a name?
Will you play with him?
Will you like him for who he is?
Our Princess Boy is happy because we love him for who he is.

I must admit to having somewhat mixed emotions about My Princess Boy. At one time, my nephew wanted to dress up at preschool. He preferred the “feminine” costumes. He wanted to wear high heels. My sister was quite disappointed that the preschool teachers did not want him to put on the “feminine” clothes. They wanted him to choose “male” costumes – fire fighter jackets and police officer helmets. My nephew is now eighteen and, as far as I know, has outgrown his desire to wear “feminine” clothes. I don’t think it was just societal pressure that did this, my sense is that some things that are very appealing at age four, lose their luster as a child grows older. I can’t help but wonder, what might have happened if my sister had written a book about my nephew’s fondness for “feminine” clothing. How would he feel about it ten or fifteen years later? Might it seem to be an invasion of privacy? I support Cheryl Kilodavis’ unconditional love for her son but I wonder how he will feel about being a poster child for gender identity (possibly for the rest of his life) based on his preferences at age four.

As a picture book about acceptance, My Princess Boy “works” to some extent. It most certainly will encourage discussion about individuality and respecting differences. Having said that, when Princess Boy is laughed at, there is no attempt to problem solve or deal with the issue head on. Princess Boy is not provided any means of coping when people laugh at him other than asking, “Why did she laugh at me?My Princess Boy will only work as an antibullying resource if readers are encouraged to problem solve ways he might cope with the bullying that he is sure to encounter.

Finally, as evidenced by both the cover art and the spread from My Princess Boy, the illustrations for this book are somewhat unusual in that they are devoid of facial features. There are no eyes, noses, mouths or ears on any of the faces in the book. Some readers find this problematic, even creepy. It seems to me that seeing Princess Boy’s happiness ought to be a goal of the illustrator. Body language is one thing but, My Princess Boy is a book about emotions (happiness, contentedness, disappointment, hurt, joy and love), one would think that showing us those emotions would serve to enhance the message conveyed by the text.

My Princess Boy at

My Princess Boy at

You may also be interested in our post about (chapter book) The Boy in the Dress.

Crouching Tiger highlights Tai Chi, Chinese New Year and Family

Posted on January 22nd, 2013 by Carolyn Hart


image of cover art for Crouching TigerCrouching Tiger written by Ying Chang Compestine and illustrated by Yan Nascimbene
Picture book about Tai Chi, Chinese New Year and a child’s relationship with his grandfather published by Candlewick Press

Link to Chinese New Year writing paper for kids

When Vinson’s grandfather leaves China and arrives in America for a visit, Vinson is excited. But, from the moment his grandfather arrives, Vinson is surprised and confused. His grandfather persists in calling him “Ming Da” and he dances in the garden slowly and quietly. Vinson is familiar with kung fu and, curious about the new moves, he asks his grandfather to teach him tai chi.

Vinson and his grandfather meet in the yard after school and Grandpa teaches Vinson. The young boy is impatient, he prefers kung fu’s kicks and punches. Tai chi leaves his knees tired and his arms heavy. Vinson wonders why his grandfather insists on speaking Chinese with him despite the fact that he knows how to speak English well.

When Vinson’s mom says that Grandpa is going to accompany Vinson to school, he is embarrassed. He chooses to read while on the bus. He and his grandfather sit together, each stealing glances at the other. Similarly, Vinson chooses to wear his headphones rather than talk with his grandpa. It is only when Grandpa’s surprising and athletic intervention prevents a serious accident that Vinson pauses to reevaluate his perceptions.

As time passes, Vinson becomes more adept at tai chi and soon Grandpa adds a new twist to their work. Vinson carries a long bamboo pole and learns the cat walk.

On Chinese New Year’s Eve, Vinson’s hair is cut, the family cleans the house and enjoys a traditional meal. When Grandpa gives Vinson an embroidered red silk jacket, he asks him to wear it for the upcoming parade. Vinson is embarrassed. He worries that his friends will see him and he feels self conscious about the new jacket.

As Vinson and his grandfather approach the parade route, Vinson gains appreciation for how his grandfather is regarded in the community and the tremendous pride he has for his grandson. When the two of them arrive at the start of the parade, Vinson discovers that he will be responsible for carrying a long bamboo pole, teasing the parade lions by waving a dangling cabbage.

An Author’s Note at the conclusion of Crouching Tiger includes notes about tai chi and Chinese New Year as well as a small glossary.

Beautifully illustrated with pen and ink as well as watercolors, readers will notice small details such as Vinson’s untied shoelace and his body language when his father cuts his hair.

Crouching Tiger invites discussion about family relationships and respect for one’s heritage. In a classroom, it could be used as a Chinese New Year resource and will be particularly interesting to children who are learning about martial arts. On each two page spread there is a small illustration of a tai chi stance.

Best suited to children aged five years and up.

The Chinese American Librarians Association Best Book of 2011 and Cooperative Children’s Book Center Choices List for 2012

Crouching Tiger at

Crouching Tiger at

A New Year’s Reunion, An Award Winning Chinese New Year Picture Book

Posted on January 18th, 2013 by Carolyn Hart


image of cover art for A New Year's ReunionA New Year’s Reunion written by Yu Li-Qion and illustrated by Zhu Cheng-Liang
Chinese New Year picture book published by Candlewick Press

Link to Chinese New Year writing paper for kids

Maoman’s papa is a housebuilder. He works far from home and only returns to his family once each year. On the day he arrives home, Maoman is hesitant at first. He looks different to her. Once Papa gets his hair cut, the family makes sticky rice balls and it is time for Maoman to snuggle into bed with her parents.

As firecrackers explode nearby, Maoman drifts off to sleep, The following day, the family enjoys eating their rice balls together. They leave their home and go to visit friends. Maoman discovers that her friends are also outside and visiting.image from A New Year's Reunion

As Chinese New Year unfolds, Maoman sees a dragon dance and she plays outside in the snow with her friends. When she discovers her fortune coin is missing, she is devastated. Fortunately, the coin is not lost in the snow. Maoman finds it in her jacket and uses it to establish a lovely, heartwarming family tradition.

Beautiful illustrations lovingly depict Maoman’s family, her home and community. References to sticky rice balls, hair cuts, new clothes, firecrackers, a fortune coin, house repairs, a red envelope and a dragon dance provide all sorts of information about traditions associated with Chinese New Year.

A New Year’s Reunion was awarded a Best Illustrated Children’s Book Award by The New York Times Book Review in 2011 and it won the Feng ZiKai Chinese Children’s Picture Book Award.

A New Year’s Reunion at

New Year’s Reunion at

This year (2013) New Year’s Day falls on Sunday, February 10

Looking after Louis, An Autism Picture Book Highlighting Inclusion

Posted on December 3rd, 2012 by Carolyn Hart


Cover Art for Looking After LouisLooking After Louis written by Lesley Ely and illustrated by Polly Dunbar
Autism picture book highlighting inclusion published by Albert Whitman & Company

You will also be interested in our page featuring picture books about Autism and Asperger Syndrome

When a new boy arrives at school, he is partnered with a girl who notices that he is not like the other children in the class. He often just sits and stares at the wall. If I ask him what he’s looking at, he says, “Looking at,” and keeps on looking.

Louis tries using his new friend’s crayons but she can’t decide what he is drawing and he can’t say. When they go outside for recess, Louis runs around with outstretched arms. He runs through the boys’ soccer game and annoys the players. When invited to join the children who are climbing on a tire, Louis does not move. He just stands and watches.

In the classroom, Louis sometimes echoes his Miss Owlie’s instructions. His classmates laugh when he sounds like her. His partner notes that he is granted more leeway to speak out than others would be given.

When one of the children arrives at school with a new soccer ball, Louis shows interest. His classmates join in the game and, each time Louis touches the ball, he is encouraged. Later in the day, Louis and the boy with the soccer ball are allowed to escape the classroom and enjoy an impromptu game.

When Louis’ partner talks with Miss Owlie about Louis, she asserts,

“I think we’re allowed to break rules for special people.”
Miss Owlie put her finger to her lips and nodded a tiny little nod that nobody saw but me.
We peeped through the classroom window at Sam and Louis’s Great Game… and I felt special, too.

An afterword, written by Kori Levos Skidmore, Ph.D. provides information about the advantages of inclusion for all children.

Readers will be interested to consider Inclusion vs Seclusion: A Review of Looking After Louis published in Disability Studies Quarterly. While Ms. Hirad’s comments are interesting, I am not sure that I agree with them. When Louis repeats his teacher’s instructions to, “Sit up straight, everybody.” The children laugh because he sounded just like Miss Owlie. The text does not imply that the children are laughing at Louis, they are laughing because he sounded like his teacher. In a happy, relaxed and tolerant classroom, this would seem to be a natural reaction. When Louis runs through the boys’ soccer game, one of the boys yells at him. Again, while not an ideal reaction, this is likely a typical response to the interruption of a recess soccer game. Finally, Ms. Hirad seems concerned that the classroom teacher has not labelled Louis as autistic. Surely, we do not require labels or even explanations in order to show understanding and tolerance.

Looking After Louis is written from the perspective of a classmate.

Looking after Louis at

Looking After Louis at

Picture Book Challenges Attaching Labels to Children with Autism

Posted on December 2nd, 2012 by Carolyn Hart


cover art for Autistic How Silly is ThatA-U-T-I-S-T-I-C? How Silly Is That! I Don’t Need Any Labels at All written and illustrated by Lynda Farrington Wilson
Picture book about labelling children with autism published by Future Horizons Inc.

You will also be interested in our page featuring picture books about Autism and Asperger Syndrome

Author-illustrator Lynda Farrington Wilson is a mother of a funny, brilliant, and talented sensory seeker who has autism. In A-U-T-I-S-T-I-C? How Silly Is That! I Don’t Need Any Labels at All she challenges readers to examine the labels we often attach to people on the autism spectrum.

Asking, I have brown hair, I wonder if that makes me… brown-hair-tistic? she asserts that there are many ways we might choose to label individuals but, in fact, labels are unnecessary. A child with autism is not unlike everyone else, he simply has a different approach to the world.

A-U-T-I-S-T-I-C? How Silly Is That! I Don’t Need Any Labels at All includes seventeen pages of exhuberantly illustrated text. It also includes an author’s note which explains that Ms. Farrington Wilson’s goal of encouraging the world to see past the labels and understand the importance of “people-first” language.

Autistic? How Silly is That!: I Don’t Need Any Labels at All at

Autistic? How Silly is That!: I Don’t Need Any Labels at All at

Ian’s Walk, Autism Picture Book by Laurie Lears and Karen Ritz

Posted on November 27th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart


cover art for Autism picture book Ian's WalkIan’s Walk: A Story About Autism Written by Laurie Lears and illustrated by Karen Ritz
Autism picture book published by Albert Whitman & Company

You will also be interested in our page featuring picture books about Autism and Asperger Syndrome

Ian’s mom is reluctant to have him go to the park with his sisters. She warns the two girls to keep a close eye on him. Enroute to the park, the children pass a diner. Ian is fascinated by the circling ceiling fan. He hardly notices the siren of a passing fire truck but seems to hear something else. Not interested in fragrant lilacs, Ian would rather put his face up to a brick wall.

Ian feels things differently … while Tara and I toss cereal to the ducks, Ian lies on the ground with his cheeks pressed against the hard stones.

Ian is non verbal and sometimes waves his hands. Aware of how Ian is different and conscious that other people watch him, his sister acknowledges that she sometimes feels angry.

When Ian wanders away while they are all at the park, his frantic sisters race to find him. Finally, Julie tries to think like her brother does. She remembers he likes a bell and, sure enough, finds him underneath it.

As the three siblings return home, they pause to enjoy the walk and especially the sights, sounds and smells that matter to Ian.

Ian’s Walk acknowledges the frustrations of loving a sibling who is autistic and encourages young readers to consider a different perspective.

Beautiful watercolour illustrations enhance the narrative and lovingly depict the children’s facial expressions.

Ian’s Walk is written from the perspective of a sibling.

Ian’s Walk: A Story about Autism at

Ian’s Walk: A Story About Autism at

The Cost of Being “In” – Two of a Kind by Jacqui Robbins

Posted on November 19th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart


Two of a Kind written by Jacqui Robbins and illustrated by Matt Phelan
Anti bullying picture book published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, Simon and Schuster

Be sure to check out our page about anti-bullying picture books for children, our page about anti bullying chapter books, graphic novels and novels for children , and our Pinterest anti bullying board

Kayla and Melanie love to work together on projects. They are very much alike and sometimes they dress the same way. At recess, they sit together on the jungle gym. They don’t want anyone else to join them.

Anna and Julisa also like to be partners at school. They both wear glasses and sometimes they laugh so hard that their glasses fall off. At recess, Anna and Julisa sit together. They are friendly and would be happy to have any of their classmates join them.

In class, Kayla and Melanie sometimes make fun of the other children and, one day, they make fun of Julisa and her glasses. When Anna is unexpectedly partnered with Melanie for a science project, she is able to share her knowledge.

Melanie says I am so smart. She says maybe I am cool after all…
“Hey,” she says, pulling my arm away from the mess. “Do you want to play with us?”

Like magic, Anna is invited to sit with Kayla and Melanie at recess. Anna’s two new companions laugh at Julisa and continue to exclude her.

Fortunately, Anna pauses to consider her relationship with Julisa and before long she realizes where true friendship and her loyalty lies.

Two of a Kind is a thought-provoking depiction of how easily children can be lured by the desire to be popular and how difficult it is to be outcast. Sure to prompt discussions about friendship, loyalty and standing up for what is right, it is best suited to readers aged five and up.

Readers will be interested to know that Matt Phelan also illustrated Susan Patron’s The Higher Power of Lucky and Betty G. Birney’s The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs – two of my favourite novels for middle grade readers.

Add this anti bullying picture book to your bookshelf –

Two of a Kind at

Two of a Kind at

Autism Picture Book – Waiting for Benjamin A Story About Autism

Posted on November 6th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart


Waiting for Benjamin A Story about Autism written by Alexandra Jessup Altman and illustrated by Susan Keeter
Autism picture book published by Albert Whitman & Company

You will also be interested in our page featuring picture books about Autism and Asperger Syndrome

Written from the perspective of a sibling, Waiting for Benjamin A Story about Autism deals with several issues that are important to brothers and sisters of children who are diagnosed with Autism. Alexander is frustrated. His younger brother doesn’t play with him. Instead, Benjamin wiggles his fingers and stares at the wall. Alexander can’t wait for Benjamin to grow up and take an interest in the same things he likes. Benjamin’s older brother has other worries, too. He worries that his friends will tease him about his brother’s unusual behaviour and he feels jealous. He doesn’t understand why Benjamin is rewarded for seemingly easy behaviours like saying, ‘ball.’ Alexander would love to be praised and to share in the special treats.

I wanted it to be my turn. Then I would say everything perfectly, and Julie would smile and give me a special reward.

Waiting for Benjamin follows Benjamin from before his diagnosis until he learns a few words and begins to respond to his older brother. Best suited as a family resource, this Autism picture book focusses on the relationship between the two brothers and ends on a somewhat positive note with Alexander gaining understanding about his brother’s challenges and Benjamin showing some interest in playing with his brother and attempting some words.

Waiting For Benjamin: A Story about Autism at

Waiting for Benjamin: A Story about Autism at

Note: Author Alexandra Jessup Altma was a Senior Interventionist, Autism Spectrum Program, Howard Center for Human Services

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