It is nearly Canada Day (July 1) and my thoughts have turned to picture books with a decidedly “Canadian look.” This afternoon, I pulled Under a Prairie Sky off my bookshelf and spent some time enjoying the detailed, striking watercolour illustrations and the equally dramatic text. A terrific Canadian picture book read aloud for four and five year olds, Under a Prairie Sky is the story of a farm boy who aspires to be a RCMP Officer when he grows up. While harvesting wheat with his father, he is sent to find his younger brother before a storm arrives at the farm. Knowing that this is a job that will demand the detective skills of a Mounted Police Officer, he quickly changes his clothes, dons a Stetson and mounts his trusty black horse. He follows young Will’s trail through the fields and into the wild, taking in flora and fauna native to the Canadian prairies.
Splish, Splash Spring written by Jan Carr and illustrated by Dorothy Donohue Spring theme picture book published by Holiday House
Bright, cheerful illustrations made from felt highlight this happy tribute to a blowy and showery spring. Splish, Splash, Spring includes all sorts of great details for young children to discover and explore: mother robin feeding her peeping babies, frogs swimming in a stream, spiders and ladybugs near the bright yellow crocuses. Would be a great tie-in to making and flying kites.
Best for preschool children
Kites are swooping
Look at me!
Be sure to visit the illustrator’s website (link above) for details on how she creates the eye-catching illustrations from felt.
A Screaming Kind Of Day introduces Scully, a young, hearing-impaired girl. She awakens and opens her eyes to her brother’s face, teasing and taunting. A noisy chase begins and is only stopped when mom intervenes. She is studying for a test and has little patience for her children and their screams. The grey weather outside matches Scully’s mood and, when the rain eventually comes, she wants to go outside to experience the rhythm and intensity of the storm. Careful to avoid her mom, Scully sneaks outside to dance, touch, smell and feel the wild weather. Before long, Mom is at her side and is angry. Once inside the house again, Scully resists going to her room and shouts, “I hate you.” Before long, restorative sleep calls and Scully rests. When she awakens, the Screaming Kind of Day has been washed away and harmony has returned to the family.
“After dinner I sit by the open window.
The sky is silky pink with licks of lavender.
The green smells full and glad.
I sigh and look at Mom. “Can we go outside, Mom? You know, wait for the stars?”
Much more than a story about a deaf child, A Screaming Kind of Day explores family dynamics and provides reassurance at the end of a challenging day. As well, it encourages the reader to appreciate the sensory impact of a rainstorm and to consider conflict from several perspectives. A lovely story to enjoy with children aged four and up.
You may also be interested in our page titled “Diversity.” We highlight picture books and chapter books that celebrate and inform us about human diversity including learning disabilities, physical disabilities, allergies, single-parent families, interracial families, same-sex parents, aging, death and more.
The Penguin and the Pea – written and illustrated by Janet Perlman
Here is a delightful twist on a familiar tale. Poor Prince Penguin is lonely and filled with despair – will he ever find a penguin princess suitable for marriage? It seems unlikely until a stormy evening when a drenched young penguin arrives at the castle. She claims to be a princess seeking shelter. Prince Penguin is enchanted – the Queen is unconvinced. Will the ‘princess’ pass the test and ensure a happy ending?
The Penguin and the Pea is a fun take on a familiar story. Children will enjoy comparing this with other versions of The Princess and the Pea. Also fun for penguin theme.
What a sizzling combo! Eileen Spinelli and Betsy Lewin have teamed up to create the perfect bedtime story for a stifling hot summer day. Set in an era before air conditioning was commonplace, everyone in Lumberville is seeking relief from the oppressive heat:
Butchy Bezwick and Charley Pappas squirted each other with garden hoses and lay on the cool linoleum listening to the radio.
“Take me to the drugstore for an ice-cream soda, please,” Abigail Blue begged her father. “Please!”‘
Whether you and your child are experiencing hot, humid summertime weather or just wishing for one more blast, Heat Wave is a delightful summer-theme picture book that will evoke long-past lazy summer days and much simpler times. Ms. Spinelli’s prose and Ms. Lewin’s illustrations are a perfect match, evoking a strong sense of community and family.
Good fun for youngsters aged four and up, the is a picture book that adults will thoroughly enjoy sharing with children.
Note – Heat Wave begins on a Sunday and ends on a Saturday. If desired, extension activities could include learning about the days of the week.
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