The story of the lion and the mouse is an Aesop’s fable that every child ought to know well. The lion, powerful and dangerous resists an opportunity for bullying and, instead, is kind to a small mouse. Later, when the lion is trapped in a hunter’s net, the grateful mouse has an opportunity to return the favour. He chews the rope net and eventually manages to free the lion.
Jerry Pinkney has created a masterful, almost wordless picturebook version of The Lion and the Mouse. From cover to cover, beautiful illustrations depict the African Savanna and the animals found there while telling the story of a compassionate lion and his small friend. Winner of the 2010 Randolph Caldecott Medal and also a New York Times 2010 Best Illustrated Book and a 2010 Horn Book Awards Honor Book, The Lion and the Mouse relies upon the illustrations to tell the story. Pinkney only uses words to describe animal sounds.
Highly recommended for both classroom and home libraries, The Lion and the Mouse could be used to explore many themes including anti-bullying, friendship and stereotying.
Bear and Rabbit are just sitting down for a meal when one of their chicken friends is scooped up by Fox. Shocked at the brazenness of Fox’s thieving behavior, Bear, Rooster and Rabbit are outraged and are soon in hot pursuit.
Before long, Fox and Chicken have entered the deep, dark woods and Rabbit, Bear and Rooster are tiring. When they bed down for the night, Chicken can see her friends, in the moonlight. The following day, Chicken is remarkably relaxed, playing checkers with Fox and sleeping curled up, next to her abductor. The chase continues and as she and Fox take off in a boat, she does not look the least bit frightened. In fact, she wears sunglasses and reclines comfortably at the bow. When her three bedraggled friends finally catch up to Fox and Chicken, they are ready for a fight and surprised at what they discover.
Youngsters will thoroughly enjoy carefully examining the small details included in the ink and paint illustrations. Great fun for preschool and up.
Timmerman Was Here written by Colleen Sydor and illustrated by Nicolas Debon Picture book highlighting social responsibility published by Tundra Books
Tuesday evening, November 9th, 2010, the winner of the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award was announced at The Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s gala. Jury members’ comments about Timmerman Was Here were as follows, “This is a sublimely humanistic and memorable story about the way we discover the difference between truth and appearances… Dramatic pictures equally involve the reader, while the artistic use of dark and light further affect our emotional response… This intriguing tale with a twist delves exceptionally well into values and perceptions, the rational and the irrational, achieving a conclusion that is profoundly self-affirming for the child… This emotionally rich and suspenseful story is capped by an uplifting ending that will stir hearts from 8 to 80… A perfect pairing of text and illustration.”
Timmerman Was Here is written from the perspective of a young girl. We share her nervousness as a stranger arrives at her home. The stranger moves into a bedroom, recently vacated by the girl’s grandfather who has gone to live in a residence for seniors. The young girl is not happy about the stranger’s arrival but as she watches and interacts with him, she discovers a gentle heart. When the stranger is discovered walking the neighbourhood at night (with a spade and a burlap sack), gossip abounds. The neighbours speculate that he could be a bank robber or responsible for the death of a cat.
Timmerman Was Here is a lovely, thought-provoking picture book that encourages the reader to rethink assumptions and stereotypes. Highly recommended.
The Only Boy in Ballet Class – written by Denise Gruska and illustrated by Amy Wummer
Tucker loves to dance and especially likes ballet.
“It feels right to him. Like breathing.”
His unconventional passion means that his classmates view him as weird and he is generally the last person chosen for team sports. Rather than joining other boys for football practice, he rushes to a dance class. Enroute, he endures teasing but, once he arrives at the studio, his heart swells and he feels pride in accomplishment.
At home, Tucker’s mom is very supportive of his involvement in ballet,
“I don’t like that you love to dance. I love that you love to dance!”
A visiting uncle is not nearly as compassionate. He thinks Tucker ought to play football.
An afternoon ballet recital is a perfect opportunity to demonstrate his love of ballet, as Tucker takes on the role of a prince during a performance. Tucker’s mom and sisters are delighted with the show. Unconvinced, Uncle Frank remains committed to the merits of playing a more ‘manly’ sport.
While walking home from the recital with his family, a member of the neighborhood football team spots Tucker and asks, “Hey, Twinkle Toes, wanna play football?” With Uncle Frank at his side, Tucker is hard-pressed to say, ‘no.’ Before long he is wearing a football jersey and helmet and suddenly finds himself involved in an important play during a championship game.
“In the point of a toe, he was on the shoulders of every boy who had ever made fun of him, and they were carrying him across the field chanting, “Tuck-er! Tuck-er! Tuck-er” Even Uncle Frank was dancing.”
Although adept at using his dance steps to avoid being tackled, ballet remains Tucker’s joy and he is shocked but pleased when a group of football players decides to join his class.
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