Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The Mermaid

The Mermaid by Jan Brett (Penguin, 2017). 

Jan Brett has been a favorite author/illustrator of mine since I was a kid. If you have never read her books, you really should. Her illustrations are beautifully detailed, usually drawing from Scandinavian motifs. Here she departs from that and instead creates a Japanese underwater world in this original retelling of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Instead of three bears there are three octopuses, and instead of a little golden-haired girl there is a mermaid. This is a wonderful book that I am happy to add to my collection.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Muhiima's Quest

Muhiima's Quest by Rahma Rodaah, illustrated by Daria Horb (self-published, 2017). 

I really enjoyed this book. It's Muhiima's birthday, but she isn't expecting much because her family doesn't celebrate birthdays, so she's surprised when her mother hands her a map with no other instructions than to follow it. She takes off on her bicycle as the map leads her to visit family and friends around town who each give her a small wrapped box, along with some words of wisdom. At the end, Muhiima comes home to discover all her family and friends waiting to have a big dinner with her. All of the boxes contain a pearl to string together to make a necklace, which her mother explains represents the pearls of wisdom the whole village has given her and helped to shape her into the wonderful girl she has become. 

While I think Muslim families will really enjoy this book, it's a universal story. It would be great for non-Muslim kids to read and learn about other religious and cultural traditions, and to realize how similar Muhiima and her community are to the rest of us. It was hard to pick just a few illustrations to share, as I really loved them all. 

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest, unbiased review. All opinions are my own.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Momma, Did You Hear the News?

Momma, Did You Hear the News? by Sanya Whittaker Gregg, MSW, illustrated by Kim Holt (self-published, 2017).

This book deals with a difficult topic, but an important one. A young boy is upset after hearing about another police shooting, so his parents talk to him and his brother about it. They teach them a mnemonic chant that spells out "alive" so they will remember what to do if approached by a cop. They also assure the kids that most cops aren't bad.

I admit it made me uncomfortable to think about having to read this to young children, but I think the author, who is a social worker with kids of her own, does a good job of keeping it age-appropriate. The book is told in rhyming verse, which I found off-putting at first because it feels so incongruous with the serious topic, but I could see how it might be comforting to kids who may be afraid. Unfortunately, this is a much-needed book.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest, unbiased review. All opinions are my own.