Some picturesque summer reads for kids

 

There, There
Tim Beiser. Illustrated by Bill Slavin
Tundra Books, 2017
Rabbit is miserable because, according to him, the beautiful summer day has been completely ruined by an unexpected rain shower. Dry and comfortable in the cozy den he shares with Bear, the frustrated and increasingly angry hare can’t see how blessed he is.
As Rabbit groans, whines and complains, Bear patiently and repeatedly says, “There, there.” But even long-suffering Bear has his limits! Finally, he yanks Rabbit outside and, oblivious to the rain shower, gets down on all fours in the mud, and finds an earthworm. Describing the lowly worm’s life and using it as an object lesson, Bear teaches Rabbit about the importance of living gratefully and of not taking anything for granted.    
Author Tim Beiser’s comical, rhyming text and Bill Slavin’s energetic, expressive illustrations show young readers that there’s always a lot to be thankful for even on a rainy summer day.

Me and You and the Red Canoe
Jean E. Pendziwol. Illustrated by Phil
Groundwood Books, 2017
On a calm summer morning when the moon still illumines the sky and the sun has not yet risen, two siblings crawl out of their tent and share the mystery and miracle of the natural world along the shore of a northern lake.
Silently, so as not to disturb the others in their family, they get their fishing gear and climb into a canoe, then push out onto the tranquil water. A lanky-legged moose, a tail-thwacking beaver, a scolding squirrel, and a soaring eagle grace their travels as they paddle along. Casting out a line, they hope to land a big one, then wait patiently till a giant tug heralds a massive trout. A good catch!
The boys paddle home and join their loving family on the shore. After they prepare the fish and eat it for breakfast, they agree that “it was the best breakfast ever.”
Jean Pendziwol’s lyrical text and Phil’s rustic, textured illustrations capture the ruggedness and majesty of a northern landscape, as well as the sense of adventure and camaraderie siblings can share.  

Invisible Lizard
Kurt Cyrus. Illustrated by Andy Atkins
Sleeping Bear Press, 2017
Napoleon is the spiffiest chameleon in the jungle, but he’s lonely. No wonder! No one can see him. Despite all his best efforts, he fails in his attempts to make friends with Polly the parrot and Mike the monkey. Besides the problem of blending into his surroundings, Napoleon is incredibly slow. All his showy antics – waving his arms, sashaying on a tree limb, weaving a welcome mat, and making a trumpet flower birdbath – take so long to perform that Polly and Mike don’t notice.
When the frustrated lizard makes one more attempt to be seen by standing on his head, he becomes tired and slips off the limb. He flicks out his long tongue, catches himself on the limb,  and dangles there, no longer hidden from view.
Suddenly, Polly and Mike notice the awesome chameleon and his swinging skill. Then they help Napoleon get back up on his perch.
The three creatures become good friends and play King of the Tree, Red-Lizard Green-Lizard, and hide-and-go-seek. Each is happy in the newfound relationship because, after all, “everyone wants to be noticed.”
Through illustrator Andy Atkins’ unique, astoundingly vivid portrayal of life in a rain forest and author Kurt Cyrus’ surprising characterization of a lonely lizard, young children will glimpse the awesome grandeur of God’s creation and the longing to be loved and accepted that people experience.

The Heart’s Song  
Gilles Tibo. Illustrated by Irene
Luxbacher
North Winds Press, 2017
Miss Matilda lives with her canary, whose song fills her life with joy. Each day after spending time with the lovely creature, she leaves the bird at home and walks to the park, pulling along a large suitcase filled with tools, then sits on her favourite bench and waits.
Soon children bring their broken toys to her and she fixes them. She also mends sunglasses, parasols, shoes, and ripped pants. More important, she helps children who hurt themselves on the playground.    
One day, young Jeremy hurts himself and is inconsolable. Miss Matilda realizes that the boy’s hurt can’t be seen so she sings to him and rocks him till he falls asleep. Later, he wakes up, happy and restored.     
Miss Matilda decides to write more melodies to take along to the park in her suitcase. As she listens to her canary sing, she composes lullabies for the children. From then on, she sings to all who come to her with their woes.    
But one morning, Miss Matilda needs comfort herself as she grieves the death of her canary. Mournfully, she walks to the park without her suitcase and sits on the bench. The children are dismayed to learn of Miss Matilda’s loss. Later, a large group of children, each holding a suitcase and singing, returns to the park. They open their suitcases to reveal pictures they have drawn, as well as poems and words of love for the distressed woman.
The Heart’s Song beautifully captures how unconditional love and service can make communities places of beauty. The book also shows how one adult’s generous, simple actions can influence many children to be compassionate, creative and loving.

Jabari Jumps  
Gaia Cornwall
Candlewick Press, 2017
Jabari is happy because he has passed his swimming test. He’s confident that now he’ll be able to jump from the diving board at the pool. After all, he’s convinced that he’s a great jumper.     
But when Jabari tries to climb the ladder to the diving board, he’s afraid and comes up with many excuses not to jump – he first needs to decide what kind of special jump he’ll make, he’s too tired, he needs to first do his stretches, and he thinks that tomorrow will be a better day to take on the challenge.    
Jabari’s dad knows what his young son is feeling, and says, “It’s okay to feel a little scared. Sometimes, if I feel a little sacred, I take a deep breath and tell myself I am ready. And you know what? Sometimes it stops feeling scary and feels a little like a surprise.”    
Jabari loves surprises so he follows his dad’s prompting and finally makes the leap!    Gaia Cornwall’s simple text and delightful illustrations allow young children to relate to Jabari’s fears and to his joy and sense of accomplishment at overcoming his anxiety and reaching his goal. 

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