Parr, T. (2009). It’s Okay to be Different. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.
In It’s Okay to be Different, Todd Parr addresses all the ways that make you different and how different individual and family dynamics are all needed for us to all thrive. The book is well-illustrated with pictures that align with the words of the text: It is colorful with hand-drawn (looking) images. The print is large and in a comic sans-like font, which makes it accessible for younger children reading the book. This book would be a great read aloud book that connects to a larger story or lesson because it asks the reader to understand how everyone’s differences are okay and how everyone is needed to appreciate the world.
The Book With No Pictures
Novak, B. (2014). The Book With No Pictures. Dial Books.
The Book With No Pictures is a book filled with nonsense words and sounds throughout. The book is light and fun with its variant fonts and typeface sizes.This is a picture book with no pictures which seems kind of silly at first; alas, the words are used as pictures in the sense of their sizes/fonts taking up whole pages and going from small to large to emphasize sound increase. This book is for young children and allows them a chance to hear series of words in different ways and recognize how words themselves can draw a picture. This book would be great to use in a reading class with young elementary students working on nonsense words. It would be a great companion piece to The Jabberwock because of the use of nonsense words.
The Tummy Mummy
Madrid-Branch, M. (2004). The Tummy Mummy. Adoption Tribe Pub.
This book documents the journey of two separate families (the tummy mummy and the adoptive family). It shows the process of considering adoption, the love both families have for the child being adopted, and the feelings both sides can have. The Tummy Mummy has depth through illustration that helps to guide the reader’s feelings by showing care and understanding to the characters in the book. The text in the book is at the bottom of the page in a medium-large, serif font. This book could be used in a number of ways; understanding adoption (for adoptees), social workers, and anyone else trying to run a book group that touches on the non-traditional family.
The True Story of the Three Little Pigs
Traditional Literary Tale
Scieszka, J. (1996). The True Story of the Three Little Pigs. Puffin Books.
In The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, the wolf’s perspective is shared. This book is a fun play on Three Little Pigs, which is told from the perspective of the pigs. Graphics correlate to the story and allow the reader to understand the wolf’s side of the story instead of just seeing the wolf as the villain.This book has a clear plot (order of events where the wolf is sharing his viewpoints on how the houses were blown down); there is character development (each of the three pigs and the wolf have their own identities and characteristics). The illustrations in the book support the plot and character development and help the reader best understand the story being told. In addition to using this book to compare traditional stories; it can be used as a preview of a lesson about each story having three sides (each opposing side and the truth). It’s a great teaching text because it offers such a contradictory lesson to that of the Three Little Pigs.
Love That Dog
Creech, S. (2001). Love That Dog. Harper Collins Publishing.
Love that Dog is the story of Jack who decided only girls write poetry, and thus he did not want to… until he did. Jack wrote about school and things that didn’t make sense to him; he wrote about his yellow dog (in the shape of a dog no less); and he wrote about an artist he so admired – Walter Dean Myers. All of Jack’s words are in verse.This book does not have a consistent rhyme scheme but does seem to have meter on each page, which makes the book easy to read through. Apple is a poem shaped like an apple, which is fun for readers to think about when writing their own poems. I think this book has several uses but I, personally, could see using it as part of a poetry unit to make poetry less intimidating to some students (kind of how Jack’s teacher used it to offer him space in writing).
I have been a long-time fan of the library, which is why it’s so surprising to me that it took a close friend becoming a librarian before I realized it was even a job I could have. I’ve had the pleasure of visiting her school library and learning more about the programming in libraries elsewhere.
As a girl, my mom regularly took me to the local public library. There, I would check out stacks of books to read at night. The best thing about that particular library was that they had a book mobile (kind of like an ice cream truck but for library books).
I always loved seeing it around town and thought it was so cool; now, I think it’s such a great way to get books to people young and old. When we moved from that town to the next, the local library was not as child-friendly and so most of my books came from classroom libraries. I really loved White Fang and read it several times in fifth grade.
My reading continued when I went to the JR-SR High School and could peruse the robust collection there. I remember frequenting the school libraries both in undergrad and graduate school, but didn’t much as an adult until I became a mom. My local library is a gem for my town and I appreciate the rich programming they do for the community. Incidentally, as I both work and live in the same beach-town community, I spent a lot of time talking to those who run the public library and am ever grateful for their commitment to the community.
Last week, I wrote about the picture book, What Do You Do With an Idea?; this week, I want to further evaluate that text to see how everything comes together to make it a complete text. The five criteria used to evaluate this picture book are:
Character: This book has two main characters; the boy and his idea. There are incidental characters shown when he is sharing his idea but they are not otherwise used or considered. Both the boy and the idea character are consistent with age through the use of imagination and caring for an idea, thinking through it more, and watching it grow and take shape.
Plot: The plot of the book is easily mapped with the exposition showing that the boy does not know what to do with his idea. The rising action discusses giving the idea exposure and the hardships/questions that coming alongside having an idea. The climax is when the idea blooms. The falling action discusses all the great stuff that happens in that moment. Finally, the resolution is that you share your ideas.
Style: The book has a clear style: image on the top and writing on the bottom. The font used is medium-large and is a serif font. Each page is consistent with this style.
Setting: There is no clear setting to this story. It takes place in the boy’s mind, in town/with others, and through life.
Illustration: The illustrations in this book are muted but clear. They are mostly grayscale with a splash of color representing the idea.
Overall, this book is clear and simple with a simple message. When looking at evaluating through these elements, it is easy to see that simplicity was a targeted approach to writing when this book was created.
It took me a bit of time to really think about what my favorite picture book is. In my mind, I went through the list of books that are some of my known favorites that I have read with my son and/or my students: Into the Forest, The Book with no Pictures, A is for Activist, and King & King are only a few books that crossed my mind when I started to think about my favorite picture book. Then, I decided on What Do You Do With an Idea by Kobi Yamada. This book is part of Yamada’s What You Do series and sets a glowing example for children and adults alike on how to express themselves, how to gain confidence in their thoughts and beliefs, and how to turn those thoughts and beliefs into realities.
This picture book encourages readers, young and old, to follow their paths and share their ideas. The child in the book reviews the scary side of sharing ideas, so he goes through the progression of keeping the idea to himself. Once he gained more confidence through attending to his idea, his idea grew, and continued to take more space in his mind and life until it expanded into the greater space of the world.
To me, this book really encourages young people to build upon their ideas and to stick with them even if others do not support them. It challenges the reader to gain confidence and understanding in his/her/themselves and allows for ideas to be transformative. While this is a picture book and is geared toward pre-school to early elementary aged children, it could be beneficial for older children as well.