Dr. Fauci

Messner, Kate. Dr. Fauci: How a Boy from Brooklyn Became America’s Doctor. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2021.
A straight-forward picture book biography – with extensive additional information, including information on how vaccines are developed, a reading list, a timeline, and numerous photographs – for curious readers 6 to 11 years old. Useful for classroom discussions and as a springboard to research. Recommended for its timeliness.

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Erika-san

Say, Allen. Erika-san. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 2008.
A little girl, seeing a picture of a teahouse in her grandmother’s home, becomes curious about Japan. She reads books about Japan, learns how to speak Japanese, and – after she grows up and finishes college – moves to Japan to become a schoolteacher. But busy Tokyo doesn’t appeal to her. She longs for the countryside. She finally finds it, a little village that reminds her of the picture from long ago, a place where she makes a friend, marries him, and creates her new home.
Some reviewers have criticized this picture book for depicting a character that dislikes a foreign city, for writing about a character appropriating another culture as her own. But this quietly beautiful picture book isn’t about displaying political correctness or conveying moral messages. It is a story about someone who admires a way of life and goes out to find it. It is a story for everyone who has had a dream and then set out to find it. Recommended for reflective readers 9 to 12 years old. 

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Prairie Days

MacLachlan, Patricia. Prairie Days. New York, Toronto: Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2020.
Any story by Patricia MacLachlan is worth reading. Any book by Margaret K. McElderry is worth looking at. And this picture book illustrated with collages by Micha Archer is no exception. Written from the first-person point of view, it is a wonderfully exuberant celebration of long-ago summers on the American prairies. An excellent read-aloud for family gatherings, sure to start more stories of long ago memories. Highly recommended for everyone who loves country life.

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Picture books with collages

First-person point of view

P.S. A little clue to MacLachlan’s brilliance: When she talks about the farm horses – Lyddie, Blue, and Joe – she doesn’t say ‘that’ we used to ride. She uses the pronoun ‘who’ instead. Because those horses aren’t objects. They are alive. They are loved.

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Just Like That

Summer holidays are coming to an end and a new term is about to begin. Get ready by reading a historical novel set in a boarding school. 

Schmidt, Gary D. Just Like That. Boston: Clarion Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2021.
Meryl Lee is sent to a posh boarding school in Maine where wealthy students are clearly considered superior. Unfortunately, she is not wealthy. Meanwhile, Matt has run away – with a pillowcase full of money – from a criminal gang and is hiding in a seaside shack. The two teenagers meet and begin a fragile friendship. Set in 1968 during the Vietnam war, this young adult novel addresses political issues, religious beliefs, and social justice. Highly recommended for readers 12 years old and up. (P.S. All stories written by award-winning Gary D. Schmidt are worth reading.)

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Almost Time

Schmidt, Gary D. Almost Time. Boston : Clarion Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2020.
A lovely picture book about a little boy waiting for the weather to get cold enough to tap the maple trees for syrup. Full-page illustrations by the award winning illustrator G. Brian Karas accompany a simple story told by an award-winning author and his late wife, Elizabeth Stickney. Highly recommended for readers 5 to 8 years old who have experienced the frustrations of waiting. 

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Stand Like a Cedar

Campbell, Nicola I. Stand Like a Cedar. Winnipeg, Manitoba: Highwater Press, 2021.
Spring. Summer, Autumn. Winter. Walking through the woods, children learn about nature and all it has to teach us. Written in English, Nłe7kepmxcín, and Halq’emeylem – and accompanied by a glossary and pronunciation guide – this quietly respectful and life-affirming picture book will provoke reflection and encourage gratitude. Highly recommended for readers 7 years old and up. (P.S.: All stories by Nicola Campbell are worth reading. All gently encourage empathy and celebrate nature.)

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Addy’s Cup of Sugar

Muth, Jon J. Addy’s Cup of Sugar: Based on a Buddhist Story of Healing. New York: Scholastic Press, 2020.
How do we carry on after a loved one has died? That is the question in another picture book about grief. Similar to The Boy and the Gorilla, this story depicts a helper. Stillwater, a giant panda who has appeared in previous books by Jon Muth, teaches Addy how to recover from grief after her beloved kitten is hit by a car. She is sent to borrow a cup of sugar from someone who has never experienced loss. By the end of the day, she realizes that everyone has suffered the desolation of losing loved ones. She is not alone in her pain. And she still has a heart full of loving memories. This story, with its full-page watercolour and pencil illustrations, will appeal to readers of all ages and all faiths. Highly recommended. 

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