Favourite Nursery Tales

DePaola, Tomie. Favorite Nursery Tales. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2022.
This 127-page collection contains 30 well-known poems, fables, and folktales A Child’s Garden of Verses. The Lion and the Mouse. The Three Bears and The Little Red Hen. The Owl and the Pussycat and Chicken Licken.  All are wonderfully illustrated by the beloved Tomie DePaola, author and/or illustrator of more than 270 books in his lifetime. A classic that belongs in every collection of children’s books.

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A picture book by Tomie DePaola


The Arnold Lobel Book of Mother Goose

Lobel, Arnold. The Arnold Lobel Book of Mother Goose. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2022.
This 173-page collection of over 300 nursery rhymes recently reissued is exuberantly illustrated by the famed American author and illustrator. While perhaps best known for his Frog and Toad stories, Arnold Lobel wrote 28 books and illustrated more than 70 before he died in 1987. This wonderful Mother Goose collection showcases his joyously inimitable style. It should be in every home library of children’s books. 

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Everything Sad is Untrue

Nayeri, Daniel. Everything Sad is Untrue: (a True Story). New York: Levine Querido, 2020. 

Khosrou’s family history goes back centuries. In Iran, his family was well-to-do, educated, respected. But now, in an Oklahoman middle-school, the renamed Daniel is merely a poor lonely immigrant. In the style of the stories of Scheherazade, Khosrou tells how his mother converted to Christianity and they had to flee the secret police, leaving his father behind.A multiple award winner, this 356-page autobiographical novel is highly recommended for readers 11 years old and up.

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Building an Orchestra of Hope

Carmen, Oliver. Building an Orchestra of Hope: How Favio Chávez Taught Children to Make Music from Trash. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2022. 

What happens to the trash taken away by garbage trucks? It goes to landfills. In the capital city of Paraguay, it goes to a landfill in a tiny town where – every day – people pick through the heaps and heaps of trash, looking for something to sell. After school, children join their parents in the search for jewelry, cardboard, plastic – anything at all – that can help them earn enough money to survive. In 2006, Favio Chávez came to teach the people better ways to recycle those mountains of garbage. He decided to also teach the children how to play musical instruments. But how would he get enough instruments? Well, from the trash, of course. This picture book – illustrated by Luisa Uribe – tells the story of how Chávez taught thirty children to read music and play together in an orchestra. A long afterward provides more details about this true story of ingenuity and determination. Highly recommended for all ages.

Listen to Favio Chávez’s TEDx Talk and hear the orchestra play classical music

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White Raven

Spathelfer, Teoni. White Raven. Victoria: Heritage, 2021.
Little Wolf moves with her husband and three daughters to a peaceful island home where they enjoy living by the seashore and exploring in the forest. When Little Wolf’s mother, White Raven, comes to visit, the girls learn about their grandmother’s childhood in a residential school. Based on the author’s own mother’s experiences at a residential school in Alert Bay, B.C., this picture book is one of the most detailed in its depiction of life for indigenous children. It focuses on facts: children had their heads shaved and covered with DDT; the food given to them was often mouldy and bug-ridden; sausages were served raw; toilet paper was sometimes eaten to appease the constant hunger; nights were filled with the sounds of children crying; if they spoke their own language, their mouths were washed out with soap; they were always called by number rather than name. However, the story also mentions the kindness of one of the teachers, Mrs. Oak, who cared for White Raven when she was ill and sewed her a new dress.

The format of this book – brightly coloured illustrations and a relatively large font with widely spaced lines of print – makes it ideal for reading aloud. The sentence structure is straight-forward and well-suited for readers eight to ten years old. The factual details make it excellent as a research resource for students nine to twelve years old. Therefore, while discretion should be used in presenting this picture book to very young readers, it is highly recommended for both elementary and middle school libraries. 

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