I read some more terrific books from last year, and one more “snow” book from Emily Gravett.
Between The World and Me - Ta-Nehisi Coates
Because I am one of those who thinks herself white, that group Ta-Nehisi Coates calls the Dreamers, those who’ve supported all their actions as following the “dream”, I am saddened that I have not done enough. This letter to his son, to help him find a way to keep safe, tells of Coates’ own life of questioning. He writes, “I have spent much of my studies searching for the right question by which I might fully understand the breach between the world and me. I have not spent my time studying the problem of “race”--“race” itself is just a restatement and retrenchment of the problem. “ He explains that the plan, by those who believe they are white, is always to have some groups “beneath”. And that makes sense, doesn’t it? To have power, one must be on top. And to be on top is to be supported by many, many underneath. Those words underlie other stories of Coates life’s journey of fear and the need to understand and protect himself, and now, his son. He explains how much time is robbed from parents as they advise their black boys and black girls that they must “be twice as good” which is to say “accept half as much” When one’s child leaves the house, having been told all the ways to “act”, and knowing that often it doesn’t matter if she or he crosses the wrong path. There is goodness in this telling, too, of those who hope and don’t stop hoping. Yet even in the first pages, the name of Tamir Rice is mentioned, and now we know, here at the beginning of 2016, the ending of that story, too. Others are told in the book, the stories we, the Dreamers, so often protest, about the tragic deaths of Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin. And then we forget. Ta-Nehisi Coates’ letter is full of love from a father to his son, and full of fear for him also. Everyone should read the story, and fill themselves with questions.
Bear & Hare: Snow! - Emily Gravett
These two friends open the door and “It’s snowing!” Hare loves snow, but bear isn’t so sure. Hare makes a perfect snow angel, but bear sinks down. Hare makes a small snowball, but Bear makes a huge one. Well, you see how this is going. But there is hope, and it comes at the top of a hill. Finally, Bear learns that snow can be fun. For the littlest ones, Emily Gravett uses her beautiful expressive illustrations to show the feelings and the fun between Bear & Hare.
A Dog Wearing Shoes - Sangmi Ko
A young girl, Mini, and her mother are driving home from Grandma’s when there, in the road, is a little dog wearing shoes. There is no owner around, so they take him home. He is adorable, and Mini loves, loves, loves him. They go to the park, get lots of attention which makes her love even stronger. But she goes too far, and lets him off the leash to show how he fetches. Instead, he disappears. The sadness of her loss, then the joy of finding the dog once again shows Mini how much the real owner must miss this sweet little dog. They put up signs and the real owner is found, another little girl. Mini realizes that she must adopt another dog. It’s a sweet story, showing how empathy works, as well as a kindness done. There is a page about shelter adoption at the back. Sangmi Ko’s illustrations are in black and white pencil sketches, with lots of detail and expression.
Moose - Kelly Bingham and Paul O.
How can I not read and giggle all the way through as Moose ruins still another of Kelly Bingham’s stories. Kelly tries really hard to explain, in cute rhyme, what each shape is and how it is recognized, but more and more, Moose jumps in to join the fun. Thank goodness, Zebra also appears to help, but you’ll need to read the rest of the story to discover what happens next. Very cute story, especially if you’re ready to laugh out loud!
What in the World? Numbers In Nature - Nancy Raines Day and Kurt Cyrus
This would be such fun to use as a mentor text for an art and math activity. In rhyme, Nancy Raines Day starts with the number “one” and questions, all the way to ten. One example is “What in the world comes four by four? Petals of poppies, hooves--and more.” Each answer is illustrated in double-page spreads, beautifully colored with black outlining , and the new question lies in one part of the page. There is a surprise at the end, and an explanation of what makes a set in the back matter.
What’s Next: I have The Marvels by Bryan Selznick ready to start, one of the books on my #MustReadIn2016 list! Then I also will begin reading and examining the Cybils Poetry Finalists. I am a second round judge. There are wonderful books ahead for me to read. You can find all the finalists HERE!