Rummanah Aasi
 I haven't posted any picture book reviews quite sometime and I missed doing them. Today I have reviews of award honoree picture books, Journey by Aaron Becker and Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote by


Description: A lonely girl draws a magic door on her bedroom wall and through it escapes into a world where wonder, adventure, and danger abound. Red marker in hand, she creates a boat, a balloon, and a flying carpet that carry her on a spectacular journey toward an uncertain destiny. When she is captured by a sinister emperor, only an act of tremendous courage and kindness can set her free. Can it also lead her home and to her heart's desire?

Review: I was really surprised that Aaron Becker's gorgeous wordless picture book didn't win the Caldecott last year. Journey is another example of how easily we get distracted by all the digital tools that grab our attention and how we lose sight of our own precious imagination. Ignored by her digitally distracted family, a nameless girl escapes into a a new lush, colorful world by drawing a red door on her bedroom wall and steps through. Through wordless pages we see the girl's world become richer and complex as she draws lush green forests that twinkles with lanterns and strung lights; a dizzying castle towers with its gates, turrets and halls linked by complicated waterways; even a hovering aircraft with propellers and wheels which holds an imprisoned, metaphorical purple-plumed bird.
 I absolutely loved how amid all of these intricate and detailed drawings, the girl appears markedly ordinary with her simple pageboy haircut, minimal facial features and simple clothes which suggests that she could be anyone and the reader could easily picture themselves in her own shoes and go on her journey as if it was their own. Becker does a great job in contrasting the girl's reality with putty-colored grays and flat, boxy city shapes. Since the book is wordless, the white pages highlight action and bring up so many contextual questions with no clear answers and generates our own imagination to come up with with the possible solutions just like this girl did to escape her loneliness. Journey is a must read picture book that will be enjoyed by readers of all ages and can be easily read multiple of times without getting bored.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Words of Caution: None. Recommended for Grade 1 and up.

If you like this book try: Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson, Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, The Red Book by Barbara Lehman



Description: When Papa Rabbit does not return home as expected from many seasons of working in the great carrot and lettuce fields of El Norte, his son Pancho sets out on a dangerous trek to find him, guided by a coyote. Includes author's note.

Review: With debates and conversations on the topic of immigration being prevalent in our news today, there are not many books written on this topic for younger readers. Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote, an award honoree for the Pura Belpre award, attempts to break down the complexities surrounding immigration in a fable-like picture book for children and succeeds.
Pancho Rabbit has the feel of a classic fable or fairy tale that uses an animal cast to demonstrate the often perilous journeys of migrant Mexicans who seek work in the U.S. in order to support their families. In our story, Papa Rabbit is expected to return home from working in "El Norte," and his family prepares a celebratory fiesta, but he fails to arrive. When his son Pancho goes in search of his father, he meets an unreliable coyote who agrees to guide him north but at a cost.
 I really like how the illustrations in this book which draw inspiration from ancient Mexican art, but also incorporates modern items such as denim jeans and a backpack in photographic textures which emphasize the connection between the past and the present. Since the topic of immigrations is quite complex and may be over the heads of many young readers, there is an extensive author's note which can help guide adults to talk about the subject with younger readers. The story is realistic and shows that there are no easy solutions. Though this book could be read by first or second grade students, I think it is best to use this book with kids who are older and more familiar with the topic of immigration.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: None. Recommended for Grade 2 and up.


If you like this book try: The Quiet Place by Sarah Stewart



Description: Once upon a time, American children couldn't borrow library books. Reading wasn't all that important for children, many thought. Luckily Miss Anne Carroll Moore thought otherwise! This is the true story of how Miss Moore created the first children's room at the New York Public Library, a bright, warm room filled with artwork, window seats, and most important of all, borrowing privileges to the world's best children's books in many different languages.

Review: As a librarian myself, I could not help but thoroughly enjoy Miss Moore Thought Otherwise. Pinborough introduces young readers to Anne Carroll Moore, the strong-willed woman whose vision of library services for children shaped the standards and practices of the libraries everywhere. Moore grew up reading and hearing stories in an era when children were not welcomed by public libraries in fears that the would be too loud or not be responsible with books. She later became a librarian who worked tirelessly to bring warmth and welcome to the library in order to ensure that all children felt welcome to the library and were able to check out books.  Atwell’s cozy, folk-art-style paintings brim with period details and depict a multicultural clientele, however, they can be a bit boring. I'm really not sure if this book would be popular amongst younger readers or picked up by them independently, however it will be enjoyed by adults and those who are library lovers themselves. This would be a great readaloud during National Library Week.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: None. Grade 2 and up.


If you like this book try: The Librarian of Basra by Jeanette Winter, Biblioburro by Jeanette Winter
5 Responses
  1. I just went to the library yesterday and checked out a bunch of new picture books for my kids. I will add these to my list. Thanks as always for some great suggestons.


  2. Okay I have to know about Journey! Wordless? So need to check this one out. Plus you say it works. Now I have to know! :)


  3. I never even knew who started the first children's library so thanks for that information! I love picture books so I am definitely going to have to add Journey to my collection. I loved your review of that one. It seems like Pancho Rabbit and Coyote has a big job to try to explain. I'll be interesting to take a look at that one. Great reviews!!


  4. Jenny Says:

    Love, love, LOVE the sound of Journey Rummanah! What a fantastic premise. It's always crazy to me to watch my nieces and Kevin's younger cousins just be glued to their smart phones rather than engaging with the world around them. A little imagination can go a long way!!!


  5. All of these books sound fantastic, Rummanah, but I love the sound of Journey. I suck at drawing, but imagine being able to draw things that you dream about and have them become real! Narnia and Hogwarts, here I come!


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