Description: One day, a grandmother shouts, "LEAVE ME ALONE!" and leaves her tiny home and her very big family to journey to the moon and beyond to find peace and quiet to finish her knitting. Along the way, she encounters ravenous bears, obnoxious goats, and even hordes of aliens! But nothing stops grandma from accomplishing her goal--knitting sweaters for her many grandchildren to keep them warm and toasty for the coming winter.
Review: We all have a day where we need just a few moments of quiet to get things done and/or concentrate on a project. Well, we can all sympathize with Granny who just wants to knit sweaters in peace except she is constantly interrupted wherever she goes. The story has a Eastern European folktale vibe to it. It is incredibly funny and entertaining. The repetitive line of "Leave Me Alone!" makes it a good choice to read aloud. The picture books is filled with colorful images, all white except the aliens on the moon which stand out against the white pages. This contrasts well to the place where Granny finally finds peace.
Rating: 4 stars
Words of Caution: None. Recommended for PreK to Grade 1.
If you like this book try: Grumpy Pants by Claire Messer
Description: As slaves relentlessly toiled in an unjust system in 19th century Louisiana, they all counted down the days until Sunday, when at least for half a day they were briefly able to congregate in Congo Square in New Orleans. Here they were free to set up an open market, sing, dance, and play music. They were free to forget their cares, their struggles, and their oppression. This story chronicles slaves' duties each day, from chopping logs on Mondays to baking bread on Wednesdays to plucking hens on Saturday, and builds to the freedom of Sundays and the special experience of an afternoon spent in Congo Square.
Review: This is a story that I have not heard before. In historic Louisiana, enslaved Africans were provided a half-day of rest each Sunday, and in New Orleans their official and legal gathering place was Congo Square. With two spare couplets for each day of the week, Weatherford tells readers what slavery looks like. We can see its brutality and inhumanity from the verses and the slow steady rhythm that builds until that peaceful Sunday. I appreciated that the author didn't avoid talking about a tough subject, but does so respectfully while admitting the horrifying truths without the graphic details. The illustrations are bright and fully embrace the text that it describes. The slaves' bodies are made up of sharp angles in the slaves’ bodies while they work and they have a softer curves and angles as they relax and enjoy the dance. There is an author's note that provides historical context for the real place the book describes.
Rating: 4 stars
Words of Caution: None. Grades 1-3.
If you like this book try: Seeds of Freedom by Hester Brass
Description: In this glorious celebration of observation, curiosity, and imagination, Brendan Wenzel shows us the many lives of one cat, and how perspective shapes what we see. When you see a cat, what do you see?
Review: This picture book is a perfect example in teaching younger readers about perspective. The author uses the word saw to its fullest extent. The repeating phrase is "They all saw a cat" as a cat walks through the world and pages. Each page reveals how the creatures sees the cat. To the child, it is big-eyed and adorably fluffy; to the fish in the bowl, it’s two huge, blurry eyes; and to the bee, it is a series of faceted dots. To create these varied visions, Wenzel uses the spacious width of double-page spreads and a wide range of materials, including oil, pastels, watercolor, and pencils. He plays with perspective in other ways, too. A yellow bird looks down at the cat below, and a flea peers through a forest of fur. While the story is simple, the concept behind the book is thought-provoking and taken into consideration.
Rating: 4 stars
Words of Caution: None. Recommended for Grades PreK to Grade 2.
If you like this book try: Press Here by Hervé Tullet, I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen