Rummanah Aasi
  I have fond memories of story-time as a kid, where my class would gather up close to listen and watch as the teacher and/or librarian would read picture books or other books aloud. While I student taught in elementary school, I always looked forward to reading to the kids. The best times were when you see how the kids are involved in the story and you could tease them about what would happen next. This year I'm taking a part in a picture book challenge hosted by Jennifer over at An Abundance of Books  in hopes of finding some great reads and new favorite titles.  Today I'm featuring an eclectic mix of books that I've read so far this month and one I finished last year but never reviewed: Airport by Byron Barton, The Grand Mosque of Paris by Karen Gray Ruelle, and The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney.

Description: Describes in pictures what happens from the time an airplane passenger arrives at the airport, and boards the plane until the plane is in the air.

Review: Barton captures the wonder and excitement of discovering a new place, in this case it is an airport. With vibrant colors and drawings, we transport ourselves to the setting. His text is simple and brief while he lets his pictures do most of the work. I would definitely recommend this book to kids who are interested in learning about airplanes, trucks, and trains.  

Curriculum Connection: Unit on transportation

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: None.

If you like this book try: Airplanes by Byron Barton, One the Move by John Searcy, 

Description: Presents the story of how Si Kaddour Benghabret, rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris, and other Muslims, gave Jews shelter and worked in the resistance to help them escape Nazi persecution during the German occupation of Paris.

Review: The Grand Mosque of Paris was a surprising find at my library. I never heard of this story, but I was anxious to read it. Despite the tensions between the two Abrahamic religious, the book focuses on brotherhood, hope, and where saving lives trumps all differences. The book begins with a quote that is well known in both the Islamic and Jewish traditions: Save one life, and it is as if you've saved all of humanity. During the Nazi occupation of France, Jews were being rounded up and sent to concentration camps. One place of refuge was the Grand Mosque in Paris, where Jewish adults and children hid, some briefly until some could either migrate to another country, while others stayed for a longer time. Thanks to the mosque's rector, and particularly Berbers from Algeria, many lives were saved. 
  The Grand Mosque of Paris was a fascinating, little-known piece of history. The book's afterward even explains the difficulties in researching the information and contacting people to interview for the book. Although the authors try to hard to explain everything in a little amount of space, they did a pretty good job overall. There were a few Islamic terms that could have been clarified, but I think readers will be able to define them using contextual clues. The drawings and color contrasts heightens the tension and hope alternately.

Curriculum Connection: Social Studies

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: None. Recommended for Grades 4-6

If you like this book try: Passage to Freedom by Ken Mochizuki

Description: In this wordless retelling of an Aesop fable, an adventuresome mouse proves that even small creatures are capable of great deeds when he rescues the King of the Jungle.

Review: The Lion and the Mouse won the Caldecott Award in 2010 and I can see why. Besides a few squeaks, hoots and one enormous roar, Pinkney's interpretation of Aesop's fable is wordless. By eliminating text, the reader can come closer to the Animal Kingdom from a safe distance. Colorful, vibrant, yet humble illustrations show a mouse unwittingly taking refuge on a lion's back as it scurries away from an owl. The large beast grabs and then releases the tiny creature, who later frees the lion who has become tangled in a hunter's snare. I don't recall learning about this Aesop fable, so the story was completely new to me but it pulled me in very quickly as the events unfolded. I was equally worried about the mouse and the lion.

  Pinkney enriches this classic tale of friendship and the universal theme of family effectively in several scenes as well as in the back endpapers, which show the lion walking with his mate and cubs as the mouse and her brood ride on his back. The lessons aren't forced but flow naturally into the story, proving that the author doesn't need words to tell a well done story and clearly demonstrates that pictures speak a thousand words.

Curriculum Connection: Fables and folklore

Rating: 4.5 stars

Words of Caution: None.

If you like this book try: The Lion Saw Himself in the Water by Idres Shah, Once a Mouse by Marcia Brown, Seven Blind Mice by Ed Young
3 Responses
  1. Awe. Books like these make me want to hurry and have kids so I can get them reading.

  2. Oh I love picture books! The story in the Grand Mosque of Paris is completely unknown to me! I'll have to get my hands on that one. Wouldn't that go a ways in fostering a little peace. (maybe, maybe not). Still, it's a moving story.

    And the last book, just the cover, that is a magnificent illustration! I will have to add it to my collection.

    Yes, I review MG and YA books, but I love picture books and figure one day I'll have grandchildren to read to. If not, I have 6 nieces and nephews, and 2 young cousins someone is bound to have kids!

    Thanks for reviewing these in such detail Rummanah! I loved them!


  3. I've actually seen that copy of the lion and the mouse and the pictures are absolutely lovely which is probably why it won the Caldecott award. LOL!

    As for the Grand Mosque of Paris I really didn't know that. I bet Hubs didn't even know it. He lived post WWII in Albania during communism, so he has a little different view of everything, but that I find highly fascinating. I think that's a book he would appreciate for the Muslim aspect and the WWII aspect. I'll have to see if I can find that one. Thank you!

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