A Boy Like You – Perfect Picture Book Friday

Title: A Boy Like You

Author: Frank Murphy

Illustrator: Kayla Harren

 Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press, 2019

Ages: 3-7

Genre: Concept picture book

Themes: following dreams, being brave, asking for help, gender stereotypes, ways to be a boy, masculinity

Opening:

There are billions and billions and billions of people on the world. But you are the only YOU there is!

And the world needs a boy like you.

Synopsis:

There’s more to being a boy than sports, feats of daring, and keeping a stiff upper lip. A Boy Like You encourages every boy to embrace all the things that make him unique, to be brave and ask for help, to tell his own story and listen to the stories of those around him. In an age when boys are expected to fit into a particular mold, this book celebrates all the wonderful ways to be a boy.

Why I like this book:

We need books that extol kindness, courage, thoughtfulness, crying is okay, friendliness. This could have come across in a very didactic way, but the author has managed to keep his message gentle and inspirational by focusing on each boy’s unique contribution to his world, and with his emphasis on all our daily interactions and the opportunities they offer for personal growth. Part of me questions the need for a “boy focused” message as, of course this applies to girls too, but maybe this is part of the necessary antidote to the constant bombardment of messages of toxic masculinity many of our young boys receive.

Activities/resources:

Each week a group of bloggers reviews picture books we feel would make great educational reads. To help teachers, caregivers and parents, we have included resources and/or activities with each of our reviews. A complete list of the thousands of books we have reviewed can be found sorted alphabetically and by topics, here on Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

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Kitten and the Night Watchman – Perfect Picture Book Friday

Title: Kitten and the Night Watchman

Author: John Sullivan

Illustrator: Taeeun Yoo

 Publisher: Paula Wiseman Books, 2019

Ages: 3-7

Literary Awards Ezra Jack Keats Book Award for Writer (2019)

Themes: night watchmen, different jobs, worry, companionship. Kittens, belonging, comfort

Opening:

The night watchman hugs his wife and kids and drives to work. 
All night he is alone. 
Every hour he makes his rounds.

Synopsis:

Kitten and the Night Watchman is inspired by the true story of author John Sullivan meeting a stray cat while working as a night watchman. The cat, Beebe, was John’s companion for seventeen years.

Why I like this book:

A really gentle, empathetic story full of common feelings for young children (worrying about a new friend, relief, belonging) as the night watchman loses his new little night companion during some worrying moments in the middle of the story. It is also a great introduction to the lonely job of being a night watchmen. I love how the dad is given such caring gestures and thoughts: he gently catches a moth and releases it outside; he thinks of his children while working. Sullivan uses simple but poetic language creating strong imagery to describe the nightly routine.

Garbage trucks line up like circus elephants.

Yoo’s peaceful muted-tones artwork with cool shadow-play somehow creates a life and intimacy in this quiet construction site at night. This is the kind of understated story that stays with you a long while after reading. And, well, it is hard to go wrong with the adoption of an adorable stray kitten! A particular winner if you like construction equipment and/or kitties!

Activities/resources:

Pair With, Good Night, Good Night Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker & Tom Lichtenheld

Each week a group of bloggers reviews picture books we feel would make great educational reads. To help teachers, caregivers and parents, we have included resources and/or activities with each of our reviews. A complete list of the thousands of books we have reviewed can be found sorted alphabetically and by topics, here on Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

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Penguinaut! – Perfect Picture Book Friday

Title: Penguinaut!

Written by: Marcie Colleen

Illustrated by: Emma Yarlett

Publisher: Orchard Books, 2018

Ages: 3-7

Themes: penguins, the moon, adventure, imagination, being small, thinking big, friendship

Opening:

Orville was small.

Synopsis:

Orville lives at the zoo, surrounded by animal pals who go on exciting adventures. A hang gliding rhino! A deep-sea diving giraffe! Orville struggles to keep up, until one day he concocts an adventure all his own: build a spaceship and fly to the moon all by himself. Can one tiny penguin get there alone? (publisher)

Why I like this book:

Who can resist a little penguin with giant astronaut dreams and a name like Orville? Marcie Colleen is becoming known in the picture book world for her great word play and sharp word selection, and this story is no exception. Emma Yarlett’s whimsical mixed-media illustrations create a delightful world and she excels with their expressions. I think the illustrator and art director have also made some great chocies in letter art and fonts to add to the visual appeal of this book. It is super playful as well as being inspirational. Kids will love this tiny explorer and cheer him through all his mishaps to success. And then they will cheer even louder when he is reunited with his biggest fan club, his friends.

Determination and a little word of encouragement from our friends go a long way, right?

Resources/Activities:

Craft activities to create rockets/space-ships (save up those old toilet rolls).

This post is part of a series by authors and children’s literature bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions see Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.

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