Wisconsin got its first hint of winter yesterday, October 31, as much of the state saw a dusting or more of snow. My 4 year old grandson arrived at our house excited about the white covering I tried to explain that the sun would soon come out and most likely melt the snow away. While he might have harbored thoughts that he could play outside after his morning of preschool, I figured the blowing wind would keep us indoors for the afternoon. (While I'm not usually such a wimp, right now I am just recovering from a sinus cold and I don't mix colds and wind!) So while E. was at
preschool, I visited the library and checked some different titles for us to read later in the day. The kind librarian put all of them in a colorful plastic bag. After lunch, as E. and I snuggled down on the couch , I told him he could pull the books out of the bag and we would read them. He pulled them out one by one and we read each one, a total of 7 books. When we got done, E. looked at me and said, "That was just like opening a present." This old school librarian's heart soared! Here's two of my favorites from the bag.
When I pick books for E., I always look for truck books because I know that is his love, but I try to mix in some other topics to expand his interests. Holly's Red Boots seemed like a perfect choice for yesterday; little Holly needs to find her red boots so she can go outside to play in the season's first snow. She and her cat Jasper find a red car, a red hat, and even a red bathrobe, but no red boots.
By the time she finally does find them (and we have found many other red objects), the snow has melted. Disappointed, she tells her mom she has nowhere to go. As mothers do, her mom saves the day and takes Holly outside in her red boots to jump in the puddles that have formed. While our light dusting of snow wasn't enough to leave puddles, E. did enjoy this book and smiled about the puddles. Holly's Red Boots is one of those large format books with bold, colorful illustrations painted with a childlike simplicity. Just opening the book will make you happy.
I grabbed Little Dog Lost by Monica Carnesi because the cover identified that this book was a true story. I don't know if E is grasping the differences yet between "true" and fiction stories yet, but I tried to explain. With soft colors and delicate drawings Monica Carnesi has recreated the story she heard on NPR about a dog which had become stranded on an ice chunk in 2010 on Poland's Vistual River. When firefighters fail to rescue the dog, people watch helplessly from shore, as the animal floats out to the Baltic Sea. Despite abnormal cold temperatures, the dog's fur protects him and he remains afloat for two days. Then he is spotted 15 miles from land by the crew of a scientific research ship. As the crew attempts to save him, he falls into the water several times. Realizing their ship is too close and is causing turbulent water, they retreat and send one small pontoon boat with watch engineer officer Adam Buczynski out to rescue the dog. Like all good stories, the ending is just superb -- the hero dog is renamed Baltic, and when no once claims him, becomes the ship's dog.
I absolutely love how talented children's authors can distill a story such as this down to the simplest text and can also capture so much meaning in the illustrations. This is a great book for animal lovers.
Find a copy and share it with a young one. Make sure you let them know that this is a true story!
I can't end these reviews without another plug for children's libraries, both school and public. They offer quality children's literature that you almost never see on bookstore shelves, even at a Barnes and Noble or such. Small bookstores, if they have staff with a background in children's lit., will maybe stock a few quality titles, but in the end most bookstores are going to stock those titles that have already become best sellers and then they will stock the "branded" books -- Disney, Sponge Bob, etc.
It is the business of libraries and librarians to go beyond, to make selections that fill all sorts of needs and expand the horizons of even the littlest readers/listeners! So make a small child's afternoon special. Visit the library and then read with them!