A Bengali folktale, a melodramatic trickster tale, an inspired-from-life rescue, dogs that dig, and a lesson in childhood round out this week’s offerings for young readers. Perfect for storytime, the following picture books will delight their imaginations and become favorite read-alouds.
DIVAKARUNI, Chitra Banerjee. Grandma and the Great Gourd: A Bengali Folktale. illus. by Suzy Pilgrim Waters. Roaring Brook /Neal Porter. 2013. ISBN 9781596433786. JLG Level: Primary (Grades K–1).
“Once upon a time, in a little village in India, there lived an old woman whom everyone called Grandma.” She loved to garden by her little hut near a deep, dark jungle. She also loved her two dogs, Kalu and Bhulu. They protected her, but they also helped her with the chores. One day Grandma decided to visit her daughter, but she’d have to go through the jungle where many dangerous animals lived. Thinking a little adventure never hurt anyone, she resolved to go. Her loyal companions promised to take care of the garden and listen for wild animals that may try to harm her. “If you get in trouble, just call for us.” And get in trouble she did. Bright colors illustrate this trickster folktale which is based on a story first told to the author by her grandfather.
MEISEL, Paul. See Me Dig. Holiday House. 2013. ISBN 9780823427437. JLG Level: P : Primary (Grades K–1).
Using a predictable text, with an anything but conclusion, Meisel tells the story of how a dog and his canine friends spend their day doing what they love to do—dig . The animals in the forest get mad, so they go somewhere else. Their united efforts reveal a treasure box, which they tug out of the sand. On opening the box, the expert diggers find angry pirate ghosts. They run away but the specters fly after them. A lone dog decides to take a stand to protect the others. Can he stop the incensed mob by himself? Geisel Honoree Meisel uses sparse dialogue in a surprisingly hilarious primary title that begs to be read again.
MOORE, Eva. Lucky Ducklings. illus. by Nancy Carpenter. Scholastic/Orchard. 2013. ISBN 9780439448611. JLG Level: Primary (Grades K–1).
In June 2000, at the end of Long Island, NY a mother duck hopped out of the pond and took her babies for a walk into town. It was a fine day for an outing. They even had a picnic while strolling along. Little did the mama duck realize that danger was just ahead. For there, in front of them, was a storm grate with wide openings. One by one, the ducklings stepped into the slots and fell down into the storm drain. “That could have been the end of the story, but it wasn’t.” Based on true events, the near-tragedy inspired the town to replace the storm drain grates with narrow openings
RASCHKA, Chris. Everyone Can Learn to Ride a Bicycle. Random/Schwartz & Wade. 2013. ISBN 9780375970078. JLG Level: Primary (Grades K–1).
“It’s like riding a bicycle—you never forget how.” Raschka’s newest watercolor picture book features a youngster who learns to ride a bicycle with a little coaching from a caring adult. Using a large, simple font to reveal her progress, she chooses a bike and an over-sized blue helmet. Then they watch others before her first attempt to ride. Training wheels are helpful, but the real test is finding your balance without them. Maybe riding in the grass or down a small hill is the secret to keeping her stabilized. After a tumble or two, they decide maybe not. Perhaps what they need is teamwork, because after all, everyone can learn to ride a bike.
WILLEMS, Mo. That is Not a Good Idea. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray. 2013. ISBN 9780062203090. JLG Level: P+ : Primary (Grades K–1).
In melodramatic fashion, Willems introduces new characters–a hungry fox, a plump goose, and her baby geese. Using intertitles (white text on black background), readers see the story unfold, very much in the style of silent movies. The fox sees dinner, and elegantly asks for her for a stroll. She reluctantly agrees, but the goslings don’t think it’s a good idea. When he asks to go into the deep, dark woods, she thinks it sounds fun. The little ones think it is really not a good idea. As the goose gets closer to the cooking pot, her gaggle flaps their wings in warning–that is really, really not a good idea. Seemingly oblivious to the fox’s advances, our heroine blindly steps further into his trap, but she has her own good idea. (And yes, our favorite characters are subtly hidden in the illustrations.)
For strategies about how to use these books and links to supportive sites, check out the Junior Library Guild blog, Shelf Life.
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