February 18, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Cool Correspondence | Great Books About Writing Letters

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Bustling with family vacations, camp visits, and other fun activities to chronicle, summer is the perfect time to pen letters and postcards. Ranging from quietly realistic to humorously high blown, these engaging picture books celebrate this age-old art of communication…and they just might inspire youngsters to put pencil to paper and give good old-fashioned snail mail a try.

TheDaytheCrayonsQuitThe Day the Crayons Quit. by Drew Daywalt. illus. by Oliver Jeffers. Philomel. 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780399255373. ebook $10.99. ISBN 9781101628126.
K-Gr 2—When a boy reaches for his art supplies at school, he discovers a stack of envelopes addressed to him. Overworked, underused, or otherwise fed up, Duncan’s crayons have fervently stated their grievances in handwritten letters: fastidious Purple complains that Duncan colors out of the lines, Beige grumbles about playing second fiddle to Brown, peeled-down-to-the-wax Peach bemoans being naked, and more. Suitably illustrated with childlike crayon artwork, this cleverly concocted romp is witty and imaginative.

Dear Panda. by Miriam Latimer. illus. by author. Owlkids. 2014. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781771470780.DearPanda
PreS-Gr 2—Florence is settling into her new home when she receives a welcome letter from her soon-to-be teacher inviting her to introduce herself to the class on the first day of school. Worried that she won’t make any new friends to tell about, the girl writes a note to the panda that lives in the zoo next door, initiating a correspondence that soon flowers into comforting camaraderie. Latimer’s reassuring text and winsome mixed-media illustrations blend real-world issues with a beguiling touch of fantasy.

DearPeterRabbitDear Peter Rabbit. 1994. RTE $18.99. ISBN 9780689318504; pap. $7.99. ISBN 9780689812897.
Yours Truly, Goldilocks. 1998. RTE $17.99. ISBN 9780689816086; pap. $7.99. ISBN 9780689844522.
With Love, Little Red Hen. 2001. RTE $17.99. ISBN 9780689825811; pap. $7.99. ISBN 9780689870613.
ea. vol.: by Alma Flor Ada. illus. by Leslie Tryon. S. & S./Atheneum.
K-Gr 4—These whimsical picture books relate the intertwining adventures of famous fictional characters through captivating communiqués composed by Baby Bear, Little Red Riding Hood, the Big Bad Wolf, and other inhabitants of Hidden Forest. Tryon’s watercolor illustrations depict the busy goings-on in this storybook world with delectable detail and irresistible charm. Share these epistolary escapades along with traditional renditions of these favorite tales.

Herman’s Letter. by Tom Percival. illus. by author. Bloomsbury. Nov. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBNHerman's Letter9781619634237.
PreS-Gr 2—Accustomed to spending all of their time together, best buddies Herman Bear and Henry Raccoon are devastated when Henry has to move away. Though both pals promise to write, Henry’s missives about his exciting new life leave Herman feeling lonely, jealous, and just too-miserable to reply. However, the bear’s spirits soar when he finally receives an invitation from Henry to visit, and goes all out to make sure his affirmative response gets delivered. Including lift-the-flap letters, the book’s vivacious animal characters, animated artwork, and warmhearted humor prove that true friendship endures despite distance and duress.

I Wanna New RoomI Wanna New Room. by Karen Kaufman Orloff. illus. by David Catrow. Putnam. 2010. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780399254055; ebook $10.99. ISBN 9781101550168.
K-Gr 3—Recently relocated to his little brother’s room because of a new baby sister, the letter-writing maven from I Wanna Iguana (Putnam, 2004) once again picks up his pencil, this time to request a more preferable living arrangement. The resulting correspondence between Alex and his father is chockfull of heartfelt pleas, half-baked ideas, and evenhanded advice from Dad. Catrow’s madcap illustrations gleefully interpret the laugh-out-loud details (and Alex’s overzealous imaginings).

LaRue Across America: Postcards from the Vacation. by Mark Teague. illus. by author. LaRue Across AmericaScholastic/Blue Sky Pr. 2011. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780439915021.
K-Gr 4—Teague’s series about an avid letter-penning pooch elicits giggles galore. In this installment, Ike is vexed when Mrs. LaRue volunteers to look after an ailing neighbor’s felines, forsaking their planned Mexican cruise (no cats allowed) for a cross-country car trip. As miles roll away and zany escapades are unleashed, the disgruntled dog repeatedly pens desperate postcards to Mrs. Hibbins, imploring her to have his unwanted traveling companions sent home, until a twist of fate results in a happy ending. Ike’s uproariously overblown messages are paired with deliciously droll artwork.

A Letter for LeoA Letter for Leo. by Sergio Ruzzier. illus. by author. Clarion. Nov. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780544223608.
PreS-Gr 2—Leo the mailman cheerfully delivers oodles of envelopes and packages to the appreciative residents of his town, but has never once received a letter himself. Coming across a little lost fledgling in a mailbox, he takes the bird him home and the two become close companions. When springtime arrives and it’s time for Cheep to say goodbye, Leo is sad, but his loneliness is soon alleviated by a special surprise. Ruzzier combines expressive animal characters, fanciful sherbet-hued artwork, and genuine emotion into a sweet tale of friendship.

Love, Mouserella. by David Ezra Stein. illus. by author. Penguin/Nancy Paulsen Bks. 2011. Tr $15.99.Love, Mouserella ISBN 9780399254109.
K-Gr 2—Mouserella composes an ebullient missive to Grandmouse, telling her about everything that’s transpired since she returned home three days ago. Set against faux notepaper in rainbow hues, this paw-lettered dispatch depicts day-to-day events and comes complete with crayon drawings, snapshots, and food stains. Inset images of the spirited young mouse’s adventures appear throughout, pulling readers into the action. An engaging way to nurture letter-writing efforts and thoughts of loved ones far away.

The Quiet PlaceThe Quiet Place. by Sarah Stewart. illus. by David Small. FSG/Margaret Ferguson Bks. 2012. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780374325657.
K-Gr 3—Writing to her beloved Auntie Lupita back in Mexico, Isabel describes her experiences when she and her family immigrate to the United States in 1957. Vivid details and earnest emotions are tucked into the understated text and flowing paintings, as the shy girl slowly adjusts to her new life, finding comfort in the “quiet place” that she constructs out of discarded boxes. Gradually growing in size, lovingly decorated with homemade artwork, and ultimately ready to host new friends, this special sanctuary blossoms along with Isabel. A gentle, affecting, and uplifting tale.

Sincerely, Katie: Writing a Letter with Katie Woo. by Fran Manushkin. illus. By Tammie Lyon. Sincerely, Katie“Katie Woo, Star Writer” series. Capstone/Picture Window. 2014. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9781404881266; pap. $5.95. ISBN 9781479519217.
K-Gr 2—After penning a thank-you note to a classroom visitor during school, the enthusiastic protagonist heads home to author sunny missives to anyone and everyone she knows. The lively first-person narrative is supplemented by sidebars introducing the parts of a letter and writing tips, along with samples of Katie’s heart-and-flower decorated messages. This gaily illustrated easy reader offers a kid-accessible mix of information and story.

10 Thank-You LettersTen Thank-You Letters. by Daniel Kirk. illus. by author. Penguin/Nancy Paulsen Bks. Oct. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780399169373. ebook $10.99. ISBN 9780698171350.
PreS-Gr 2—Rabbit wants to play, but Pig is busy finishing a thank-you letter to Grandma. Inspired by his best friend, Rabbit writes his own notes of gratitude—to his grandmother, Madam President, his favorite author, and many more—repeatedly interrupting Pig and eventually using up all of his pal’s stamps, envelopes…and patience. Never fear, Rabbit has one more message to write, a considerate communiqué that sets everything right. Effervescent artwork and affable text make this follow up to Ten Things I Love about You (Penguin, 2012) a winner.

Joy Fleishhacker About Joy Fleishhacker

Joy Fleishhacker is a librarian, former SLJ staffer, and freelance editor and writer who works at the Pikes Peak Library District in southern Colorado.

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  1. Two others to add although they might be hard to find but worth it: Hannah & Jack by Mary Nethery about a girl who is separated from her cat when she goes on vacation then receives a letter from him. And easy reader: Pearl vs. the Tooth Fairy (Scholastic) about a girl who collects things and doesn’t want to give up her first tooth. So she writes a letter to the Tooth Fairy which sets off a series of letters between them as the Tooth Fairy becomes more adamant about needing Pearl’s tooth.

  2. Great compilation! Thanks for sharing! Eager to see more of such compilations here.

  3. Lynette Perrett says:

    What a great list! It’s so good to see this theme in story books for children.