When parents get book order forms from school, sometimes it can be overwhelming
and also, stressful when they have a limited budget. I remember my three kids bringing
home their school picture order forms, their sports group picture forms and then, on
top of all this, Scholastic book order forms. Of course, all school book fees, new clothes
and shoes, sporting equipment also came during the same time of year.
Occasionally, my Mom and Dad may have dropped a check off in the mail, which would
cover some of the items mentioned. I had child support for two of three children, along
with a carefully budgeted babysitting fees from my clients’ list. All of the five children
I watched stayed with me for the seven years I watched them, who were from parents
whose careers were either as professionals or a combination of positions. I could count
on them paying me regularly on Fridays. I had typed up a babysitting contract which
included paying me for sick days or times their children stayed home. Also, for vacations
they chose to take. If I ever needed to call them to ask them to use one of my ‘back up’
babysitters then I would not get paid, same if I chose to take a rare vacation. I think I
‘called in sick’ on only three occasions in the 7 years, 9 summers watched their kids.
When we were closely tied like we were, they would tell me when their vacations were
planned. We also would try to have seasonal family gatherings where we would get
our schedules in ‘synch,’ planning sports, extra curricular activities like gymnastics
and jazz dance classes, karate for the kids who chose this outlet. All 8 children, mine
included, took swimming lessons the same 6 weeks, usually in August, hoping the
water would be nice and warm in the morning.
I am rambling a bit, to tell you that my own children fit a lot into their budget. I did
not expect to receive 5 x 7″ school pictures nor have the joy of seeing the choices of their
Book Fair. My oldest daughter pointed out that the Book Fair is during Parent-Teacher
conference time so you have extra time on your hands. Also, a little bit of pressure to go
wandering around with the kids to check out the books. I reminded her that the boys
have library cards like the three of ‘them’ (my own children) had from early years on.
I also would tell their teachers this, including what I thought was a valuable lesson,
which was to choose books and return them regularly allowed my kids to have many
more books, choosing far more than what we would need to have in our home. She
listened and told me they each were told they could choose one nice book to keep.
The boys, Skyler and Micah, already have a nice collection of hardback books in
My daughter in law has the children’s book shelves in the play room, which means
they can sometimes need to be reorganized and cleaned up. She allowed the four
children to choose a book, with the two oldest, Lara and Landen, picking chapter
The two little girls, M & M, each chose a book. I felt the ones I was most interested
in viewing would also be the ones you would be curious to hear about. I will include
Micah’s to round this out with a boy’s choice. This ‘trio’ of enjoyable selections is
a collection of picture books that were so endearing and entrancing. Along with one
that is quite dramatic!
1. “Flora and the Penguin” is a 2014 book with 40 pages, written and illustrated by
Molly Idle. Last year, she won the Caldecott Honor for a wordless picture book called,
“Flora and the Flamingo.” The flamingo and little girl dancing in the different scenes
was quite beautiful and artistic. Makyah chose the newer book since she loves the
movies, “Happy Feet,” and “Happy Feet Two.” It is one which will appeal to both boys
and girls, ages 3-5 years old. The author, Molly Idle, mentioned the quote, “Actions
speak louder than words.” Since Makyah is the ‘baby’ in her household at age 3, I felt
this was a wise choice. She can tell adults or her siblings, what the pictures mean to her,
using descriptions and her vivid imagination, to tell her own story about Flora. At her
preschool, Kyah is learning how to find her own voice, letting others know what she
2. “The Iridescence of Birds,” a Newberry Medal winner, written by Patricia Mac Lachlan,
was chosen by 5 1/2 year old kindergartner, Marley. This is a 40 paged hardback book
which has a wonderfully illustrated story about Henri Matisse. The book has the small town
in Northern France, where the little boy and young artist grew up. It is winter and Henri
feels it is cold and dreary. The pictures show shades of grays in the gloomy scenery. In the
true story of his life, Henri’s mother paints plates. Henri’s mother has him help her to set
out plates which radiate colors. His life brightens up when he puts fruits and flowers out to
inspire her painting. Rainbows shown in the book are like a prism (to his life) has been
added to every scene. Glorious! This story of Henri Matisse’s young childhood is like an
‘ode’ or warm ‘homage’ to his mother. It is like we should give credit to her for inspiring
Matisse to create his impressionistic masterpieces of color. Of course, I love the birds.
Hadley Hooper is the artist who has brilliantly illustrated this book to match the tone
of the story told in simple prose.
3. “Draw!” by Raul Colon was chosen by Micah, my 5 year old kindergartner. I am sure
his eyes were attracted by the bold and vibrant illustrations done by Raul Colon. This
book is 40 pages long, which begins with a boy in his room with a sketchbook. He had
read a large book about Africa. He becomes immersed in the world of being on a safari.
He uses paints and an easel to create drawings from his imaginations. They are of very
lifelike animals- elephants, zebras, lions and a very angry rhino. The scenes seem to come
alive and seem inter-active. He ends the book by showing his drawings to his classmates
in school. This book is appropriate for young adventurous children of ages 4-8. I also
was excited to find out that “Draw!” is not about guns being “drawn” since over the
phone, I had heard its title, mistakenly picturing it to be a Western.
What are some of your favorite children’s books that are more recently published?