Possum Magic

possum_magicby Mem Fox, illustrated by Julie Vivas. Gulliver Books (1983).

Summary: Grandma Poss uses her best magic to make Hush invisible. At first, it’s fun because Hush can slide down kangaroos and be safe from snakes! But when Hush longs to be able to see herself again, the two possums must make their way across Australia to find the magic food that will make Hush visible once more.

Uses: A great book to use for younger children who want to learn more about Australia. The “glossary of australian terms” in the back of the book includes a definition for each food that Hush eats (Anzac biscuits, mornay, minties, Vegemite, pavlova and lamington).

Awards:  NSW Premier’s Award-winner and Winner of the 1986 IBBY Diploma for Illustration. New South Wales Premier’s Literary Awards for Ethel Turner Prize for Young People’s Literature (1984), Children’s Book Council of Australia Awards Nominee for Picture Book of the Year – Highly Commended (1984), Canberra’s Own Outstanding List (COOL) Awards for Section 1 Picture Storybooks (1994). Also has sold over 4 million copies.

Borrowed from the Knoxville Public Library.


The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq

imagesby Jeanette Winter, Harcourt (2005).

Summary: The true story of how a librarian saved 3,000 books in the Basra City Library when war was on the horizon by literally putting them in her house and the houses of her friends. This book puts a face on the struggles in Iraq in a non-political way.

Uses : This book gives teachers a positive opportunity to open up discussions of the Iraq war with older students. But tricky, as use of this book in schools has been challenged (see link).

Awards: Parent’s Choice Award, Middle East Book Award honorable mention.

Borrowed from the Knoxville Public Library

I love this quote on the first page of the book:

“In the Koran, the first thing God said to Muhammad was ‘Read.'”–Alia Muhammad Baker

Anna Hibiscus’ Song

6174PyfrxvL._SY300_by Atinuke and Lauren Tobia. Kane Miller Book Club (2012)

Summary: Written by a Nigerian storyteller, this book tells of little Anna Hibiscus, a girl that is so happy she can’t contain herself! The more Anna Hibiscus talks to her mother and father and grandfather and grandmother and aunties and cousins about how happy she is, the more her happiness grows! So there’s only one thing to do…Sing about it! Note: this book is first in a series of Anna Hibiscus picture book tales (she’s also in easy readers)). Love the bright and happy theme of this book, it’s so childlike and joyous.

Uses:  Wonderful for storytime and children could pick out on a map where Africa is. Also, the song that Anna makes up at the end can be sung to the tune of Row, Row, Row Your Boat, Mary Had a Little Lamb or Skip to my Lou. Or, just ask kids to make up their own happiness song!

Awards: CCBC Choices award and the Best Children’s Books of the Year Bank Street College award.

Borrowed from the Knoxville Public Library.

The Night Has Ears: African Proverbs

photo-1by Ashley Bryan, Atheneum Books for Young Readers (1999).

Summary: Striking full-page brightly colored illustrations accompany one sentence proverbs such as “a man with a cough cannot conceal himself,” “treat your guest as a guest for two days; on the third give him a hoe,” and “the goat is not big in a cow town.” Each page could be framed and put on the wall as be gorgeous art!

Uses: Proverbs lesson plans. Ask students to name the proverbs they know such as “don’t count your chickens before they hatch” then add this book to the lesson plan and see how many new ones they can learn!

Awards: We discussed this one in class, but I cannot find any mention of awards. The author has won the 2009 Laura Ingalls Wilder Award

Borrowed from the Knoxville Public Library.

The Rough-Face Girl

roughface-sby Rafe Martin, illustrated by David Shannon. G.P. Putnam’s Sons (1992)

Summary: In an Algonquin village by the shores of Lake Ontario, many young women have tried to win the affections of the rich and powerful Invisible Being who lives with his sister in a great wigwam near the forest. No one can do it because they cannot prove to his sister that they have seen him. Meanwhile ,the Rough-Faced girl (that way because she was forced to keep the fire by her mean sisters and has become scarred) sees him everywhere she looks. Will she succeed when she goes to prove herself to the Invisible Being’s sister?

Uses: A haunting and unusual take on Cinderella, this story would be a dynamic example to students how different fairy tales can be.

Awards: IRA Teacher’s Choice Award, Association of Booksellers for Children Booksellers’ Choice Award, Golden Sower Award

Borrowed from the Knoxville Public Library

For You Are a Kenyan Child

51JMQCGYC2L._SX300_by Kelly Cunnane, illustrated by Ana Juan. Atheneum Books for Young Children (2006).

Summary: This book is about a day in the life of a Kenyan boy. He is asked by his mother to take Grandfather’s cows to pasture. He walks them to pasture, but then he visits Bashir at the tea shop, visits the village chief, sees Grandmother (and snacks on maziwa lala), plays with friends (and has a bug for a snack)…oh no! Grandfather’s cows! But all is soon well, and the Kenyan boy goes to sleep peacefully in his hut.

Uses: Wonderful introduction to different ways of life for  young children. Also a great way to learn a few choice Swahili words: hodi (hello) karibu (welcome) kabisa (an expression for emphasis, like exactly), sasa (now), mzee (a term of respect for older people; particularly men), etc.

Awards: Kirkus and Publisher’s Weekly starred reviews

Borrowed from the Knoxville Public Library.

The Lonely Book

12321949by Kate Bernheimer, illustrated by Chris Sheban Random House (2012)

Summary: A beautiful green book with a yellow ribbon inside arrives at the library and when it is new, it is loved by all and checked out constantly. But as time goes on and the book becomes worn, the book is all but forgotten on the library’s shelves. The book ends up in the library’s basement. It eventually finds a place in a little girl’s heart (and on her home bookshelf). This book is Paddington Bear and The Velveteen Rabbit for book lovers!

Uses: This would be a great book to read at Storytime for a Public Library, especially before a used book sale takes place!

Awards: 2014 Treasure State Award Nominee, Washington State Picturebook Children’s Choice Award

Borrowed from the Knoxville Public Library.