Jacob’s New Dress

9780807563731_Jacob-e1394164297234You probably think this book is about a boy that identifies more as a “girl” than a boy, right? Well, it’s not that cut and dry. And if you’re a mom of a boy (like I am), you’ll get it.

I LOVE THIS BOOK. Here’s why…

Girls can be “tomboys” and run around in superhero gear and people think it’s cute and completely socially acceptable. But when your boy wants to wear pink? Or carry a doll around?  People (and, maybe, the kid’s Dad) start to get uncomfortable.

In Jacob’s New Dress, the author has perfectly captured the conundrum that parents of boys feel when their son wants to do something outside of the stereotypical gender roles. There’s a little jerk named Christopher in this book that makes fun of Jacob because he dresses up as a princess in the dress-up corner. When Jacob wants to wear a dress to school, his wonderful mother helps him make one. Christopher makes fun of him again. But Jacob’s a lucky kid. His Mom is smart. She reminds him, over and over:

“There are all kinds of ways to be a boy”

My son brings a doll from the Frozen movie (Elsa) to school with him. If a kid like Christopher made fun of him for this, I’d be tempted to slap him. But instead, I can read this book to my son, and remind him, that no matter what he wants to do in this world, I will always be here to support him. Because, after all, there are all kinds of ways to be a boy!



Top 50 Reflection

Slide1 Slide2 Slide3To compile my list of Top 50, I looked back at the covers of each of the 210+ award-winning books that I reviewed and poured over this summer.   What a wonderful, memorable and just plain delicious picture book summer I have had!  I have loved putting together this collection of picture books on my little corner of the Internet.

It seems as if each of these books has a memory for me; I can recall which parts made me smile, which made me (or my 3-year-old) laugh, which caused me to feel sentimental and so on. My criteria in choosing my top 50 picks were the books that stuck with me the longest after the reading was done.  Many of these are written so well that I found them poignant (Zen Shorts, The Dark, The Gardener, In Our Mother’s House, The Lonely Book, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore), many are pure silly fun with no real purpose other than to entertain (We Are in a Book, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great and Pete the Cat and his Four Groovy Buttons) , and others are just wonderfully educational (Me…Jane, On a Beam of Light, All the Water in the World, Down, Down Down, and Electric Ben). I expected to like many Caldecott books, but I found that not to always be the case.  Even a few oldies, but goodies are on the list for the sake of pure sentimentality (Goodnight Moon, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Where The Wild Things Are and Ferdinand). I found many illustrators and authors to love and to follow closely as they (hopefully) continue to publish more books in the coming years (Bob Shea, Kevin Henkes, Jon Klassen, Oliver Jeffers, Sarah Stewart, David Smalls and many others).  I even discovered some older books that I would probably never have picked up if it weren’t for my picture book course (Many Moons, The Little House, Swimmy and William’s Doll). Some books were chosen to my Top 50 list simply because the illustrations are so beautiful I want to hang them on my wall as art (Black Dog, Extra Yarn, The Dark, A Good Day, Crossing and Mermaid Queen). 

I purchased several of these books on my list just to have a home copy and others are on my wish list.

Top 50 (in no particular order) 

  1. Possum Magic
  2. Anna Hibiscus’ Song
  3. The Lonely Book
  4. Bear Despair
  5. All The Water in the World
  6. And Tango Makes Three
  7. Jangles
  8. Open This Little Book
  9. Zen Shorts
  10. The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
  11. Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of The Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade
  12. Me…Jane
  13. Mermaid Queen
  14. Down, Down, Down: A Journey to the Bottom of the Sea
  15. On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein
  16. Seven Blind Mice
  17. Sector 7
  18. Electric Ben
  19. A Good Day
  20. Crossing
  21. Tell Me The Day Backwards
  22. Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site
  23. Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great
  24. Dinosaur vs. Bedtime
  25. The Man Who Walked Between The Towers
  26. Many Moons
  27. The Day The Crayons Quit
  28. In Our Mother’s House
  29. Building Our House
  30. William’s Doll
  31. Black Dog
  32. One Cool Friend
  33. Extra Yarn
  34. Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale
  35. Swimmy
  36. Tops & Bottoms
  37. The Dark
  38. Swamp Angel
  39. The Gardener
  40. Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons
  41. Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus
  42. Little Mouse Gets Ready
  43. We Are in a Book
  44. Where the Wild Things Are
  45. Owen
  46. Kitten’s First Full Moon
  47. The Little House: Her Story
  48. The Story of Ferdinand
  49. Goodnight Moon
  50. The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade

9780547199450_3by Melissa Sweet, Houghton Mifflin Books for Children (2011).

Summary: The true story of Tony Sarg, the marionette man that “quite simply, never grew up.” With ingenuity, he created the first large balloons that flew over New York City during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Mixed media collage, bright colors and fascinating details make this book simply amazing to behold.

Uses: Wonderful book for art teachers to use to describe the ingenuity used by a dedicated artist. I also love the mixed media illustration and art — could be used as an example in art class.

Awards: Robert Sibert Medal, NCTE Orbis Pictus

Borrowed this book from the Knoxville Public Library.


Me-Janeby Patrick McDonnell, Little Brown & Co. (2011).

Summary: This is a beautifully illustrated book by Patrick McDonnell (creator of the MUTTS cartoon). Me…Jane tells the life story of Dr. Jane Goodall and how she became so fascinated with chimpanzees. Did you know she had a childhood stuffed monkey friend named Jubilee?

Uses: A wonderful book for the youngest kids to be introduced to non-fiction biographies. Also could introduce a lesson on Chimpanzees or Africa.

Awards: Caldecott Honor Book, Charlotte Zolotow Award Winner,  Horn Book Fanfare Book, NYT Best Illustrated, NYT Notable A New York Times Notable Children’s Book,  Kirkus Reviews Best Book, CCBC 2012 Children’s Choices Book, Parents’ Choice Silver Honor Book.

Borrowed this book from the Knoxville Public Library.


Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11

MoonshotBookSmallby Brian Floca, Richard Jackson Books for Atheneum Books for Young Readers (2009).

Summary: The story of Apollo 11 for the new generation. Beautiful, soft watercolor illustrations and easy to understand language make it a real pleasure to read.  Extra resources for true astronaut fans.

Uses: I would read this book on the anniversary of the moon landing. Also a great one to give to children that are interested in the moon or want to be an astronaut.

Awards: Sibert Honor, NYT Best, Society of Illustrators Silver medal, ALA Notable, Kirkus Best Books, School Library Journal Best Books, Horn Book Fanfare, Smithsonian Notable, Cybil Award Finalist

Borrowed this book from the Knoxville Public Library.

Tikki Tikki Tembo

imagesretold by Arlene Mosel, illustrated by Blair Lent, Henry Holt & Co., (1968).

Summary: A boy named “Tikki tikki tembo-no sa rembo-chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo” (which means “the most wonderful thing in the whole wide world) falls into the well. Because his name is so long, it took a long time for his brother, Chang, to tell others that he had fallen into the well (too many words to get out quickly and he would run out of breath). Because of this incident, Chinese mothers decided it is wise to give little, short, names instead.

Uses: Folktales unit. Also would be interesting to use as handwriting practice (write your name out and compare it on the handout to the long name of Tikki Tikki tembo!)

Awards: Boston Globe Horn Book Award, Starred review by Kirkus, American Library Association Notable Children’s Books

Read this book at the Knoxville Public Library.

A Child’s Calendar

51QEXSAXMYL._SY300_Poems by John Updike, Illustrations by Trina Schart Hyman, Holiday House (1999). (1965 poem copyright).

Summary: A poem and illustration for each month, January through December. Each poem describes things children do during each month.

Uses: Poetry unit, would be wonderful to open each new month in the library by posting a poem on the 1st of each month and reading it aloud.

Awards: 2000 Caldecott Honor.

Read this book in the Knoxville Public Library.