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Culture Children's Books

Tell me a story

Children’s Books

Tell me a story

Four recent picture books

Coat of Many Colors 

Dolly Parton

This book captures the pain many children experience when other kids make fun of them. It takes the words of the song and sets them to ink and watercolor illustrations: a mountain house with a broad front porch, scenes of the mother sewing the coat out of bright patchwork fabrics, the daughter proudly wearing her new coat to school, and kids laughing at her. The book ends on a high note: The little girl is at home with her family playing music and dancing. “Now I know we had no money, but I was rich as I could be in my coat of many colors.” (Ages 5 and up)

Lighter than Air: Sophie Blanchard, the First Woman Pilot 

Matthew Clark Smith

A colorful picture book about Sophie Blanchard, who was 5 years old when the first men went up in a hot-air balloon in 1783. Ballooning became a French fad, and Sophie longed to be one of the flyers. She followed and eventually married balloonist Jean-Pierre Blanchard. After he died in 1809 following a heart attack while flying, she carried on the family business, becoming the first woman pilot. Smith tells the story with enough detail to capture the excitement and daring of those early adventurers. The ink and watercolor illustrations capture details of clothing styles and buildings. (Ages 6-9)

Time Now to Dream 

Timothy Knapman

Two children hear soft singing floating from afar. They can’t quite make out the words, so they creep closer … and closer … and closer. All the while Jack worries that it may be the Wicked Wolf. When they get close enough, they realize it is a wolf … a mother wolf singing lullabies to her children. The slightly ominous story resolves quietly with the children in their own cozy bed, remembering the sweet lullaby. The classic Helen Oxenbury illustrations make this pretty picture book feel like a variation on Oxenbury’s own We’re Going on a Bear Hunt. (Ages 3-7)

Poor Louie 

Tony Fucile

This picture book is about the jealousy a sibling feels when a new baby arrives. In this case the doted-on older child is a Chihuahua whose parents’ lives revolve around his happiness, amusingly depicted in cartoonlike illustrations. Then the mother’s friends start having babies, and Louie’s life takes a turn for the worst. When he sees a double stroller at his house, he has visions of two babies—and that’s enough to make him run away until a neighbor finds him and returns him home. The story ends with the new baby and Louie sharing the double stroller. (Ages 3-7)



Two self-published books are worth special mention. The Bridge That Love Built by Amara Bratcher (illustrated by Sallie Dean) describes the sovereign way God brings together an adopted child and her future parents. Through Scripture-laden text and a recurring needle-and-thread motif, the book shows God binding the waiting parents and little one: “We did not get to hold you when you were a baby, but God did. … There was a time before we were yours. You did not know us yet, but God did.”

In Benito to the Rescue author Brooke Welsh writes of a little girl who moves from Peru to Pennsylvania. Teased at school, Gabriela begs her parents for a rescue dog. She chooses Benito—or Blessing—who turns out to be older and sicker than she thought. Gabriela learns that it will take time for her dog to trust her, just as it will take time for her to make friends in her new school. (Grades 1-3) —S.O.