The U.S.-Mexico border isn’t open, but a migrant surge and a mishmash of messages and policies have created another crisis
Culture Children's Books
The Love Letter by Anika Aldamuy Denise: A hedgehog, bunny, and squirrel each in turn stumble upon a love letter. Thinking it was intended for them, each animal feels uniquely affirmed, and they spread their good cheer to others around them. The question of who the letter came from leads to a wonderful mix-up, uniting the animals and their separate vignettes, but the answer is not what they expected. This lighthearted story echoes the proverbial truth that “kind words are like honey” and the sweetness often spills over to others. Set in early winter, the book’s charming characters and soft-hued illustrations make for a delightful read-aloud. (Ages 4-8)
The Tale of the Tiger Slippers by Jan Brett: Throughout years of toiling and eventual wealth, a Bengal tiger wears a pair of slippers his mother stitched for him. When his friends mock him for wearing the old, raggedy slippers, he tries to get rid of them, but they always make their way back to him. So he builds a special fountain in the garden to house the slippers and serve as a reminder of his mother’s care and of his humble beginnings. Brett’s retelling of the Persian folktale is visually stimulating with her signature paneled style and vibrant illustrations portraying elegantly clad animals and lush vegetation. (Ages 4-8)
Birdsong by Julie Flett: Katherena and her mother move from family, friends, and a “city by the sea” to a rural home with one neighbor, an elderly woman named Agnes. As the seasons change, Katherena befriends Agnes, sharing Cree words with her and an appreciation for nature and art. She picks up drawing again for the first time since the move. When Agnes’ health fails, Katherena sweetens her final bedridden days and realizes how enriched her life has been because of their friendship. Flett incorporates her own Cree-Metis heritage and signature minimalistic illustrations, giving this book a unique quality. Its message of intergenerational relationship and shared passions provides enduring value. (Ages 4-8)
Love and the Rocking Chair by Leo and Diane Dillon: An expectant couple buys a rocking chair for their nursery. It is used to cradle a new baby and then for reading and playtime. The rocker is forgotten as the boy grows up and heads to college and his father becomes ill and dies. But when he marries, he and his wife move in with his mother, and the rocker is put to use for a new generation. The couple’s little girl hopes one day she will rock her own children in the chair. The Dillons, an award-winning author/illustrator duo, tell this story of intergenerational love in their final collaboration before Leo’s death in 2012. (Ages 3-5)
In Finding Narnia (Roaring Brook Press, 2019), Caroline McAlister tells how the Lewis brothers’ experiences and connectedness provide the underpinnings for the classic series. The book follows Jack and his older brother Warnie from childhood to later life, highlighting Narnian influences such as the hand-carved wardrobe in their home, the lamp post, and their imaginary world called Boxen. The book assumes its readers are familiar with the Narnia series, and fans will not want to miss the endnotes that fill in details from the brothers’ lives and work.
In On Wings of Words (Chronicle Books, 2020), Jennifer Berne gives young readers a biographical introduction to Emily Dickinson. As a child Emily relished the smallest details of nature, adored time with her brother and a small group of friends, and cherished books, which were a “sea of words” that fed her imagination and spilled into her poetry. Berne scatters Dickinson’s lines and stanzas throughout the book while delicate, surrealist-styled illustrations capture Dickinson’s imaginative inner life.