What better book for April Showers than The Rain Stomper?! Jazmin is so excited for the first day of Spring and the big neighborhood parade that she has organized. Sadly when she wakes up in the morning,instead of the tat-a-tat of drums, she hears the boom walla boom boom of thunder. It is quite literally raining on her parade. She gets out her frustration by heading outside and stomp, stomp, stomping that rain. Soon she is joined by other neighborhood children and leads a new parade of puddle stompers. This is, so far, muralist Addie Boswell’s only children’s book, but I hope there will be more. Eric Velazquez’s vibrant illustrations contrast the colorful life of children with the grey dreariness of a rainy day perfectly.
Kids are so often firefighter obsessed and I was thrilled to find this female-centric firefighting tale when Frances was a baby. We check it out of library on a regular basis! Dianne Ochiltree subtitles this book “The Legend of Molly Williams, America’s First Female Firefighter.” Molly Williams was a real person – the African-American servant of one of the volunteer firefighters with New York City’s Fire Company Number 11. Ochiltree did extensive research for this book, and this story is the one often told about Molly – how when, in the early 1800s, there was a fire call during a snowstorm & flu epidemic, Molly joined the male volunteers with the company to fight the fire. There is so much awesomeness in this book – a look at how fires were fought 200 years ago, a strong woman to cheer for, and a portrayal of an African-American woman during the early days of our country who was not a slave. Pick this one up!
First published in 1939, The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes was a staple of my childhood and I’m working to make it a staple of Frances’. Sometimes when you reread books from your childhood, it’s this horrifying experience in which you realize how racist/sexist/awful the book actually is, but I’m here to tell you that The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes is the opposite. It is more right on than you remember! A little country girl bunny dreams of growing up to be one of the five Easter bunnies, but the big white bunnies who live in fine houses and the long-legged Jack Rabbits all laugh at her. Sure enough, she grows up, gets married, has 21 babies (surprise!) and thinks her Easter bunny dreams will never cover true. But when one of the Easter bunnies retires, she takes her children to watch the younger, larger male bunnies compete. Pretty soon, the Country Bunny has proven to Grandfather Rabbit that she is wise, kind, fast and clever – just what he needs in an Easter Bunny. Not only is this a girl-power kind of tale, but it’s one of the only picture books I can think of that not only features, but totally celebrates a working mother.
One of our favorite, almost wordless books (the only words that appear in the book are: Ah Ha! Aahh! and Ha Ha!). Jeff Mack both writes and illustrates this fun tale of a frog who only wants to relax and its narrow escape from a kid, turtle, alligator, and flamingo. Kids will be amused by how the frog outsmarts them all in the end! The kid in the book is drawn in a gender neutral way and could be read as a boy or a girl depending on what sort of protagonist you are looking for in your house. Warning: this books lends itself to loud, excited reading!
In this lovely story by Cynthia Leitich Smith, Jenna, a Muscogee (Creek)/Ojibway (Chippewa/Anishinabe) girl in Oklahoma wants to dance at the upcoming powwow like her grandmother. To do so, she needs a jingle dress – but there isn’t enough time to order the tins to make the jingles. Luckily through the power of community, Jenna is able gather enough jingles for her dress. The warm watercolor illustrations of Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu are gorgeous and bring beautiful life to the wonderful relationship Jenna has with the important adult women in her life.
Once upon a time, on the island of music, there was a girl who loved to drum, but only boys were allowed to become drummers. A lyrical, lushly illustrated book inspired by Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, the Chinese-African-Cuban girl who broke Cuba’s taboo on against female drummers. Margarita Engle is a Cuban-American poet and her words shine in Drum Dream Girl. Rafael Lopez won the Pura Belpré Medal for his beautiful illustrations in this book. Such a delightful read!
An introduction to the five senses, Rachel Isadora’s I Hear a Pickle (and Smell, See, Touch & Taste It, Too!) talks about all the things we do (and don’t) hear, see, smell, touch, and taste. We don’t hear a worm, for example, but we do smell stinky cheese! Simple and cute, and a repeat request – mostly during playtime as Frances likes to eat a pickle (or two) while reading. Cute illustrations – and in the tasting section, there is a little girl with a peanut butter allergy (she tastes a jelly sandwich), in case that’s representation you were looking for!