Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Fall Harvest of Picture Books: Sophie's Squash

What’s more perfect for a fall story-time than a squash-centric picture book with charming illustrations?

Sophie’s Squash, written by Pat Zietlow Miller and illustrated in sweetly expressive watercolor by Anne Wilsdorf (Published by Schwartz & Wade in 2013), fits the bill.

Here’s the gist: Mom buys a pear-shaped squash at the farmer’s market, intending to cook it for dinner. Young Sophie takes a marker and draws on a face. After Sophie names the squash Bernice, mom says, “I’ll call for a pizza.”

There’s gentle humor and loads of warmth in first-time author Miller’s text. Themes range from unlikely friendships (girl meets squash), to the life cycle (Bernice doesn’t stay nice and firm forever), to harvest and planting times.

Don’t be surprised if the kids at your story-time want to immediately plant squash seeds—but tell them it’s better to wait until spring.

Coming Next Week: More Picture Books about Veggies!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Fall Harvest of Picture Books: Bugs in My Hair!

It’s fall. Leaves are turning. Farmers are gathering their last harvests. And kids are going back to school…

…which, of course, also means that the lice are back.

If you’ve ever struggled with a  lice outbreak, you’re going to love David Shannon’s new picture book Bugs in My Hair! 

The story is shorter (and thus more accessible) than his recent picture storybook Jangles: A BIG Fish Story. The artwork is less chaotic yet just as entertaining as that in Shannon’s classic No, David!

Shannon excels at portraying the lice in the young narrator’s hair. Their facial expressions are priceless.

What the lice are doing when they're not sucking your blood.
I almost felt some sympathy for the nasty little critters, until Mom pulled out her “battle-tested anti-lice weapons” and set to work.

If you go looking for Shannon’s book, be aware that Catherine Stier has written another book with nearly the same title. Her Bugs in My Hair?!, published by Albert Whitman and Company in 2008, is a very thorough and altogether more serious take on the topic. Illustrator Tammie Lyon has a few cute close-ups of lice, but they don’t quite possess the personality of a David Shannon louse.

Coming next week: A harvest of picture books about...veggies!