Illustrated by Doris Barrette
HarperCollins Publishers, 2004
From the dust jacket, “Everyone knows that Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks—the question is, where to begin? From the turkey on the table to warm, cozy cuddles, life is full of small things and bigger pleasures. But what is most important is being able to share them with family!
“Julie Markes reminds kids and adults alike about the little details that make each day enjoyable while Doris Barrette’s beautiful and striking illustrations bring her thoughtful words to life.”
This is one of the more enjoyable Thanksgiving books I’ve read this season. I liked the rhyming story, each page highlighting the little things in life to be thankful for. But I really loved the illustrations. The pictures are quite detailed and lush with color. The predominantly fall colors are a gentle reminder of autumn. My only criticism is that the family are illustrated as being Caucasian. I would like to have seen a family that had different shades of skin color – not just peachy color. But, it is a lovely book, both in word and picture.
Rating: 4 out of 5 paws for beautiful reminders of being thankful every day – not just during the holiday season.
Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
Illustrated by Henry Cole
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2005
From the dust jacket, “In the zoo there are all kinds of animal families. But Tango’s family is not like any of the others.”
This is a true story of 2 male penguins at the Central Park Zoo who became a couple and built a nest for an egg that never came. One of the zookeepers placed an extra fertilized egg in the boy penguin’s empty nest and they each took turns to sit on it and eventually, a female chick, Tango, was hatched.
The penguins in the story are so sweet – they’re like any other animal couple – playing, sleeping and eating together; and, most of all, their inborn desire to have a chick. When I was reading it, my heart hurt a little when Roy and Silo built their little nest and tried to hatch a rock – which of course, didn’t hatch. Thank goodness for attentive zookeepers who care for their charges and want to provide the best for them.
Rating 4 out of 5 paws for cuteness of the penguins, of course, but more importantly, for the honesty and forthrightness with which the story is told. No apologies or excuses, here. Just the facts, ‘mam, just the facts. Two boys can make a family!!
If you want to read about the multiple times this book has been challenged and banned, please scroll past the adorable illustrations!
You can imagine why this book is banned and challenged… The ALA reports that And Tango Makes Three was the most frequently challenged book from 2006 to 2010, except for 2009 when it was the second most frequently challenged…and thank you to the ALA for the following information.
• One of three books about gay couples withdrawn from libraries in Singapore (2014), where gay sex is illegal. In a statement, the National Library Board suggested that gayness and family values are incompatible. And that copies of the book would be pulped. It was announced later that authorities in Singapore reversed their decision and stopped the national library from destroying the children’s books, after its decision in July produced a public outcry over literary censorship. Information Minister Yaacob Ibrahim ordered that the books be moved to the adult section, where parents can borrow them for their children.
• Frequently challenged in the U.S. for the following reasons: anti-family, homosexuality, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, as well as “promotes the homosexual agenda”
• Pulled from the Gibbs Elementary School in Rochester, Minn. (2011) as inappropriate for elementary school students and removed from school library shelves. This decision was later reversed as a mistake for failing to follow district policy. Eventually, a “temporary resolution” was reached requiring that one of the parents who challenged the book be present when their child checks out books from the school media center in the future.
• Challenged, but retained in the North Kansas City, Mo. schools despite a parent’s concern that the book wasn’t age-appropriate, didn’t follow the district’s policy on human sexuality education, and tries to indoctrinate children about homosexuality. In subsequent discussions, the schools appear to be headed towards segregating elementary school libraries according to “age appropriateness.” Students might be restricted to view or check out materials in their own age-class or younger.
• Returned to the general circulation shelves in the 16 elementary school libraries in Loudoun County, Va. despite a complaint about its subject matter.
• Withdrawn from two Bristol, England, U.K., primary schools following objections from parents who claimed the book was unsuitable for children and that they had not been consulted on their opinions.
• Challenged, but retained at the Eli Pinney Elementary School in Dublin, Ohio despite a parent’s concerns that the book “is based on one of those subjects that is best left to be discovered by students at another time or in another place.”
• Challenged in the elementary school library in Ankeny, Iowa by parents who do not want their children to read the story of two male penguin parents in the Central Park Zoo due to concerns that it promotes homosexuality. On Dec. 15, 2008, the Ankeny school board members voted six to one to keep the book.
• Retained in the Chico, Calif. Unified School District, over complaints that the book is inappropriate for elementary school students. The district review committee determined that the book meets library selection standards and district policy.
• Retained by the Calvert County Library in Prince Frederick, MD after requests that the book be removed from the children’s section and shelved in a labeled alternative section.
• Retained in the Meadowview Elementary School in Farmington, Minn. despite a parent’s concern that “a topic such as sexual preference does not belong in a library where it can be obtained by young elementary students.”
• Challenged at the Lodi, Calif. Public Library by a resident deriding what she called its “homosexual story line that has been sugarcoated with cute penguins.”
• Moved from the children’s fiction section to children’s nonfiction at 2 Rolling Hill’s Consolidated Library’s branches in Savannah and St. Joseph, Mo after parents complained of its homosexual undertones.
• Challenged at the Shiloh, Ill Elementary School library. A committee of school employees and a parent suggested the book be moved to a separate shelf, requiring parent permission before checkout. The school’s superintendent, however, rejected the proposal and the book remained on the library shelf.
• Pulled from 4 elementary school libraries in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg, NC area after a few parents and Mecklenburg County Commissioner Bill James questioned the controversial but true story. The books were returned after the local paper questioned the ban. It should be noted that there was no formal request for the book’s removal.
Collins, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2002
From the dust jacket, “’Mog was tired… Mog thought, “I want to sleep forever.” And so she did. But a little bit of her stayed awake to see what would happen next…’
“Judith Kerr’s stories about Mog have delighted children for more than thirty years and sold over three million copies worldwide. In Goodbye Mog, Judith Kerr uses characteristic warmth and humor to create an extra-special book about everyone’s favourite family cat.”
This is one of those books that talks about the death of a family pet in a gentle way. The author reminds the reader that even though the cat (or other pet) is physically gone from our lives, they remain there in spirit. This reminds me of something I read or heard somewhere – that as long as you remember your loved one they are never really dead. I like that at the end of the book, Mog moves on spiritually when his work is finished – as so often happens, when one pet leaves their human a new one comes along, not to replace the first pet, but to help the human heal and move forward in love and peace.
If you, your family, or someone you know has suffered the death of a beloved pet, this sweet picture book is an ideal way to approach the subject and, maybe, begin the healing process.
Rating 4 out of 5 paws; the author tackles a tough subject with absolute gentleness and hope.
From the dust jacket: “In an African village live seven brothers who make family life miserable with their constant fighting. When their father dies, he leaves an unusual will: by sundown the brothers must make gold out of seven spools of colored thread. If they fail, they will be left with no inheritance and turned out as beggars. Using Nguzo Saba, or “seven principles,” of Kwanzaa, Angela Shelf Medearis has written an unforgettable story that demonstrates how family members can pull together, for their own good and the good of the entire community.”
Can you imagine living in a house where there is constant fighting? I know it would drive me crazy and I wouldn’t like it very much. The family in this story, seven brothers fight about everything – from the weather to food portions to farming. It’s a shame that the only reason they stop is because their father died. This is just one of the many lessons the reader can take from this story. Like Jesus’ parables and Aesop’s fables, this tale is one to think about and discuss, not just read and put the book back on the shelf. It is an excellent, yet simply told tale of family and unity.
The print is small and the story is long so it might not be good for early readers. But for the experienced readers they would enjoy reading it to themselves or their younger siblings. The woodcut illustrations are amazing and full of bright colors. They are a definite labor of love.
Publisher’s description: “While celebrating Kwanzaa and its many traditions with her parents, Kayla hopes that her big brother Khari will get home from college before the holiday is over.”
I knew absolutely nothing about this Kwanzaa before I read this book; now I know a lot more! The author explains very simply what Kwanzaa is and why it is celebrated. It is a wonderful holiday centered around the celebration of family and community. And even though the book is about the holiday, the reader can feel the disappointment and hope of Kayla, as she waits for her beloved brother to come home. The text is medium-small so early readers may need help with the book. The illustrations are rich in color and beautifully detailed. Even if you don’t celebrate Kwanzaa, it is always good to learn about someone else’s tradition!