Happy New Year! Before the new year rang in, I visited a few bookshops for the first time. One being Everyone’s Books in Brattleboro, VT. Fulfilling first time trip. Lovely, and mindful staff. Divinely engaging Children’s section. As always, it was a joy to come across so many titles that I had never heard of before. Bought a bunch.
1. The Black Book of Colors, written by Menena Cottin, illustrated by Rosana Faría, is a book dedicated to colors, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at it.
Upon opening the book, I read on the left-hand side, “Thomas says that yellow tastes like mustard, but is as soft as a baby chick’s feathers.” On the right-hand page I feel the feathers. I don’t see them. No yellow to see. Only yellow to feel. Don’t envision a baby board book. There’s no fluffy fuzzy chicky fur to feel. It’s a black page with raised, tactile feathers.
But wait. There’s something else I’ve missed. Back on the left-hand side, above the written words, I see the same sentence in Braille. I feel it. I smile. My mind brings me back to my elementary school, Happy Hollow , in Wayland, Massachusetts. When I was in fourth grade, we were privileged enough to participate in the Just Like Me program. The program was my first introduction to Braille. I remember the program like it was yesterday; it was that effective. It was that educational. I gained significant respect for people who have different physical challenges than me, and it also diminished fear and confusion I may have had over people who communicate differently. I often try to emulate those experiences for my own students now. And I can’t wait to offer this book to my students to appreciate.
“But black is the king of all the colors. It is as soft as silk when his mother hugs him.”
Kudos to the author for including such a powerful line of text.
Pluses & Minuses:
(+) The alphabet in Braille, is provided at the end of the book.
(-) There are no page numbers. Page numbers are a desired attribute for avid referencers, like myself.
2. I, Too, Am America by Langston Hughes, illustrated by Bryan Collier, is a gem of a book, and a must-have for all elementary classrooms. All.
As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, Langston’s work is already a staple in my classroom. Yet, his words never grow dull in the hearts of my young students.
I look forward to sharing this book with a fellow teacher whom, I humbly admit, I often bump heads with. We are different, her and I. She teaches. I educate.*
“They send me to eat in the kitchen/ When company comes/But I laugh/And eat well/And grow strong.” – Hughes
The illustrator wrote a poignant introduction to this story. I won’t quote it in its entirety, but I will quote the historic facts he wrote.
“I fully acknowledge and appreciate the long hours, timeless dedication, and amazing dignity of the Pullman porters, African-American men who worked as caretakers to wealthy white passengers aboard luxury trains. This practice began after legal slavery ended.” – Bryan Collier
3. You Are Healthy by Todd Snow, illustrated by Melodee Strong.
It’s not exactly a story with a beginning, middle, and end. No character development either. But as a picture book, its simplicity, beauty and accuracy make for an engaging and educational read.
4. Tales Told in Tents: Stories from Central Asia by Sally Pomme Clayton, illustrated by Sophie Hexheimer.
I don’t know about you, but I didn’t even know the countries in Central Asia existed when I was a child. This book of riddles, and storyteller tales, comes from the countries of Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tadjikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
The book comes complete with a glossary, and a map of Central Asia that illustrates each country and region’s major form of industry and trade.
5. Jonathan Green Coloring Book.
Yesss. Yes. Includes over 20 reprintable coloring pages of Jonathan Green’s famous paintings. Jonathan Green is an American painter and is part of the Gullah community.
6. Buddhist Painting Coloring Book.
Practice understanding architecture, my kiddies. Practice well. Have an airial view. You deserve it. Says I.
7. History of the Civil Rights Movement Coloring Book by Steven James Petruccio.
We’re still working on this busing business though. I’m curious to know what questions my students may ask about this picture, when coloring it. I don’t know how to progressively, and effectively, answer them yet.
Everyone’s Bookstore has the BEST teacher discount that I have ever come upon. 25% discount, plus tax exempt.
I look forward to visiting this bookstore again.
* This post is an edited version.
Thank you for reading The Picture Book Pusher.