My sweet little girl is home sick today, with Daddy and Brother. Before I left for work, the two children were curled up on the sofa together, with Brother doing his very best dramatic reading of The Last King of Ankor Wat for her. Here are three more picture books she’s enjoyed recently.
Noodle Magic by Roseanne Greenfield Thong. Illustrated by Meilo So. Orchard Books, 2014.
I put this title on hold as soon as I saw it come into the library because noodles! My daughter would eat noodles every day if we would let her, and I knew she would love a story of magical noodles. The Chinese setting is a bonus. Young Mei loves to help her Grandfather Tu in his noodle shop. But when it’s time to make the special long-life noodles for the Emperor’s birthday, he says it’s Mei’s turn to do in. She’s not quite sure he’s right that she has the magic she needs to do it already, and asks the Moon Goddess for help. The watercolor illustrations are both beautiful and full of humor, while the text has some fun repeated onomatopoeias that make it work well for reading aloud. A whimsical cat and rooster made of magical curling noodles appear in almost every picture, which led us to pick this book for my daughter’s kindergarten book project. Our noodles didn’t want to twirl around as much as the ones in the pictures, but we had fun making cats out of spaghetti noodles and gluing them to a moonlit watercolor landscape! This is an entertaining story of finding your own strength, with lots of appeal for young noodle lovers!
Norman, Speak! by Caroline Adderson & Qin Leng. Groundwood Books, 2014.
Watercolor and ink illustrations give this modern American story a traditional Chinese feeling. A boy and his parents adopt the saddest-looking dog they can find at the shelter, and fall in love with his enthusiasm and affection. When Norman doesn’t learn to follow the boy’s commands, he decides that Norman just isn’t very smart, but he loves him anyway. Then one day in the park, they accidentally learn that Norman understands Chinese! Once they start trying to learn Chinese themselves, so they can talk to him, they find new respect for Norman’s intelligence – but that still isn’t why they love him. It took my daughter a while to let me read her this book, but she loved it once she did, and insisted I read it to her class. There, I was very lucky that there was a Chinese-American girl in the class to help me with the Chinese phrases in the book. I’m not sure that a Chinese-language dog counts as a diverse protagonist, but it’s a heartwarming book with a valuable, not-preachy lesson on the challenges of learning a new language and the really important things of life.
Is There a Dog in This Book by Viviane Schwarz. Candlewick Press, 2014.
Tiny, Moonpie and Andre from There Are Cats in This Book and There Are No Cats in This Book are back! But there seems to be an intruder in their book/house – and who would want a rambunctious dog around? As before, the cats beg the reader for help lifting flaps and turning pages to help find the stranger and keep the cats safe. This is more silly, interactive fun, with a gentle message on getting to know people before passing judgment. It’s maybe not as wildly creative as the first two in the series, but was still very popular both at my house and in my daughter’s K/1 class.