My daughter has been requesting chapter books more and more often at bedtime of late – but here are three picture books we enjoyed recently.
Have You Seen My Dragon? By Steve Light. Candlewick Press, 2014.
A little boy looks for his dragon in New York City. Though the dragon is in every picture, the boy finds other things to count instead, going all the way up to twenty. The illustrations are detailed pen and ink on white paper, with just the objects being counted filled in with bright color washes. Maps in the endpapers show the route through the city. The whimsical concept and detailed art made for a book that both my kids enjoyed looking through, and the hide-and-seek element made it one that my pre-reader could enjoy just as much on her own.
Maple & Willow Together by Lori Nichols. Nancy Paulsen Books, 2014.
This sequel to Maple, a Cybils picture book finalist, shows Maple and her little sister Willow now old enough to play together – kind of. Willow certainly wants to play with Maple, but she’s at an age where destroying is much easier than building. Still, the sisters do a lot together, exploring nature, speaking in pig Latin – and lots of fighting. Plus making up when being mad at each other gets too lonely. This manages to be sweet without downplaying the real challenges of living with siblings, good for preschoolers and up.
The princess gown by Linda Leopold Strauss. Houghton Mifflin, 2008.
This came highly recommended by my colleague, Mrs. M., a favorite of both her and her daughter. It’s a meatier story than the previous two, more for the early elementary audience than the preschoolers of the first two books. Young Hanna watches the princess playing in her private garden with a pet squirrel. She then races home to her family, where her father is putting the final touches on a masterpiece – a wedding gown for the princess, if it wins the dress competition. All the Abraham family’s funds have been sunk into this dress, in hopes of winning the coveted title of Embroiderers to the Queen. But as Hanna goes to put the last stitch into the gown that every family member has helped with, she notices a black smudge right on the front. Is there a way to save the dress and her family’s business? Based on a scrap of the author’s family history, this is a beautiful story with (I think) casual diversity, as the Abraham family appears to be Jewish, though it’s never explicitly mentioned. The gorgeous pictures give a background to the beautiful dresses so many girls love.