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PITTMAN PICKS

Pennies in a Jar

 

Author: Dori Chaconas

Illustrator: Ted Lewin

Genre: Picture Book

Publisher: Peachtree Publishers

Publication Year: 2007

 

When a boy's father goes off to fight in World War II, he's confronted with many fears.  But with his father's birthday coming soon, the boy saves money to buy him a gift that his mother will send oversees— a picture of himself overcoming one of his greatest fears: being around horses. 

 

Readers will enjoy the honesty of the central character (whose name we're never given) of Dori Chaconas and Ted Lewin's Pennies in a Jar.  The key statement of the story, If something is important enough, you just have to do it, will encourage children who struggle with fear, and all readers will enjoy how the boy identifies with his father through an act of courage.  Lewin's marvelous illustrations are reminiscent of Norman Rockwell's work, and Chaconas provides an excellent author's note about life for American families from 1939 to 1945. 

 

This is a humble, winsome book that will stick with readers for both its story and its artwork, and for history buffs and those fond of horses, I'm sure it will become an instant favorite!

 

 

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Game Changers

 

Author: Lesa Cline-Ransome

Illustrator: James E. Ransome

Genre: Nonfiction Picture Book

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Publication Year: 2018

 

Many picture books in my collection are nonfiction books, and I've learned that such books are a great source of information for readers of all ages.  Husband-and-wife team of James E. Ransome and Lesa Cline-Ransome's Game Changers: The Story of Venus and Serena Williams is no exception, providing a biography of the tennis stars that highlights their milestones on the court and their impact off the court.  An informative afterword accompanies the illustrated narrative, and readers and tennis fans young and older will be inspired by the Williams sisters' journey to tennis stardom and the special relationship that they share.  After your child puts down the book, they may next pick up a tennis racket!

 

 

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Thank You, Omu!

 

Author/Illustrator: Oge Mora

Genre: Picture Book

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company

Publication Year: 2018

 

When Omu makes a pot of red stew for her dinner, the delicious smell reaches other people in her neighborhood who come by to get some for themselves!  But when Omu is finally ready to eat, there's no more stew!  Omu is sad, of course, but that's until she hears some knocking at her door…

 

Thank You, Omu! is a story about sharing, and Omu's generosity towards her neighbors is more than rewarded by the end of the book.  Oge Mora's cut-paper artwork adds flavor to the book (pun-intended!), and once you've finished reading, you might be finding recipes and making your own stew to savor with family and friends! 

 

 

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Gator Dad

Author/Illustrator: Brian Lies

Genre: Picture Book

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Publication Year: 2016

 

Brian Lies is one of the best author/illustrators in children's literature, and if you haven't read any of his books, you can begin with this one!  Gator Dad follows a father and his three children as they "squeeze the day" for all the fun they can have together.  Lies has a great talent for capturing emotions in the facial expressions of his characters, and you'll smile as you watch the gator father spend time with his children and bring them joy.  This will NOT be my only pick by Brian Lies!

 

 

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And Then Comes Summer

Author: Tom Brenner

Illustrator: Jaime Kim

Genre: Picture Book

Publisher: Candlewick Press

Publication Year: 2017

 

Being a middle school teacher, there's an anticipation that comes for summer vacation as it nears on the calendar, and simply reading the title of the Tom Brenner and Jaime Kim's And Then Comes Summer is enough to put a grin on any student or teacher's face!  And as you read the first line, "When the days stretch out like a slow yawn," you know you're reading a book that gets what it means to relax.

 

And Then Comes Summer is an ode to common ways that American kids spend summer vacation, from finishing up the school year to staying up late, from running after the ice cream truck to watching Fourth of July parades and fireworks.  That grin will remain on your face as you watch the children and families enjoy themselves, giving both younger and older readers ideas on how to enjoy this year's summer vacation and nostalgia for summers past!

 

 

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The Adventures of Sparrowboy

 

Author and Illustrator: Brian Pinkney

Genre: Picture Book

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Publication Year: 1997

 

Henry is a paperboy, and before he goes on his daily route, he reads the comics, specifically the adventures of the superhero Falconman.  And one day, Henry has a curious encounter with a sparrow and becomes Sparrowboy, protector of the kids and critters of Thurber Street!  The Adventures of Sparrowboy is a fun book with a fun hero as its central character, and fans of the superhero genre will find delight in Pinkney's story.  This is an easy pick!

 

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My Papi Has a Motorcycle

 

Author: Isabel Quintero

Illustrator: Zeke Peña

Genre: Picture Book

Publisher: Kokila

Publication Year: 2019

 

The cover of My Papi Has a Motorcycle caught my eye at the 2019 TLA (Texas Library Association) Conference, and after a quick glance inside its pages, I took a picture of it with my phone to be sure I remembered to put it on my list.  And fortunately, I was able to snag a free copy before the conference was over (thanks to a couple of keen-eyed ladies in line with me who knew I wanted the book)!  Quintero's narrative is a celebration of family, culture, and community history, and Peña's illustrations take Daisy (the central character), her father, and the reader on a colorful ride through Daisy's neighborhood and city.  And when they make it back home, your own heart will be thinking of the place (or places) you've called home and the people with whom you've shared it.

 

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Saint George and the Dragon

 

Author: Margaret Hodges

Illustrator: Trina Schart Hyman

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Publication Year: 1984

 

Of all the picture books I read as a child, Margaret Hodges and Trina Schart Hyman's retelling of part of Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene is one that stands out the most.  It was different from other picture books— a page of marvelous illustration followed by a page of text to tell an epic tale of a fierce battle between good and evil, complete with sword and shield and claws and dragon-fire!  Saint George and the Dragon belongs in any collection of good picture books!

 

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Check Back Soon for My First Pick!

I love books, so once a month I'll be sharing a pick for you fellow readers to read enjoy for yourselves!