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A picture book potpurri


Staff member
Feb 16, 2024
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Everyone Gets a Turn by Marianne Dubuc (Princeton Architectural Press, 60 pages, ages 4-9). When friends Bear, Mouse, Turtle, and Hare discover an egg, each one wants to take it home. The egg provides the answer: “Everyone gets a turn!” Mouse found the egg, so he brings it home first, getting to know the egg and learning how to keep it comfortable. Next is Bear, who gets a surprise: the egg hatches, and Little Bird arrives. Hare and Turtle figure out how to feed and care for a young bird, and by the time the visit with Turtle ends, Little Bird has built her own home and is ready to take care of herself. There’s a housewarming party, at which time Little Bird declares she will henceforth be known as Clara, and the five friends and neighbors “continue to grow, each in their own way.” The story could hardly be any cozier or more heartwarming, and the longer page count and graphic novel format will make it appealing to older readers as well as younger kids. I’d love to know the story of how this came to be published by the Princeton Architectural Press.

The Bicycle: How an Act of Kindness Changed a Young Refugee’s Life by Patricia McCormick and Mevan Babakar, illustrated by Yas Imamura (Balzer + Bray, 40 pages, grades 1-4). Mevan tells the story of her childhood, beginning with idyllic early years surrounded by family in Kurdistan. When the Iraqi government begins persecuting the Kurdish people, Mevan and her family are forced to flee, first to Turkey, then to Russia, and finally to the Netherlands. Mevan learns to make herself as invisible as she can. In the Netherlands, she watches people outside her window riding bicycles, but she rarely leaves the apartment herself. It feels like no one sees her, but it turns out that Egbert, the building’s handyman, has noticed her, and one day he brings her a red bicycle. His gift makes Mevan feel “a hundred feet tall,” and before long, she’s outside riding with the rest of her neighbors. An epilogue describes the miraculous reunion she had with Egbert as an adult, including a photo of the two of them, and an author’s note describes her life as a refugee, how it has made her feel like an outsider, and the miraculous power of kindness. This is a touching if bittersweet memoir with an emphasis on the power of one person’s kindness to make a difference. I like how the epilogue ends, describing the ripple effect of her story of finding Egbert: “In a world where there are many people running from war, from hunger, from hatred, people everywhere, of every age, asked themselves: What’s one kind thing I can do?”

The Elephant and the Sea by Ed Vere (Doubleday Books for Young Readers, 32 pages, ages 4-8). Gabriel is an old elephant when we meet him on the first page, sitting in the harbor and remembering his younger days. Back then, he loved to visit the lifeboat crew and dreamed of helping sailors at sea, singing “Heave away, haul away, heave-HO!” But then Gabriel grows…and grows, and the other animals say he’s too big for the lifeboat. He refuses to give up his dream, though, and spends his days collecting driftwood and building. When a storm hits that’s too strong for the lifeboat crew, Gabriel is ready with his own boat that he uses to haul in the entire fleet. “Brave Gabriel, our hero!” the animals hail him. “Can we join you?” “Of course,” Gabriel replies. “But we might need a bigger boat.” And Gabriel enjoys a career of lifesaving, bringing us back to the old elephant remembering. It’s a cute story with a nice theme of perseverance and determination, with a fun “Heave away” repeating refrain. This would make a nice companion to read with Swashby and the Sea.
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