I was honoured to receive a number of picture books this month that are either based on true stories or offer a real glimpse into what life is like whether in space or a small Filipino fishing village.
To Burp or Not To Burp A Guide to Your Body in Space
Space fascinates me. My interest was really piqued when Canadian Chris Hadfield was commander of the International Space Station (ISS), and I couldn’t get enough of his pictures and videos about what it was like to live in space.
In his book To Burp or Not To Burp A Guide to Your Body in Space ($14.95, Annick Press), physician and astronaut Dr. Dave Williams answers a number questions about what you have to do while living off-planet.
The book has a mix of cartoon and real photos and little bits of information including why one should pick their nose in space, where liquid and solid wastes go and why burping is risky.
A Voyage I the Clouds The (Mostly) True Story of the First International Flight by Balloon
When I opened A Voyage I the Clouds The (Mostly) True Story of the First International Flight by Balloon in 1785 by Matthew Olshan ($24.99, Raincoast Books, Farrar Straus Giroux), my eight year old told me he wasn’t interested in reading it. I can’t say I blame him; the illustrations have an old look about them and there was a lot of text on each page.
I thought the story, and the way the story was told, quite interesting. I laughed at a few parts, particularly when Monsieur Blanchard lined his vest with lead to ensure his partner, Dr. Jeffries, wouldn’t be able to join him on the balloon ride. I also enjoyed how the pair had to lesson the load, and the subsequent unloading. Ha, ha. The author’s note at the end was quite interesting as well.
Hand Over Hand
Hand Over Hand by Alma Fullerton ($16.95, Second Story Press) is a story about a little girl named Nina who always asks to go fishing with her grandfather. He grandfather always says a boat is no place for a girl, and refuses to let her go. One day, however, her grandfather tells he she can go with him. Nina is determined to show everyone in her Filipino fishing village that she deserves a chance to go fishing just like everyone else.
The story was lovely. I was anxious for Nina to catch a fish, and was impressed by her patience – particularly as her grandfather was catching fish, hand over hand, while her line remained frustratingly empty.
I don’t particularly like these types of stories for my eight-year-old son, and usually avoid reading them to him. While he understands that people in various parts of the world have very different – and more difficult – lives then we do, until I read this story, I hadn’t told him that some people – even today – believe girls are different then boys and believe we are limited in what we can do. Everyone is equal in his eye, and I want to keep the fact that some people think others are less important or valuable based on something as ridiculous as gender or skin colour from him for as long as possible.
The Ultimate Book of Space
My son received The Ultimate Book of Cities, and he loved it. His reaction to the book was absolutely wonderful. We were then sent The Ultimate Book of Space by Annie-Sophie Baumann (&27.99, Twirl, Raincoast Books), and he immediately turned to the back to see what was going to pop off the page. He was disappointed. However, his face literally lit up when he flipped to the centre of the book and the Earth popped up to reveal what it looked like from space. He spent lots of time lifting flaps to reveal more information, pulling tabs to show the landing on the moon and spinning wheels to see an astronaut spin around in a multiaxila chair. Great information in an interactive book. My only complaint – the book is too tall for the bookshelf.
The Wolves Return, A new Beginning for Yellowstone National Park
The Wolves Return, A new Beginning for Yellowstone National Park by Celia Godkin ($19.95, Pajama Press) is a beautiful book about what happens to the park when wolves are reintroduced. It was fascinating to read about how much the area changed, both in diversity of the creatures that began to call the park home to the health of the animals that always lived there.
This is How We Do It, One Day in the Lives of Seven Kids from Around the World
This is How We Do It, One Day in the Lives of Seven Kids from Around the World by Matt Lamothe ($24.99, Chronicle Kids, Raincoast Books. Note: this book is due to release in May) is a really cool book about what real children – pictures of them and their families are at the back of the book – from Peru, Italy, Russia, Uganda, Iran, India and Japan do each day from what they wear to school to what they eat for breakfast and what time they eat dinner at night. Despite how much information is in the book (with a fabulous glossary of terms at the back), my eight year old was interested from start to finish. My complaint – again, the book is too tall and won’t fit standing up on his bookshelf.
When Jackie Saved Grand Central, The True Story of Jacqueline Kennedy’s Fight for an American Icon
I didn’t even attempt to read When Jackie Saved Grand Central, The True Story of Jacqueline Kennedy’s Fight for an American Icon by Natasha Wing (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Raincoast Books) to my eight year old. I didn’t think he would be interested in the history of New York’s Grand Central Station, but I was. I thought the story was really interesting. I loved the illustrations (and the font). As a history lover, particularly of old buildings, I am glad people stood up to save such an amazing building, and it saddens me we are so willing to destroy our heritage.
Where Will I Live
Where Will I Live by Rosemary McCarney ($19.95, Second Story Press) is part of a series of similar books including Because I am a Girl: I can Change the World and The Way to School. In this book, each page shows a child or children trying to find a safe place to live after being displaced. There is a picture of two children following men carrying toddlers past the feet of soldiers in Jordan and a smiling person living under a carpet in South Sudan. I find this story particularly sad. I can’t imagine having to explain to my child that we have to leave his toys behind and live in a bunch of tents waiting for a new, safe place to call home.