Encouraging imagination and finding happy memories after a loss are themes in these picture and almost chapter books.
It’s Great Being a Dad by Dan Bar-el ($22.99, Tundra Books) is a story of imagination and the great things about being, for example, a unicorn – except when its horn get stuck in a table – or Big Foot, when your foot gets caught in some wood while trying to help your friend. Each creature has its moment to shine, including dad. A very cute book. I particularly liked the Fairy Queen Ballerina Doctor because she is right – she can do everything.
Bertolt by Jacques Goldstyn ($15.95, Publishers Group Canada) is a story about a little boy who plays by himself – and loves it – and his favourite tree, Bertolt, an old oak that doesn’t burst into life in the spring like all the other trees. The boy has a hard time dealing with the death of the tree as it seems so sudden, and then comes up with a way to honour the tree and ensure it lives on. and what the little boy does to ensure it lives on, and not be turned into firework.
Bertolt is a beautiful book about imagination, being true to yourself and finding ways to honour those you love. The end sort of reminds me a Toronto maple tree said to have inspired Maple Leaf Forever song.
Charlie & Mouse Book 1 by Laurel Snyder ($20.99, Chronicle Books) is about two brothers who take their neighbourhood to a party, sell some rocks and invent the bedtime banana. Each story had its own chapter so it felt like three quick reads – particularly important as I made my eight year old read it himself. The second story, Rocks, was my favourite. I particularly enjoyed how the boys came up with a solution to make money, and the illustration of mother’s face at the end. Too funny.
Barkus Book 1 by Patricia MacLachlan ($20.99, Chronicle Books) offers five chapters, each with a different story. Half way through my son reading this book, I suggested the stories were separate and that you could read one without reading the other. My son argued you needed to read them in order, that one went into the other. In the end, he was right. His favourite story is Barkus Finds a Baby, a cute story about how the dog finds, and adopts, a kitten.
Beyond the Next Horizon by Gi Gi Mac ($10.95, Upon A Star Books) is a collection of 10 poems with the goal of encouraging everyone, young and old, to get over a loss by remembering the happy times they had either with the person, pet and object that is now gone. The book touches on moving to a new house, the death of a grandparent, a lost toy and a cherished blanket, among others. One of my favourite poems is Grandpa’s false teeth:
“When I think of my grandpa, I loved him rich or poor.
When he told me stories, I loved him even more.
Now he is gone, and the years did quickly pass.
When I remember most about him is his false teeth in a glass.”
I always find it funny what people remember the most about a person, and what detail stands out the most. I would suspect teeth in a jar, which would be fascinating and disgusting all at the same time, would be a memory that would stay with a child.
Copies of these books were provided for a honest review.