It’s too bad my son is no longer interested in picture books – I would have loved to read Sunny by Celia Krampien over and over again.

Krampien is the author and illustrator of the picture book that came out earlier this month ($24.50, Raincoast Books, Roaring Brook Press).

Sunny is a little girl who finds the joy in the every day – trudging to school in the rain is made better by the fact she can use her big, yellow umbrella. When a gust of wind picks her and that umbrella up, she finds the joy of soaring like a bird. Sunny’s day gets progressively more interesting – landing in the a little boat in stormy sea with white-capped waves, being stranded on a rock by a giant wave, being late for school – but Sunny, who does shed a tear – she is a child after-all – she remembers to look at the world in a different way.

I love the moral of this story and it is one I always tried to teach my son: things may not turn out the way you wanted them to, but you need to find the joy of the situation. The illustrations are wonderful as well. Despite story skies, Sunny is a burst of, well, sunshine.

Read my Q&A with Krampien here.

Front cover image of a black little girl surrounded by pigeons
Be warned – Don’t Feed the Coos

Don’t Feed the Coos

Don’t Feed the Coos by Jonathan Stutzman ($24.50, Raincoast Book, Henry Holt & Co) is a funny look at what happens when a little girl doesn’t heed the advice of not feeding the pigeons. She falls for their cuteness and finds that once you feed them, you can’t get rid of them no matter what you do. And when they come into your house, they eat and eat and eat and poo and poo and poo. The little girls needs to embrace her knew coos as there is nothing she can do until she does.

The coos are certainly cute and the book is funny. I particularly like the coo poos everywhere, glowing in the dark – funny and disgusting.

Front cover image of a grandmother with granddaughter exploring nature
Great book, sad that it needs to be written.

The Keeper of Wild Words

I first thought The Keeper of Wild Words by Brooke Smith (March 10, $26.99, Raincoast Books, Chronicle Books) was about a grandmother with dementia, who was forgetting the names of wild words such as brook, porcupine and willow trees. It wasn’t until I read the back of the book to learn what the author wrote this story.

“The Oxford Junior Dictionary removed more than 100 natural words from its pages. They no longer felt these words had relevance for today’s children. They were replaced by words such as” Cautionary tale; chatroom; MP3 player and vandalism. “At first I was angry, then disillusioned, and ultimately very sad…I decided to write a book where some of these lost wild words would be celebrated and recognized beyond the pages of the dictionary….”

The author then suggests readers can be a keeper of words, too, by placing their words in the envelop in the back.

I have to agree with the author that removing wild words seems exceptionally sad. If words such as buttercups and monarchs aren’t relevant, it’s up to parents to make sure they become so again.

In this story, a grandmother asks her granddaughter, Mimi, to help her. Her favourite words, she said, are disappearing and she needs to ensure they aren’t forgotten.

“Words disappear if we don’t share them when we talk. If we don’t write them in our stories. If we don’t read them in our books. If we don’t’ use words, they can be forgotten.”

The pair spend the afternoon hearing and feeling the wild words so Mimi will always remember them.

What a beautiful story with a great lesson. I hope children will always feel nature is relevant.

Front cover image of two women and a white poodle in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
Not my favourite book, but the subject matter didn’t appeal to me either.

A Portrait in Poems The Storied Life of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas

Based on this picture/chapter book by Evie Robillard ($19.99, Kids Can Press (there are chapters, but they are short, just bits of information highlighting the art), I am certain Gertrude Stein wouldn’t have invited me back to her Paris home to have tea, eat cake and look at her collection of now priceless art. She and I likely wouldn’t have seen eye to eye – she seemed to be quite full of herself, proven, to me, by the fact she wrote a biography about her life partner – called The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas – but really just wrote her life story. Who does that?

The examples Robillard uses of Stein’s work aren’t my favourite either. I disagree with the comment the author makes about Stein making up her own rules of grammar and punctuation and suggesting, that, as a grown-up, you get to do that. Not completely true. I also can’t respect Stein due to the company she kept. According to the author’s note, “a few of these friends were people we would not admire today”, Nazi collaborators who may have kept Stein’s collections of paintings safe. I would hazard a guess, it also helped keep her safe.

I realize many people think Stein is worthy of a book. I would disagree, at least based on the information shared in this book. I do give Robillard credit, however, for not sugar-coating Stein’s life and the type of person she seemed to be.

A copy of these books were provided by Raincoast Books and Kids Can Press
for an honest review. The opinions are my own.