I read some beautiful picture books this month and some cute ones, too. The books celebrate Halloween, fall, Remembrance Day, children and even Easter.

Wolfboy

I loved Wolfboy. It’s dark and creepy and a bit suspenseful. Wolfboy is hungry and he demands the rabbits come out immediately. When they don’t, he splashes and stomps across the forest, getting more huffy and more drooly until the rabbits finally appear.

Andy Harkness created Wolfboy in plasticine uses dark backgrounds for just the right amount of spookiness. Although Wolfboy doesn’t notice, there is in fact a rabbit at every place he is at so it will be fun to spot what WolfBoy doesn’t.

I feel the same way as Wolfboy – and Harkness himself – and I loved the way this story is told to show it. WolfBoy  is $23.49 and is from Bloomsbury Children’s Books and Raincoast Books.

A Bear in War

Based on the true story, A Bear in War is told through Teddy, a stuffed bear who belonged to Aileen, a young girl who lived with her parents and brother in Quebec during the First World War. Teddy goes everywhere with Aileen, who we discover had polio and wears a brace on her leg, and can’t run and jump like other children.

One day, Aileen’s dad comes to tell her that he is going off to Europe to help other soldiers in the war. As Christmas comes and their dad is still on the frontlines, Aileen sends him a care package with Teddy inside to remind him of home and to keep him safe. After a long voyage, Teddy arrives and Lt. Lawrence Browning Rogers puts him in his pocket where Teddy sees the man save lots of soldiers as a medic. Lt. Rogers is killed at the battle of Passchendaele. Teddy, eventually gets sent home along with Lt. Rogers’ uniform and medal. Teddy now resides in the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa.

A Bear in War is written by Lt. Rogers’ great-granddaughter Stephanie Innes as well as Harry Endrulat and was illustrated by Brian Deines. It is from Pajama Press ($16.95).

A Bear in War is such a beautiful story, and sad at the same time. We learn through Teddy what life was like during the war both at home and abroad. The illustrations are beautiful and I like the added real photographs and information provided about the family and Teddy.

A Year of Borrowed Men

A Year of Borrowed Men is also a true story, but this time based in the Second World War in Germany when the men in Gerda’s family are sent to war and in exchange, French prisoners of war are staying with them to work the farm.

I am not sure why I didn’t realize this would of course happened during the war. In the book, we learn it was hard for Gerda to understand why the men had to stay in the pig kitchen and not come inside the house where it was warm. She could also not understand why it was forbidden to allow them in the house and join their family for a meal, although they did it once and neighbours called the village policeman, taking away her mother and threatening her with prison if she did it again.

A Year of Borrowed Men is by Michelle Barker and whose story celebrates her mother’s early memories of living in Germany during the war.

It’s another beautiful book, both in words and illustrations by Renne Benoit and published by Pajama Press.  It retails for $21.95.

The Leaf Thief

Squirrel is distraught. And panicked. Someone has stolen the leaf right from his tree. He accuses mouse who happens to be floating by on a leave that looks just like the one that was on his tree the night before. Thankfully, Bird is there reminding him that no forest creature is stealing his leaves, instead, it’s just fall and the wind is taking the leaves off the tree. Squirrel finally gets it when something happens that tests Bird’s patience once again.

I like this book by Alice Hemming. It’s fun. It is explains the seasons. I love the illustrations by Nicola Slater including the look of sheer panic on Squirrel’s face and Bird trying to remain patient when, in fact, if he had arms he likely would shake Squirrel.

The Leaf Thief is $24.99 and is from Sourcebooks and Raincoast Books.

The Library Bus

The Library Bus is another beautiful book from Pajama Press.

In this book we meet Pari who, for the first time, is her mama’s library helper on the Library Bus, which rolls through villages and refugee camps in Kabul. Along the way, children, mainly girls, return books they borrowed and get new ones and practise their English with Pari’s mama, learning their ABCs and numbers.

We learn that when mama was a girl, she wasn’t allowed to go to school and her father taught her. She hid in the basement to study. Unlike the other children Pari meets, she will be going to school in the city the following year. School, education and learning means freedom for Pari.

In his author’s note, Bahram Rahman said he grew up in Afghanistan during the civil war and the Taliban regime. He said his childhood was OK because people who grow up in war don’t know peace. He said the book was inspired  by children he met during visits to refugee camps and orphanages in Kabul.

“They are the real heroes of Afghanistan. I thank each and every one of them from the bottom of my heart.”

The Library Bus is beautifully illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard. It retails for $22.95.

Easter Morning, Easter Sun

Easter Morning, Easter Sun by Rosanna Battigelli and illustrated by Tara Anderson features a family of cats celebrating everything about Easter and its traditions – bonnets and buns, egg hunts and a special guest for a delicious dinner.

The book doesn’t have a story, rather it explains traditions in rhyme: “Easter tumble, Easter run, Easter mishap, Easter Fun!”

Easter Morning, Easter Sun is from Pajama Press and retails for $19.95.

My First How to Catch a Witch

In this rhyming board book by Alice Walstead and with illustrations by Joel and Ashely Selby, a little girl talks about how she wants to catch a witch so she can borrow her broom and catch a star. She suggests the witch can land on her bouncy trampoline and enjoy pink lemonade. But like all magical creatures, the witch can’t be caught and she leaves the little girl a note with a wish for next year.

The book has cute illustrations, although the story isn’t my favourite. Sometimes with rhyming book it feels like the author is trying too hard to find a story line that matches the rhyme. I felt this was one of the those cases.

My First How to Catch a Witch is $11.87 from Sourcebooks and Raincoast Books.

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