I read some great picture books this month. Check out my reviews.

The Strangest Thing in the Sea and other Curious Creatures of the Deep

This Kids Can Press book by Rachel Poliquin and Bryon Eggenschwiler is so neat.

You open up to a double page spread where Poliquin describes one of the strange creatures of the deep. Eggenschwiler then draws a whimsical picture of the creature using the descriptions provided by the author. It’s not until you open it up does it reveal what the creature is – both its name, description, fast facts and then an illustration. There was lots of great information provided about creatures that I knew about (the sunfish, so fascinating) as well as those I didn’t, such as the feather star. Regardless of whether I have heard about them or not, I learned more about reading this book – from start to finish in one sitting.

The book retails for $19.99. I interviewed Poliquin. Read that interview here.

A Sky-Blue Bench

This is the second book by Bahram Rahman I have read and is equally as powerful. (Read about The Library Bus here.)

It’s Aria’s first day back to school after her accident and she is worried about sitting on the ground all day with her new prosthetic  ‘helper leg’. As she suspects, it’s painful and she decides she will never go back to school. She soon realizes if she doesn’t go to school, she will never learn how to read and write. Instead, Aria is determined to find a way to solve her problem so she can join her classmates in making life better.

In this author’s note, Rahman talks about how four decades of war in Afghanistan has left a country littered with land mines or unexploded ordnances (UXO), waiting for unsuspecting children. The author remembers being taught in Grade 1 how to differentiate between a toy and a bomb. How awful.

“A Sky-Blue Bench honours the resilience of Afghan children in the face of great personal loss and injury caused by land mines and UXO…She, like many other children in  Afghanistan, confronts life as it is and solves her problems with creativity and hard work. She won’t give up until life is better for her and the people are her.”

Beautiful story, beautiful lessons and beautiful illustrations by Peggy Collins. The book is from Pajama Press and retails for $22.95.

Birds on Wishbone Street

Moe loves birds, climbing trees and hanging out with her neighbours on Wishbone Street who come from all over the world. She is excited to meet the new boy from Syria, but shyness wins over until the children bond over a female cardinal found lying in the snow.

“Sami uses his experience taking care of pigeons in Syria to help rescue the bird, which also helps Sami feel more at home.”

Birds on Wishbone Street is by Suzanne Del Rizzo and Pajama Press. Wishbone Street, said Del Rizzo in her author’s note, is based on a real street in Toronto where her husband grew up.

“Many immigrant families settled there. Just like Moe and Sami, they know we are better together.”

I love the plastercine illustrations in this book, particularly the snowflakes.

The book retails for $22.72.

My Words Flew Away Like Birds

Before moving away from everything a little girl knows and loves, she practised phases she would need  in new country: “Hello, how are you?” “It was Nice to Meet you?” But when she arrives at her new school, her new classmates speak too fast, their words tumbling out and suddenly the little girl’s own words flew away. But that spring, she meets a new friend and, eventually, her words come back.

I can’t imagine moving to a different country and then trying to learn a new language. How scary and frustrating it would be. I like this story because it shows kids that eventually, everything will click – new language, new home and new friends.

My Words Flew Away Like Birds is by Debora Pearson and Shrija Jain and Kids Can Press. It retails for $19.99.

The Girl Who Rode a Shark & Other Stories of Daring Women

In this book by Alisa Ross and illustrated by Amy Blackwell, we learn about women and the amazing things they have done. Each double page spread features a full-page illustration of the woman and the page beside it provides the details about who she is and her journey to get there. There are a different categories including artists, pioneers, scientists, activists, athletes and seekers. The woman come from all over the world and make a difference, not only to their own lives, but often to the world around them as well. We learn about Bolortsetseg Minjin, born in 1973 in Mongolia, who is making dinosaur studies accessibility to everyone. She also helped the U.S. and Mongolian governments return more than 30 stolen dinosaur specimens. Then there is Josephine Baker, a cabaret performer who worked for the French Resistance during the Second World War as a spy and who helped set up a fake passport network to hep Jewish refugees to South America. So many great stories of so many fascinating women.

The Girl Who Rode a Shark is from Pajama Press and retails for $26.

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