Like many people who read a lot, I have piles of books all over the house. I have a pile by my bed of the three books I am currently reading (The Happiness Project, Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice, Angle of Repose). I have a pile of recently read middle grade books that I need to write a post about (When the Mountain Meets the Moon and The Higher Power of Lucky). And I have a very tall pile of picture books from the library that I need to read. Tonight I decided to tackle the picture book stack, and I'm delighted to write about three of them.
All the World
Written by: Liz Garton Scanlon
Illustrated by: Marla Frazee
Recommended Ages: 3-6
All the World was recently given a Caldecott Honor award, and it is well deserved. Told in lyrical rhyming prose, the book draws you into a day in the life of an interracial family. Starting off at the seashore, the family builds castles and moats on an idyllic beach. They move on to a busy farmer's market with families, young and old, harvesting and selling their wares. As the day moves towards noon, the children migrate to a hilltop with a giant tree where they play high up in the branches, as the grandfather watches below. Soon a storm moves in, sending the family fleeing into a warm and cozy restaurant. Finally as the day draws to a close, the family is shown gathering with cousins and nanas and papas playing music together. It's a warm intergenerational scene, which most of us can only dream about. The last few pages show a town gone dark for the night, and the words read:
"All the world is you and me
Everything you hear, smell, see
All the world is everything
Everything is you and me
Hope and peace and love and trust."
As you might have guessed by now, this is a book to savor with your child for those moments when you just want time to slow down. It celebrates the world and our place in it. All the World is a good book to read aloud before bed, as it has a peaceful, lulling message to it.
The Imaginary Garden
Written by: Andrew Larsen
Illustrated by: Irene Luxbacher
Recommended Ages: 5-8
The Imaginary Garden is a very sweet tale about a girl and her grandfather and the very creative idea they come up with for gardening. When Poppa moves into his new apartment, he and Theo realize that he no longer has room for a garden. Then Theo comes up with the idea of an imaginary garden. Poppa buys a huge blank canvas for his balcony, and they begin their project. Together they sit and plan out what they will have in their new garden. First they paint a brick wall for the eventual vines to grow up on. Then they paint a rich bed of soil. As the garden comes to life, they paint first crocuses, then scilla, and a robin and an earthworm. The garden grows and grows. The illustrations are lush and children will love watching as the garden unfolds before them. Plus, it's done in such a way, that kids may want to try and paint their own imaginary garden.(There's a clever illustration that shows how to paint a bird.) So make sure to have some paints and paper on hand for them to give it a try.
The Curious Garden
Written and Illustrated by: Peter Brown
Recommended Ages: 4-7
The Curious Garden is a story about a little boy named Liam who lives in a gray and dreary city. Unlike the other residents of the city, Liam likes to explore and be outside. During one of his excursions, he discovers a "lonely patch of color" atop a broken down railroad track. As he gets closer he sees some dying plants and realizes they need a gardener. What unfolds is the tale of Liam the gardener nursing the plants back to health. As the plants become strong they grow restless and want to explore, sending their seeds and color throughout the city. Slowly the city is transformed and a nice message is transmitted about taking care of the world. It's not preachy, and Liam, with his shock of red hair, is fun to find on every page. Kids will like the book and may even be inspired to start a little garden of their own.
So there you have it. My picture book pile is three books shorter, and I feel like all three had a special tale to tell. All of these books came out in 2009, and I'm sure you'll find at least one (if not all of them)that will please your pre-schooler.