The Stories Julian Tells by Ann Cameron

The Stories Julian Tells by Ann Cameron (originally published 1987) is a clever early chapter book about a boy and his younger brother, along with the crazy stories Julian makes up to explain the world around him.

When seven-year-old Julian does not know the answer to his three-year-old brother Huey’s questions, he makes up stories! For example, he tells his brother that a catalog is a book to order cats from, and they are sent through the mail. His imagination is ripe and the stories crafted in to his adventures are fun for the young reader. In the first chapter, I was concerned when the kids hid from Dad, afraid of the punishment, but the “beating” and “whipping” in store for the pudding-eating boys was just the right kind!

I was delighted to see such a clever and obviously enduring story (it’s almost 30 years old) for the early chapter book crowd. Although my son reads at a high reading level, sometimes he just needs something short and sweet, about a boy just his age. He read this one quickly and found it quite funny. I look forward to checking out the sequels to Julian’s crazy stories as well!

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson is a poetic autobiographical reflection on the author’s childhood. The writing is sparse, written in free verse, and yet each poem packs a punch of emotion. Ms Woodson recalls her earliest of memories (fictionalizing events as necessary). Her early childhood is spent with her grandmother and grandfather in South Carolina and then she moves to live with her mother and step-brother in New York.

Ms Woodson’s poems capture the difficult transitions in life, but they also capture the complicate life that comes from growing up in the 1960s and 1970s in the Jim Crow South. She details her frustrations learning to read (due to probable dyslexia) and her persistent dream to become a writer and record the multitude of stories inside her mind.

Individually, each poem is full of meaning that could be enjoyed as the reader may like. There is more than meets the eye in these apparently simple poems. As a whole, the book is satisfying and complete: a story of a girl who lived and dreamed and became.

School Days Around the World by Margriet Ruurs

School Days Around the World by Margriet Ruur and illustrated by Alice Feagan (Kids Can Press, 2015) captures Malala’s vision in the epigram at the beginning: “I don’t mind if I have to sit on the floor at school. All I want is education.” In the cut-paper collage illustrations, the stories of real children around the world come to life. Although School Days is a short picture book, it covers a variety of  ways people receive an education around the world. Obviously, it does not capture all countries or situations, but it does provide a nice overview in an easily accessible format. I loved that the stories were based on real people!Continue Reading

Picture Book Sunday: Me, Too! by Annika Dunklee

Me, Too! by Annika Dunklee and illustrated by Lori Joy Smith (Kids Can Press, April 2015) is a book about friendship. Annie feels left out when a new girl moves in, because her best friend Lillemore has become friends with someone else!

I loved the simple format of this book. It is a pretty straight-forward book: jealousy at the most basic. But of course Annie learns that because Lillemore and Lilianne have a lot in common, that means that she, Annie, also has some things in common too!

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