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Children’s Book News – November 2018

A family comes in many forms and sizes; its members bound together by love and shared experiences.  Today children’s books reflect the variety of families we see all about us.  Here are a few which star families of all types and backgrounds.

The Family Book, by Todd Parr

Suggested ages: 3-7 years

With simple, boldly colored pictures outlined in black, Parr illustrates the diversity of families.  One sentence on each page with accompanying picture introduces a happy group – “Some families are big, Some families are small”; “Some families have a stepmom or stepdad, Some families adopt children.”  Occasionally a double spread appears stating a characteristic that connects all families – “All families like to celebrate special days together!”  Children will delight in finding a page that represents their families as well as seeing all the family possibilities!

The Blessing Cup by Patricia Polacco

Suggested ages: 6-8 years

The Blessing Cup tells the story of the author’s own family ancestry beginning with her great-grandmother, Anna, in the 1900’s in czarist Russia.  Her family was one of the many Jewish families who found it necessary to leave Russia and immigrate to America.  Along with their possessions is a tea set given to the family by an aunt with the message that the it brings with it good fortune, love and joy.  The tea set is passed down to each generation of Polacco’s family symbolizing strength and love during times of hardship, as well as celebration.  The detailed charcoal illustrations highlighted with the brightly colored tea set and Anna’s scarf provide continuity as the tea set follows each generation.  This is one of many children’s books that emphasize the importance of family history and tradition.

Others include All the Way to America, the Story of a Big Italian Family and a Little Shovel by Dan Yaccarino and Coming to America, a Muslim Family’s Story, by Bernard Wolf.

The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher, by Dana Alison Levy

Suggested ages:  8-12 years

Any young reader will enjoy getting to know the dynamic Fletcher family made up of two fathers (Dad and Pa) and four adopted brothers along with their dog and cat.  Their adventures reflect familiar episodes in a typical American family.  Twelve-year-old Sam, a dedicated and talented soccer player, grapples with his new interest in acting and how that might be perceived by his sports-minded buddies. Eli, ten years old, is a gifted student, who is entering the private school of his dreams, but discovers the school is not what he had imagined it to be. Jax, also 10, has committed to interviewing his grumpy new neighbor for a school project on war veterans but is finding this assignment most formidable.  And then there is rambunctious Frog who delights in kindergarten and making a new friend, Ladybug, whom his family is not quite convinced really exists.  The family’s adventures have an authentic ring along with the dialog, which is spot on.  Throughout the school year lessons are learned and insights gained and the reader can’t help but be glad that she has been introduced to this compassionate, fun-loving family.

Paper Chains by Elaine Vickers and Life According to Dani by Rose Lagercrantz are two other fine contributions to middle grade literature, which touch upon such topics as adoption, birth parents, and families with single parents.