Harris, Shawn. Have You Ever Seen a Flower? Chronicle Books, 2021. 978-1-432-18270-4. Unpaged. $17.99. Grades K-2.
Accompanied by a little terrier, a young child leaves a gray, gloomy city filled with skyscrapers. As the car travels along a windy road, the pair stops to investigate a field filled with row after row of pink tulips. With rainbow colored hair and a multicolored shirt, this youngster of undisclosed gender, runs around the meadow, examining the flowers closely using all five senses. The author discusses the similarities between the growth and blossoming of a flower to that of a child. Harris has used pencil and colored pencil to create his drawings. Following a similar technique used in The Wizard of Oz film, the illustrations shift from grayscale to vibrant color with the movement from city to country. Some pictures are unusual, like the image of the child smelling the flower and the daunting queen bee. When the main character pricks a finger with a rose thorn, the preceding double page spread is entirely red, which the author calls “the brilliant color of your life.” The author’s message is that life is all around us and within us.
THOUGHTS: Some children may have difficulty grasping the meaning of this story. The text ends with confusing questions: “Have you ever been a flower…would you remember…try and see,” which may be too philosophical for young readers. A supplemental purchase.
Robbins, Rose. Talking Is Not My Thing. Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2020. 978-0-802-85549-7. Unpaged. $16.99. Grades K-2.
Talking Is Not My Thing follows a brother and sister, the sister being nonverbal; however, there are thought bubbles so you can see her thoughts even though she doesn’t have any dialogue. The sister mentions that she tries to speak; however, “the words don’t’ come out right”; as well as showing her being overwhelmed by too much noise and wishing she could turn her ears off. Near the end of the book, the sister can’t find her stuffed bunny, so she runs outside to get it causing her brother to follow her in the dark with a flashlight.
THOUGHTS: This book does an excellent job of showing how nonverbal children communicate with the world around them as well as each other.
Picture Book Mary Hyson, Lehigh Valley Regional Charter Academy
Vegara, Maria Isabel Sanchez. Greta Thunberg. Illustrated by Anke Weckmann. Frances Lincoln Children’s Books 2020. 978-0-711-25645-3. $15.99. Grades 3-6.
Like many environmentally conscious families, Greta Thunberg’s family took care of Earth as best they could. But when Greta learned even more about climate change in a class video, she can’t forget about the destruction and develops selective mutism. Doctors also diagnosed her with Asperger’s syndrome. While to some these diagnoses may have been seen as a curse, they allowed Greta to focus on matters of importance to her like climate change. Greta started at home by convincing her family to make small changes, but she felt that she could do more. By taking a stand publicly with her “School Strike for Climate,” other children learned more about climate change from Greta, and the world soon recognized the name Greta Thunberg.
THOUGHTS: This picture book biography should be included in all elementary (and maybe middle school) collections. Children will be inspired to learn more about those featured throughout the Little People, Big Dreams series.
Biography Maryalice Bond, South Middleton SD