Knight, Amitha Jagannath. Usha and the Big Digger. Charlesbridge, 2021. 978-1-623-54202-3. Unpaged. $15.99. Grades K-2.
Usha loves trucks of all shapes and sizes, so when her big sister shows her the Big Dipper constellation in the sky one night, Usha has a different point of view. She sees a Big Digger, a front loader ready to scoop up the sky. This leads to a fight between the girls, who cannot see the other’s vision. Then cousin Gloria sees the constellation as a kite. Who’s right? Well, it literally depends on your point of view – where each girl is laying on the ground. As Usha rotates through the various positions, she sees a dipper and a kite, before finally finding her Big Digger again. Additional activities at the back of the book discuss how cultures in different parts of the world have a variety of names for the same set of stars, while “Exploring the Math” encourages adults and children to further explore rotation, orientation, and perspective. While the literal interpretation of the book deals with perspective in space, it will also work as a discussion starter on individual point of view and how we should work to understand another’s vision. Usha and her family are Black.
THOUGHTS: A cute, visual introduction to the constellations, as well as talking about point-of-view. Usha, as a young girl who loves trucks, delightfully breaks stereotype.
Picture Book Nancy Nadig, Penn Manor SD
de la Pena, Matt. Milo Imagines the World. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2021. 978-0-399-54908-3. Unpaged. $18.99. Grades K-3.
While riding the subway with his sister, Milo observes the people around him and imagines their lives outside of the train. Then, he draws pictures of these people going about the lives he has envisioned for them. However, when a well-dressed boy ends up at the same destination as Milo – a correctional facility to visit his mother – Milo begins to reconsider all of the assumptions he made just by looking at people. An eye-opening and thought-provoking story, this book will encourage young readers to look past first impressions and preconceived notions and instead see individuals for who they really are.
THOUGHTS: I love how cleverly and subtly this story conveys the timeless message that one should never judge a book by its cover. Not only is it relatable for children with parents who are incarcerated, but it is an excellent conversation-starter for others who want to understand these children and their families. Art lovers will also love critiquing Milo’s drawings–and may even be inspired to create some drawings of their own to portray their individual views of the world. This should be a definite consideration for purchase!
Picture Book Julie Ritter, PSLA Member
Hudson, Neesha. Turtle in a Tree. Dial Books for Young Readers. 978-0-593-32331-1. 36 p. $17.99. Grades K-3.
A dog walking through a grassy meadow hears a rustling in a tree. Another dog comes along and asks what he sees. The first dog replies that he’s sure he sees a turtle in a tree. The second dog asserts that there can’t be a turtle in a tree – that just doesn’t add up. It must be a squirrel. The dogs banter back and forth, but eventually, they get caught up in a shouting match, each sure that he is correct. When what’s in the tree is ultimately revealed, both dogs realize that there is more than one side to every story. Delicate watercolor and colored pencil illustrations stand out against white backgrounds, and the sparse text leaves plenty of room for readers to add their own ideas to the book.
THOUGHTS: The overarching message of the book is about perspective and the idea that just because you don’t see eye-to-eye with someone doesn’t mean one of you is wrong. This book can be used during morning meetings to spark conversations about different perspectives and why it can be valuable to consider others’ points of view.
Picture Book Anne Bozievich, Southern York County SD