Young Readers

Young Readers

By Kate Lavut

A review of Houndsley and CatinaThe Missing DonutThe Magic BoatThe Biggest Puddle in the WorldMeet the LatkesThe Silence Slips In by James HoweJudith HendersonKit Pearson and Katherine FarrisMark LeeAlan SilberbergAlison Hughes

Published on March 23, 2019

The Silence Slips In by Alison the water cycle. Young Sarah tells the story of a including Crat, a mischievous cat, and Sprinkle Hughes (illustrated by Ninon Pelletier) does more than lure your little one into a peaceful slumber; it teaches a way of life. The text is lyrical, the drawings are dreamy, and the message is clear – no matter what life throws at you, you can escape into yourself and find your peace: “The Silence will come back whenever you call it. Whenever you need it. Even in the midst of the Noise and its ruckus.”

The Silence Slips In
Alison Hughes
Illustrated by Ninon Pelletier

Orca Book Publishers
$19.95
cloth
32pp
9781459817067

Children are taught to find the silence within themselves, and to summon that silence whenever they need help to deal with the chaos and noise that surrounds them every day. The children portrayed in the book are multicultural and the Silence is a big, fluffy creature you wish would take you in its arms and wrap you up in its warmth. By showing some simple tricks and leading by example, this picture book, which is also available in French, is a great introduction to mindful thinking for kids.

***

Meet the Latkes
Alan Silberberg

Viking Books
$17.99
cloth
36pp
9780451479129

Meet the Latkes is award-winning author Alan Silberberg’s first children’s book. This zany family made of latkes – potato pancakes – explains the story of Hanukkah to young readers. But this is no ordinary history book where every fact is explained so it makes logical sense. This story of Hanukkah is told from the point of view of an eccentric Grandpa who tells tales of Mega-Bees and Alien Potatoes from Planet Chhhhh. Luckily for everyone, the Latkes’ dog seems to be the voice of wisdom and helps clear up some misconceptions. “You mean Macca-bees. Judah Maccabee! He was a mighty warrior and heroic Jew who lived in Israel more than two thousand years ago. And there were No Bees,” explains the dog. There is also an index at the back of the book explaining terms and concepts about Judaism. Don’t worry if you’ve missed Hanukkah; Silberberg’s book can make you laugh at any time of the year.

***

The Biggest Puddle in the World
Mark Lee
Illustrated by Nathalie Dion

Groundwood Books
$18.95
cloth
36pp
9781554989799

Written by Mark Lee and illustrated by Nathalie Dion, The Biggest Puddle in the World is a gentle tale that introduces children to the water cycle. Young Sarah tells the story of a week spent at her grandparents’ house when all it did was rain. She and her little brother Charlie entertain themselves for the first three days by exploring inside the old house. As soon as the sun peeks out, the kids go outside with their grandpa to learn about the water cycle and discover all the beauty that comes out after the rain. Grandpa illustrates evaporation by scooping up some water from a puddle and putting it on a flat rock. “The water in the air becomes the clouds in the sky,” he explains. They spend the afternoon following one body of water to another: a small stream to a pond, a pond to a river and, finally, the river to the “biggest puddle in the world” – the ocean. That night the rain returns, but this time, our young narrator appreciates the raindrops on the window pane, because she learns that just as the small puddles lead all the way to the ocean, she too is now connected through the rain to her grandparents, her brother, and her environment.

***

The Magic Boat
Kit Pearson and Katherine Farris
Illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard

Orca Book Publishers
$19.95
cloth
32pp
9781459814325

The Magic Boat is an enchanting tale that tells the story of a shy girl called Ellie and her Nonna, who spend every day at the beach together. Written by partners Kit Pearson and Katherine Farris, this is a magical story about friendship and imagination. The beautiful pencil and watercolour illustrations by Gabrielle Grimard convey the empty beach and loneliness Ellie feels playing by herself with only her grandmother to keep her company. Then one day Ellie meets Piper. Piper is a vivid kid with an explosive imagination, and together the two girls turn an abandoned wooden boat into a sailing ship, a submarine, and a hot air balloon. The gift of this book is the outcome, which shows an introverted kid discovering that imagination can be used to make friends and take them on wild adventures, all without leaving the comforts of an abandoned blue boat.

***

The Missing Donut
Judith Henderson
Illustrated by T. L. McBeth

Kids Can Press
$14.99
cloth
56pp
9781771387880

The Missing Donut, Judith Henderson’s first book, teaches little kids big words using small stories. A crazy cast of characters – including Crat, a mischievous cat, and Sprinkle Fairy and her big word helpers The Sprinklers – are brought to life through T. L. McBeth’s colourful artwork. If you have ever wanted to teach your child that “purloined” means stolen or that “discombobulated” means confused, this is the book for you. Each new big word is repeated several times in its story and is used in sentences to help illustrate the meaning. “I didn’t purloin the donut,” claims Crat. “And even if I did, I couldn’t give it back… Because it’s in my tummy.” Here the Sprinkle Fairy steps in to lay down the law and deliver a life lesson. “You purloined. You have to be a hot dog for a day.” “Brr,” says Crat. “Could you at least put me in a bun?” Six short stories in all, each introducing a delicious sounding, fun-to-say big word, are followed by a bonus story at the end of the book using all of the words together.

***

Houndsley and Catina
Through the Seasons

James Howe
Illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay

Candlewick
$10.99
paper
184pp
9781536203264

What’s more delightful than one Houndsley and Catina book? Four Houndsley and Catina books! In James Howe’s new collection Through the Seasons, we are treated to four different chapter books, all starring the lovable and genuine best friends Houndsley the dog and Catina the cat. The illustrations by Marie-Louise Gay are playful and bursting with gorgeous details, such as pieces of collage sprinkled throughout the watercolour paintings. The stories, through gentle words and subtle observations, teach valuable life lessons about how it is more important to be a good friend than a famous person, how sometimes listening to the silence is just as captivating as listening to music, and how doing something nice for someone will turn any day into a special day. The layout, complemented by the easy-to-read font, encourages the confidence in young readers to dig into these beginner chapter books and develop a lifelong love of reading. mRb

Kate Lavut is a writer and illustrator living in Montreal. She is currently at work on a children’s book about cancer, I Love You with No Hair.

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