Picture book round-up with a family and friendship theme attached to them! All titles are currently available but were read via an online reader copy.
I like how the publisher copy of Maddie and Mabel by Kari Allen describes our young sisters, “two spunky sisters who navigate their relationship with humor and heart.” There is heart, some humor and a lot of spunk, but not everything is for everyone. The dynamic between the siblings is old fashioned, but is not dated. If you have a sibling, you will relate to the good and bad days we have with them. Nevin Mays is the editor as Tatjana Mai-Wyss gives us some lovely illustrations of two sisters who love, fight, play, dress up, deal with feelings and growing pains. Things are bright, happy, and classically toned in style of art and the text. Broken into chapters or several short stories that are connected, it is good for a read aloud and to be solo read by at least first to second grade.
Friends come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes sibling shaped (like in Maddie and Mable) and sometimes in a magical clay doll shape. And this is what we have in The Magical Clay Doll : A Legend Retold in English and Chinese by Ning Sun. A clay doll from the local temple is accidentally damaged, and the boy of the story fixes it, only to be rewarded with it coming alive as a fairy, who will help find the missing children of the village. Part Gingerbread Man, part Pied Piper, and part Chinese folktale, the idea of how one boy can make a big difference with kindness and the help of a special friend, unfolds onto the page. Things are not “dark tense” but have a mysterious element. The art captures the tone and the idea of traditional China, but is lighter and less elaborate with the colors and details, but things are pleasant.
From January Year One to January Year Two, we follow Maribel as she navigates a new country, new school, and friends. Throughout Maribel’s Year we see the ups and downs of a young girl and her mother, all the while Maribel missing her father back home. Comparing what she is seeing, doing and feeling with what would be happening if she was with her father, we see a resilient child and a peek into another culture. Michelle Sterling’s picture book is simple and full of goodies. The illustrations of Sarah Gonzales are supportive and somewhat their own character. They are soft, but have a pop to them as well. They set the tone of a combination of the sadness of being far away from a loved one, the only home known, and starting fresh with the hopefulness that “soon” everyone will be together again, and how Maribel finds ways to deal in the meantime.