I have gotten so behind on these, I haven’t posted an alphabet booklist in almost 2 months. Well, back to it now.
Garmann’s Summer by Stian Hole.
This is such a strange and lovely little import from Norway. Garmann’s summer is ending, and first grade is on its way. But Garmann’s perfectly childlike thoughts about time and the unknown future ring slightly truer as a back to school book than the traditional stories of anxious anthropomorphic creatures (why are they always mice?) going through the standard catalog of kid feelings. All of these books have their place, and it may take a few reads to really absorb Garmann’s charms, but he’s worth it.
Gator by Randy Cecil.
I’ve read more than one review that finds this book about a nostalgic gator kind of depressing. But I don’t know, I find most of Randy Cecil’s illustrations charming, and there’s something about that Gator. But at the same time, I’m not racing to purchase this one and bring it into a readaloud. Gator used to be part of a popular carousel, but when the amusement park shuts down he sets off on his own little odyssey for company. Complete with a hole in his heart where the carousel pole used to be. Okay, maybe a bit heavy-handed with the loneliness theme, but it has its qualities.
George and Martha by James Marshall.
Well, there’s George. And there’s also Martha. What else can you say about this absolute classic from James Marshall? I’m probably more amused than is appropriate by the shared names with America’s first First Family, and that is solely because Marshall’s pair are hippos. Worlds collide as the 5-year-old in me clashes with the sensible adult who thinks such things make no sense whatsoever. And yet they do. I’m so conflicted! But the adventures of this larger than life pair of best friends are just awesome and timeless.
George Washington Carver by Tonya Bolden.
This is an exceedingly good looking biography of the famous peanut innovator, from an author who excels at that sort of thing. I love children’s biographies, they are full of great stuff that kids love and that I still wonder at as a grownup. Every time I read one I think, “Why didn’t I know that before?” This one helps educate us all about Carver, who was so much more than just the Peanut Man. He was amazing: born a slave and died a brilliant conservationist. This biography is worthy of his achievements, absolutely.
The Giant of Seville: A “Tall” Tale Based on a True Story by Dan Andreasen.
I think this is such a great book that could be tied into a number of subject lessons. Or just for fun, it’s pretty awesome. Captain Martin Van Buren Bates was nearly 8′ tall and almost 500 pounds. And in this biographic yarn, when he moves to the sleepy town of Seville, OH the townsfolk bend over backwards to make him and his wife feel at home. This warmed my heart, it just did. The way the people of his adopted town accept him and help him is just such a great lesson to read to kids. He’s the most exciting thing to happen to that town, and rather than ostracize him they embrace him as a fascinating new friend. I hope he was really treated that way. I Wikipedia’d him, and now I am in awe of his wife. She gave birth to a stillborn 18 pound baby. I want to read this story to the kids and HER story to myself.