picture book review

Sewing Stories: Harriet Powers' Journey from Slave to Artist 

by Barbara Herkert

illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2015

Ensconced between end-pages depicting photographs of the actual quilts sewn by Harriet Powers that now hang in the Smithsonian Institution and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston is the fascinating story of this Georgia slave who later supported her family with the handicraft she learned on the plantation. Surrounded by women who sewed for slave owners by day and for their families by night, Harriet learned to quilt as a child while she listened to the stories of her people.

Mother Goose's Pajama Party 

by Danna Smith 

Illustrated by Virginia Allyn

Doubleday Books for Young Readers 2015

When my children were infants, I used to strap them in their carrier and go walking up the mountain that I live on, chanting nursery rhymes in rhythm with my steps. Back at home, while nursing, I would read through collections of nursery rhymes to brush up on the ones I learned as a child and discover the ones I missed.

There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight

by Penny Parker Klostermann

illustrated by Ben Mantle

Random House 2015

There can never be too many re-writings of “There was an old lady who swallowed a fly..” at least if you are preschool or early elementary age. And the repetition of the familiar pattern with unexpected elements makes this first picture book by Penny Parker Klostermann fun for kids and adults alike.

Over in the Wetlands: A Hurricane-on-the-Bayou Story

by Caroline Starr Rose & Rob Dunlavey

Schwartz & Wade Books, 2015

“Over in the wetlands

where the silky mist weaves,

Dragonfly lights on a slender reed.

Vincent and the Night

by Adele Enersen

Dial Books for Young Readers, 2015

Vincent is an infant, portrayed in color photographs on every page of this delightful picture book. His surroundings are depicted in pen and ink drawings.

“One evening, Vincent decided he didn't want to go to bed. The night was rolling in like a woolly black blanket, ready to tuck him in...”

And as it does, Vincent takes hold of a thread of that woolly blanket that is the night and begins to unravel it! He uses the thread to construct new images: a cat, a violin, musical notes that transform into flies...

Bugs in My Hair! by David Shannon

The Blue Sky Press, 2013 

When I read the title of David Shannon's new book, I didn't realize it was going to be non-fiction. But yes, this very clever, delightfully illustrated children's book is about head lice.