picture book review

Camas & Sage: A Story of Bison Life on the Prairie

by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent

illustrated by Christina Wald

Mountain Press Publishing Company, 2015

Camas & Sage is really almost two books in one. The picture book story tells of a lead bison cow named Sage who gives birth to a calf she names Camas. The story follows Camas through her first year of life, from taking her first steps and nursing to following her mother as she leads the herd to find fresh food and water. She learns how to play with the other calves as the adults in the herd position themselves carefully to be aware of predators. The herd braves spring rainstorms and encounters humans at campsites and prairie dogs in the fields. In the summer, Camas learns to protect herself from insects by roaming to higher ridgetops where the wind keeps the bugs at bay, and rolling in the dirt to relieve their itching skin. In late summer, the rut begins, and bulls join the herd, battling each other with their foreheads for the right to mate with the cows. Camas follows her mother as she leaves the herd to mate, and learns to depend more on grass for nourishment as Sage starts to wean her during pregnancy. The cows and calves grow extra fur to protect them from Montana's harsh winters and plow through the snow to find fresh grass to eat. By the time spring arrives, the calves (now yearlings) are becoming more independent, and Camas prepares to take on a leadership role in the herd as her mother gives birth to another calf.

'ABC Dream' By Kim Krans

Jan 19, 2016

ABC Dream

by Kim Krans

Random House Books for Young Readers, 2016

ABC Dream is a stunning picture book debut by artist and musician Kim Krans. Each page (and sometimes a two-page spread) is devoted to a letter of the alphabet, standing large and proud, in a classic font in pen and ink, but surrounded by images, colors, and even textures inspired by that letter.

Lillian's Right to Vote: A Celebration of the Voting Rights Act of 1965

by Jonah Winter

illustrated by Shane W. Evans

Schwartz & Wade Books, 2015

Lillian is a 100 year-old African American woman standing at the bottom of a steep hill. “It's Voting Day, she's an American, and by God, she is going to vote.” As she walks slowly up the hill to the voting station, she remembers her great-great grandparents, who were slaves and her great-grandfather, who earned the right to vote with the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment in 1870. Then she recalls her Grandpa Isaac being charged a poll tax, and her Uncle Levi being forced to take bogus “tests” and being turned away from the polls when he couldn't answer the ridiculous questions.

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.