By Beth Kakuma-Depew | Contributor
As the sunlight grows shorter with the season, families gather together to remember and give thanks. Two new stories about grandparents, offer an intergenerational story time.
Bella’s Fall Coat by Lynn Plourde, illustrated by Susan Gal: Bella loves exploring the colorful world with turning leaves and the special coat her Grams made. It is so cozy! But when Grams mentions that the coat looks a bit tight, Bella doesn’t want to hear it. Can she bear letting go? Or will the loving presence of Grams make it better?
In Plain Sight by Richard Jackson, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney: A housebound grandfather leads his granddaughter on a treasure hunt throughout his room. Along the way, she discovers special objects that unlock stories about his past.
WHAT FAMILIES LOOK LIKE
No matter the type of family, the bonds of love nurture and sustain us.
One Love by Cedella Marley, illustrated by Venessa Brantley-Newton: This joyful book uses the lyrics of Bob Marley’s famous tune to demonstrate the unifying power of love.
Family Is a Family Is a Family by Sara O’Leary, illustrated by Qin Leng: also published in 2016, this story starts when the teacher asks her class to tell what makes their families special. One girl worries about how to explain her odd family. The growing variety of stories, with families of all ages, sizes, colors and branches, gives the child courage to share hers.
We Are One by Ysaye Barnwell, illustrated by Brian Pinkney: Children run, play, read and grow alongside the loving presence of family. Lyrical text evokes a spiritual setting combined with the sweet simplicity of everyday joy.
WHERE PEACE WAITS
Knowing that many people around the world are uprooted due to war, these picture books celebrate peace. Several are recent publications, creating a current response to present times.
The Peace Book by Todd Parr: Using classic, bold, primary colors, Parr describes what peace looks like, feels like and where it can be found. Simple language and childlike drawings make it accessible for even the youngest child.
Peace Is an Offering by Annette Lebox, illustrated by Stephanie Graegin: Where can the light moments be found in the aftermath of tragedy? Are they in the sunlight shining through the leaves, in the joy of cookies shared with friends? In the protective circle of neighbors and family.
Painting for Peace in Ferguson by St. Louisan Carol Swartout Klein: Through art and poetry, this book collects the stories of the hundreds of artists and volunteers who helped clean up in the aftermath of the Ferguson unrest.
Home, written and illustrated by Carson Ellis: This whimsical tribute stylishly shows the many types of “home." Whether it is found in the country or a city apartment, on the road or on the sea, in a square box or a round shoe, its possibilities are endless.
HOME FOR REFUGEES
For a frank conversation about the issues of refugees, parents can look to picture books like this one.
The Journey by Francesca Sanna: This powerful look at flight follows one family from their homeland. Traveling by bike, by car, even hidden in a truck bed, they eventually reach their destination only to face a looming guard and an insurmountable wall. While the time and place are never definite, the sadness and uncertainty are real.
Happy by Pharrell Williams: As this iconic and irresistible song contrasts stark world realities, families can turn to a picture book with photos of upbeat children dancing and jumping. It encourages kids to be "Happy Helpers" and spread the feeling.
Beth Kakuma-Depew is children’s collection development librarian, responsible for almost all book purchases made by St. Louis Public Library.