Flights and plights
Books for preschoolers to middle graders
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Mel Fell by Corey R. Tabor: This delightful picture book opens with Mel, a young kingfisher, preparing for her first flight from the nest. Her sister wonders if she is scared. Mel says yes, “But I won’t let that stop me.” And with that she spreads her wings and … falls. As she falls, Mel passes other tree-dwelling creatures who try in vain to rescue her. Preschoolers will enjoy the book’s unusual format, which requires readers to turn the book as they follow Mel’s descent and then ascent. Note: One word bubble says “Blast.” (Ages 3-7)
Fly High, Fly Low by Don Freeman: In 2004, Viking rereleased Freeman’s 1957 book Fly High, Fly Low. A 1958 Caldecott Honoree, it is the story of Sid the pigeon and Midge the dove, who make their home in the letter B of a lighted sign towering over San Francisco. One morning while Sid is collecting his breakfast, workmen dismantle the sign and cart it away along with Midge and their nest of eggs. Sid frantically searches for his family until a friend discovers his plight and helps him reunite with Midge and their nest. Freeman’s vintage-style illustrations add charm to the story. (Ages 3-7)
Ways To Grow Love by Renée Watson: In this follow-up to Ways To Make Sunshine, Ryan Hart faces a big adjustment as her parents prepare for a new baby. She is also headed to church camp for the first time and is excited to spend time with her friends until she learns a mean girl from her past will also be there. Grandma gives sage advice through relatable analogies—“You never know what can grow between the two of you if you plant little seeds of kindness, of love”—and Ryan learns the art of navigating difficult relationships with grace. (Ages 7-10)
A Place To Hang the Moon by Kate Albus: William, Edmund, and Anna’s grandmother has died, leaving the three orphans without a guardian. The family solicitor concocts a plan to send the children to the English countryside as part of London’s evacuation during World War II, in hopes the children will find a suitable new family. That proves to be a tall order as the trio bounces from one unwelcoming billet to another. Their one comfort comes from weekly visits to the town library, where a lonely librarian befriends them and helps them finally find a place to call home. (Ages 8-12)
Hello, Rain! by Kyo Maclear and Chris Turnham (Chronicle, 2021) is an ode to rainy day fun. Bright illustrations and lyrical writing show the wonder of a rainstorm—from the pleasure of puddle-jumping to the coziness of dreary days indoors—while also exploring the benefit rain provides to flora and fauna.
Gideon Sterer’s wordless picture book The Midnight Fair (Candlewick, 2021) imagines animals sneaking into a carnival after all the people have left for the night. Mariachiara Di Giorgio’s watercolor and colored pencil illustrations beautifully capture the animals’ antics as they enjoy the games and rides until dawn.
Line and Scribble by Debora Vogrig (Chronicle, 2021) contrasts the differences between predictably straight Line and wandering Scribble. The plot crescendos to a showdown with each trying to outdo the other, which Pia Valentinis illustrates with crayon and fountain pen. The book ends, though, without affirming the beauty that comes from joining our strengths and differences together. —K.C.
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