The ties that bind
CHILDREN’S BOOKS | Four picture books about home and family
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(Walker Books 2022)
A little girl boards a big boat with her mother and travels to an island to visit her grandfather. Poppy lives alone and is excited to share with his granddaughter his busy days of chopping wood, catching fish, and picking berries. After completing the morning chores, the girl counts all of their favorite things that they discover while exploring the island together. Madeline Kloepper’s colored pencil and gouache pictures help illustrate the simple joys of spending time with a grandparent. When it is time for the girl to return home, their farewell is a tearful affair, but even in their parting they unite in a common goal: They will “count the days until we are together again.” Ages 4-8
The Mouse Who Carried a House on His Back
Vincent the mouse traveled many miles with his house on his back before stopping on an ordinary hill. It’s not long before a weary traveler passes by, giving Vincent the opportunity to extend hospitality. At first the guest is skeptical and thinks Vincent’s house isn’t large enough for him, but he soon finds it’s bigger than it appears. More skeptical guests arrive and discover there is always room for one more at Vincent’s house, where it is “bright and full, brimming with warmth.” Isabelle Arsenault’s colorful gouache, ink, and paper illustrations show Vincent’s house expanding to welcome everyone, while the pages feature cutaway windows and spreads that fold out. Ages 4-8
Mum, Me, and the Mulberry Tree
This story celebrates the fun and joy that is found in the repetition of family traditions. A little girl and her mother wake early to take the bus out of the city and into the countryside where they visit a special mulberry tree each year. Rosie’s rhyming text adds cadence to the story: “Now we pick and we pluck. We eat as we go! Mum saves her most purple for me. There’s juice on our hands and stains down our shirts as we skip round the trunk, one, two, three.” After their buckets are full, they return home where they make a pie that they savor together. Chuck Groenink’s illustrations capture the warmth and love shared between mother and daughter. Ages 3-7
I’ll Go and Come Back
When Jyoti travels to India to see family for the first time since she was a baby, she struggles to fit in amid a culture so different from her own. Sara Palacios’ illustrations show Sita Pati (Jyoti’s grandmother) helping Jyoti adjust while the two bond through reading, cooking, and playing. Later the roles reverse when Sita Pati comes to America and Jyoti has the chance to share her different world with her grandmother. When it is time to say goodbye, they each make a promise to “go and come back,” and Jyoti discovers that their love will stretch across the distance. A sweet read for families with loved ones scattered across miles—or oceans. Ages 4-8