My book recommendation today isn't a Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Kwanzaa or Christmas title. But it stopped me with a sense of awe and magic which is a wonderful thing to share at any holiday. And the generational story-telling aspect took me home.
Author/Illustrator: Rebecca Bond
Publisher: FS&G, Margaret Ferguson Books, 2015
Intended age: 5-9
Themes: Animals, Memoir
First lines: "Antonio Willie Giroux lived in Ontario, Canada, in the town of Gowganda, on the edge of Gowganda Lake, in a hotel his mother ran. It was not a fancy place in 1914, but it was big--three stories tall."
Synopsis: A young boy who hopes for more than half glimpses of the forest creatures gets his wish when a fire tears through the surrounding forest and the animals and the people of a small town, prey and predators, have to find safety. NOTE: Spoiler alert: The amazon.com and bn.com description/summary of this book as well as Kirkus and many of the Goodreads reviews give the story away.
Why I like this Book: This book appeals to the rule breaker in me!
The book tells a story, but it feels more like a mood piece (rule broken!). The fairly wordy text (rule broken!) is used for extensive description rather than action (rule broken!) And it works beautifully with muted, almost monochromatic illustrations. Based on a story passed down by the author's grandfather, the book's dreamy mysterious feel was compelling. Despite the author's note, and the subtitle that the story is true, the book is shelved in fiction leaving the reader to wonder--did this really happen? It is lovely to think that it did. Not a quick read, it's a story that begs for pages to be poured over thoughtfully. There are three spreads in the height of the action that took my breath away. A reminder that we share this world with many and we're all in this together.
I didn't want to give the story climax away--which made it hard to suggest activities!
- The Fire Protection Association has advice to create a fire plan for your home.
- Organize a family story night. Go around the table and let everyone re-tell their favorite story about a real event that happened to them. Include several generations, if possible!
- Draw pictures of favorite/memorable family moments
- Think about an animal's Thanksgiving. How would it compare to your own?
- Review the illustrations and compare life in the early 1900's to your own.
This review is part of PPBF (perfect picture book Friday) where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's site. Along with tons of writing wisdom, she keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture Books. #PPBF