Ice Breaker: How Mabel Fairbanks Changed Figure Skating by author Rose Vina and illustrator Claire Almon

Ice breaker

Age Range: 5 – 7 years

Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company

Publication Date: October 1, 2019

In this picture book biography readers meet Mabel Fairbanks, an African American from Florida. She moves to New York City at 8 years old to live with her brother. That experience is short lived and Mabel finds herself without a home by 9 years old. A family gives Mabel a chance to move in with them and babysit. Viewing ice skaters through a window intrigues Mabel. She saves money, buys skates and teaches herself to skate. When the weather warms, she goes to an indoor ice skating rink to skate however she is denied admission due to her skin color. Eventually she is given opportunities to skate at the rink but only when white ice skaters are not using it. She gets coached and is a very good skater but racism destroys her chances of participating in activities that could lead to the Olympics. Mabel performs on television and in different countries however racism is everywhere. Her career path leads her to coach those interested in ice skating. She plays a significant role in fighting for equality for ice skaters. My Book Eyes are amazed at how many famous ice skaters Mabel Fairbanks coached. Illustrations of ice skaters are dynamic. Included in the back of the book are sections called: About Mabel Fairbanks, Glossary of Figure Skating Terms and Selected Sources.

Follow Me Down to Nicodemus Town

His town

Follow Me Down to Nicodemus Town by author A. LaFaye and illustrator Nicole Tadgell

Age Range: 5 – 7 years

Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company

Publication Date: January 1, 2019

In this picture book, the Pattons family, who sharecrop, desire to own a home and land. The daughter, Dede, sees a notice about moving to Nicodemus, Kansas where the family can make their dream come true. Through hard work and a lucky break the family is able to move to Nicodemus. The Pattons survive through diligence and assistance from neighbors and an Indian Tribe called the Osage Nation. My Book Eyes appreciates the author including how much children had to work to help their families during this time period. Working children is a universal theme for many cultures throughout history. Illustrations vary between spreads and vignettes to show a variety of actions and moods. In the back of the book, information explains exodusters and The Homestead Act of 1862.

 

The Great Santa Stakeout

Santa (1)

The Great Santa Stakeout by author Betsy Bird and illustrator Dan Santat

Age Range: 4 – 8 years

Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books

Publication Date: September 3, 2019

Just looking at the cover of this picture book with its full moon in the background and in the foreground a boy dressed in a Santa Claus suit, eyes bulging, teeth clenched and hands clamped on a Santa Claus snow globe makes My Book Eyes roar with laughter. Is he thinking, “I’m going to get you, SANTA!” Turning pages, the reader learns the boy, Freddy Melcher, not only celebrates Santa Claus during the Christmas season but all year. He is so fascinated with Santa Claus that yes he does want to get Santa. That is a selfie with Santa Claus when he visits Freddy’s house. Illustrations convince the reader of Freddy’s attraction to Santa.

 

Sweet Dreams, Zaza

Zaza 1

Sweet Dreams, Zaza by author/illustrator Mylo Freeman

Age Range: 2 – 5 years

Publisher: Clavis

Publication Date: September 24, 2019

This picture book begins with a little girl named Zaza sitting on her bed with her five wide awake stuffed animals. Since it is bedtime, Zaza places each toy in its bed where it closes eyes. Zaza caps the experience with an endearing pat, lullaby, cuddle etc.  When it is Zaza’s turn for bed, her mother appears and shares those same forms of affection with her. Illustrations are vivid and are displayed on opposite pages from the text. Pages are thick and glossy. Sewn pages instead of glued ones gives this book a nice nostalgic feel.

 

 

Henry and Bea

H and B 2

Henry and Bea by author/illustrator Jessixa Bagley

Age Range: 4 – 8 years

Publisher: Neal Porter Books

Publication Date: October 29, 2019

A sudden wedge between two friends is created when Henry’s cat, a pet that was like a family member, dies. Instead of turning to his close friend Bea for support, he isolates himself from her. He is depressed. Bea feels confused. Up until this event, she and Henry were close friends. A found cat collar is overwhelming for Henry. He can no longer keep his feelings inside and confides in Bea. He learns to trust his friendship with Bea at a time when he is vulnerable. Illustrations are great for showing contrast in Henry and Bea’s relationship before and after his cat’s death. A good picture book to generate conversations about friendship and loss.

 

In Search of the Gingerbread Man

Gingerbread man

In Search of the Gingerbread Man by author/illustrator Timi Bliss with a contribution by Chef Michelle Gayer

Publisher: Independently Published

Publication Date: August 1, 2019

In this rhyming picture book, a girl named Charlie accompanies her mother to a bakery called the Salty Tart. Charlie and her mother assist Chef Michelle Gayer in making gingerbread cookies. The story becomes a mystery when a cookie escapes the kitchen. Children will eagerly turn pages or listen intently to the reader as they follow clues then learn the gingerbread man’s motive for leaving the bakery. Illustrations are colorful with characters that portray a variety of societal  roles. My Book Eyes finds this book ideal for children 2 – 8 years of age with the younger end being captivated by the story and illustrations and the older end enjoying following the included recipes for cookies and icing.

 

ABC What Can He Be?

what can he be 1 (1)tv

ABC What Can He Be? by author Sugar Snap Studio and author/illustrator Jessie Ford

Age Range: 2 – 5 years

Publisher: Walter Foster Jr.

Publication Date: September 3, 2019

This board book is organized similarly to its companion ABC What Can She Be? by author Sugar Snap Studio and author/illustrator Jessie Ford.  On each page there is an alphabet letter, career name and description, and illustration of a boy in his professional environment. Four job titles in this book are the same job titles that are in  the girl’s book however twenty two titles are not commonly seen  and are interesting to read about.  For example, karate instructor, urban planner and xenobiologist.  Professions not typically associated with males are depicted i.e. ballet dancer, yoga instructor, and nurse. Vocations typically associated with males are also shown i.e. carpenter, police officer and welder. While the book focuses on boys in these fields of course females are competently performing these same jobs in society also.  Illustrations  are inviting and  appropriate for this age range.

ABC What Can She Be?

what can she be 1ABC What Can She Be? by author Sugar Snap Studio and author/illustrator Jessie Ford

Age Range: 2 – 5 years

Publisher: Walter Foster Jr.

Publication Date: October 2, 2018

In this board book each page depicts an alphabet letter, career name and description as well as  an  illustration of  the professional in her  habitat. Many occupations shown in this book have not been viewed by My Book Eyes in children’s books for this age level. For example, keyboardist, quantum physicist, UN ambassador to name a few. Jobs not typically associated with females are shown i.e. firefighter, referee and mechanic. There are also careers typically associated with females such as hair stylist, teacher, and librarian. While this book focuses on girls in vocations of course males  perform these same jobs in society.  Four careers in this book can be found in the companion book, ABC What Can He Be? by Sugar Snap Studio and Jessie Ford. Illustrations are upbeat and appropriate for this age range.

The Thank You Letter

thank you letter

The Thank You Letter by author/illustrator Jane Cabrera

Age Range: 4 – 8 years

Publisher: Holiday House

Publication Date: October 29, 2019

A child named Grace has a costume birthday party. Afterwards, as people often do, Grace writes thank yous to those who thoughtfully gave her gifts. She realizes that she has many reasons to be thankful to people and things in her life and wants to show her gratitude. Illustrated costumes in this picture book are adorable.  Often people have  warm feelings when writing and receiving thank you letters. They are a nice way of cheering up someone’s day. Getting children to write thank you letters not only shows gratitude but is also a great way to practice penmanship.