By Shelbi LeMeilleur
School may be out, but there are still plenty of opportunities for your little ones to continue learning and growing this summer. These seven books by members of the local Brazos Valley chapter of the Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators, are great for Storytime and young readers ready to stretch their imagination.
Voices of Pearl Harbor by Sherry Garland, Paintings by Layne Johnson
Sherry Garland’s “Voices of Pearl Harbor” is a wonderfully expresses to young readers the severity behind the attacks on Pearl Harbor. There are 16 poems, beautifully illustrated by Layne Johnson, each told from a different perspective before, during, and after the Japanese attacks. Garland’s extensive research is reflected through each entry, allowing the reader to understand the historical context from the voice of Japanese and American military, nurses, mothers, children, and citizens.
Some of Garland’s 32 other books include “The Lotus Seed,” “Voices of the Alamo,” “Shadow of the Dragon,” “Song of the Buffalo Boy,” and “The Buffalo Soldier.”
Kathy Whitehead: Looking for Uncle Louie on the Fourth of July, Illustrated by Pablo Torrecilla; Art from Her Heart, Illustrated by Shane W. Evans
“Looking for Uncle Louie on the Fourth of July” by Kathy Whitehead is the perfect summer read as the national holiday quickly approaches. The book, illustrated by Pablo Torrecilla, perfectly captures the excitement and anticipation young children experience during Fourth of July arades. Whitehead also does a great job incorporating elements of the south into the parade, including dancers in boots and bandanas, a conjunto band, and the highly anticipated lowriders. The only thing missing from the parade is “Big Joe’s” Uncle Louie! Join Joe as he watches the celebration and searches for his uncle as the parade continues.
Also by Whitehead is “Art From Her Heart,” inspired by the true story of artist Clementine Hunter and illustrated by Shane W. Evans. Whitehead tells about the extraordinary life of Clementine, a slave who painted in her spare time. Her paintings, and the story, depict Clementine’s favorite memories – feeding the chickens, fishing with her grandson, spending time with her husband, and more. It’s a story filled with perseverance, passion, and hard work, setting a great example for kids to follow their dreams.
Philip Pearce: Rusti, Illustrated by Darcy Peters
For older readers, “Rusti” by Philip Pearce is the perfect summer read. This easy-to-read chapter book follows the story of a young boy named Cody and a pig from his family’s farm named Rusti. Cody is in elementary school, but when he is at home, he loves to help his dad with chores around the farm. After noticing that Rusti’s mom was injured and Rusti could not feed, Cody offers to hand-feed and raise Rusti. Rusti soon becomes more than just a regular farm pig.
Rusti is not only a cute story about a boy and a pig, but it teaches many great lessons for young readers including farm life, doing the right thing in tough situations, and the value of hard work. It won’t take long before Rusti has nudged her way into the heart of these young readers.
Mary Mize: His Name is BEN, Illustrated by Suzy Keller; Little Christmas Snake, Illustrated by Darcy Peters; Letters from Scamper, Illustrated by Shirley Hoskins
“His Name is BEN,” by Mary Mize and illustrated by Suzy Keller, is the sweet tale of a young girl Kelly who names her new brother Ben. Mize perfectly captures the joys and frustrations of being an older sibling, especially when everyone refuses to call Ben by his name. Throughout the book, Kelly adamantly corrects everyone who calls Ben “darling” or “precious” that “His name is BEN!” It’s a fun, humorous read for kids of all ages, whether they are an older sibling, younger sibling, or only child.
In “Letters from Scamper,” Mize writes letters and poems from the perspective of her cat Scamper. It’s the perfect book for young readers who are on their way to reading more complex texts. It’s not quite the caliber of a chapter book, but meatier than a picture book. The hilarious and poignant letters are accompanied by Shirley Hoskin’s illustrations. Scamper’s letters to her veterinarian tell of the cat’s life on Mize’s farm. Chasing birds, taunting ducks, and playing with the menagerie of other animals are some of the many activities that fill up Scamper’s days. Readers will love the letters as they see the life of the cat through its own eyes.
The holiday-inspired “Little Christmas Snake” is best for the youngest readers. Mize’s book tells the story of Little Christmas Snake solely through Darcy Peter’s illustrations. The wordless story allows the reader to stretch their imagination and explore the same curiosities as the snake. A page with questions at the end prompts parents to discuss the story with their child after flipping through the vivid book.