Haven't written a Roundup in a while! I must rectify this immediately.
The Christmas Coat
I love this book; it's now one of my favorite Christmas books. Based on author Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve's childhood on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation, The Christmas Coat tells the tale of young Virginia, who coveted a lovely coat that was sent with "Theeast" boxes (boxes sent to the reservation from New England churches). As the daughter of the reservation's Episcopal priest, Virginia must allow others' needs to come before her own. What results is a gentle story about showing kindness and humility to others, even to the ones who aren't necessarily our friends. The illustrations are precious and so life-like; the careful observer will notice delightful touches such as Native American dolls in Santa's sack and the Three Wise Chiefs at the children's nativity pageant. Although the people on the reservation are quite poor, their poverty is not the focus of the story; rather, it's the loving-kindness of the priest's family and the community that's emphasized, along with the rewards that come from putting others first.
Everything Goes: On Land
This is a must for any transportation-crazed preschooler. Everything Goes: On Land features a family going about their day in a very busy urban environment. As they traipse through the city, they discuss the diversity of the cars, trucks, buses, and other modes of transportation. This goes beyond your basic transportation book; in the cars spread, we see a station wagon, a hatchback, an electric car, an antique car, a jeep, taxicab, police car, and even a car driven by a student driver (the same level of detail is shown in the bike spreads, the motorcycle spreads, etc). Our family talks about what happens when you turn the key in the ignition, the different types of trucks, what an RV is (love the stickers on the RV showing where the RV family has been), public transportation, motorcycles, and many other awesome things about things that go. Whew! There's a tremendous amount of detail; if you're reading it to a young child, you may not get through everything, but that's okay. This is definitely a book to return to again and again. It looks like it's the first in a series of similar books, which is very cool.
King Jack and the Dragon
King Jack and the Dragon is an irresistible look at the joys of pretend play and imagination, as exemplified by three young boys. King Jack and his trusty knights must battle the ferocious dragon, and battle they do, bravely and magnificently. Unfortunately, darkness falls, and the parents of the brave warriors send them off to bed. I got a real kick out of this story; not only is this is a great story about pretend play, but I love the fact that it's multicultural and that Jack's little brother is included in the play as a matter of fact. Definitely one of my favorites of 2011.
Titanic Sinks is not a picture book, but I wanted to tell you about it while I still have it here on my desk. 2012 marks the 100th anniversary of the Titanic disaster, so expect plenty of books about the tragedy (I assume that there will be television specials as well, and I heard that James Cameron is rereleasing his Titanic movie in 3-D). Titanic Sinks is a recreation of newspaper articles, timelines, and interviews about the building of the ship, the voyage, the shipwreck, and the recovery of survivors. I've only had time to browse through it, but I can tell that this is an absorbing and worthwhile read.
We're a month away from the Youth Media Awards (Caldecott, Newbery, and all that jazz)! Crossing my fingers that we have the winners!