Alice Brereton, Angela Joy, Carrie Charley Brown, Ekua Holmes, Elizabeth Rusch, Kirsti Call, Reading for Research, ReFoReMo, Roaring Brook Press, West Margin Press

Picture Book Surprises

While we’re all home keeping as germ free as possible and trying to make a virtual reality a productive reality, we have time (potentially) to keep up with everything. Suddenly I feel overwhelmed.

After a deep breath, my first step in keeping up, this morning, was to email all my students’ parents to give them some ideas for visual skill practice that they can do at home with their children while school is out.

That done I decided to go through some of the library books I’d previously borrowed for Reading for Research, otherwise known as ReFoReMo, but hadn’t had a chance yet to read. Now that the libraries are closed, I have plenty of time to read and analyze the books I’ve borrowed.

Two picture books that surprised and impressed me are Black Is a Rainbow Color, by Angela Joy and illustrated by Ekua Holmes, and Glacier on the Move by Elizabeth Rusch and illustrated by Alice Brereton.

The prose in Black is a Rainbow Color is vivid, lyrical, full of emotion, imagery, and metaphor. Through it culture, ethnicity, history, and philosophy are expressed. The art in the book makes me think of a mosaic, of a stained glass window with its colorful images sometimes outlined in heavy black lines and other times in thin ones. The use of news print, a map, sheet music and photographs within the beautifully illustrated images adds an additional layer to the sense of place and time, and historical context that the author expresses within the text.

In the author’s note Ms. Joy stated that it was her intention to communicate all that is, “beautiful, loving and strong” about black and to make the word black safe and palatable for children of all ethnicities.

A rainbow is beautiful and so is this picture book.

Ms. Joy included a Black is a Rainbow Color Playlist which I’d recommend you give a listen to, and I’d also suggest that you check out the additional back matter within the book too. It includes the published poems referred to in the text, contextual information regarding the illustrations, a timeline of Black Ethnonyms in America and a bibliography of references.

On a completely different topic, Glacier on the Move by Elizabeth Rusch and illustrated by Alice Brereton had me completely engrossed in the creative way the art and text blended to tell, Flo, the glacier’s story.

Flo’s fictional story was artfully set off by the narrative non-fiction provided by an ice worm. Though the nonfiction text was presented in a small font and set within the pages’ borders, it effectively caught my visual attention. And the curving image of the ice worm served to visually draw me back into Flo’s journey, after I’d reflected on the factual information that I’d just read.

This book also had facts about glaciers of the world, glaciers and global climate change, ice worms and a bibliography with which reader could to learn more. Galloping glacier! I recommend you give Flo’s story a go!

If you’re participating in ReForReMo created by Carrie Charley Brown and Kirsti Call, or even if you’re not and have come across some picture books that have impacted you in a way you didn’t expect them to please share their titles and your thoughts. I’d love to add them to my TBR list.

Stay well, Jan

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