Growing up with Books and Traveling the World
With a scientist/writer for a mother and a research physician for a father, it’s little wonder that Molly Bang grew up to be a writer and illustrator who would eventually make it her mission to create books that drawn children into the world of science. Her family kept a large library and would often give each other books illustrated by the famous Charles Rackham as gifts. Molly found these to be inspiring.
After she graduated from Wellesley College with a degree in French, Molly traveled to Japan to teach English at a university there for 18 months before returning to work on master’s degrees in Oriental studies. Then it was back overseas to illustrate health manuals for UNICEF, as well as Johns Hopkins and Harvard, working, among other places, in Calcutta and Bangladesh.
The Blessing Cup, by Patricia Polacco, is a wonderful story for anytime, but especially during the holidays when family gathers close for this is a family story. Patricia Polacco’s great-grandmother Anna and her family came to America from Russia after the Czar ordered all the Jews to leave the country. Just like that, they had to leave behind everything they couldn’t carry. Momma and Papa packed the sewing machine, their menorah, the shofar, his tallis, and holy books. But also precious to them was the tea set they were given when they were married.
Something is stealing the grain in Mrs. Runnery’s granary. It must be weevils, thinks she, as she sets out spiders to eat them. But in the morning, the frightened spiders are clinging to the ceiling, their webs torn. It wasn’t weevils eating the grain. What could it be? The farmers need this grain from Runnery Granary to mill into flour so they can eat in the winter.
It’s Saturday afternoon on a working farm in the Midwest. Kids ride along as baled hay is taken to the barn. At 12:15 PM, lightning strikes a power line. That gets the attention of the people in the truck and the animals in the fields... and under the fields. In Thunderstorm, by Arthur Geisert, there are almost no words, the only “words” are time signatures as the thunderstorm rolls across the farm, getting stronger and causing problems for everyone around.
Boot & Shoe, by Marla Frazee, is the story of two dogs who are the best of friends and a trouble-making squirrel. Boot and Shoe are littermates and are mostly inseparable, living in the same house, eating from the same bowl and even sleeping in the same bed. But Boot is a back porch kind of dog while Shoe prefers to spend his time on the front porch. One day a squirrel arrives, determined to cause trouble. What follows is an epic chase all around the house and yard that will have readers chuckling.
In Bark, George by Jules Feiffer, George is a small dog with a big problem. When his mother tells him to bark, he can't. Instead he says, "Meow," not quite the sound his mom was expecting. George keeps trying, but to his mother's growing frustration, he can only produce the sounds of other animals, like "Oink" or "Moo." Finally George's mother takes him to the vet who promises to get to the bottom of the problem. The cause of George's unusual sounds is even funnier than the idea of a dog who quacks.
Rosemary Wells is one of our best-loved writers and illustrators for very young people. Her “Max and Ruby” books capture the relationship between a bossy big sister and her inquisitive (and stubborn!) little brother. That they happen to look rather a lot like rabbits makes no difference to the stories. Rosemary Wells’ wry humor turns these brief books into rather perfect treasures for the preschool set.