Oscar’s family celebrates his six-month birthday with a walk to their neighborhood park, a rather lopsided cake, and a rousing chorus of “Happy Birthday,” sung by family members and the strangers who have gathered around to admire baby Oscar. Although the birthday boy is the center of attention, the real star of the show is his three-year-old sister, Millie, who wears coat-hanger fairy wings on her back and a dinosaur puppet on her left hand, symbolic of her dual nature. “A little more fairy and a little less dinosaur,” her mother chides her gently when Millie’s play is a bit too vigorous for little Oscar. Bob Graham’s depiction of a slightly offbeat, interracial family is right on target: Millie, in her behavior and dialogue, is the quintessential three year old, commanding the attention of both her parents and the book’s readers, while Oscar remains, for the most part, completely oblivious to the fuss being made over him. The parents, young and hip, are everything good parents should be: caring, attentive, firm, and, above all, they seem to truly enjoy both of their children. Graham’s trademark pen-and-ink and watercolor paintings show a diverse cast of characters living in a working class neighborhood. Highly Commended, 2006 Charlotte Zolotow Award © Cooperative Children’s Book Center
“Wherever they live, wherever they go, whatever they wear, whatever they feel, babies everywhere are beautiful, special, and loved.” These sentiments are spectacularly captured with sweet and stunning photographs of babies from around the world. Babies from Mali and Spain, the United States and Thailand, Iraq, Guatemala, and beyond are included in this board book. Swaddled in colorful cloth, wrapped in warm fur, or tucked into cradling arms, these babies are an affirmation of love. © Cooperative Children’s Book Center
“Swish-swoosh.” The sound of waves washing the shore repeats throughout an engaging picture book in which a young African American boy is the architect of his own adventure. After Gregory draws “a Sandy lion” in the sand at the beach, his dad cautions, “Don’t go in the water, and don’t leave Sandy.” And Gregory doesn’t, but as the tail he draws on Sandy gets longer and longer, it takes him farther and farther away from his dad: over an old sand castle, around a horseshoe and a ghost crab, all the way to a jetty. “But Gregory did not go in the water, and he did not leave Sandy.” It’s only when he finally looks up that Gregory realizes how far he’s gone. He turns a moment of worry—which one of those distant figures sitting on towels is his dad?–into masterful problem solving when he follows Sandy’s tail over and around all the objects, back to his dad’s welcome smile. Floyd Cooper’s sun-washed, sandy illustrations are the perfect accompaniment to this terrific picture book narrative. Highly Commended, 2011 Charlotte Zolotow Award (MS) ©2010 Cooperative Children’s Book Center
“Summer days, so warm and bright, / Paint my room in morning light.” A small Asian girl describes her activities over the course of a single summer day in a quietly engaging narrative that sees her butterfly-chasing in the morning followed by a dip in the wading pool, then on an afternoon picnic with her parents. Nighttime finds the hot, restless child looking out the window and then heading out for a discovery-rich walk in the moonlight with her dad. “Across the field, on past the gate … My eyelids droop, it’s getting late.” Wong Herbert Yee’s story is perfectly sized for the hands of toddlers and preschoolers, with a gentle ambience that is both playful and reassuring. The illustrations have a softness and warmth that add to the comforting feel, as does this realistic family, which includes a pregnant mom and a dad clad in chinos, undershirt, and fedora. © Cooperative Children’s Book Center
Listen: Podcast featuring Owl Babies from the CCBC.