of the Center for
|The Bulletin Dozen is a monthly theme-based list of titles available only on-line. Since we're awfully fond of bakers here at the Bulletin, we thought we'd adopt their philosophy of generosity and throw in an extra one or two when we have them to offer--so don't expect an even dozen. Please feel free to copy, download, or link to these lists. We ask only that you cite the source. See the archive for lists from previous months.|
All in the Family
selected by Janice Del Negro
Family stories seem just right for summer reading, whether at home for pleasure or at the library for the local summer reading program. This is a list of picture books from the last four years that have to do with family relationships; they are more solid than flashy, and more thoughtful than gimmicky. The stories are set by the sea, in the city, and in the mountains. Most of these titles (not all, but most of them) are imbued with humor that can be understood by both listening child and reading adult. Put your feet up in front of the fan, set on the porch swing, or sit out on the fire escape; catch a breeze, cool off, and read some family stories for summer fun. (All books illustrated by the author except where noted.)
--Janice M. Del Negro, editor
- Bell, Lili. The Sea Maidens of Japan. Illus. by Erin McGonigle Brammer. Ideals, 1997.
"Kiyomi wants. . . . to become an ama like her mother, a sea diver who harvests fish without the aid of breathing apparatus. After several years of waiting and practice, during which Kiyomi becomes more intimately acquainted with the coastal waters and their denizens, she makes her first deep dive. . . . Unusual and dangerous, the fishing technique itself should captivate a young audience, while Brammer's grainy oil wash paintings of chilly green waters and foggy beaches extend the shivers." (BCCB 5/97)
- Bunting, Eve. Going Home. Illus. by David Diaz. HarperCollins, 1996.
"Migrant farmworkers, Carlos' parents have loaded up the station wagon and are heading home to La Perla, Mexico, from California for the Christmas holidays." Bunting's text focuses on the closeness of the family members and the joy of a family reunion. "Diaz' illustrations show a handsome family driving through village after village, seasonal ornaments and designs providing a varied background to their travels." (BCCB 12/96)
- Coy, John. Night Driving. Illus. by Peter McCarty. Holt, 1996.
"A young boy and his father are night driving to the mountains in this nostalgic paean to togetherness on the highway. . . . Reminiscent of both early Van Allsburg and Gammell, McCarty's pencil illustrations are compelling combinations of light and shadow: the lines on the highway glow against the tarmac, the stars glow in the sky, and car and truck lights glow in the soft dawn mist." (BCCB 12/96)
- Gay, Marie-Louise. Stella, Star of the Sea. Groundwood/Douglas & McIntyre, 1999.
"Gay's simple text is a treasury of seaside memories that floats gently on her watercolors of the sea and sea lovers, Stella and Sam. The opening spread shows the brother and sister standing on top of a sand dune gazing at the water: Stella, with her red hair streaming behind her, grins with delighted satisfaction; tow-headed Sam has his mouth open in astonished surprise." (BCCB 5/99)
- Graham, Bob. Queenie, One of the Family. Candlewick, 1997.
"Caitlin's dad rescues a hen from certain drowning in the opening pages of this perilous page-turner. Queenie, as the hen is christened, takes up residence in dog Bruno's sleeping basket and witnesses Caitlin's first steps. . . . Graham's cheerfully chipper watercolor and ink illustrations make this lightly suspenseful souffle easy to swallow." (BCCB 2/98)
- Herron, Carolivia. Nappy Hair. Illus. by Joe Cepeda. Knopf, 1997.
"At a family picnic, Uncle Mordecai expounds upon the nappy nature of young Brenda's hair. . . . When he is chided for his observations he expands upon them in an expository conceit that includes nappy hair for Brenda as part of God's great plan. The resulting call-and-response is glorious. . . . Brenda herself energetically races through the pages in a neon-green dress with a yellow ruffle and black and white high tops, joyfully heading for her obviously sublime destiny." (BCCB 2/97)
- Hesse, Karen. Come On, Rain! Illus. by Jon J Muth. Scholastic, 1999.
Young Tessie, her Mamma, friends and neighbors rejoice in the relief of a sudden downpour during a heat wave. "Textually and illustratively, this is unerring and vivid, needing only the smell of rain on hot concrete and waterproof pages to be complete. Come on summer. Come on, rain. Let's dance." (BCCB, 4/99)
- Jonell, Lynne. It's My Birthday, Too! Illus. by Petra Mathers. Putnam, 1999.
"Christopher is eagerly anticipating his birthday celebration, and he's making sure his little brother, Robbie, Doesn't horn in on the action: 'You are not the birthday boy,' says Christopher sternly. 'You are just the brother.' Robbie finds a loophole in Christopher's exclusion policy and attends his brother's birthday as a puppy . . ." (BCCB 4/99)
- Karas, G. Brian. Home on the Bayou: A Cowboy's Story. Simon, 1996.
"Poor Ned: his mother is forcibly removing him from his natural cowboy habitat of the West to live in a swamp (okay, the Louisiana bayou); even his trusty lasso succumbs after being used to tie the luggage to the roof. . . . Sort of a pint-sized tale, this never loses sight of realism but still packs a comic wallop." (BCCB 1/97)
- Perkins, Lynne Rae. Clouds for Dinner. Greenwillow, 1997.
"Janet's family is poetic and haphazard. . . . and [she] casts a covetous eye at the more traditional household of her aunt and uncle. This is a tender and personable book about the uniqueness of families. . . . Perkins is deft at dialogue. . . . and at detail. . . . [and] her distinctive line-and-watercolor art provides vivid impressions of both lifestyles and the pleasures thereof, but the scudding clouds in their twilit palette make their appeal inarguable." (BCCB 2/98)
- Soto, Gary. Big Bushy Mustache . Illus. by Joe Cepeda. Knopf, 1998.
"When his kindergarten class starts rehearsing for a play to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, Ricky refuses all offered costumes until his teacher took out a big bushy mustache and something clicked.' Cepeda's. . . . figures have an articulate body language that lends them a great deal of buoyant energy, from Ricky's classmates gesturing dramatically in the classroom, to Ricky himself. . . . Soto's tale of joy found, lost, and found again is going to resonate with a lot of young listeners. (BCCB 7/98)
- Steig, William. Pete's a Pizza. Harper/Collins, 1998.
"Pete is very unhappy: 'Just when he's supposed to play ball with the guys, it decides to rain.' The morose Pete stares out the window at the downpour and refuses to be comforted. 'Pete's father can't help noticing how miserable his son is. He thinks it might cheer Pete up to be made into a pizza.' So the imaginative Dad picks up his delighted son, places him on the kitchen table, and turns him into a laughing, giggling pizza, complete with talcum-powder cheese and checkers for pepperoni." (BCCB 12/98)
- Tarpley, Natasha Anastasia. I Love My Hair! Illus. by E.B. Lewis. Little, 1998.
"In a story based on the author's youth, a little girl tells of growing up to appreciate her hair. The loving relationship between child and hair-combing mother opens the story that consists primarily of the African-American narrator's reflections on how she feels about her hair, her hairstyles, and herself. Lewis' watercolor illustrations depict the attractive protagonist with energetic appeal. " (BCCB 4/98)
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This page was last updated on July 1, 1999.