Today I have two beautifully presented picture books for you and one of them is so delectable I have designated it a Top Book of 2016 pick! We received both of these tomes from their respective publishers via Netgalley.
First up: Everywhere and All Around by Pimm Van Hest and Sassafrass de Bruyn. Here’s the blurb from Goodreads:
Yolanda’s mom has died.
One moment she was breathing. And the next moment she wasn’t.
She was there, and yet she wasn’t.
Where could her mom be now?
“If you look for me, my darling, you will find me,”
her mom had told her.
So Yolanda decides to go looking.
Looking for her mom who died.
Along the way she gets help and insights from some wonderful people.
A poetic story about loss and about a little girl’s inspiring belief and touching confidence.
Dip into it for…
…a gorgeous, evocative ode to a mother’s love and the power of memory, presented in an accessible way for even the smallest mini-fleshling who has experienced grief. This is an impressive piece of work that blends sensitivity with the starkness of death, presented with atmospheric illustrations that inspire the imagination and beautifully reflect the emotions associated with grief and loss. The story, which involves Yolanda asking others where her mother might be, is reminiscent of Mem Fox’s classic Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge, as Yolanda “collects” ideas about where her mother has gone. The result is a moving presentation of the ways people – and especially little people – find meaning in death. If you work with children in any capacity, but especially in education or counselling, you need this book in your life.
Don’t dip if…
…you’re hoping for a book filled with euphemisms for our final curtain. There is nothing cutesy or gimmicky about this book and no punches are pulled when reflecting the reality of death as final loss. The book is all the more powerful for this in my opinion.
Overall Dip Factor
I’m not often blown away by the quality of a picture book, but this one is a class apart. The text and illustrations work so perfectly together to address a difficult topic and the end result is a memorable reading experience that will be returned to again and again. Despite its refusal to tippy-toe around the trickier parts of death, this book is steeped in reassurance that our loved ones are not gone as long as they are remembered with fondness.
Unsurprisingly, Everywhere and All Around is one of my Top Book of 2016 picks!
Next up we have The Spinfords by AnnMarie Martin. Here’s the blurb from Goodreads:
What’s the one thing in the world that scares kids the most? Being different.
But not Salvatore. You see, Salvatore’s webs are different. Much to his family’s disappointment. Because this family of circus-performing spiders has built their act off tradition. Webs are circles, period.
But not Salvatore’s. And over his father’s squashed body is he going to let him perform with them. It would ruin all they worked for since Grandpa Sebastian Spinford started their show back in 1934. But Salvatore knows better. He knows the crowd is craving something new and fresh. And with his grandfather’s help, he’s going to prove it.
Salvatore’s story will give children of all ages the confidence to be themselves, no matter what.
Dip into it for…
…a bright, humorous story about a little spider with big ideas. The highlight of this book for me is in the illustrations. The contrast of the bright, bold colours and shapes against the dark blue background and luminous spotlights really bring the circus atmosphere of the story to life. Salvatore is a likable little guy with an urge to be creative and a desire to stand out from the crowd. His family are well-meaning in discouraging him from branching out in his web building, but ultimately, Salvatore must make the tough decision to show his true webby colours.
Don’t dip if…
…you don’t like picture books that have a mismatch between format, intended audience and amount of text. There is a lot of text for the picture book format and I found the font used, while being an artistically appropriate choice, difficult to read as it was too closely spaced. Similarly, this felt to me like it would work better in an early reader format, given the amount of text in the story.
Overall Dip Factor
This is a fun, engaging story for the five to eight year old market. The amount of text would make it tough choice for younger readers with shorter attention spans, but that slightly older bracket should find much to enjoy and much to relate to in creative, determined Salvatore. For me, a more considered use of space in the text would have enhanced the reading experience, but apart from that, I found this to be a funny, well-presented offering.
I hope you’ve found something to sink your reading teeth into here folks!
Until next time,