In the third term in this year's Reading-Around-the-World, we focused on books set in Canada, Alaska, the Arctic, and Antarctica, to correlate loosely with First Son's study of the Arctic and Antarctic.
A Cat in a Kayak by Maria Coffey, illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes, is a funny tale of a cat whose home is inundated with obnoxious noisy animals until Teelo thinks he can't stand it anymore, but when he sneaks off for some peace and quiet, he realizes home is a pretty good place to be. It's set in Canada, but there are only a few pages that really give a glimpse of the country. The children enjoyed it.
Under a Prairie Sky byAnne Laurel Carter, illustrated by Alan and Lea Daniel, is a small story of a young boy who wants to be a Mountie when he grows up. His father gives him a mission: to find his brother before a storm comes. So off he rides, showing us the land and animals all around their farm before finding his young (adorable) brother and bringing him home ahead of the storm. I liked this story more than the kids did.
Disappearing Lake: Nature's Magic in Denali National Park by Debbie S. Miller, illustrations by Jon Van Zyle, is a fantastic picture book about a lake the author and her family visited regularly which, like many lakes in Alaska, forms as the spring melts the snows and gradually disappears as the water seeps into the earth. It's beautifully illustrated and gives a wonderful glimpse of nature study at its best.
Kumak's House: A Tale of the Far North by Michael Bania is essentially the same story you'll find in It Could Always Be Worse: A Yiddish Folk Tale (another wonderful book). The author and illustrator lived in the Arctic as a teacher for 17 years, and the details in the book show that. There are in-depth explanations of many features at the end of the book. And it's a funny story.
The Polar Bear Son: An Inuit Tale retold and illustrated by Lydia Dabcovich is the tale of an Inuit woman who raises a polar bear cub. He grows to be an excellent son, loyal, loving, and helpful, despite what any of the villagers thinks or says. I really liked the illustrations in this book.
Go Home, River by James Magdanz, illustrated by Diane Widom, is one of my favorite picture books. There's a wonderful blend of family, Inupiat culture, and natural science. The illustrations, painted in octopus ink, are lovely as well.
River of Life by Debbie S. Miller, illustrated by Jon Van Zyle, is a wonderful book exploring the banks of a river in Alaska throughout the year. It gently introduces the readers to a world of wildlife. The illustrations are rich with color and movement. This should probably have a post as one of my favorite picture books.
The Frog Princess: A Tlingit Legend from Alaska retold by Eric A. Kimmel, illustrated by Rosanne Litzinger, is the tale of a princess courted by many but dismissive of them all until a mysterious man appears who leads her into the lake.
Beyond the Northern Lights by Lynn Blaikie has relatively little text and lots of beautiful illustrations. I really enjoyed this book myself.
Kumak's Fish: A Tall Tale from the Far North by Michael Bania is the ultimate fish tale (inspired by a real story) that celebrates a community working together. The illustrations are delightful as well. Kumak is a favorite with the children.
Very Last First Time by Jan Andrews, illustrated by Ian Wallace, is the story of the first time Eva Padlyat walked the bottom of the seabed in search of mussels. It's a nice story of courage and accomplishment for young children.
The Blizzard's Robe by Robert Sabuda is a legend of the gift of the northern lights and is one of my favorite picture books. The illustrations are magnificent. This is a book worthy to read even if you aren't seeking out Arctic or Antarctic books.
Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers is just wonderful. My children love many of Mr. Jeffers's books (especially Second Daughter, who laughs uproariously from beginning to end of Stuck), but he's not my favorite illustrator. This book, however, is probably my favorite Jeffers book with crisp sweet illustrations. If you haven't yet seen them, Mr. Jeffers has some wonderful vidoes. I like this one myself and you can even watch him read Stuck.
The Seasons and Someone by Virginia L. Kroll, illustrated by Tatsuro Kiuchi, is a brief glimpse of the year with a young Eskimo girl. There's a little culture, a little nature study, a little beauty, and a peaceful story wonderful to share with young children.
Penguin and Little Blue by Megan McDonald, illustrated by Katherine Tillotson, is one of many books about penguins at our library, but in this one the penguins attempt to adapt to a life of traveling celebrities, starting with a stay in a Kansas hotel. Hilarity ensures.
Little Penguin: The Emperor of Antarctica by Jonathan London, illustrated by Julie Olson, is a great book for young children on the life of a newborn emperor penguin. It's probably not great literature, but it's entertaining and informative. The illustrations usually fill the two page spread.
Other Posts on Reading Around the World with picture books
Australia, New Zealand, and Hawai'i
Central and South America