By Patrick McDonnell
Little Brown Books for Young Readers, 2011
ISBN: 0316045462/ ISBN: 798-0316045469
Awards/Recognitions: *2012 Caldecott Honor *Charlotte Zolotow Award Winner *New York Times Notable Children’s Book *2011 Bank Street College Children’s Book Committee Outstanding Book
Me…Jane is warm and inspiring picture book biography about Dr. Jane Goodall’s childhood. Taking his inspiration from Dr. Goodall’s biography, author-illustrator Patrick McDonnell invites us to experience the wondrous imagination of a girl named Jane who spends her days climbing trees, observing nature, and helping animals. From an early age, we learn, Jane knew she would devote her life to helping animals. With her stuffed chimpanzee, Jubilee, ever by her side, Jane records and illustrates the world around her and fills her waking and dreaming with thoughts of Africa.
With simple, vivid language, Patrick McDonnell lets us peek into the world of Jane, a passionate girl devoted to following her dream from the beginning. Me…Jane is a book for wandering around in on a Sunday morning. Take all morning! Each read invites you to absorb the savory watercolor illustrations that express the artistic side of Jane and notice the 19th Century engravings that reflect her devotion to science. Childhood photos of and artwork by Jane Goodall are also incorporated and help make this book a keepsake.
For every girl who keeps a diary under her pillow or a dream in her heart, there is Me…Jane. Every page invites readers to celebrate our planet and to listen the beating of their own hearts. GA
By Margaret Cardillo and Illustrated by Julia Denos
Picture book, non-fiction
Balzer +Bray, 2011
Who hasn’t wanted to be Audrey Hepburn at one time or another, if for no other reason than to rock those fabulous pencil pants and bangs? Now, even the youngest readers can meet the legend.
Just Being Audrey captures the resilient and humble spirit of this beloved Hollywood icon, a woman known as much for her kindness and professionalism as she was for her films. Cardillo offers us a refreshing departure from brat star updates that we can get on TV any time.
I’m especially fond of Julia Denos’ illustrations here. They capture that unforgettable face and Hepburn’s distinctive fashion style. (Check out the spread of Hepburn in her most famous film costumes.) Don’t be surprised if your dress-up chest gets some new additions as a result.
Failed dancer, World War II survivor, Broadway star, Hollywood legend, UNICEF ambassador, loving child advocate – Audrey Hepburn was all of them. How’s that for a strong girl? MM
By Maribeth Boelts, illustrated by Lauren Castillo
Candlewick Press, 2012
Awards/Recognitions: *Publisher’s Weekly, Starred review
In Happy Like Soccer, Sierra has just made a new soccer team and she loves it, but Sierra’s team plays across town, far from her apartment, and games take place on Saturdays. That’s the day Sierra’s auntie works long hours. While it’s nice to hear people cheering for her jersey number, Sierra wishes her auntie could see her play just once. Just once, Sierra wishes she could hear someone cheer for her by name.
Finally, her auntie gets a day off to watch Sierra play soccer. Under gray skies and the threat of rain, they take two buses to get to the field across town. Sierra can’t hide her disappointment when the game is called before it starts; she knows that Auntie’s boss will never allow her to take off two Saturdays in a row. Later that night at home, Sierra thinks of a way to play the rescheduled game that just might work for her auntie and the team. She’ll need some help to make it happen. Does Sierra dare to share her plan with Coach and ask for his help?
One of the most important skills for girls to learn is self-advocacy. For Sierra, the desire to join the two things she loves most – family and soccer – helps her speak up for herself. Author, Maribeth Boelts, and illustrator, Lauren Castillo, are perfectly paired in Happy Like Soccer. The inviting call and response of words and pictures bring both the light and shadows of Sierra’s story to life. GA
By Mac Barnett, Illustrated by Jon Klassen
Balzer + Bray, 2012
Awards/recognitions: *Junior Library Guild Selection *New York Times Bestseller *An IndieBound Top 10 Kids Next List Pick
If you’re familiar with Mac Barnett (writer and self-proclaimed strong man for hire), you know he’s a comedy master who is especially good at the inside joke in writing and beyond. To illustrate: He’s the founder of The Echo Park Time Travel Mart – a sort of 7-11 convenience store for time travelers. That he’s collaborated with Jon Klassen, last year’s 2012 Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor winner for I Want My Hat Back, is a stroke of genius.
But guess what? You won’t get the side splitter you’d imagine. Instead, we get something better.
Annabelle finds a box of yarn and starts knitting. It looks like a plain box of yarn – except that it isn’t. The yarn never runs out. So begins the adventure of a little girl with a heart big enough to knit hats and sweaters (and, um, other stuff) for the whole world, just because she can. No amount of bullying or negativity can stop her.
There are plenty of funny moments (and inside jokes about suspiciously familiar characters), but what I love about this little gem isn’t the comedy. It’s the allegory. Annabelle knits happiness on her own terms, and it’s so pure and strong you might just wish to go hunting for your own ball of yarn, too. MM
By Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee; illustrated by Tony Fucile
Early reader/picture book/or some new form these brilliant people have discovered, ages 4 – 8
Candlewick Press, 2010
Awards/recognitions: * ALA Notable Children’s Book 2010 * Theodor Seuss Geisel Award
Charming, sweet, funny – you could use any of those descriptions for Bink & Gollie. But what makes this stand out as a Girls of Summer selection is that it celebrates girl friendship the way it ought to be. The story captures two complicated and headstrong buddies who figure out how to share fun and still leave room for individuality. (Seriously, is that too much to ask?) Gollie is tall and intellectual; Bink is short and all heart. In a mere 80 pages, DiCamillo and McGhee touch on disagreements, envy, and even a clash in temperament. But what I admire most is that the girls never try to hide who they are in order to remain friends. Instead, they make room for the other, whether it means trekking through the Andes or befriending a goldfish. Rounding things out are the illustrations by Tony Fucile of Disney fame for his award-winning character design for films like The Incredibles among others. His work here has a charming retro feel and palette that I find irresistible. MM
I love that Bink and Gollie are part of “Girls of Summer.” What particularly thrills me is that they are seen as being absolutely, utterly, unapologetically themselves: strong, curious, a little bit difficult, a lot joyous. – Kate DiCamillo
Read the Girls of Summer interview with Bink and Gollie co-author Alison McGhee here!
Visit Bink & Gollie‘s website: www.binkandgollie.com
By Jeannette Franklin Caines, illustrated by Pat Cummings
Publisher recommends ages: 4-8, Girls of Summer recommends ages 4-88
Harper Collins, 1984
Awards/recognitions: * Reading Rainbow Book
A summer road trip.
Two shoe boxes jam-packed with fried chicken, pound cake, and deviled eggs.
A summer road trip.
Jump off, journey back to the place where your skin and your hair and your heart feel free.
“No boys, no men, just us women,” is the refrain so joyfully sung is this story by the late Jeannette Caines and in the illustrations by Pat Cummings. What will Aunt Martha and her niece do on their road trip to North Carolina? Whatever they want! Where will they stop along the way? Wherever they want!
Just Us Women celebrates the special bond often present between Aunt and Niece, conjures that magical feeling you get when you arrive back to the loving arms of folks in whose faces you see your own, and affirms the truth that independence, curiosity, and sass are gifts taught and passed generation-to-generation, woman-to-girl.
First published twenty-seven years ago, Just Us Women is one of those books deserving of dual roles: picture-book essential and special-occasion-gift. Share this illustrated anthem to summer road trips with girls and women of all ages – little girls, graduating girls, and even silver-haired girls wearing red hats and purple dresses. GA
Learn more about illustrator Pat Cummings.
Visit the Jeanette Caines Fan Page.