Archive for the ‘Kathy’s Picks’ Category

An antique lithograph of Henry “Box” Brown, created by Samuel Rowse in 1850, inspired Kadir Nelson’s paintings for this book.  To give the feel of the original lithograph, Mr. Nelson crosshatched pencil lines, and then applied layers of watercolor and oil paint.  The illustrations are haunting and powerful.  

Henry is born into a life of slavery, however he and his family consider themselves fortunate to be working for a master who is good to them.  The life of a slave is uncertain, and when the master becomes ill, young Henry is torn from his family and sent away to work in the son’s tobacco factory.  Henry, accepting his separation, works hard and is good at his job. Years go by and Henry meets Nancy, a slave. They marry and have three children.  Once again Henry appears to be lucky because even though he and his wife have different masters they are allowed to live together. Then fate deals Henry another devastating blow.  Without warning, Nancy’s master sells Henry’s family. Nelson’s two-page spread, illustrating their separation is a moving portrayal of the family’s fear, anguish and desperation. 

Henry overcome with grief and deeply depressed, realizes that he will never see his family again.  Weeks go by and his desire to be free is all consuming.  While lifting a crate, he decides to mail himself to freedom.  He enlists the help of an abolitionist doctor to seal him in a crate and ship him to Philadelphia.  His incredible journey via horse-drawn cart, train and steamship in cramped quarters is illustrated through creative cutaway images.  Henry finally arrives safely in Philadelphia on March 30, 1849.  The crate is opened and Henry celebrates his birthday—his first day of freedom!     

This 2008 Caldecott Honor Book tells a story of extraordinary courage and determination. Henry’s 350 mile, twenty-seven hour journey from Richmond, VA made newspaper headlines across the United States and Europe. Henry “Box” Brown was known as one of the most famous runaway slaves on the Underground Railroad.

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“WAA! WAA! WAA! I will not go to bed,” the teeny-tiny, itty-bitty, little Prince said

Parents, babysitters, caregivers and grandparents have all experienced the bedtime blues, when that child just can’t be persuaded—-it’s time for bed.

The King and Queen are out to a ball and the Prince refuses to go to bed. The Nanny tries entertaining the prince with a little pat-patty-cake. The Prince is quite content until Nanny announces its time for sleep. The Prince begins to wail and Lord Gerty suggests perhaps a warm bath will soothe him into dreamland. The Prince is delighted with his bubble bath, but when tucked into bed he quickly sends out a loud protest. The rest of the palace servants frantically try their luck attempting to find something that will lull the little guy to sleep. A feather pillow, peach and juicy plum pudding, softer mattress, gentle music, nothing seems to work. Just as the frustrated group runs out of ideas, the howling Prince wakes up his older sister, Princess Kate. She hurries to her brother’s room and quickly identifies the problem. Quite simply, all the prince wants is a goodnight kiss.

Children will laugh out loud as they identify with the Prince’s clever antics.

Ms. Brooker’s illustrations, a combination of paint and collage in rich tones, create characters that appear to pop off the page. Their faces although comical are overflowing with emotion and expression.

Ms Dodd brings the medieval world to life with lively text that has wonderful rhythm and pace, making this book perfect for reading aloud.


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