Alice B. McGinty | Stories featuring friendship, adventure

Alice B. McGinty | Stories featuring friendship, adventure

Summer is winding down and the school year starting up. I hope, your young readers can look back at the summer and remember special adventures with friends and family. These two new picture books are a great way to celebrate adventures and friends.

"100 Things I Love to do with You" (2017, Abrams Appleseed, written and illustrated by Amy Schwartz, ages 3-7) is a big, playful book filled with lots of white space and friendly, vignette-style watercolor illustrations.

It begins, "Run races, make faces, leapfrog, walk the dog," and then progresses to "ride waves, misbehave," with a page turn between these last two rhymed vignettes to increase the fun. While the format of the book is in the style of a list, once you're reading you realize it's much more than a simple list. The diverse group of children in the colorful illustrations have one adventure after another, all in the context of everyday life. They write secret codes, eat rocky road, watch clouds and laugh out loud, play London Bridge and raid the fridge.

This uplifting tribute to friendship ends with "Dream dreams, follow streams, bury treasure, be friends forever!" It is a joyful reminder of the many simple things that friends can enjoy together. If you like this book, check out Schwartz's 2014 book, "100 Things that make me Happy."

In "Baabwaa & Wooliam" (2017, Candlewick Press, written by David Elliott, illustrated by Melissa Sweet, ages 4-8), we meet Wooliam, who, in Sweet's playful mixed media illustrations, is reading a book. On the page, the text says, "You will note that William is reading. There are not many sheep who read. But Woolaim is one of them."

We then meet Baabwaa, who is knitting. "Knitting is a very practical hobby for a sheep," we read.

These two friends spend their days reading and knitting, knitting and reading, until Wooliam, who's finishing an adventure book, says that they should have an adventure of their own. Baabwaa agrees.

Off they go, sun shining, birds singing. "This last bit — about the birds — was especially good because adventures usually involve some kind of trouble, and it's nice to have a little birdsong to help you though it," the text notes.

And indeed they meet trouble when another "sheep" comes along with a long, rangy tail, a sharp, whiskered snout and filthy wool coat.

"Run!" Wooliam says. "It's that Wolf in Sheep's Clothing I've read about."

They run. But the wolf stops. "Let's quit this nonsense for a minute," he says. "Have you actually read about me?" he asks.

Wooliam shows him the book, but the mournful wolf can't read. Baabwaa volunteers Wooliam to teach the wolf (Wooliam is not so sure), and she volunteers to knit the wolf a less disgraceful wool coat as well.

Back at their tiny trailer home near the woods, they begin their lessons, as well as an unlikely friendship. And when the wolf jumps up every so often in the middle of a lesson to chase the two sheep around the field, Baabwaa reminds Wooliam that the wolf is simply following his nature, and besides, the two sheep could use the exercise.

This friendly, humble adventure story is sure to entertain young readers with its clever text, its lovable characters and its subtle storyline about learning to read.

Alice B. McGinty (alicebmcginty.com) is the award-winning author of over 40 books for children and the recipient of the 2017 Illinois Reading Council's Prairie State Award for Excellence in Writing for Children. Each summer, McGinty runs a writing camp for teens, Words on Fire.

Sections (1):Living
Topics (1):Books
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