As National Reading Month, March brings a celebration of reading along with spring and springtime holidays.
Here are two irresistible books which will “March” right into readers’ hearts.
“The Thingity-Jig” (2021, written by Kathleen Doherty, illustrated by Kristyna Litten, Peachtree, ages 3-7) opens with a deep blue illustration of a nighttime forest scene.
“One night, under the light of a silvery moon, all of Bear’s friends were deep asleep,” the prose begins.
“But Bear wasn’t sleepy — he wanted to play.”
Off he goes to town to find some fun.
What he finds — in a pile of garbage — is “a Thingity-Jig,” which the reader sees is an old, red couch.
“The Thingity-Jig was a springy thing. A bouncy thing. A sit-on-it, hop-on-it, jump-on-it thing,” the playful text reads.
Bear runs to his friends to recruit help in bringing it home.
However, his sleeping friends want to wait till morning.
That’s when Bear takes matters “into his own paws,” first building “a Rolly-Rumpity” (“a draggy thing. A pully thing. A pack-it-up, heap-it-up, load-it-up thing”), and then when his friends are still unwilling to help lift, a “Lifty-Uppity” with pulleys and ropes.
Readers will love the detailed illustrations showing the rolling contraptions built of ladders, umbrellas, lamps, pulleys, ropes and more!
However, on his way home, the Rolly-Rumpity gets stuck in the mud, so Bear (still with no help) builds a “Pushy-Poppity” to free the “Lifty-Uppity,” and he wheels the Thingity-Jig home.
As the sun rises, Bear’s friends see the Thingity-Jig, and, in the manner of the “Little Red Hen,” want to jump on it.
But in this story, Bear lets them bounce.
“Whee!” He claps and cheers. “My turn!” he says. And waits. And finally shouts, “IT’S MY TURN!”
The others get off, Bear flops down … and falls asleep.
Readers will love Bear’s inventiveness, the pulleys and levers in the contraptions, and the rollicking language as this clever story plays out.
“Welcoming Elijah: A Passover Tale with a Tail” (2020, written by Leslea Newman, illustrated by Susan Gal, Charlesbridge, ages 2-6) is the recent winner of the Sydney Taylor Book Award and the National Jewish Book Award.
“Inside, there was light. Outside, there was darkness,” the book begins, setting up the pattern of the text.
Ink, charcoal and digital collage illustrations contrast the blues and blacks of the night with the golden light inside the house.
The text goes on to contrast warmth and laughter inside with a windy silence outside.
We’re introduced to the characters as a boy hugs his family in a joyous celebration while outside, a kitten sits alone.
“Tonight would be different from all other nights,” the text tells us.
“The boy knew this. The kitten did too.”
But the reader doesn’t know how.
The Seder begins, and the boy fills a cup for the prophet Elijah.
Then he waits for his favorite part of the Seder.
The Seder continues — inside, where the boy dips parsley in salt water, and outside, where the kitten chews on a wet blade of grass.
Inside, where the boy eats the festive meal, and outside, where the kitten eats nothing at all.
They’re both waiting, but we’re not sure for what.
At last, it’s time to open the door to welcome the prophet Elijah.
“Inside, the boy sprang up from his seat. Outside, the kitten scampered up the walk.”
The boy looks out. The kitten looks in.
“Elijah?” the boy says. “Meow!” responds the kitten. “And that’s how Elijah found a home,” the book ends, as the boy cuddles the kitten.
The spare lyrical text and flowing, joyful illustrations tell a full Passover story using just the right details.