Pic­ture books that cap­ture sum­mer magic

Lodi News-Sentinel - - Nation / World - By Lee Lit­tle­wood him

These new reads re­mind young­sters of the joys of the Fourth of July, the teem­ing wildlife of ponds and the re­fresh­ing feel­ing of an out­door nap.

‘Blue Sky White Stars’ by Sarvin­der Naber­haus; il­lus­trated by Kadir Nel­son; Dial Books/Pen­guin; 32 pages; $17.99.

Painted with de­tailed love by Kadir Nel­son, this ode to Amer­ica’s majesty and di­ver­sity is ex­actly what’s needed right now. The cre­ators smartly de­pict pe­riod-spe­cific flags, from a Civil War-era flag to Betsy Ross’s won­der. Sarvin­der Naber­haus clearly loves her adopted coun­try. Sim­ple phrases such as “Sea waves” and “See waves” and “All-Amer­i­can” are writ­ten in sparse large red, white and blue let­ters to show a base­ball game. Also showed is a photo-like il­lus­tra­tion of an African-Amer­i­can vet­eran eat­ing Cracker Jack pop­corn on a porch with a young boy.

This glo­ri­ous par­al­lel be­tween Amer­ica and its flag is sub­tle but mov­ing and beau­ti­ful. We must all re­mem­ber that our flag is a shin­ing sym­bol to up­hold “Life, Liberty, and the Pur­suit of Hap­pi­ness.” Nel­son’s time­less paint­ings are mu­seum-wor­thy.

‘On Duck Pond’ by Jane Yolen; pic­tures by Bob Marstall; The Cor­nell Lab Pub­lish­ing Group; 32 pages; $15.95.

Jane Yolen has long been a prolific poet for chil­dren, es­pe­cially about na­ture and all its crea­tures. This lovely pic­ture book takes place on old Duck Pond in New Eng­land. A boy strolling nearby with his dog ob­serves the pond, watch­ing the frogs, fish, tad­poles, herons and tur­tles re­act when a noisy raft of ducks drops in, and how the tran­quil­ity is re­placed by a tem­po­rary fer­vor that breathes new life into the mo­ment.

Yolen beau­ti­fully writes: “Tad­poles trou­bled by the splash/ Now marked new wa­ter roads to dash. The frog swam back to his old pad/ For­got­ten was the scare he’d had.” The words de­scribe Bob Marstall’s re­fresh­ingly peace­ful and med­i­ta­tive pic­tures — ex­cept for the splash!

‘The Per­fect Siesta’ by Pato Mena; NubeO­cho Pub­lish­ing; 38 pages; $15.95.

With the up-close face of a sleepy sloth star­ing out of the cover, Pato Mena’s uber-fun tale invites read­ers hap­pily from the start. “It was the mid­dle of the day in the jun­gle and the jaguar was very hot,” the story goes. When he feels a cool breeze, he thinks it’s the per­fect time to take a siesta, but he has some­thing im­por­tant to do and only wants to nap briefly. He asks a big-eyed coati to wake him up in 10 min­utes, but then, the coati feels the breeze and gets sleepy, and asks a cock­atiel to wake up in 10. This pat­tern con­tin­ues, with each an­i­mal get­ting sleepy un­til our orange sloth bat­tles his urge to sleep. But he can’t stay awake and falls asleep any­way. For­tu­nately, right then, his loud snore wakes them all up “right on the tenth minute!”

With a sum­mery palate of pale greens and blues, and coral or­anges, and a bevy of hugeeyed hi­lar­i­ous car­toon crea­tures, Mena’s ode to nap­ping is a must for sum­mer­time bed­times.

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