Friday, January 1, 2021

Picture books for ages 4-9 from Candlewick Press teach, entertain, delight [Review & Giveaway - USA/CANADA]

Grow: Secrets of Our DNA by Nicola Davies & illustrated by Emily Sutton (Hardcover ISBN: 9781536212723, Ages 5-9)

My thoughts: 
  I simply love how picture books have entered the realm of the complex to introduce children to thoughts and ideas, scientific facts, and historic events that are normally reserved for older students or adults. The complexity of facts are now broken down into bits that the younger mind can grasp planting the seed that will germinate when presented the opportunity to grown into the more informed idea.

Who would have thought to introduce children to a study of DNA? While simplified, there is a grand nugget of information in this gently told study of life on Earth and its connection through the eons of time, the similarity, and diversity of all life. 

About the book: Earth is full of life! All living things grow—plants, animals, and human beings. The way they grow, whether it be fast or slow, enormous or not so big, helps them survive. But growing is also about change: when people grow, they become more complicated and able to do more things. And they don’t have to think about it, because bodies come with instructions, or DNA. With simple, engaging language and expressive, child-friendly illustrations, Nicola Davies and Emily Sutton provide an introduction to genetic code and how it relates to families to make us all both wonderfully unique and wholly connected to every living thing on earth.

Love is Powerful by Heather Dean Brewer & illustrated by LeUyen Pham (Hardcover ISBN: 9781536201994, Ages 5-8)

My thoughts: Not a favorite of mine, but the message is powerful. I don't feel comfortable with the inclusion of children in protest marches or gatherings of any type that involve political or social-economic thought. The Women's March of 2017 was not a place for a child.

However, the connection of child and mother in creating signs stating the power of love is beautifully illustrated in the home. I thought at first the story line was going to be one where the child and mother post signs in the window, on street posts, bulletin boards, etc. Which is fine and shares a message of loving one another. A quiet, peaceful method of "protest."

About the book: Mari is getting ready to make a sign with crayon as the streets below her fill up with people. “What are we making, Mama?” she asks. “A message for the world,” Mama says. “How will the whole world hear?” Mari wonders. “They’ll hear,” says Mama, “because love is powerful.” Inspired by a girl who participated in the January 2017 Women’s March in New York City, Heather Dean Brewer’s simple and uplifting story, delightfully illustrated by LeUyen Pham, is a reminder of what young people can do to promote change and equality at a time when our country is divided by politics, race, gender, and religion.

Jabari Tries by Gaia Cornwall (Hardcover ISBN: 9781536207163, Ages 4-8)

My thoughts:
 This is a very nice story of a family, at home, actively playing in creative, ingenious ways. The father is allowing the boy, Jabari, to pursue his quest of design without know-it-all interference. The little sister is on site being a present, wanting-to-help little sister. Jabari wants to accomplish this by himself.

So he tries, fails, redesigns, tries again. The tried and true method of design, success, creative, education. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the gentle, non-invasive interaction of family in Jabari's pursuit. I love the at-home play and discovery. I love the ending.

About the book: Jabari is making a flying machine in his backyard! “It’ll be easy. I don’t need any help,” he declares. But it doesn’t work! Jabari is frustrated. Good thing Dad is there for a pep talk and his little sister, Nika, is there to assist, fairy wings and all. With the endearing father-child dynamic of Jabari Jumps and engaging mixed-media illustrations, Gaia Cornwall’s tale shows that through perseverance and flexibility, an inventive thought can become a brilliant reality.

Flying Paintings: The Zhou Brothers: A Story of Revolution and Art by Amy Alznauer & illustrated by ShanZuo Zhou & DaHuang Zhou (Hardcover ISBN:9781536204285, Ages 5-9)

My thoughts:  The Chinese Cultural Revolution (onset and take over of communism) is hardly the topic for a children's picture book. However, this peek into the times of the Cultural Revolution and its impact on two Chinese boys whose artistic abilities were encouraged by a loving grandmother and at the same time stymied by the constraints of the harsh regime is interestingly portrayed in Flying Paintings. Of particular interest is the illustrations for this book are done by the two artists themselves. A rare foray for established artists.

The destruction of the grandmother's bookshop during the revolution is simply stated, and the separation and constraints imposed on the two boys is simply a fact of the times; and all of this is mildly stated in the text that portrays the story of these two boys.

I perceive this an important children's picture book biography that can also find its place amidst deeper, more intense studies of the Chinese Cultural Revolution; the book should definitely be placed in children's biographic collections.

The art of the two boys is contemporary in nature and they even ventured to copy ancient cave paintings and actually did some cave painting of their own. 

They eventually immigrated to the United States of America and now reside in Chicago. Their art is displayed in America and also in Beijing, China.

I'm not particularly a fan of contemporary art, but I am definitely an admirer of people who have overcome the hardships of the Chinese Cultural Revolution and made a life for themselves in America. 

About the book: First there was one Zhou brother, and then there were two. They lived in a bookstore with their grandmother, Po Po, whose stories of paintings that flew through the air and landed on mountain cliffs inspired them to create their own art. Amid the turbulence of China’s Cultural Revolution in the 1970s, the Zhou Brothers began painting together on the same canvas. Today, ShanZuo and DaHuang Zhou are icons in the art world, renowned for working side by side on all their paintings and sculptures.

 In this extraordinary biography, author Amy Alznauer joins with the Zhou Brothers to tell the story of their unique and often difficult childhood and their pursuit of a wild, impossible dream. The lyrical writing blends elements of legend, while the brothers’ dramatic illustrations soar with vibrant colors and surreal imagery from ancient Chinese cliff paintings. An inspiration for young artists and dreamers of all kinds, this deeply felt collaboration explores how art can bring people together, as well as set them free.

2 Winners Receive All 4 Books
Begins January 1
Ends January 30 @ 12:01 a.m. EST
Open to USA & CANADA addresses only.
No P.O. Boxes & Canadian winners must provide phone number
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Winner's copy is provided and sent directly to the winner by Candlewick Press or publicist.


  1. My kindness for the day is to purchase some groceries and deliver them to my sister. Happy New Year to all!
    twinkle at optonline dot net

  2. Would love to win for my grandkids!

  3. My kindness for today is wishing family and friends a 🥳 Happy New Year and I love ❤️ them!

  4. Throughout the year (s past and future)when I'm out to lunch with my Mom or daughter and I see someone sitting by themselves, I pay for their meal. I have a soft spot for the elderly so it is usually an elder that I do this for.

  5. I helped my neighbor with groceries today

  6. Yesterday, I picked up the yard for my neighbor next door before the rain set in.

  7. I am helping my neighbor with shopping today

  8. Doing a foodbank pickup for The Salvation Army

  9. I'm trying to be kinder to everyone this year!

  10. My kindness for today was leaving treats on my neighbour"s door.

  11. I baked bread and shared with my neighbor

  12. I did offer to help a co-worker with some of her work.
    twinkle at optonline dot net

  13. I would like them for my niece and nephews .

  14. I shoveled my elderly neighbors driveway.


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