1.The Enemy: A Book About Peace by Davide Cali and Serge Bloch 2. The Girl And The Bicycle by Mark Pett 3. Edgar Wants To Be Alone by Jean-Francois Dumont 4. Sam & Dave Dig A Hole by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen 5. The Conductor by Laetitita Deverney
This library trip was actually library date with our good friend Alyse and her son Oliver. We took the skyway downtown, had lunch in the library’s courtyard, and came home with these gems.
The Enemy is a book I very much enjoyed as an adult, but had a little difficulty explaining to my four year old, which is good. I don’t mind being uncomfortable. The Enemy tells the story of two soldiers stuck in trenches in opposite sides of a very long war. They both want to go home to their families, they both want the war to end, they are both filled with misconceptions of who “the enemy” really is. Foos actually read The Enemy alone before we had a chance to do so together. She kept saying “mom, the enemy is real, the enemy wants to kill us,” which as you can imagine freaked me out. Reading it together put what she had been repeating into context. The Enemy is beautiful and the message the story puts forth, that war is futile, is incredibly important and worth the slight discomfort you may feel explaining this story to your kid.
The Girl And The Bicycle is a wordless picture book. We are big fans of those kinds of books (looking at you, David Wiesner!) because the story always changes slightly in the telling, and everyone has a different way of explaining the story as put forth by the illustrations. The Girl And The Bicyle is about a girl who really wants a bicycle she spotted while on a walk with her brother. She counts all the money in her piggy bank realizes she doesn’t have enough. Instead of giving up she works hard performing chores for a neighbor, and saving her earnings to purchase the bicycle. Judging by the change of seasons, it takes her about a year to earn enough. When she finally goes to the store to purchase the bicycle, it is gone. It isn’t a sad story (there is a really nice surprise at the end); it is a story about perseverance, kindness, and hard work. The illustrations are lovely. If you look closely, there is a lot in the illustrations about the background of the woman she does chores for, too. A side story of love and loss, a hint of the person who probably helped her with chores around the house in the past.
Edgar Wants To Be Alone is a book a bout a paranoid and cranky rat, who hates the other animals at the farm he lives in, treats them poorly, and gets his comeuppance in the end. Throughout the book Edgar the rat is convinced he is being followed by an earthworm. By showing what Edgar is doing with what is going on underground simultaneously, the illustrations do a really good job of letting you know if there is anything to Edgar’s paranoia. While I thought it was fairly predictable, Foos loved it.
I spotted Sam & Dave Dig A Hole in the “New Arrivals” section of the library AFTER I had checked out my other books, and just had to have it. I love Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen, together, individually, anyway you want to set them up, their work is always amazing. We had to read Sam & Dave Dig A Hole like three times before we realized what was going on, and even then I’m not quite sure. The book is funny, Sam & Dave start digging a hole to look for treasure, and every time the get close to finding something, they change direction or get tired. Their dog comes along and the poor dog always seems to know exactly where the treasure is, but is unable to communicate it to the boys. The ending is a bit of a mind fuck — they end up back “home” except its not the same house at the beginning of the book at all. They go in for a snack and I just want to yell “DONT GO IN THAT HOUSE IT’S NOT YOUR HOUSE!” but they do, and that is how the book ends. For all I know they are in another dimension, or got murdered, or maybe they got their snack. I don’t know and neither will you, but its a great book never the less.
The Conductor is another wordless picture book. I was attracted to the Goreyesque illustrations and the unusual dimensions of the book, which lent it an air of a being interesting/artsy. The illustrations show an orchestra conductor, conducting nature; a flick of his hands wills the leaves off the trees, turning them into birds. It’s a really beautiful book, whimsical and dreamy, but it doesn’t lend itself to much story telling.