Books, Current Events, Reviews

The Magic of Picture Books and of Olympics

Today’s post is one rescued from the archives; since the Winter Olympics just ended, this post’s contents and original date (Feb 21, 2012) seemed to make it perfect! As always with such posts, there is some of the old (revamped a bit) and a little something new: to bring you the forever magic of picture books!!

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Magic of Picture Books: Then

The four books in this section are from my 2012 post and I have made only minor updates to the content (appearances sake more than anything else).

Olympics Magic

The magic of Olympics is still there, despite the pandemic and everything else that made the news during the Summer and Winter Olympics this past year. Underneath everything else, there is something that still manages to shine through. And that something is what makes us watch the games, at least some of it, regardless of whether or not we are fans of any specific sports themselves. I know I have watched figure skating and curling as well as a few others simply because I am awed!!

One common thread among three of today’s books is self-esteem (and sports for two of them too)

It’s a Big World, Little Pig!

Title: It’s a Big World, Little Pig!
Author: Kristi Yamaguchi
Illustrator: Tim Bowers
Publishers:‎ ‎ Sourcebooks Jabberwocky; 1st Edition (March 6, 2012)
Genre: Children’s Performing Arts Fiction (4 – 8 years, and up)
Source: NetGalley digital review copy

Disclaimer: Received a digital ARC from NetGalley. This is my honest review of the book. 

Get it here: Amazon

In this sequel to a previous book by Kristi Yamaguchi, Little Pig explores and makes new friends. She finds that a smile is the same in all languages, and so very charmingly too; she also learns independence, to dream big, make new friends, and keep them.

Little Pig gets a big opportunity – to participate in the Olympics. But she is worried if she can manage but her friends and family encourage her to follow her dreams. She does so and comes out of the experience way richer – in friends – than before.

Rating: B (Only because I did not feel like rereading it too many times compared to other books for some reason)
Reading Level: Ages 4 to 8 years

The magic: dreams, friendships, and smiles

Franklin’s Valentines

Title: Franklin’s Valentines
Author: Paulette Bourgeois
Illustrator: Brenda Clark
Publishers:‎ ‎ Kids Can Press
Genre: Children’s Valentine’s Day Books/Fiction (3 – 8 years, and up)
Source: NetGalley digital review copy

Disclaimer: Received a digital ARC from NetGalley. This is my honest review of the book. 

Get it here: Amazon

Franklin never fails to charm. This story teaches us that the things of value are really not material things but love and friendship. When Franklin realizes that the Valentines he had prepared for his friends are all damaged and that he has none to give to his friends in return for their Valentines, he is sad. But he also sees that his friends still love him.

What Franklin does next is cute and shows that no matter what happens, you can always make things
better – it just depends on how you respond! Illustrations in this book, like other Franklin books, are bright and colorful and just plain lovable!

Perfect read for your young readers for Valentine’s Day or any day at all; like Franklin says in the book –“And Friendship Day can be any day you want it to be.”

Rating: B+ / Reading Level: Ages 4 and up

The magic: love and friendships

Getting Started in Pinewood Derby

Title: Getting Started in Pinewood Derby
Author: Troy Thorne
Publishers:‎ ‎ Fox Chapel Publishing (November 1, 2011)
Genre: Children’s Automotive Racing/Woodworking Projects/Nonfiction(8 – 12 years, and up)
Source: NetGalley digital review copy

Disclaimer: Received a digital ARC from NetGalley. This is my honest review of the book. 

Get it here: Amazon

First Thoughts

This year’s Pinewood Derby is still fresh in our memories. Though we did not win, it was, as before, great fun and we are looking forward to next year’s Derby already and my son has a pattern picked out along with decoration ideas.

The perfect book for a pinewood derby beginner or even someone who has done it before – this book offers great tips, step-by-step instructions with detailed photos for each step. The Pinewood Derby will be a breeze by the time you are done reading this book. The book is aimed at the scout. A friendly cartoon character called Dash Derby guides the young readers through the process of building their very own Pinewood Derby car.

And then some more

The book is divided into helpful, progressive sections making it easy for the young uns’ as well as the parents to understand: Starting off with a list of basic skills, items needed as well as dos and don’ts (including telling parents to let the boys build!), the book then has seven chapters as below:

1. Shopping. A handy, comprehensive shopping list is included here.   

2. Shaping. How to transform the block to a fancy car! Provides a tool list as well as detailed instructions with photos on how to use the tools to do this magical first transformation. Helpful tips are included to make the car a racing machine.   

3. Painting. Tips, tricks, material lists, patterns, and ideas as well as various options to paint and decorate and jazz up your car.   

4. Axle Prep and 5.Wheel Prep. Axle and Wheel prep help the car turn into the race car it is to be soon; proper preparation of these two help speed up the car.   

6. Weighting. This is definitely important; too heavy (over 5 ounces) means disqualification, and too light means the car might not be at optimal speed. Again, tips and tricks are provided to get the car to a proper weight.   

7. Test Runs. Last but not the least, this provides an opportunity to do test runs at home and figure out last minute adjustments before doing test runs on the official race track and before the big race! In addition, patterns are provided along with spaces to jot in precious memories of race day along with
your own photographs.

Rating: A / Reading Level: All cub scouts and parents  

The magic: of building things yourself!


Title: Sylvie
Author and Illustrator: Jennifer Sattler
Publishers:‎ ‎ Random House Books for Young Readers; Illustrated edition (May 26, 2009)
Genre: Children’s Self-Esteem Books/Fiction (3 – 8 years, and up)
Source: Library copy

Get it here: Amazon

This book is short, sweet, colorful, and delightful. In pictures that say a lot, and crisp text, this story teaches us to be happy being ourselves while also telling us that we should learn to love to explore and appreciate differences and new experiences.

How Sattler manages to say so much with so few words and keep us enthralled with eye-popping, vibrant, goofy illustrations is the magic of this book.

Sylvie is a young flamingo who wonders why she is pink and when she learns it it because of the pink shrimp she eats, she decides to experiment. Her experiments are all way too successful with her turning into a vivid palm-green, a yummy chocolate (she does look mmmm..), and also stripes among other colors and patterns. Well, too much of anything is not good, as Sylvie realizes with a tummy ache and decides to be pink again with just a bit of eye-popping lollipop of course!

Rating: A – Loved this book – since I borrowed  the eBook from our local library three days ago, I have already read it many times over for my DD and myself
Reading Level: Perfect for preschoolers but a great read for everyone

Magic of Picture Books: Today

February is Black History Month, and is going to be followed soon after by Women’s History Month. So the first book in my ‘today’ section that shows the magic of picture books is one that will help you celebrate both these months (and well, the year too). And next up is a delightful tale from Malaysia.

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Real-Life Tales of Black Girl Magic

Title: Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Real-Life Tales of Black Girl Magic
Edited by: Lilly Workneh and Foreword by: CaShawn Thompson
Publishers:‎ ‎Rebel Girls (September 28, 2021)
Genre:  Children’s Multicultural Biographies (6 years, and up)
Source: Netgalley Digital Review Copy

Disclaimer: Received a digital ARC from NetGalley. This is my honest review of the book. 

Get it here: Amazon

As with other books in the Rebel Girls series, this one is magic!! While I shamefully realized I barely knew or had heard of about a fifth of the women in this power-filled book, I am super-glad I now know of them. The book has made me eager to discover more about the featured women. And if I didn’t know (of) so many in this book, it left me wondering about the many such unknown heroes out there.

What I loved:

Everything, if I have to say it in one word. That said, I truly love and admire many things; and here are a few of them:

  • Representation. This is a book that is truly representative of black women – written and illustrated and showcasing black women from around the world and across the ages.
  • And within that, diverse and inclusive. The book includes people from around the world, both well-known (like Amanda Gorman or Toni Morrison) and those unknown to me (like potter Ladi Kwali or video game designer Muriel Tramis). I love that it features women across time (from ancient empresses and early trailblazers to the current times), and involved in a variety of professions and activities (writing, sports, politics, and so many more)
  • The mini-bios themselves are perfect. They sum up the featured person in straight-forward narratives while making readers curious to learn more at the same time.
  • The illustrations by over 60 different illustrators are stunning and vibrant and so glorious!! Simply WOW!
  • Don’t forget to check out the backmatter. It includes activities for young (and older) readers, a glossary, information about the authors and illustrators, resources to explore, as well as micro-bios of more black women from previous Rebel Girls books.
  • And last but not the least, the possibilities. Books like this are magic because they open up readers’ minds, lend to so many discussions and opportunities to be inspired, to learn, and to do more. It shows us that no matter who, what, or where we are from, if we can dream it, we can work towards doing it!

In Summary

Powerful and inspiring. So what are you waiting for? Get it now!!

Nenek Tata and the Mangrove Menace

Title: Nenek Tata and the Mangrove Menace
Authors and Illustrators: Judith Vun Price and Jacqui Vun
Publishers:‎ Crotchet Quaver (February 11, 2022)
Genre: Children’s Fiction | Multicultural Interest (3 – 12 years, and up)
Source: Netgalley Digital Review Copy

Disclaimer: Received a digital ARC from NetGalley. This is my honest review of the book. 

Get it here: Amazon

This is a cute, fun, and super-sweet read that is sure to entertain while simultaneously giving readers an insight into an aspect of Malaysian story-telling called hantu stories (ghost tales).

From the beloved ‘Once upon a time’ to ‘The End,’ this book delights, with surprises everywhere, its beautiful artwork, and of course, the story itself. The book introduces us to the protagonist, Nenek Tata and her husband at the start (oh, and Hitam, their cat too!) What starts off as a routine day on the farm soon turns out be, well, totally unexpected, slightly scary, and wholly hilarious! As the story progresses, we learn that nothing in life is always what it seems (both the mundane and the unexpected things); we also learn how to be resilient, resourceful, and stir up the courage to face our fears; and we learn that life is varied and delightful!

Both the simple, engaging, and crisp narrative and the detailed, unique, and vibrant artwork keep readers emotionally engaged and totally entertained. The pages are filled with details of everyday life, of the lush vegetation and the farm animals, of cultural aspects, and more, giving readers a wonderful peek into life on the farm in this corner of the world (Malaysian state of Sabah).

A glossary at the back provides meanings for words used in the book (like Nenek means grandmother)

In Summary

Entertaining with a whole range of emotions and so very informative too as we learn, unintentionally, about a whole new world (for many).

Get it here now 🙂

And Now, the End of This Post

Dear readers, have you read any of these books? Or similar ones? Do you believe in the magic of picture books? I would love to hear your thoughts on this post and any recommendations you have for me.

This post goes towards It’s Monday, What Are You Reading (children’s book edition) at TeachMentorTexts.

9 thoughts on “The Magic of Picture Books and of Olympics

  1. I haven’t heard of several of these books – thank you for introducing me to something new! I think they all sound great but am really interested in Nenek Tata and the Mangrove Menace!

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