Three new picture books celebrate being different and unique in very different ways and in very different formats. Each book, just like the theme of the books, looks different and unique.
“You’re All Kinds of Wonderful” by Nancy Tillman is a lovely book. From the beautiful rhyming text to the absolutely lovely illustrations, the message is that we are all different, and that’s a wonderful thing. She tells kids that it’s not easy to find what’s right for you. “You’ll try some things on that simply don’t fit. Don’t be discouraged. That’s all part of it.”
The illustrations are at times touching — the black-haired girl tenderly wrapping an elephant’s trunk in gauze — and at times joyful — the cover illustration of a girl sitting on a seal and ringing a bell with an incredibly happy look on her face. She looks as if she may have a developmental disability, and, indeed, all the children are ethnically diverse. The images of the animals and the children are stunning and will capture the imagination of children and adults alike. This book is a treasure. (Feiwel and Friends Books)
Another book celebrating diversity in a very different way is the Big Golden Book,”We’re Amazing 1, 2, 3! A Story about Friendship and Autism.” In this Sesame Street story, Elmo’s friend Julia does things differently. Elmo knows how to behave and how to help Julia, but when Abby comes along and wants to play with them, Elmo explains how Julia is just a bit different. By the end of the story, it’s very obvious how they are the same, as well! This is a great resource for teaching kids about autism and how autistic kids may have slightly different needs (quiet environment, simple language). It’s also about how autistic kids still enjoy the same things as all kids. (Golden Books)
“It’s Shoe Time!” by Bryan Collier is an “Elephant & Piggie Like Reading!” book, which means that the story starts with an introduction by Elephant and Piggie, and that the book is chosen by Mo Willems as part of his signature series of books. The story starts with a play on words. Instead of “It’s SHOW TIME,” the story is “It’s Shoe Time.” And the characters are mostly shoes. A girl is excited about spending the day with her daddy. (Are her parents divorced or is this just a special day? Readers can interpret it any way they want.)
She wants to pick special shoes, and all the shoes wonder what (whom) she’ll pick. When she picks a different shoe for each foot, the shoes are beside themselves. The sneakers comment, “That was sneaky!” and says “They got left behind. Get it?”
Then, right in the middle, Elephant and Piggie weigh in again. What will happen? Piggie says, “I hoof to know!”
At the end, the reader finds that the girl picked her shoes perfectly and with a reason. Much is made of the word “pair” and matching and going together. The story is silly but has a message: it’s okay to be different. It’s also great for readers to see characters who are African American. (Hyperion Books for Children)
Please note: This review is based on the final, hardcover books provided by the publishers for review purposes.