Three Picture Books That Will Make Children Think

There are several new picture books that are wonderful choices to read with children and which will encourage thoughtful conversations about life, friendship and perseverance.

Kathryn Otoshi’s newest book, “Draw the Line,” continues with her other books’ themes of friendship, reconciliation, and how to deal with anger. In this wordless book, two boys draw lines and bump into each other. The lines magically become rope and the two boys have fun playing together until one accidentally hurts the other. Then things get ugly, but time and a gesture from one boy start the road to healing the rift and playing again. This is a book that could be used in many ways – by psychologists, by social workers, by parents, and by teachers, to talk to children about anger and how to deal with problems. The illustrations are simply drawn in black and white with just two additional colors: yellow and purple. The colors are used to enhance the emotions of the two boys — yellow for happy and dark purple clouds for anger. It’s a striking and important book for libraries and classrooms. (Roaring Brook Press)

“There’s Nothing to Do!” by Dev Petty and illustrated by Mike Boldt continues the tale of young frog and his dad. It’s a slow summer day and there’s nothing for the young frog to do. His friends aren’t doing anything interesting, and he’s unhappy until someone says,

“Why do you have to do anything? Just be. Watch clouds go by. Think about stuff. Then put DO NOTHING on your to-do list, and check it off. Sometimes the best ideas come when you stop looking for them.”

And just when young frog finds the joy of doing nothing, there’s a surprise twist. This book is just as perfect in its message as “I Don’t Want to Be a Frog” and “I Don’t Want to Be Big” are. All are inspirational with clever messages for all little “frogs.” (Doubleday Books for Young Readers)

“The Bad Mood and the Stick” by Lemony Snicket and illustrated by Matthew Forsythe is all about a bad mood (a colorful cloud-shaped aura with an angry face) that gets passed from person to person. It all starts with Curly, who is in a bad mood because her mother won’t get her ice cream. She picks up a stick and pokes her brother. Now her mother is in a bad mood. The raccoon picks up the stick and frightens an old man. The story continues the chain of events with the mood getting passed (sometimes) to other people and eventually going around the world. In fact, according to the book, “You yourself had it several times.” There’s plenty of ice cream in the story, and ice cream makes all bad moods better. And if it doesn’t, it should. (Little, Brown and Company Books for Young Readers)

Open the door to discussions about emotions and friendship by adding these three books to your classroom, home bookshelf, or school library. They may not spend much time on the shelf!

Please note: This review is based on the final, hardcover books provided by the publisher for review purposes.

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