Monday, April 9, 2018
Today I want to share two wonderful books for children, both written by Steve Richardson. They are inspiring and uplifting picture story books/early chapter books, and each one is beautifully illustrated. Both are picture books for kids of any age, since the pictures tell each story visually. They are the kind of books that belong in libraries—public, school, and personal—because they beg to be read more than once. The first is Paisley Rabbit and the Treehouse Contest, which came out last month. The second is Billy's Mountain. (My neighbor read it to her two-year-old grandson, and he has been building mountains in her back garden ever since.) Without further ado:
Paisley Rabbit and the Treehouse Contest,
written by Steve Richardson, illustrated by Chris Dunn
When Jimmy Squirrel announces that his dad can build the biggest, best treehouse in the world, he stirs up competition among his friends—and not the best kind. Everyone says their dad can build bigger and better ones. Only Paisley Rabbit is silent, but she is the one to suggest a contest: Everyone will build a treehouse and then vote on the best one.
They all get to work on building their treehouses—except Paisley. She gets to work on research instead. Her main priority is her little brother, Davy, who needs a kidney transplant. She promises him she will have a special project for him and then plots out her master plan.
There is so much to like about this book. No spoilers here, but Paisley shows how vision, perseverance, caring for others, and working together can achieve much more than brash ego. Her ultimate treehouse benefits others in a way no one would have foreseen. This is an inspiring story with a strong female protagonist. The ending is both surprising and deeply satisfying.
Chris Dunn's illustrations are gorgeous, with incredible details. Page by page, they tell the story as a feast for the eyes. This is a book for every home or school library, and it’s a layered story one will read again and again.
Billy's Mountain, written by Steve Richardson, illustrated by Herb Leonard
For Billy, life on a Kansas Prairie has only offered an unchanging landscape of flat prairie. His favorite book shows snow-capped mountains, forests, waterfalls. One day an idea comes to him: he’ll build a mountain like the ones in his beloved book. It will bring all the wildlife in those pictures: bears, deer, elk, beavers. At first, Billy enlists the help of his friends, but the going is slow, and they give up after they’ve built a forty-foot hill.
But Billy is determined. He contacts a family friend who is also a reporter. The reporter writes an article about Billy’s dream. The story makes national news. The news reaches an old man who remembershisearly dreams. He, too has a determined spirit. He decides to work with Billy. And when young and old work together with determination—well, miracles can happen.
The author takes time with the miracles that unfold in this book. Young readers will develop an understanding of ecology and wildlife while seeing, too, the result of collective effort and commitment. None of this is didactic or preachy. It’s easy to get involved in Billy’s plans and root for them, and it’s interesting to wait for what comes next.
Herb Leonard’s illustrations have the same, comfortable feel that drives the story. Kansas prairies, mountain meadows, snow caps and streams, Billy’s hopeful face as he thinks of his mountain—all these have a glow to them that make a reader feel they are in each scene.
You can learn more about Paisley Rabbit and the Treehouse Contest HERE
You can learn more about Billy's Mountain HERE
How about you? Do you have favorite books that keep resonating with you because of both the wonderful story and the wonderful illustrations? Any titles, authors, or illustrates to share?