Don’t Drink the Pink by B.C.R. Fegan is a children’s book about the magic of a girl’s relationship with her grandfather, beautifully illustrated by Lenny Wen. The girl, Madeline, narrates the story of how her Grandfather Gilderberry, creates little potions in his workshop. She drinks a potion on every one of her birthdays for fourteen years. Each potion is a different color and causes something magical to happen to her for that birthday. Her grandfather always admonishes her not to choose the pink one. “Don’t drink the pink!” But when her grandfather dies, it’s the only potion left. What will happen when she drinks it?
This is a high-quality book. The combination of detail in the storytelling and illustrations in Don’t Drink the Pink is really exceptional and the concepts are presented in a sophisticated way. The colored potions are cued to an activity—such as controlling the weather or super-strength—and I felt there was an intuitive suitability between each color and the power it gave Madeline. And I was delighted by the honesty of B.C.R. Fegan’s writing that used the seemingly fantastical idea that a grandfather could give you special powers on your birthday to echo a child’s feelings accurately. Relationships with older relatives are unique in a child’s life and can be truly magical. Throughout the book her grandfather is a touchstone for helping Madeline ground herself as she ages year by year and the potions she receives are in harmony with her personal development. The conclusion helps prepare children for the natural concept of a loved one’s passing as well, rounding out a great book I was delighted to read.
Zip Pop Buzz by Dave Noland is a picture book that encourages kids to get involved with musical rhythm. It’s a sweet story about communication and helping someone out and can be used in a music classroom for small children or read at home. It follows the adventures of a little girl who is visited one day by a very opinionated ladybug. This ladybug seems to be asking for something, but she can’t communicate. She has only one thing to say—“Zip Pop Buzz.” No matter what the girl does, nothing seems to work for the ladybug. What is the ladybug looking for?
Enchanting and energetic are great words to describe this book. The storytelling is bouncy and easy on the ears, and it feels like a song. It was almost impossible for me to read this book without breaking into a hum, or a bit of a tune—interrupted often, of course, by the keyword Zip Pop Buzz. These words are a cue for kids to start getting active with rhythm sticks, making their own music. Participation is the point of the story and it’s easy to achieve because the ladybug is trying to communicate and that’s the essential purpose of sounds, including rhythmic ones. She doesn’t have words, but she does have sounds that convey her feelings. Each time Zip Pop Buzz is repeated, it has a different meaning. Does the ladybug want attention? Is she mad? Does she feel happy and grateful? Zip Pop Buzz by Dave Noland is a wonderful, feel-good book that will get kid’s toes tapping.
Goodnight, My Love! by Shelley Admont is a lovely picture book that encourages children to go to sleep at night. In it a father helps his small son, Alex. After drinking water and sending his father to get a particular toy, Alex says he isn’t sure what to dream about. Gently the father invents a dream the boy could have when asleep. The boy relaxes by imagining himself as a bird having adventures of flight over the ocean and scenic vistas on land. The father participates by describing himself as an older bird, the small bird’s companion. In the end, Alex is able to fall asleep while both his parents are pleased.
Goodnight, My Love! has a really sweet message and a gentle style. It certainly feels like something that could be read aloud to a kid who is actually in bed and having trouble sleeping. The cute illustrations capture the real home life of this boy, and the serene, uplifting invented world that the father describes for him as well. Shelley Admont does a great job of developing both the adult and the child so their points of view are equally sympathetic—Alex wants more attention and is uncertain about falling asleep, but his Dad knows they both need to rest. In the end, these differences result in a great bond between them and a shared memory as Alex is helped along the path of making his own dreams. Positive thinking for kids is incredibly important and something this book delivers excellently through creating wholesome, pleasant images.
This is the companion for Sarah Scheele's newsletter blog. In it I share reviews for books I'd recommend/are similar to my own.