Children adore picture books for a huge variety of reasons, as do their caregivers. Some prefer books that amuse, some go for bold, bright illustrations, and others like to see their own lives represented in the story. When it comes to celebrating our differences, there are a multitude of picture books available.
What’s My Superpower? is an adorable book about an exuberant little girl named Nalvana, who spends her time thinking about superpowers. Everywhere she goes, Nalvana meets new friends and she delights in discovering their superpowers, but she can’t seem to figure out her own. Written by Inuk author Aviaq Johnston and illustrated by Canadian-born Tim Mack, What’s My Superpower? is an endearing story about what makes an individual unique and special.
Leslie Staub’s rich illustrations beautifully compliment Mem Fox’s words in Whoever You Are. This book describes several ways children are different, but shares all the ways that they are similar. Whoever You Are reinforces to young readers that children all over the world feel pain and joy, shed tears, and laugh with happiness, no matter what their physical location happens to be.
Julian is a Mermaid is short but incredibly sweet. Author Jessica Love tells the story of a little boy named Julian. Julian adores his Abuela, and he LOVES mermaids. He wishes to BE a mermaid, but is worried about Abuela’s reaction. This story loving celebrates Julian’s uniqueness, as well as his grandmother’s unquestioning love. Julian is a Mermaid is a wonderful way to show children that it is ok to be different, and reassure them that a family’s love is unconditional.
If drawn to bold colours and warm, eye-catching art work, your little reader may enjoy The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Rafael Lopez. This story describes many ways a child can feel as if no one is quite the same. There are so many times a child might feel alone and small, struggling to be a part of something and wishing she belonged. The turning point is when a child opens up to share her story, making a place for herself in the world, celebrating the very things that make her unique. As an added fun bit of trivia, the illustrator has designed seven US postage stamps!
Morris Micklewhite is, in many ways, an average little boy. He likes puzzles, and painting, and apple juice. Most of all, however, he loves the dress up centre at school. His favourite part of dressing up is exactly what makes him different; the beautiful tangerine dress. Morris struggles to deal with the reactions of his classmates when he wears the dress, so his mother lets him stay home one day. What follows is a story of individuality, creativity, and courage. Written by Christine Baldacchino, Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress is illustrated by Isabelle Malenfant, with a focus on shades of orange, ranging from pale, almost-yellow to the fiery colour of flames.
Canadian author Kari-Lynn Winters is a favourite for her books Good Pirate and Bad Pirate. In her book French Toast, Winters portrays young Phoebe, half Jamaican and half French-Canadian, as she walks alongside her blind, Jamaican grandmother. When another child calls Phoebe French Toast, her grandmother prods Phoebe to explain why. What follows is a little girl’s description of her multicultural family’s skin tones, comparing them to creamy peach yogurt and warm banana bread. In the process, Phoebe decides that she likes who she is. Francoise Thisdale’s illustrations are an appealing blend of traditional methods and computer manipulation.
The above is just a sample of the picture books on our shelves that celebrate differences. Stop by any of our branches to explore!
Jana O’Flaherty – www.tbpl.ca. If you have a comment about today’s column, we would love to hear from you. Please comment below!