Short reviews of three picture books I’ve read recently

For me, one of the great joys of fatherhood is reading with my son. Here’s what we’ve been reading lately.

King Arthur's Very Great GrandsonKing Arthur’s Very Great Grandson – written and illustrated by Kenneth Kraegel

This is a beautifully illustrated adventure story. I’ve read the book multiple times with my six year old, which he loved, because the main character turns six right at the beginning of the story.

I enjoyed how this book introduced my son to mythical creatures (a fire-breathing dragon, a cyclops, and others) in a fun and non-frightening way. These beings populate many of the books he’ll read as he gets older (The Chronicles of Narnia, The Harry Potter series, and a thousand others) so I was glad that his first exposure to them was endearing.

This book is ultimately about the value of friendship. Pair this message with the sweeping, colorful horizons that fill every page and you’ve got a winner. But perhaps the highest compliment I can give this book is that after the first reading my son immediately said, “Can we read that again?”

Recommended to anyone who reads picture books to their children. The story is powerful and the art work is stunning.

Button UpButton Up! – written by Alice Schertle, illustrated by Petra Mathers

We had fun with this book! It’s a series of whimsical poems about various items of clothing which belong to different animal-people. But the poems aren’t just about the articles of clothing, they are said or sung by the articles of clothing in first person. (e.g. “The Song of Harvey’s Galoshes” is a song sung by the rain boots of a pig named Harvey.) The end result is a fun collection of poems that make you wonder, what would my clothes say about me?

Recommended for folks who love to read funny, zany books with their kids. The illustrations are beautiful too.

Song of DelphineThe Song of Delphine – written and illustrated by Kenneth Kraegel

One of the things I love about both books by Kenneth Kraegel are the broad, intricately detailed landscape images. They are worth the cover price alone.

The story in this book is about a young girl from an African plain who lives a hard life. She is without friends, and without prospects for a better life. Through a hidden talent for singing, and some well-timed truth-telling, she finds both a future and a friend. Redemption is a theme in this story and the main characters are strong young girls of color–two things that really make this book stand apart from other children’s books.

I highly recommend this beautiful book. Though the characters are female it is not a book only for girls. Any child will be captured by the illustrations and find the story meaningful.


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