As sometimes happens when publishing season hits and I’m blessed with too many books at once – aren’t libraries wonderful? – I’d just been thinking about how much I enjoyed the five books below when it struck me. They’re really all about imagination in one form or another, whether it’s coming up with a toy that’s a huge hit or singing songs to imagine a better life or solving a problem or taking a walk to the playground or painting a mural. So, if you need a boost and are looking for something different, find these five and settle in for something wonderful. Your mind will fill with color and joy and sadness and awe and excitement.
- The Marvelous Thing that Came from a Spring: The Accidental Invention of the Toy That Swept the Nation by Gilbert Ford. Who knew that the Slinky had such an interesting backstory? It’s unexpected, and the art is interesting and fun and wonderfully quirky. It’s also nice to see a successful partnership between two very different kinds of people who work together to create something memorable.
- Like a Bird: The Art of the American Slave Song by Cynthia Grady and Michele Wood. You might not know all of the songs, but the explanations of their meanings and the art that accompanies them will draw you in. The pictures are powerful and both joyful and sad, and if you can read music, you can also sing along and feel the deep power in another way.
- Playground by Mies Van Hout. Bright, happy, zippy, busy, too busy but not really, creative, colorful – I could go on and on. This one is just flat out bubbly joy in a book. Imagine it and you can be it, and real world might just pale in comparison!
- Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howel and Rafael Lopez. In a time of expanding interest in diverse picture books—thank goodness!–this a real treat. You see the whole wild variety of a community–ages, jobs, personalities, skin tones and all. Art is transforming and power and beautiful and joyous! Yay!
- Follow the Moon Home: A Tale of One Idea, Twenty Kids, and a Hundred Sea Turtles by Philippe Cousteau and Deborah Hopkinson and Meilo So. There’s a new kid, a new school, and a new group project. They’ll have to figure out a problem to solve and work within their community to change something – where to begin? In this case, it’s keeping the beaches dark on the nights the baby sea turtles are heading into the ocean. This would be a perfect one for kids who need reassurance that they can be the change that makes the world a better place.