The Broken Ornament by Tony DiTerlizzi

Reading Age: 4 – 8 years

Grade Level: Preschool – 3

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: September 18, 2018

A boy named Jack wants a spectacular Christmas. He wants the most decorations and the biggest tree. He finds a box with an ornament in it. His mother does not want him to hang the ornament but Jack hurries to the tree and drops the ornament. His mother is upset. When nobody but Jack is around, a fairy appears from the broken ornament. She gives Jack an extravagant Christmas yet with all she can do, the fairy cannot repair the ornament. The fairy reveals the reason for Jack’s mother’s feelings and he decides that a luxurious Christmas isn’t what he needs at this time. Jack finds a way to warm his mother’s heart and the family has a wonderful Christmas. Illustrations show a range of emotions. This is another picture book that reveals a character’s growth. A story that shows that a child has to think about the feelings of others particularly the adults in their lives.

Soul Food Sunday by author Winsome Bingham and illustrator C. G. Esperanza

Reading Age: 4 – 8 years

Grade Level: Preschool – 3

Publisher: Abrams Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: November 16, 2021

When family gathers at granny’s for Sunday dinner, one grandson decides that it is time to learn granny’s cooking rituals. The grandson dons his grandfather’s chef jacket as he stands near a photo of grandpa who had a career in the Army. He gets to work. He realizes that cooking takes much strength yet he perseveres. Granny assigns him to grate cheese, clean greens and prepare sausage, chicken and ribs for the grill. After he completes each task, granny compliments him. The result is a delicious meal shared by many. Illustrations depict brightly colored scenes of a loving family spending time together. A recipe is included.

Nana Akua Goes to School by author Tricia Elam Walker and illustrator April Harrison

Reading Age: 4 – 8 years

Grade Level: Preschool -3

Publisher: Anne Schwartz Books

Publication Date: June 16, 2020

This is a heartwarming story about a girl named Zura who is uneasy about bringing her grandmother, Nana Akua, to school for Grandparent’s Day to discuss what makes her special with Zura’s diverse classmates. Nana Akua has facial markings called Adinkra symbols that the other grandparents do not have and Zura is worried that her classmates will make fun of her grandmother. Readers learn that Nana Akua, born in Ghana was given those marks as a child to represent the tribe that her family belongs to as well as to symbolize beauty and confidence. Dressed in African clothing and armed with a quilt decorated with Adrinka symbols, the two head to school. Nana Akua comfortably discusses her culture and gets the students and other grandparents involved by allowing them to choose symbols from the quilt that she paints on their faces. My Book Eyes appreciates the way Nana Akua uses a hands on approach to include others in her cultural experience. Illustrations are ladened with texture with some items representing African culture sprinkled throughout Zura’s home. A terrific picture book to educate people about culture.

Construction Site: Merry and Bright by author Sherri Duskey Rinker and illustrator A. G. Ford

Reading Age: 2 – 4 years

Grade Level: Preschool and up

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Publication Date: November 2, 2021

In this lift the flap book, a crew of vehicles consisting of an excavator, crane, bulldozer and cement mixer are getting the construction site ready for Christmas. Youngsters will enjoy lifting the flap to find out what is decorating the site. The text is rhyming. Illustrations of cheerful vehicles are loaded with details for eyes to survey.

The Welcome Chair by author Rosemary Wells and illustrator Jerry Pinkney

Reading Age: 4 – 8

Grade Level: Preschool – 3

Publisher: Simon & Schuster / Paula Wiseman Books

Publication Date: November 2, 2021

In 1825, a sixteen year old named Sam migrates to America from Bavaria to pursue a career in carpentry. Sam’s abilities to also read and write give him an opportunity to make more money as an inventory/ship’s log keeper than a deckhand on his journey to his new homeland. His first job in America is as a bookkeeper. Soon he makes a chair for a family and carves the word welcome in German into the chair’s back. Over the years the chair is used by people of different ethnic backgrounds. Each culture carves the word welcome in its native language which also includes Hebrew, English, Scottish Gaelic, Spanish, Haitian Creole and Arabic. The injected message about reading and writing is appealing. The author weaves family history and fiction to create an interesting picture book about immigration that spans over 100 years. Readers will be satisfied with intricacies in Mr. Pinkney’s illustrations that convey struggles and good times in life.

Mr. Jerry Pinkney was a renowned illustrator. My Book Eyes was glad to have met him at the annual Society of Illustrator’s Original Art Exhibit and Reception. He was a personable and gifted artist. He will be missed.

Carla and the Christmas Cornbread by author Carla Hall and illustrator Cherise Harris

Reading Age: 4 – 8 years

Grade Level: Preschool – 3

Publisher: Denene Millner Books/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: November 2, 2021

In this holiday picture book, readers see Carla Hall as a youngster and traditions that her family partakes in to celebrate Christmas. Grandma’s cornbread is delicious. Something special is made for Santa. It is his Christmas cookie. This year Carla can’t resist biting the cookie intended for Santa. Will Santa bypass Carla’s home? My Book Eyes enjoys taking a step back in time when viewing illustrations of hair styles, clothing, home decor and cars from the 70s. A recipe is included.

Apple Cake: A Gratitude by author Dawn Casey and illustrator Genevieve Godbout

Reading Age: 3-5 years

Grade Level: Preschool – Kindergarten

Publisher: Frances Lincoln Children’s Books

Publication Date: September 3, 2019

Pleased with everyone and everything that contributes to a delicious apple cake, a child thanks the environment, animals, farmers, family and friends. Words are rhyming. Illustrations are done in muted colors which gives the book a peaceful feeling. Characters have varied skin tones. An appropriate picture book to share with this age group anytime but great for the Thanksgiving season. A recipe is included for added activity.

A Neighborhood Walk, A Musical Journey by author Pilar Winter Hill and illustrator Olivia Duchess

Reading Age: 4 – 8 years

Grade Level: Preschool -3

Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company

Publication Date: April 1, 2021

On her way to a farmer’s market with her mother, a girl named Penelope passes musicians playing their instruments. The instruments include saxophone, drum, flute, cello and violin. Since the author is a violinist, an author’s note is included about her path to her career. The illustrations include city scenes and diverse characters.

Morris…the Downside-Up Bat by H.R. Karpes

Reading Age: 3 – 6 years

Grade Level: Preschool – 1

Publisher: Sky Pony

Publication Date: October 1, 2013

As a survival mechanism, Morris, a bat, learns to hang downside -up. Fellow bats find Morris odd and ostracize him. Morris keeps his spirits up and learns that he can sing. When it is time for the Halloween talent show, bats try to exclude Morris however he persists and steals the show. My Book Eyes thinks Morris is adorable in this picture book. Readers will be glad that Morris decides to be himself as he has contributions to share with the other bats.