When I Am Big by Maria Dek

Reading Age: 4 – 5 years

Grade Level: Preschool – Kindergarten

Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press

Publication Date: April 3, 2018

In this counting picture book a boy tells readers what he will do when gets big starting with number one who is the boy. His story continues to number 25. My Book Eyes likes the creativity of this counting book for example, he will have 7 different jobs for every day of the week, leap over 9 puddles, live in a tree house with 13 windows etc. Illustrations are large and colorful. A book that children will read repeatedly.

The People Remember by author Ibi Zoboi and illustrator Loveis Wise

Reading Age: 4 – 8 years

Grade Level: Preschool – 3

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Publication Date: September 28, 2021

A poetic telling of the history of African Americans from their tribal life in Africa through slavery, the Great Migration to today. The author discusses sorrowful times as well as times marked by African American achievements and achievers i.e. Madame CJ Walker, Garrett Morrison, Aretha Franklin and Barak Obama to name a few. Within this thorough nonfiction picture book, the author shows how events are tied to the seven principles of Kwanzaa which are: umoja, kujichagulia, ujima, ujamaa, nia, kuumba, and imani. Illustrations beautifully assist in revealing events of this book.

Who Eats Orange? By author Dianne White and illustrator Robin Page

Reading Age: Baby – 8 years

Publisher: Beach Lane Books

Publication Date: August 14, 2018

In this rhyming picture book children learn about animals and the colors of foods they eat. 23 animals are pictured with a brief mention of their food and habitat. Most of the animals are familiar however My Book Eyes enjoyed seeing animals rarely mentioned in children’s books such as Grunt, Waxwing, Finch, Marmot, and Quetzal. The following colors are seen: orange, green, red, yellow, purple and blue. Illustrations of realistic collage on white background make the details stand out. In the back of the book is more in-depth information about the animals and their lifestyles.

Jazz for Lunch! by author Jarrett Drapier and illustrator Eugenia Mello

Reading Age: 4 – 8 years

Grace Level: Preschool – 3

Publisher: Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books

Publication Date: September 7, 2021

This rhyming picture book is told from the point of view of a nephew whose aunt loves jazz. Auntie Nina frequently attends a jazz club for lunch. She decides to share her experience with her young nephew. Unfortunately, from a child’s perspective the club is too crowded for his size to see anything, it’s hot, people are talking too loud and stepping on his feet and he does not get a meal. His aunt decides to have him visit her the next day for lunch. This duo listens to jazz while cooking and having fun. Jazz artists names and words associated with foods pepper this book making a creative read. The fonts are varied in style, color and size adding to the visual stimulation. Illustrations are vibrant with lots of movement and good times between aunt and nephew as they prepare and play. Could the two eat this humongous lunch alone? Of course not! The club crew visits and keeps the joint jumpin’. When the affair is over, nephew and aunt stand side by side cleaning up. My Book Eyes adores the illustration of Auntie Nina playing the celery! In the front and back matter of this book the following jazz greats are briefly described with food vocabulary weaved into their bios: Harold “Shorty” Baker, Junior Cook, Mary Lou Williams, “Philly Joe” Jones, Art Tatum, Reuben “River” Reeves, “Papa” Jo Jones, Buddy Rich, “Big Sid” Catlett, Art Blakey, Thelonius Monk, Nat King Cole, Jelly Roll Morton, John Coltrane, Art Pepper, Billie Holiday, Dexter Gordon, Ella Fitzgerald, Bessie Smith and Nina Simone.

In the Nick of Time by author Deedee Cummings and illustrator Charlene Mosley

Publisher: Make A Way Media, LLC

Publication Date: October 4, 2019

In this picture book, a reversal in name placements on an envelope lands a letter intended for Santa in the hands of a boy named Nick Saint. The letter, from a boy named Cooper E. at Nick’s school, describes the misfortunes of the family. Cooper’s family needs a home and his mother needs a job. Nick learns that this task is larger than he can tackle alone. His parents get involved, organizing a job fair and toy drive, at Nick’s school. This story teaches readers to think bigger than their wants and consider others. Illustrations pair nicely with this story.

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.