Aitken, Amy. Ruby, the Red Knight. Scarsdale, New York: Bradbury Press, Inc., 1983.
Ruby, a Knight of the Round Table, accepts King Arthur’s challenge to solve the mystery of the disappearing realm, coming up against a giant, a dragon, and a wizard in the course of her quest.
Alder, David A., ill. Samuel Byrd. A Picture Book of Harriet Tubman. New York, New York: Holiday House, 1992.
This is a biography of Harriet Tubman, a "conductor" on the Underground Railroad. Harriet Tubman risked her life to secure her freedom and then to help other slaves gain theirs as well. She was independent, determined and courageous. I struggled with the decision of whether to include this book because a troubling fact is that when she was helping slaves escape, she would not allow them to turn back and threatened to kill them with her gun if they did not continue. While I object to this threat of force, it is not the central focus of the story or of Tubman’s efforts. The extraordinary heroism of her life is too compelling to omit.
John and Alexandra Wallner. A Picture Book of Florence Nightingale. New York, New York: Holiday House, 1992.
Traces the life of the nineteenth-century English woman who followed her calling to work in hospitals and improve the conditions under which the sick were treated.
Alexander, Sue, ill. LLoyd Bloom. Nadia the Willfull. New York, New York: Pantheon Books; Toronto, Canada: Random House of Canada Limited, 1983. K-Gr 3When her favorite brother disappears in the desert forever, Nadia refuses to let him be forgotten, despite her father’s bitter decree that his name shall not be uttered. Nadia’s courage, determination, wisdom and love enable her to confront her father and help him understand the importance of sharing memories of her brother so they can both grieve AND remember him.
Aragon, Jane Chelsea, ill. Ted Rand. Salt Hands. New York, New York: E. P. Dutton; Toronto, Canada: Fitzhenry and Whiteside Limited, 1989.
In the middle of the night a young girl wakens to a sound, goes outdoors, discovers a deer with whom she sits quietly and lets him lick salt she has sprinkled on her hands.
Baehr, Patricia, ill. Laura Lydecker. Mouse in the House. New York, New York: Holiday House, 1994. PreS-Gr 1.Mrs. Teapot is an independent older woman who is happy with her ordered life until a mouse makes his home in her home. She acquires four different pets to rid her house of the mouse. Since each one fails and creates a problem of their own, Mrs Teapot gives away all her pets. She sees that it is easier to live with the mouse than to get rid of him. Her practical solution is to change her attitude since she cannot change the situation.
Berry, Christine, ill. Maria Cristina Brusca. Mama Went Walking. New York, New York: Henry Holt and Company; Markham, Ontario, Canada: Fitzhenry and Whiteside Limited, 1990.
Sarah saves her mother from a series of imaginary dangers, from lions in the Jaba-Jaba Jungle to scritchy-witchy things in the Gonagetcha Forest.
Booth, Barbara, ill. Jim Lamarche. Mandy. New York, New York: Lothrop, Lee and Shepard Books, 1991.
Hearing-impaired Mandy risks going out into the scary night, during an impending storm, to look for her beloved grandmother’s lost pin.
Brett, Jan. Trouble With Trolls. New York, New York: G. P. Putman’s Sons, 1992.
While climbing Mt. Baldy, Treva outwits some trolls who want to steal her dog. In addition to the main story line, at the bottom of each page are illustrations that show the trolls preparing for a dog in their underground home. While they are out trying to steal Treva’s dog, a hedgehog makes its way in and falls asleep in the dogbed. The reader will enjoy Treva’s clever ploys to keep her dog and delight in the knowledge that when the trolls return to their home they will have a pet after all, even if it is a hedgehog rather than a dog!
The Wild Christmas Reindeer. New York, New York: The Putnam and Grosset Group, 1990.
After a few false starts, Teeka discovers the best way to get Santa’s reindeer ready for Christmas Eve. Teeka learns that her loud, bossy approach is not effective in training the animals. When she treats them with respect and speaks to them gently, they respond well. Teeka is smart enough to realize that she has created an impasse which she solves by changing her own behavior. With this cooperative spirit, she successfully trains the reindeer and has them ready just in time for Santa’s Christmas eve sleigh flight.
Brinckloe, Julie. Playing Marbles. New York, New York: William and Morrow Company, Inc., 1988.
A girl proves her skill in a game of marbles.
Brisson, Pat. Magic Carpet. New York, New York: Bradbury Press; Don Mills, Ontario, Canada: Collier Macmillan Canada, Inc., 1991.
Aunt Agatha and Elizabeth imagine the travels of the rug on which they are sitting, from China across the sea to the west coast of the United States, and onward in a journey designed to let its carriers stop only in cities beginning with the letter "S."
Maryann Cocca-Leffler. Wanda’s Roses. Honesdale, Pennsylvania: Boyds Mills Press, Inc., 1994.
Wanda mistakes a thornbush for a rosebush in the empty lot. She clears away the trash around it and cares for it every day, even though no roses bloom. Undeterred, she adorns it with "roses" for a teaparty to which she has invited the neighbors. Her guests are so inspired by her hope and determination that they bring rosebushes and help Wanda turn the empty lot into a real rosegarden.
Browne, Anthony. Piggybook. New York, New York: Alfred A. Knopf; Toronto, Canada: Random House of Canada Limited, 1986.
When Mrs. Piggott unexpectedly leaves one day, her demanding family begins to realize just how much she did for them.
Bull, Emma, ill. Susan Gaber. The Princess and the Lord of Night. San Diego, California: Jane Yolen Books, 1994. K-Gr 3Cursed at birth by an evil lord, a princess uses intelligence, cleverness and generosity to outwit the lord and undo the spell.
Bunting, Eve, ill. Donald Carrick. The Wednesday Surprise. New York, New York: Clarion Books, 1989.
On Wednesday nights when Grandma stays with Anna everyone thinks she is teaching Anna to read. In truth, Anna is teaching Grandma to read.
Caines, Jeannette, ill. Pat Cummings. Just Us Women. New York, New York: Harper and Row, Publishers, Inc.; Toronto, Canada: Fitzhenry and Whiteside Limited, 1982.
A young girl and her favorite aunt share the excitement of planning a very special car trip for just the two of them.
Carlson, Nancy L. I Like Me! New York, New York: Viking Penguin Inc., 1988.
By admiring her finer points and showing that she can take care of herself and have fun even when there’s no one else around, a charming pig proves the best friend you can have is yourself.
Carlstrom, Nancy White, ill. Dennis Nolan. Heather Hiding. New York, New York; Macmillan Publishing Company, 1990.
Wishing she were taller and faster like her big brother Peter, Heather plays hide and seek with him and demonstrates how good she is at hiding.
Castaneda, Omar S., ill. Enrique O. Sanchez. Abuela’s Weave. New York, New York: Lee & Low Books, Inc., 1993.
A young Guatemalan girl and her grandmother grow closer as they weave some special creations and then make a trip to the market in hopes of selling them.
Cole, Babette. Princess Smartypants. New York, New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1986.
Pressured by her parents, but not wishing to marry any of her royal suitors, Princess Smartypants devises difficult tasks at which they all fail, until the multitalented Prince Swashbuckle appears. In a twist on classic fairytales, her magic kiss turns the prince into a toad, freeing her to live unmarried happily ever after.
The Trouble With Mom. New York, New York: Coward-McCann, Inc., 1983.
A young boy’s mother, who is a witch, is not immediately accepted by the parents of the children in his new school. When the school catches fire, her ability to fly saves the day.
Cole, Robert, ill. George Ford. The Story of Ruby Bridges. New York, New York: Scholastic, Inc., 1995.
For months, six-year-old Ruby Bridges must confront the hostility of segregationists when she becomes the first African-American girl to integrate Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans in 1960. She does so with grace and goodwill toward her harassers.
Cone, Molly, photographs Sidnee Wheelwright. Come Back, Salmon. San Francisco, California: Sierra Club Books for Children, 1992.
Describes the efforts of the Jackson Elementary School in Everett, Washington, to clean up a nearby stream, stock it with salmon and preserve it as an unpolluted place where the salmon could return to spawn.
Cooney, Barbara. Hattie and the Wild Waves. New York, New York: Viking Penguin, 1990.
A young girl from Brooklyn, New York enjoys her summer at the beach where she can paint and listen to the wild waves.
Miss Rumphius. New York, New York: Puffin Books, 1982.
Great-aunt Alice Rumphius was once a little girl who loved the sea, longed to visit faraway places, and wished to make the world more beautiful.
dePaola, Tomie. The Legend of Bluebonnet. New York, New York: Putnam Publishing Group, 1983.
A retelling of the Comanche Indian legend of how a little girl’s sacrifice brought the flower called bluebonnet to Texas.
Strega Nona’s Magic Lessons. New York, New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Publishers, 1982.
Strega Nona is not fooled when Big Anthony disguises himself in order to take magic lessons from her.
DiSalvo-Ryan, DyAnne. City Green. New York, New York: Morrow Junior Books, 1994. K-Gr 3A sweet story of reclaiming an empty lot, spearheaded by a girl and her adult friend Miss Rosa. The young heroine has the imagination to envision the empty lot as a garden and the persistence to work through the process of renting it from the city. She builds community support for the project and people get involved. In the end they have a community garden. A lovely book that shows children they can do something, even something so big that it affects and transforms the whole neighborhood!
Dragonwagon, Cresent, ill. Emily Arnold McCully. Annie Flies the Birthday Bike. New York, New York: Macmillan Publishing Company; Don Mills, Ontario: Maxwell Macmillan Canada, Inc., 1993. PreS-3Annie gets the bicycle of her dreams for her birthday, but finds riding it is harder than she thought. She had imagined herself "flying" on it. It requires persistence, but she keeps trying with the help of a friend even when she is discouraged. Annie achieves her goal and learns to ride. Then she tries to "fly" it down the hill but falls and skins her knee. Annie does not give up, though, and has confidence that she will be able to "fly" her bicycle again sometime without falling.
Gackenbach, Dick. Alice’s Special Room. New York, New York: Clarion Books, 1991.
Constructing a clever riddle, Alice tells her mother about her special room, where she can play with her cat who died, enjoy the warm beach in January, go sledding on a hot summer day and do anything she has already done in the past.
Galdone, Joanna, ill. Paul Galdone. The Little Girl and the Big Bear. New York, New York: Clarion Books, 1980.
A retelling of a traditional Slavic Tale in which a clever little girl outwits the bear who is holding her captive by hiding in a basket of pies.
Gantschev, Ivan. The Christmas Train. Boston, Massachusetts: Little, Brown and Company; Toronto, Canada: [ ], 1984. Originally published in Switzerland under the title Der Weihnachtszug. Zurich, Switzerland: Bohem Press, 1982.
On Christmas Eve, a little girl saves a train from a terrible collision.
Gauch, Patricia Lee, ill. Satomi Ichikawa. Bravo, Tanya. New York, New York: Philomel Books, 1992.
Tanya loves to dance but has trouble integrating her steps with the clapping and counting of her ballet teacher, until she tries moving to the music and the sounds inside her head.
Satomi Ichikawa. Dance, Tanya. New York, New York: Philomel Books, 1989.
Tanya loves dancing, repeating the moves she sees her older sister using when practicing for class or a recital, and soon Tanya is big enough to go to ballet class herself.
Satomi Ichikawa, Tanya and Emily in a Dance for Two. New York, New York: Philomel Books, 1994. PreS-1When Tanya, the smallest and wiggliest girl in her ballet class makes friends with a talented newcomer, they both learn something. Tanya is an independent, imaginative girl who follows her heart. She is committed to dance and practices constantly. Here she succeeds in learning to do a cabriole, performing well in a "pas de deux" at her winter recital and forging a friendship with another dancer.
Deborah Kogan Ray. Uncle Magic. New York, New York: Holiday House, 1992.
Momentarily disillusioned by the tricks of her magician uncle, a little girl learns to appreciate the value of being able to create magic.
Gerrard, Roy. Rosie and the Rustlers. [New York, New York]: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1989.
The story, told in rhyme, of how Rosie Jones and her ranch hands outwit and bring to justice a band of outlaws who try to steal her herd.
Hamm, Diane Johnston, ill. Sally G. Ward. Laney’s Lost Mamma. Morton Grove, Illinois: Albert Whitman & Company, 1991.
When Laney can’t find her mother in the department store, she—and her lost mamma—remember exactly what to do to find each other.
Havill, Juanita, ill Anne Sibley O’Brien. Jamaica’s Find. Boston, Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1986.
A little girl finds a stuffed dog in the park, takes it home and then struggles with the decision of returning it.
Anne Sibley O’Brien. Jamaica Tag Along. Boston, Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1989.
When her older brother refuses to let her tag along with him, Jamaica goes off by herself and allows a younger child to play with her.
Heath, Amy, ill. Sheila Hamanaka. Sofie’s Role. New York, New York: Four Winds Press; Toronto, Canada: Maxwell Macmillan International, 1992.
On the day before Christmas, Sofie makes her big debut serving customers in her family’s busy bakery.
Henkes, Kevin. Owen. New York, New York: Greenwillow Books, 1993.
Owen’s parents try to get him to give up his favorite blanket before he starts school, but when their efforts fail, his mother comes up with a solution that makes everyone happy.
Sheila Rae, the Brave. New York, New York: Viking Penguin, 1987.
When brave Sheila Rae, who usually looks out for her sister Louise, becomes lost and scared one day, Louise comes to the rescue.
A Weekend With Wendell. New York, New York: Greenwillow Books, 1986.
Sophie does not enjoy energetic, assertive Wendell’s weekend visit until the very end, when she learns to assert herself and finds out Wendell can be fun to play with after all.
Hest, Amy, ill. Amy Schwartz. The Purple Coat. New York, New York: Aladdin Books; Ontario, Canada: Maxwell Macmillan Canada, Inc., 1992.
Despite her mother’s reminder that "navy blue is what you always get," Gabby begs her tailor grandfather to make her a beautiful purple fall coat.
Hines, Anna Grossnickle. All By Myself. New York, New York: Clarion Books, 1985.
One night, for the first time, Josie has to cross the dark bedroom to go to the bathroom all by herself.
Keep Your Old Hat. New York, New York: E. P. Dutton; Toronto, Canada: Fitzhenry and Whiteside Limited, 1987.
Young children playing learn the necessity of compromise.
Maybe a Band-Aid Will Help. New York, New York: E. P. Dutton; Toronto, Canada: Fitzhenry and Whiteside Limited, 1984.
Trying to get Mama to fix a broken doll takes a lot of persistence.
Hoffman, Mary, ill. Caroline Binch. Amazing Grace. New York, New York: Dial Books for Young Readers; Great Britain: Frances Lincoln Limited, 1991.
Although classmates say that she is black and a girl, Grace discovers that she can do anything she sets her mind to do. Grace does not allow her gender or race to prevent her from auditioning for the role she really wants in the class play. This is an uplifting story that shows we can set our own sights and not let others circumscribe our possibilities for us.
Holmes, Efner Tudor, ill. Tasha Tudor. Amy’s Goose. New York, New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1977.
Amy nurses a wild goose back to health and struggles to decide whether to keep it on the farm or let it be free.
Hopkinson, Deborah, ill. James Ransome. Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt. New York, New York: Random House; Toronto, Canada: Random House of Canada, Limited, 1993.
A young slave girl stitches a quilt with a map pattern which guides her to freedom in the North.
Ichikawa, Satomi. Nora’s Castle. New York, New York: Philomel Books; Toronto, Canada: General Publishing Co. Ltd., 1984. Originally published in Tokyo, Japan by Kaisei-sha. PreS-1Accompanied by her doll, Maggie, Teddy the stuffed bear, and Kiki the dog, a little girl sets out to explore the mysterious castle on the hill. Nora bravely explores the castle. She decides to have a party there and invites all the animals she sees. She uses her ingenuity, finding all sorts of things at hand that can be used for the party, cherries she picks for them to eat, and wildflowers to make it festive. The party includes food, singing and dancing. An imaginative treat.
Ichikawa, Satomi. Nora’s Roses. New York, New York: Philomel Books, 1993. Originally published in Japanese in 1991 by Kaisei-sha Publishing Co., Ltd., Tokyo; under the title Bara ga saita. PreS-1After watching other people pick and carry off most of her roses while she is sick in bed, Nora has a special dream involving the flowers. Nora is unable to go to all the places her roses have gone: a bridge party, a concert and a tea party, but in her dream she joins the roses in a rose concert, dance, tea party and bridge party. When she wakes up and there is only one rose left, Nora figures out a way to keep the last rose. She decides not to dry or press it or make it into perfume or potpourri, but chooses the more imaginative, long-lasting and creative solution—drawing it.
Ichikawa, Satomi. Nora’s Stars. New York, New York: Philomel Books, 1989.
While visiting her grandmother, Nora joins with the animated toys from an old chest to bring the stars down from the night sky, but their loss makes the sky black and sad. A charming tale of a girl’s imagination.
Issacs, Anne, ill. Paul O. Zelinsky. Swamp Angel. New York, New York: Dutton Children’s Books, 1994. K-3Along with other amazing feats, Angelica Longrider, also known as Swamp Angel, wrestles a huge bear, known as Thundering Tarnation, to save the winter supplies of the settlers in Tennesee. Although the challenge is framed as a hunt for the bear, the story really does not seem violent since the fight involves such fantastic elements as using a tornado as a lasso. Ultimately the two fall asleep together and the bear is killed by a tree that falls due to Swamp Angel’s snoring. It is clear that Swamp Angel respected the bear and found him a worthy adversary and equal match. She shows bravery and pluckiness, and is not daunted by the taunting that she ought to stick to "women’s work". A nice alternative to the majority of tall tales which feature males.
Jackson, Ellen, ill. Kevin O’ Malley. Cinder Edna. New York, New York: Lothrop, Lee and Shepard Books, 1994.
Cinderella and Cinder Edna, who live with cruel stepmothers and stepsisters, have different approaches to life; and although each ends up with the prince of her dreams, one is a great deal happier than the other. This version of the fairy tale gives the message that physical beauty means very little and that it is much more practical and satisfying to solve one’s own problems than to be passive and hope someone will rescue you.
James, Simon. Dear Mr. Blueberry. New York, New York: Margaret K. McElderry Books; Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, 1991.
A persistent, imaginative young girl and her teacher correspond about the whale she has discovered in her pond. While unwilling to be talked out of her belief that there really is a whale in the pond, she incorporates into her fantasy the information her teacher provides about whales. For example, since they live in salt water, she adds salt to the pond. When she learns that whales are migratory, her whale migrates too.
Sally and the Limpet. New York, New York: Margaret K. McElderry Books, 1990.
At the beach Sally gets a limpet stuck to her finger. Although all the adults fail in their efforts to remove it, Sally finds her own way to get it off.
Johnson, Dolores. The Best Bug to Be. New York, New York: Macmillan Publishing Company; Toronto, Canada: Maxwell Macmillan Canada, 1992. PreS-1At first Kelly is disappointed at getting the role of a bumblebee instead of one of the leads in the school play. She ignores the comments of other children and simply does her best. She practices and in the end, makes her part the best one of all. This slight book portrays a child-sized circumstance and the reader is glad, if not surprised, when the girl succeeds. The moral, to try one’s best at whatever one does, is a good one.
Johnston, Tony, ill. Tomie dePaola. The Quilt Story. New York, New York: The Putnam Publishing Group, 1985.
A pioneer mother lovingly stitches a beautiful quilt which warms and comforts her daughter Abigail; many years later another mother mends and patches it for her little girl.
Joose, Barbara M., ill. Catherine Stock. Better With Two. New York, New York: Harper and Row Publishers, 1988.
Laura tries to make Mrs. Brady feel better when her dog Max dies.
Keller, Holly. The Best Present. New York, New York: Greenwillow Books, 1989.
When Rosie is unable to visit her grandmother in the hospital, she sends her a special present instead.
Geraldine’s Blanket. New York, New York: Greenwillow Books, 1984. PreS-KWhen her mother and father insist that Geraldine get rid of her baby blanket, she finds a new way to keep it with her all the time. Geraldine comes up with a clever, creative win-win solution that addresses her parents’ concern of not wanting her to carry around a blanket anymore, but also allows her to keep it with her in a more socially acceptable guise.
Kesselman, Wendy, ill. Barbara Cooney. Emma. New York, New York: Doubleday and Company, Inc., 1980.
Motivated by a birthday gift, a 72-year-old woman begins to paint. She becomes a noted artist and takes great satisfaction in her work. Through it, she is able to find happiness and overcome loneliness by surrounding herself with paintings of friends and the places she loves.
Khalsa, Dayal Kaur. I Want a Dog. New York, New York: Clarkson N. Potter, Inc., 1987. K-3When her parents refuse to get her a dog, May creates an imaginary dog out of a rollerskate. By pretending the rollerskate is a real dog, May practices giving the care needed by a real dog, walking it, cleaning it, being responsible for it. She shows her parents that she is committed to caring for a dog, demonstrates her ability to be responsible, exercises her imagination and practices so she will be a good owner when she finally does get a dog (which she does in a couple of years). She prepares herself, perseveres and sets a good example as all her friends begin to practice with rollerskates of their own!
Kidd, Nina. June Mountain Secret. [New York, New York]: Harper Collins Publishers, 1991.
Jen and her father go up a mountain stream and spend the day fishing for wild rainbow trout. Although frustrated at not catching a fish all morning, Jen tries again, succeeds and then sets her trout free.
Krause, Ute. Nora and the Great Bear. New York, New York: Dial Books for Young Readers; Toronto, Canada: Fitzhenry and Whiteside Limited, 1989.
Nora learns to hunt and dreams of capturing the fabulous Great Bear, until she becomes lost in the forest and it helps her.
Kusugak, Michael Arvaarluk, ill. Vladyana Krykorka. Hide and Sneak. North York, Ontario, Canada: Firefly Books Ltd., 1992.
In the Arctic a little girl playing hide and seek meets an Ijiraq, a fabled creature who hides children so well they can not be found, but tricks him and finds her way home again.
Levine, Arthur A., ill. Robert Roth. Pearl Moscowitz’s Last Stand. New York, New York: Tambourine Books, 1993.
Pearl Moscowitz takes a stand when the city government tries to chop down the last gingko tree on her street.
Levine, Ellen, ill. Steve Bjorkman. I Hate English! New York, New York: Scholastic Inc., 1989.
When her family moves to New York from Hong Kong, Mei Mei finds it difficult to adjust to school and learn the alien sounds of English.
Loh, Morag, ill. Donna Rawlins. Tucking Mommy In. New York, New York: Orchard Books, 1987.
Two sisters tuck their mother into bed one evening when she is especially tired.
Luenn, Nancy, ill. Neil Waldman. Nessa’s Fish. New York, New York: Atheneum, 1990.
Nessa’s ingenuity and bravery save from animal poachers the fish she and her grandmother caught to feed everyone in their Eskimo camp.
ill. Peter Catalanotto. Mama is a Miner. New York, New York: Orchard Books, 1994. K-3A daughter describes her mother’s job working as a miner. Her mother bravely does a dangerous job which includes the possibility of explosions, roof fall and injury. She is responsible and determined. I particularly liked the fact that this is not a single-parent household. The mother is clearly making a substantial contribution to the family’s finances and is willing to face daily danger to do it. "Hard work for hard times" and "I’m digging for home" are two of her comments. An impressive woman and a gem of a book.
Macdonald, Maryann, ill. Melissa Sweet. Rosie and the Poor Rabbits. New York, New York: Atheneum; Don Mills, Ontario: Maxwell Macmillan Canada, Inc., 1994.
Rosie’s reluctance to give some of her clothes and toys to other rabbits who are not so well off as she changes after a revealing dream. At first Rosie is only willing to give away almost new things that she dislikes. But in her dream, she realizes how sad the recipients would be with these items. Instead, she selects her most beloved things. Her mother is dismayed by her choices because they are worn but approves of the newer items which Rosie sees as flawed. Rosie gives the newer items, but because she knows that they are not her best, she gives her most beloved things as well. A sweet story of compassion and integrity.
Martin, Bill, John Archambault, ill. Ted Rand. The Ghost-Eye Tree. New York, New York: Henry Holt and Company, Inc.; Toronto, Canada: Fitzhenry and Whiteside Limited, 1985.
A brother and sister must walk down a dark lonely road on an errand one night past the dread Ghost-eye tree. When they hear a moan and the tree’s branches seem to reach out for them, they flee in fright, but the younger brother’s beloved hat falls off in the process. The sister recognizes the importance of this hat she has ridiculed and decides to go back to "the haunted ground" to get it despite her brother’s protest and her own fear. Running fast, she secures it and returns it to her brother saying "Here’s your dumb hat. It makes you look stupid." To her usual insult of his hat, her brother responds, quoting her from only a few minutes before when the hat was missing "It does not. It’s a beautiful hat." A splendid story of sibling understanding and bravery.
McCully, Emily Arnold. Mirette on the High Wire. New York, New York: the Putnam and Grosset Book Group, 1992.
After seeing a tenant in her mother’s boarding house walk a tightrope, Mirette learns how. She convinces him to perform on a highwire despite his fear and joins him on it when he is paralyzed by fear.
Speak Up, Blanche! New York, New York: HarperCollins, 1991. PreS-1Stagestuck Blanche would like to be part of a theatrical troupe’s new play but her shyness causes problems until she discovers a special talent of her very own. Blance is persistent, trying again in the face of each failure. She does not go along when the troupe decides there is no place for her among them. Instead, she demands a fair trial at painting the sets. Her artistic talent is important enough that she stands up for it. Ultimately, she achieves her goal of finding a way to fit in at the theater by using the talent she does have. In the process she overcomes her shyness and claims her identity as an artist.
McKissack, Patricia C., ill. Rachel Isadora. Flossie and the Fox. New York, New York: Dial Books for Young Readers; Toronto, Canada: Fitzhenry and Whiteside Limited, 1986.
A wily fox notorious for stealing eggs, meets his match when he encounters a bold little girl in the woods who insists upon proof that he is a fox before she will be frightened.
McNulty, Faith, ill. Bob Marstall. The Lady and the Spider. New York, New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1986.
A spider who lives in a head of lettuce is saved when the lady who finds her puts her back into the garden.
Merriam, Eve, ill. Linda Graves. The Wise Woman and Her Secret. New York, New York: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 1991.
Although many try to force from the wise woman the secret of her wisdom, the truth is made clear only to a young girl who shows the capacity for wandering and wondering.
Merrill, Jean, ill. Floyd Cooper. The Girl Who Loved Caterpillars. New York, New York: Philomel Books, 1992.
In this retelling of an anonymous twelfth-century Japanese story, the young woman Izumi resists social and family pressures as she befriends caterpillars and other socially unacceptable creatures.
Mora, Pat, ill. Cecily Lang. A Birthday Basket for Tia. New York, New York: Macmillan Publishing Co.; Don Mills, Ontario, Canada: Maxwell Macmillan Canada, Inc., 1992. PreS-1With the help and interference of her cat Chica, Cecilia prepares a surprise gift for her great-aunt’s ninetieth birthday. Cecilia finds meaningful items to give her aunt that symbolize the loving connection they share. Each item is something they enjoy or use together. Cecilia’s gift requires ingenuity and is a delightful departure from meaningless consumerism since they already own each item! A sweet book that illustrates a thoughtful approach to gift-giving.
Moser, Barry. Tucker Pfeffercorn: An Old Story Retold. Boston, Massachusetts: Little, Brown and Company; Toronto, Canada: Little, Brown and Company (Canada) Limited, 1994.
Bessie Grace Kinzlow, "fearless and strong-willed", bravely stands up to Hezakiah Sweatt, the meanest man in town. When, in order to keep her child, she must guess the name of the nasty little man who spun cotton into gold for her, Bessie Grace goes out in search of his name. This heroine is brave, independent and solves her problem herself.
Moss, Marissa. Regina’s Big Mistake. Boston, Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1990.
When told to draw a jungle in art class, Regina experiences feelings of failure and creative insecurity, but manages to create a beautiful picture that’s all her own.
Munsch, Robert, ill. Michael Martchenko. The Paper Bag Princess. Toronto, Canada: Annick Press Limited, 1980.
After her castle is smashed and her clothes burned by a dragon, a princess wears a paper bag while she outwits the dragon and rescues her prince, but he rejects her due to her appearance and she decides he wasn’t a nice enough person to marry after all. Note: I substituted the words "not a very nice person" for the author’s word "bum" to make this book acceptable to me.
Murphy, Jill. Five Minutes Peace. New York, New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1986.
Mrs. Large tries to take a peaceful, relaxing bath but her family has other ideas. When her first method of gaining five minutes peace for herself fails, resourceful Mrs. Large finds another option and manages to get 3 minutes and 45 seconds alone. A wonderful book for introducing children to the idea that a parent needs time alone on occasion.
Murphy, Shirley Rousseau, ill. Tomie dePaola. Tattie’s River Journey. New York, New York: Dial Books for Young Readers, 1983.
Tattie and a baby, a man, a cat, and a dog she has rescued during a flood form a family and open their home as a rest station to travelers on the bridge where the flood waters left it.
Paek, Min. Aekyung’s Dream. San Francisco, California: Children’s Book Press, revised edition 1988. Original edition 1978. PreS-3Aekyung faces teasing from classmates for being different and is called "Chinese" although she is actually Korean. She demonstrates persistence and courage by continuing to go to school and ignoring the teasing. Wisdom comes in a dream which tells her to "be strong like a tree with deep roots...then the cruel winds will not shake you." Aekyung remembers this advice and works to learn English. she succeeds but also maintains integrity by honoring her Korean heritage while adjusting to her new life in America.
Palmer, Kate Salley. A Gracious Plenty. New York, New York: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 1991.
Although she never married, Great-aunt May had a full life with children, friends, children, travel, and children—a life of gracious plenty.
Page, Bisham, ill. Adeline Sprague. Tea at Miss Jean’s. Bend, Oregon: Waterston Productions, 1991.
91-year-old Miss Jean loves children and has them over for tea and stories through the seasons.
Patz, Nancy. Gina Farina and the Prince of Mintz. Orlando, Florida: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Publishers, 1986.
The independent Gina Farina, one of a troupe of traveling players, has a contest of wills with the grouchy Prince of Mintz when she refuses to follow his ironclad rules. Although he sets out to trick her, in the process he learns from her the pleasure of being helpful to others.
Pflieger, Pat, ill. Ruth Gamper. The Fog’s Net. Boston, Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1994.
Devora, the weaver, agrees to weave a net for the fog in order to keep her fisherman brother safe. She cleverly attaches a bell to the net and weaves it to the fog’s existing net. When the fog breaks it’s word and captures her brother, she works bravely and persistently to burn the fog’s net. As she does, the fog dissipates and all it’s victims return from the sea.
Pico, Fernando, ill. Maria Antonia Ordonez. The Red Comb. Mahwah, New Jersey: BridgeWater Books, 1994. Gr 2-4In the mid-1800s in Puerto Rico, Vitita is a young girl who has taken on many responsibilities since her mother died two years earlier. While she does her chores, she listens and learns from the conversations between her neighbor Sina Rosa and the other villagers. Sina Rosa is an independent old woman, a midwife and healer who has her own ideas about how villagers should react when there are escaped slaves hiding nearby. When Vitita finds a fugitive slave woman, she tells Sina Rosa, but no one else. Vitita acts from her convictions and frequently must think fast to get information to Sina Rosa in a quick but non-suspicious manner. Together, the two assist the slave, Vitita by providing food for her, and Sina Rosa by foiling Pedro Calderon’s efforts to catch the slave. Using her ingenuity, Sina Rosa prevents the fugitive’s capture and enables her to start a new life in freedom.
Polacco, Patricia. Babushka’s Doll. New York, New York: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 1990.
A little girl gets a doll that turns out to be twice as rambunctious as her owner.
Chicken Sunday. New York, New York: Philomel Books, 1992.
To thank Miss Eula for her wonderful Sunday chicken dinners, three children sell decorated eggs to buy her a beautiful Easter hat.
Just Plain Fancy. New York, New York: Bantam Books, 1990.
Naomi, an Amish girl whose elders have impressed upon her the importance of adhering to the simple ways of her people, is horrified when one of her eggs hatches into an extremely fancy bird.
The Keeping Quilt. New York, New York: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 1988.
The author tells the story of a quilt made by her great-great grandmother of fabrics from her Russian home. It ties together the lives of four generations of their immigrant Jewish family, remaining a symbol of their enduring love and faith.
Thundercake. New York, New York: Philomel Books, 1990.
A grandmother helps her granddaughter overcome her fear of thunder by having her do a series of brave things to get the ingredients for a "thundercake" which they make before the storm arrives.
Pomerantz, Charlotte, ill. Frane Lessac. The Chalk Doll. [United States]: Harper Trophy, 1989.
Rosy’s mother remembers the pleasures of her childhood in Jamaica and the very special dolls with which she used to play.
Rabe, Berniece, ill. Lillian Hoban. The Balancing Girl. New York, New York: E.P. Dutton; Toronto and Vancouver, Canada: Clarke, Irwin and Company Limited, 1981.
A first grader who is very good at balancing objects while in her wheelchair and on her crutches thinks up her greatest balancing act ever to benefit the school carnival.
Rathmann, Peggy. Ruby the Copycat. New York, New York: Scholastic, Inc., 1991.
Ruby insists on copying Angela, until her teacher helps her discover her own creative resources.
Rawlins, Donna. Digging to China. New York, New York: Orchard Books, 1988.
Hearing her friend Marj, the elderly lady next door speak wistfully of China, Alexis digs a hole all the way through the earth to that exotic country and brings back a postcard for Marj’s birthday.
Riddell, Chris. The Bear Dance. New York, New York: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 1990.
When Jack Frost brings gray winter to a forest where it is always summer, a young girl brings sunlight back by engaging Mr. Frost in a vigorous Bear Dance.
Ringgold, Faith. Aunt Harriet’s Underground Railroad in the Sky. New York, New York: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1992.
With Harriet Tubman as her guide, Cassie retraces the steps escaping slaves took on the Underground Railroad in order to reunite with her younger brother.
Tar Beach. New York, New York: Crown Publishers, 1991.
A young girl dreams of flying above her Harlem home, claiming all she sees for herself and her family. Based on the author’s quilt painting of the same name.
Roop, Peter and Connie, ill. Peter E. Hanson. Keep the Lights Burning, Abbie. New York, New York: Carolrhoda Books, 1985.
In the winter of 1856, a storm delays the lighthouse keeper’s return to an island off the coast of Maine, and his daughter Abbie must keep the lights burning by herself.
Ross, Christine. Lily and the Bears. New Zealand: Heinemann Reed, 1989.
Deciding she wants to be something big and brave rather than just a child, Lily spends her days dressed in a bear suit, but a mistake at the zoo causes her to regret her choice.
San Souci, Robert D., ill. Stephen T. Johnson. The Samurai’s Daughter. New York, New York: Dial Books for Young Readers, 1992.
A Japanese folktale about the brave daughter of a samurai warrior and her journey to be reunited with her exiled father.
Sanders, Scott Russell, ill. Helen Cogancherry. Warm as Wool. New York, New York: Bradbury Press; Don Mills, Ontario: Maxwell Macmillan Canada, Inc., 1992.
When Betsy Ward’s family moves to Ohio from Connecticut in 1803, she brings along a sockful of coins to buy sheep so that she can gather wool, spin cloth, and make clothes to keep her children warm.
Say, Allen. Tree of Cranes. Boston, Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin, 1991.
A mother introduces her Japanese son to Christmas by decorating a pine tree with paper cranes.
Schwartz, Amy. Annabelle Swift, Kindergartner. New York, New York: Orchard Books, 1988.
Although some of the things her older sister taught her at home seem a little unusual at school, other lessons help make Anabelle’s first day in kindergarten a success.
Bea and Mr. Jones. New York, New York: Bradbury Press, 1982.
Tired of kindergarten, Bea Jones trades "jobs" with her father who works in an office.
Camper of the Week. New York, New York: Orchard Books, 1991.
Although Rosie, a model camper, does not participate in her friends’ prank and is not caught and disciplined, she decides to join her friends in the punishment because she knows she helped them.
Sendak, Maurice. Outside Over There. New York, New York: Harper and Row, Publishers, 1981.
When goblins steal her baby sister, Ida ventures to bring her back.
Sheehan, Patty, Ill. Claudia Bumbarner-Kirby. Gwendolyn’s Gifts. Gretna, Louisiana: Pelican Publishing Company, Inc. 1991.
Bored with her royal role, Queen Gwendolyn finds fulfillment through developing and combining her own abilities into a creative and nontraditional lifestyle.
Sheldon, Dyan, ill. Gary Blythe. The Whales’ Song. New York, New York: Dial Books for Young Readers, 1990.
Enthralled by her grandmother’s story of seeing and hearing whales singing in the sea long ago, Lily hopes to see them herself and to hear their mysterious songs.
Slater, Teddy, ill. Meredith Johnson. N-O Spells NO! New York, New York: Scholastic Inc., 1993.
Katie says "No!" and does the opposite of everything her mother asks, until her mother figures out a way to get Katie to say yes.
Smith, Maggie. There’s a Witch Under the Stairs. New York, New York: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Books, 1991.
Frances tries everything to get rid of the witch lurking under the basement stairs.
Stanek, Muriel, ill. Judith Friedman. I Speak English for My Mom. Niles, Illinois: Albert Whitman and Company, 1989.
Lupe, a young Mexican American, must translate for her mother who speaks only Spanish until Mrs. Gomez decides to learn English in order to get a better job.
Jacqueline Rogers. My Mom Can’t Read. Niles, Illinois: Albert Whitman and Company, 1986.
When Tina asks her mother for help in first-grade reading, she discovers to her shock that her mother can’t read. A concerned teacher helps them to find tutors and they both learn to read together.
Stanley, Diane, ill. Dennie Nolan. The Gentleman and the Kitchen Maid. New York, New York: Dial Books for Young Readers, 1994. Gr 2-5Rusty, an art student, is determined and persistent in her efforts to learn the secrets of the great masters. She goes to the museum often to copy their works and learn from them. Two paintings hanging across from each other have fallen in love but are separated when one of the paintings is relocated in the museum. Rusty solves the problem creatively by reuniting the two on her canvas.
Steig, William. Brave Irene. New York, New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1986.
Plucky Irene, a dressmaker’s daughter, braves a fierce snowstorm to deliver a new gown to the duchess in time for the ball. Note: Presumably, the reason it is important for the gown to get to the duchess in time is because they need the money. There is no mention of PAYMENT in this story!
Stevens, Kathleen, ill. Robert Andrew Parker. Aunt Skilly and The Stranger. New York, New York: Ticknor and Fields Books for Young Readers, 1994. PreS-1A thief makes the mistake of trying to steal homemade quilts from Aunt Skilly and her goose Buckle. This is the tale of an independent old woman who lives alone. She makes her living by making beautiful quilts and selling them. When a stranger comes she is not fearful but honest and hospitable. She is smart enough to discern his ill intent and ingeniously foils the thief. Aunt Skilly is an honest, hospitable, fearless woman who can take care of herself!
Thiele, Colin, ill. Mary Milton. Farmer Schultz’s Ducks. New York, New York: Harper & Row Junior Books, 1986. First published in Australia by Walter McVitty Books, Glebe, N.S.W.
After the growing traffic from the nearby town turns the road next to their Australian farm into a dangerous highway, Farmer Schultz’s youngest daughter Anna solves the problem of how to get her family’s ducks safely across the road every day.
Thomas, Iolette, ill. Jennifer Northway. Mermaid Janine. London, England: Andre Deutsch Children’s Books, Scholastic Publications Limited, 1991; New York, New York: Scholastic Inc., 1993.
Janine, who wants to learn to swim, takes swimming lessons, eats vegetables everyday and skips rope to strengthen her legs so that she can swim the length of the pool at her last swim lesson.
Toriseva, JoNelle, ill. Robert Casilla. Rodeo Day. New York: Bradbury Press; Don Mills, Ontario, Canada: Maxwell Macmillan Canada, Inc., 1994.
This is straightforward story of a girl who achieves her goal. Lacey has the encouragement of a friend and her older sister when she has performance jitters prior to her rodeo competition. She has practiced a great deal. When it is time for her event, Lacey concentrates and completes it in less than one minute. A solid story of a girl’s determination and focus resulting in success.
Turkle, Brinton. Do Not Open. New York, New York: E. P. Dutton; Toronto, Canada: Fitzhenry & Whiteside Limited, 1981.
Miss Moody, an older woman who lives with her cat on the coast, refuses to be afraid of the evil genie who escapes from a bottle she finds on the beach after a storm.
Van Laan, Nancy, ill. Nadine Bernard Westcott. Round and Round Again. New York, New York: Hyperion Books for Children, 1994. Gr 1-3Mama recycles everything until the house is complete with walls covered with candy wrappers and shingles that used to be flapjack flappers and the whole town turns out to see her handmade rocketship. A funny, silly rhyme of recycling taken to its extreme. Mama reuses everything in most unusual and creative ways, even building a house from items she’s gathered to reuse. Mama is determined, working "night and day" on her effort. While this is a silly book, sure to bring smiles, the environmental message comes through. The pictures in this story are bright, exuberant and funny. Mama is an independent character, committed to her recycling work, who uses her imagination and creativity to find new uses for old items.
Willard, Nancy, ill. Richard Jesse Watson. The High Rise Glorious Skittle Skat Roarious Sky Pie Angel Food Cake. Orlando, Florida: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Publishers, 1990.
A determined, capable girl prepares a special angel food cake for her mother’s birthday. She is surprised by three angels who drop in for a taste.
Williams, Vera B. A Chair for My Mother. New York, New York: Greenwillow Books, 1982.
A child, her waitress mother, and her grandmother save dimes to buy a comfortable armchair after all their furniture is lost in a fire.
Music, Music for Everyone. New York, New York: Greenwillow Books, 1984.
Rosa plays her accordion with her friends in the Oak Street Band and earns money to help her mother with expenses while her grandmother is sick.
Three Days on a River in a Red Canoe. New York, New York: Greenwillow Books, 1981.
Mother, Aunt Rosie, and two children make a three-day camping trip by canoe.
Wisniewski, David. The Wave of the Sea Wolf. New York, New York: Clarion Books, 1994.
Kchokeen, a Tlingit princess, is rescued from drowning by a guardian spirit that later enables Kchokeen to summon a great wave and save her people from hostile strangers.
Ziefert, Harriet, ill. Anita Lobel. A New Coat for Anna. New York, New York: Alfred A. Knopf; Toronto, Canada, Random House of Canada Limited, 1986.
Even though there is no money, Anna’s mother finds a way to make Anna a badly needed winter coat.
Zimmelman, Nathan, ill. Tony Auth. Mean Murgatroyd and the Ten Cats. New York, New York: E. P. Dutton, 1984.
When all the dogs in town prevent Arabella from walking her ten cats every morning, she comes up with a novel idea.
Zolotow, Charlotte, ill. James Stevenson. I Know a Lady. New York, New York: Greenwillow Books, 1984.
Sally describes a loving and lovable old lady in her neighborhood who grows flowers, waves to children when they pass her house, and bakes cookies for them at Christmas.