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May 2017

Recommended by Liz at West Kendall Regional Library

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Uncle Peter’s Amazing Chinese Wedding
By Lenore Look

Uncle Peter’s Amazing Chinese Wedding

Uncle Peter and Stella are getting married, and their families are looking forward to a traditional Chinese wedding – except for Peter's niece, Jenny. She is terribly unhappy and worried that her favorite uncle will have no time for her after the marriage. Will she go from being the "jelly on his toast, and the leaves in his tea" to being "an umbrella turned inside out"?

Peter and Stella’s large extended families participate in the many traditions connected to the wedding, including gifts from the bride’s family, Uncle Peter picking up Stella in a car filled with cousins, and the lighting of incense before photos of "Ancient‑Grandpa and Ancient‑Grandma." Jenny mopes through all the fun, and sabotages Stella’s tea ceremony. After sharing her fears of losing her place in her uncle’s heart with her mother, Jenny is slowly drawn into the boisterous wedding, and ultimately won over when her new Aunt Stella gives her a unique role at the end of the day.

Yumi Heo’s mixed media illustrations are a delight and rich with details of traditions past and present. Amid the celebrations, a small sulking Jenny appears on almost every page and is a fun feature to look for throughout the book. At the story’s end, a large portrait of a happy Jenny makes clear the joys of accepting new members into a family.

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Tap Dancing on the Roof
By Linda Sue Park

Tap Dancing on the Roof

Newbery Award‑winning author Park’s collection of sijo poems—short pieces that end on a surprise note, an ancient form of poetry that originated in Korea—lend themselves especially well to Park’s engaging tiny tales. Topics include school, nature, soccer and snacking, and standout works include "Long Division" and "School Lunch." Park describes the everyday in wonderfully evocative language, as in "Crocuses" ("petals huddled close, guarding the treasure: a lode of gold dust").

Park’s poems are great fun to read and the twists at the end are delightful, while Istvan Banyai’s quirky and humorous illustrations perfectly represent the writer’s droll tone. Included is a fascinating history of sijo, as well as tips on creating your own.

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Cool Melons—Turn to Frogs! The Life and Poems of Issa
By Matthew Gollub

Cool Melons—Turn to Frogs!

Kobayashi Issa, known as Issa, is one of Japan’s greatest poets and haiku masters. Born into a childhood of hardship and strife, Issa found comfort in writing haiku about the world of his country village. After his father had sent him away from the family farm at 15 years old, Issa became a poet and wandered Japan for most of his life, before finally resettling in his childhood village. Upon his death, he left a body of work of over 20,000 haiku.

Each page of the book presents one of Issa’s haiku, thoughtfully chosen by Gollub and illustrator Kazuko G. Stone. The three‑line poems relay Issa’s emotions and love of nature which have great appeal for children. Stone’s illustrations are vibrant, appealing and complement the haiku. In addition to the lovely English translations of the haiku, calligrapher Keiko Smith has rendered the haiku in Japanese on the margins of each page.

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Surfer of the Century
By Ellie Crowe

Surfer of the Century

This picture book biography recounts the life of one of Hawaii’s national heroes, Duke Kahanamoku, Olympic gold medal swimmer and pioneering surfer. Kahanamoku’s life spanned significant changes in Hawaii, from his birth in 1890 when Hawaii was a peaceful, independent nation ruled by a queen to his death in 1968 when Hawaii, by then a part of the United States, had become a major tourist destination. Kahanamoku introduced the flutter kick in Olympic swim competition, and he generously shared his technique with fellow swimmers in the United States and around the world. His surfing exhibitions in the United States and Australia earned him the nickname, the "Father of Surfing." Kahanamoku ended his career as Hawaii's Ambassador of Aloha, beloved for his kindness, sportsmanship, and modesty.

Striking illustrations by Richard Waldrep are filled with action and capture the dynamism of Kahanomoku’s swimming and surfing. The vivid blues of the Pacific Ocean are compelling and add much to the book’s appeal.

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Chirri & Chirra
By Kaya Doi

Chirri & Chirra

In this Japanese import, twin sisters Chirri and Chirra ride their bicycles into the forest for a series of charming adventures with woodland animals. The girls stop at the forest cafe, run by the animals, and sit next to the bees seated at their little table drinking sweet violet tea. Chirri and Chirra continue their ride and find a forest bakery where they order a strawberry jam sandwich on walnut bread while rabbit orders the perfect snack of carrot buns and lemon jam. As the sun begins to set, the girls check into the forest hotel for the night and join in song with the animals at a concert.

The combination of the love of nature and the dreamlike quality of the girls’ adventures creates a uniquely kind and gentle story. Joyful and delicate illustrations are full of whimsical details, such as a bakery storefront full of all manner of delicious treats. Chirri and Chirra’s adventures are as sweet and appealing as bear’s snack of mulberry jam on honey bread.

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