Yazul, a boy living in a small town along the Silk Road saves the village by using his passion for building kites and his grandfather’s knowledge to drive a band of robbers away. The lyrical story explores themes of grief over a child’s loss of his mother, the desire of a boy for his father’s approval, the importance of community, and an acknowledgment that the wisdom of elders combined with the passion of youth can create solutions to seemingly insurmountable problems. This story and the luminous pen and watercolor illustrations serve as an excellent introduction to the land and cultures of the Silk Road and is highly recommended for elementary and public library collections. December 2014 review by Jane Cothron.
In an isolated island home next to the ocean, Noi stays alone with six cats while his father works on a fishing boat. When the small boy finds a beached baby whale, he takes it home in his wagon and puts it in the bathtub. Finding Noi’s secret, the father understands that the boy is lonely but encourages Noi to accompany him to return the whale to deep water. The book is beautifully illustrated with charming caricatured drawings, but two of the messages might be inappropriate. First, although the father knows his son is lonely, he does nothing about solving the problem; and second, children should never be encouraged to remove beach creatures from their habitat, even though Noi’s actions are highly unlikely. P8Q5 December 2014 review by Nel Ward.
Holub, Joan. James Dean, ill. Mighty Dads. Scholastic Press, 2014. $16.99. ISBN 9780545609685. Unp. Ages 3-5. P8Q7.
The bright, colorful, bold illustrations, action verbs and sound effects will appeal to children who love making and building things. Traits like working hard, getting jobs done, and being enthusiastic about work are encouraged with the active language. While this book celebrates the teaching relationship between fathers and sons, I feel like a small change in the illustrations (the sign Big Daddy and Son Trucking) on the truck door) would have made this book more appealing to girls- girls enjoy learning from their fathers, and some like dump trucks too! December 2014 review by Carol Schramm.