Book review: I’m Dreaming of…

For this week’s children’s book review, I chose a goodnight story perfect for our youngest readers. This title has a special place in my own heart as it reminds me of the days when I carried my daughter through the house saying goodnight to everything that was important to her, do you do that with your children? We walked around noticing the treasures of our home, big and small from the trees in our backyard, Max, the goldfish, photos of grandparents hanging on the wall, the stars, even spiders showing up in our 100 year old house by the woods… AS a family, we savoured this ritual of deep appreciation and connection for the things our family needed and the things that needed us.

I’m Dreaming of…written by Musqueam, Coast Salish author and artist Melaney Gleeson-Lyall, is a celebration of connection and an ode to the world we live in. The language in the story is rich and poetic, the illustrations by various First Nation and Native artists are calming and beautiful.

This is a bedtime story but it is much more than that. It is an expression of gratitude towards all living things, a story to re-connect you and your loved ones after a busy day.

It is at this time of the day when our thoughts slow down and we can experience surroundings and feelings more deeply. The time when the flowers seem to impress with their most intense smells, the time when we listen to the wind dancing in the leaves, the time when we are grateful for another day on earth and for everything we are sharing it with.

On the cover a bear is resting in a tree, a feather is silently falling, the moon and the stars are brightening up the dark sky signaling the beginning of quiet time. In the distance we see houses where we live.

The book is dense and rich with the beauty and power of nature. In it your child will meet jumping salmon enjoying the rushing waters as their playground, soaring eagles, running deer in lush forests, robins singing a lullaby, rivers glowing like stars, ravens chatting about their day, whales swimming in the oceans with city lights in the distance, floating otters, moose walking through water in a fall like scene.

This is how we live. 
This is our place. 

A symbiosis of humans and nature as it is perceived by a child.

The final picture appears like fireworks celebrating the joy of life brought to the reader by a special messenger – the hummingbird alongside a big, calm moon announcing the end of the day.

Time to turn off the last light in town.

Often I hear from people that the art of storytelling seems to disappear in the hustle and bustle of life. First Nation storytellers like Melaney are keeping this tradition alive and it is a gift I truly appreciate it for myself and my children.

I remember the day I met Melaney Gleeson-Lyall at a First Nations conference. I actually didn’t meet her at first, I heard her singing the most beautiful song in a language I didn’t understand.

But I felt it. 
Deeply.

I closed my eyes for a moment in this busy conference environment and suddenly I heard eagle sounds so real, I imagined a soaring eagle above us. What I learned from this experience was to just stop and listen sometimes.

As a teacher of Early Childhood Education I highly value that the publisher of this book, Native Northwest, supports Aboriginal Early Childhood Development programs with partial proceeds of this book.

I’m dreaming of…by Melaney Gleeson-Lyall, Native Northwest Vancouver, 2017

Retail Price $10.00, board book, recommended for ages 0-4

Get your copy at: https://store.kinderbooks.ca/Im-dreaming-of-Animals-of-the-Native-Northwest

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Book Review: Sidewalk Flowers

Recently, in one of my kids yoga classes, we played charades. The task was to express a word through yoga poses and to include a breathing exercise. A group of four kids ages 8-10, started walking in all directions staring at a pretend phone or holding one by their ears. One stopped in chair pose still doing the same phone gesture, not looking up. Another child laid down still looking at the screen.

The riddle’s answer was PEOPLE. When the word came out I could hear an “Ah, yes!”. I was touched to see how these young kids perceive society these days as absent, lonely and not breathing.

Immediately, I was reminded of a story that I hold very close to my heart. “Sidewalk Flowersby Jon Arno Lawson/Sydney Smith.

When I saw this book for the first time, I was attracted by the dandelions on the cover and the girl with the red coat. Books can trigger memories and this one certainly did it for me. I owned a red coat as a little girl.

After passing pages filled with lovely flowers and birds you become part of a black and white world. Except for the little girl in the red coat holding her dad’s hand. No words, just pictures.

Dad is on the phone.
Distracted.
In a hurry.
Always.

As the reader turns the pages and fills the story with their own words, more colours emerge, creating a hopeful, connected and kind feeling just like the little girl does with her gestures.You feel warm and included with every page you turn.

With wordless books children become creative storytellers. Pre-and early readers build important literacy skills such as listening skills, vocabulary, comprehension and structure of stories. By using words of their very own, struggling readers gain confidence and motivation as they read this story time and time again, including new observations and feelings with each
read. This book is also beneficial for children who are being raised in multi language households.

This quiet book is a celebration of children, the importance of small things and small gestures it’s a story for everyone.

Sidewalk Flowers by Jon Arno Lawson/Sydney Smith, Groundwood Books / House of Anansi Press, 2015 Retail Price: $16.95, Hardcover

Get your copy at: store.kinderbooks.ca/sidewalk-flowers

Me at age 3 holding my mother’s hand…

 

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An exciting Friday…

A day so filled with excitement: a meeting with a publisher to learn about new titles coming out in Spring, a confirmation to be part of SPARK: The Early Years Conference at UBC and Litfest 2017 is now online – our events for children are on page 2-3 and our first official advertisement on page 6. The new year starts with big steps forward!

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The Hidden Life of Trees

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I received this as a reading sample in the mail today and started reading right away. I feel like I can’t put it down. After our tree accident earlier this year I feel even more connected with trees. This title will be available at Kinder Books. If you are curious to learn more about these big, friendly giants, please send me a note.

 

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