By Jan Pease
On our infrequent trips to the North Shore, my husband and daughter like to hunt for agates, and we see all sorts of people pulled up beside Highway 61, all looking down. This year, my husband missed an eagle that was flying low toward Lake Superior, just feet above his head. Imagine my surprise when Becca looked down in our gravel driveway and discovered a pretty nice little agate without driving all the way “up north.” If you’re an amateur rock hound, look for a new picture book published by Minnesota Historical Press, “Rhoda’s Rock Hunt,’ by Molly Beth Griffin. Rhoda loves to look for rocks, but she faces the dilemma all rock hunters must face: too many rocks to haul home. Her solution is memorable.
“Out of the Woods,” by Rebecca Bond, is a north woods story based on the experience of Antonio Willie Giroux, who was the author’s grandfather. In 1914, little Antonio lived in a huge hotel on the edge of Gowganda Lake near Gowganda, Ontario, Canada. He was interested in the wildlife that he knew lived in the nearby woods, but they stayed hidden until the day a horrific wildfire devastated the area. All of the people of the town and their livestock went into the lake to take refuge from the fire, and then they were joined by the animals from the woods. Bears, elk, moose, foxes, wolves, rabbits, people, all stood quietly together until it was safe to come out of the water.
Rebecca Bender, a Canadian author and illustrator has written a sweet book that is not a north woods story. Giraffe tries and tries, but he can’t reach the water to get a drink. His friends, Bird, a zebra, a hippo, and a flamingo, laugh hysterically at his predicament . His goofy friend, Bird, finds a way to get everyone laughing together instead of at Giraffe. “Don’t Laugh at Giraffe” might spark conversations about what is funny and what is hurtful.
“It’s Tough to Lose Your Balloon” is another new book about the downs and ups of life. The author, Jarrett J. Krosoczka, says “When life gets you down, look up, up, up!” Each of the injustices faced by the children in his book has a happy ending. For example, “It’s scary having a new babysitter, but you get to stay up late!”
Kathryn Otoshi, who visited Litchfield schools about one year ago, has published a new book, “Beautiful Hands.” It was written with her friend Bret Baumgarten after he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The illustrations are made with hand art, using the hand prints of more than 100 family members and friends. Kathryn had a huge party, inviting the guests to use the stacks of paper and trays of paint to make handprints. The handprints were then scanned and she used them to create wonderful illustrations that answer the question, “What will you do with your beautiful hands?” This was the question Mr. Baumgarten asked his children, Noah and Sophie, every day until he passed away.
Bret Baumgarten wrote: “My hope that this story empowers love, creativity, compassion, and a connection to you and yours, in the fulfilling and remarkable way it has for me.”
~ Bret Baumgarten, 1970–2014 Information about the writing of “Beautiful Hands” is found in an article by Kiera Parrott in the August, 2015 edition of School Library Journal.
What will your beautiful hands do, today?