David Ezra Stein knows another version of one of my favorite knock-knock jokes. His is about an interrupting chicken instead of a cow! That joke inspired this delightful, funny picture book about a little red chicken being read to by her Papa. Will she ever let him finish a story the way it's written? The action takes place in a house and bedroom every bit as cozy as those in Goodnight Moon. Stein both wrote and illustrated Interrupting Chicken, a 2011 Caldecott Honor Book,
Fifty years ago, it fell to a little girl named Ruby to be the first black person to attend William Frantz Public School in New Orleans, Louisiana. It's normal now for people of all skin colors to go to school together, but sadly, in 1960, there were still many ignorant people who thought that white-skinned people were better than others and should not have to share their schools. Even after federal courts ordered that public schools be integrated, some states, including Louisiana, objected. It was a dangerous time for African Americans in the United States, especially in the south. Some of the white people who believed black people should remain separate from white people did hateful or even violent things.
Doesn't everyone wish they could fly? Well, if that wish were to come true, it might cause a lot more problems than you think! Meet Piper McCloud, born to loving but simple parents who strongly believe in doing things the way they've always been done. When Piper accidentally reveals her talent, her parents are horrified that others might find out. Soon their worst fears are realized, and to protect her and themselves, they agree to have her go with Dr. Leticia Hellion to an institute that deals with children with special talents.
Homer P. Figg and his older brother Harold are orphans, and their sad lives are made even more wretched by their mean guardian, Uncle Squinton. "Squint" forces Harold to be conscripted into the Union Army even though he is underage, and Homer is compelled to try to rescue his brother before he is killed in the savagery of the Civil War. Thus begin The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg. (Mostly true, because to Homer, telling the truth "don't come easy.") It's unusual to have a humorous book that takes place in a time of war, and though plenty of sad things happen, the author (RodmanPhilbrick, who also wrote the famed YA novel Freak the Mighty)succeeds in keeping a lighter tone which kids and parents will appreciate. I hope you'll enjoy the folksy humor and fascinating characters as much as I did! (This book is a 2010 Newbery Honor book and is recommended for grades 5-8.)