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  • 2006 Wanda Gág Read Aloud Honor Books

    Am I a Color Too? written by Heidi Cole and Nancy Vogl, illustrated by Gerald Purnell, and published by Illumination Arts.

    Am I a Color TooTyler, a young boy whose father is black and mother is white, narrates this story. He wonders why people focus on skin color and asks: “Am I a Color Too?” As Tyler questions his own identity, he thinks about all the universal qualities shared by people and concludes:
    I am a Human Being,
    Not a color, not a word.
    I have my hopes and dreams
    And a voice that will be heard.

    Purnell’s realistic illustrations, focusing on faces and facial expressions, show the beauty in all kinds of skin colors.

    Kindergarteners through fourth graders commented on the amazing pictures. Children especially liked the illustration where Tyler’s eye reflects the faces of his mother and father. They also liked the rhyming text and were motivated to retell the story to others. Teachers commented that the book stimulated discussion and reported that students even got out of their seats to take a closer look at the book and ask questions.

    Author Nancy Vogl lives in northern Michigan and illustrator Gerald Purnell resides in New Jersey.

    Llama Llama Red Pajama written and illustrated by Anna Dewdney and published by the Viking/Penguin Group.

    LLama Llama Red PajamaAfter being read to, kissed, and put to bed by his mama, Baby Llama suffers from separation anxiety. As he waits for his busy mother, his anxiety escalates into a full-fledged tantrum. Dewdney tells her story through rhyme, rhythm, and the natural language of young children. The full-page paintings darken as Baby Llama’s angst reaches its climax. Dewdney creates her engaging and exaggerated facial expressions from her own self-portraits.

    Two-year-olds through kindergartners wanted this book read again and again. Children liked thepredictability of the repeated, rhyming phrase “llama llama red pajama” and chanted and clapped along with the story. They also enjoyed the lighthearted tone, the changing facial expressions, and the excellent word choice. In the words of readers, this is a “funny, cozy, interactive” picture book that uses “honesty and humor in depicting inner thoughts and emotions of children.” A perfect book for storytime and bedtime.

    Anna Dewdney lives in Putney, VT.

    Stanley Mows the Lawn written and illustrated by Craig Frazier and published by Chronicle Books.

    Stanley Mows the LawnWhen Stanley realizes his grass has grown too tall, he starts mowing his huge lawn in straight pathswith his push mower. When he hears something moving in the grass, he takes a closer look and discovers Hank, a friendly looking snake in two shades of green stripes. Stanley devises a plan to make both Hank and himself happy. He mows in zigs and zags creating strips of short and tall grass.

    The simple text encourages us to look at the world closely and to have empathy.
    Frazier created computer colored hand drawings, predominately in a green and brown palette, to show the world from the point of view of both characters.

    Three-year-olds through seven-year-olds were intrigued by Stanley’s big lawn and all the grass clippings and were relieved that Hank was safe at the end. Children liked the varying perspectives shown in the illustrations, as well as all the shades of green. Adults noticed that the story left many gaps for discussion.

    Author/illustrator Craig Frazier lives with his family in northern California.