Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Children's books that present a powerful message

I am a Bear is a hardcover, illustrated children's book that tells the story of a stuffed bear who lives on the streets. At first the bear is confused/in a state of denial, because his situation does not make any sense to him. Who ever heard of a bear living on the streets? He tries to engage people, but most people are afraid of him, act like he isn't there, or are just disgusted by him. Eventually, he gives up and resorts to eating out of trash cans at night and sleeping all day on cardboard boxes. One day a girl discovers him, talks to him, and treats him with respect. Her father, however, sees her doing so, and pulls her away, explaining to her why she should not be doing that. She shows up the next day on her way to school, and every other day after that as well, giving the bear hope and causing the bear to feel valued again. The book is illustrated very well and contains a powerful message on homelessness. The words help shed light on the thought process/stages a homeless person might go through, and the pictures add a real touch of humanity to the bear. This is a very powerful read, done through the lens of a children's book!

Moletown is a hardcover, illustrated children's book with only a few words on the first and last pages. The story begins by telling us about one mole who discovered a beautiful, green meadow and lived there by himself underground. As the story progresses, we see more moles arrive. At first it's just a few more who live in separate areas underground. Eventually, there are too many moles to count. Underground has morphed into this giant dig, with pulleys, carts of dirt being excavated, and even machinery to remove dirt faster. More mole holes pop up in the meadow, and these are emitting pollution. The few holes for other moles have turned into elaborate houses with technology absorbing their lives, and some even wishing not to be disturbed. Soon the underground is overrun with shops and so much traffic that cars can only inch along. Many generations have passed when the story ends, and the lush, green meadow is now a pile of dirt, filled with technology and pollution. However, there is still one patch of grass left, so it doesn't end on a completely hopeless note, but instead the end pages offer snippets of solutions/change. The is an interesting book that encourages a balance of progress and preservation, and does a nice job delivering the message with few words needed.

These books were provided to me by Eerdmans Publishing and NorthSouth Books, respectively, in exchange for honest reviews.