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Sunday Sunday Funday Book Review

August 6th, 2023

hanging basket
(Photo by Rawley/Use with permission only, please)

“These Olive Trees: A Palestinian Family’s Story,” (Viking; release scheduled for end of August, 2023; ages 3 and up, $18.99). Aya Ghanameh, a Palestinian writer, illustrator and designer, is from Amman, Jordan. She did a tremendous job with this work, her first picture book, which is based on her family’s history, loss, and perseverance.

It’s 1967 in Palestine, where Oraib lives in a refugee camp with her parents, younger brother and younger sister. Every year, Oraib helps her mother make the olive oil, picking the fruit, stomping on it, then curing and brining it for the final product. They don’t just make oil, though — they use the trimmings to light fires, make tools and ornaments, and they make soap, too.

Then one day, Mama says they have to leave.

The colors of this exquisite book are muted and rich, all at once. Shades of brown, green, yellow and soft gray tell a heartbreaking, yet hopeful, story.

Check out the author’s website: AyaGhanameh.com. She posts on Instagram at @AyaIllustrates.

“The Together Tree” is a cool new picture book by Aisha Saeed, author, and LeUyen Pham, Caldecott Honor winning illustrator. (Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster, 2023, ages 3 and up, $18.99.)

“Rumi joined Ms. Garza’s class on the first warm day of spring. Icicles melted from trees. Water dripped from the eaves. Droplets trailed down the windows.”

You know the picture books I love? The ones with art so beautiful you could frame it; the children’s faces, so vivid and alive; and every book on the shelf, in the illustrations of the classroom or the library, a different color, all lined up. Awww, that’s this book. So pretty.

Great art, and a great story about how we can work together instead of tearing each other apart.

Author Jonah Winter and artist Jeanette Winter bring us “The Snow Man: A True Story,” a picture book-biography about billy barr (he spells it without capital letters) who has studied the weather, flowers and life, in general, from his cabin in the Rocky Mountains. (Beach Lane Books/Simon & Schuster, 2023, all ages, $18.99.)

barr’s story is incredible, and the details make this book pretty special. He grew up in Trenton, New Jersey, but for 51 years now he’s lived in the wilderness, near a ghost town called Gothic. The closest town, Crested Butte, is eight miles away. He intended to stay one summer, but started measuring the snowfall, watching the wildlife and the wildflowers, and has been able to use his work to show the impact of global warming. Fine illustrations (look for barr’s friends, the skunk and the pine marten) and a great story. (Yes, barr still lives and works in his favorite place on earth.)

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