Illustrated books with different stories are the thing of note in this post. The first book may seem intended for early readers, although that is a deceptive thing to say, and the second one bridges the gap nicely between advanced and starting readers.
Bear and the Whisper of the Wind by Marianne Dubuc
This is a journey that tries to emulate the iconic Janosh story of when Little Tiger and Little Bear tried to get to Panama. However, Bear is somehow a bit more angst-ridden than Little Tiger.
At first, he is happy at home, eating strawberry pie and spending time with his friends. But one day, the wind whispers to Bear, and he listens.
So far, so good. It sounds like a bedtime story, one of gratification and humor.
There are hidden depths in the crossroads-moments, though. First, when he is unable to befriend a rabbit and stay in his place—perhaps signaling our anxiety to be on the move once the wind-whisper is upon us. Next up, there is a storm of self-doubt. Did Bear do the right thing, or was it a mistake to leave the comforts of his home?
Undoubtedly, the storm shall pass and the whispering wind will stop. Bear may find alternatives to strawberries and settle down again, and everything will look cheerful.
But underneath it all, there is the acknowledgment of scary feelings. I cannot help but read it under the light of forced migrations and people being displaced, and it is perhaps a good book to broach this delicate subject with children.
Marianne Dubuc is an award-winning writer and illustrator living in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. She is the author/illustrator of over twenty books, including Up the Mountain Path, Otto and Pio, and Little Cheetah’s Shadow.
Publish Date March 1, 2022
Up next is a fascinating take on Middle Age tapestries that is really good for fifth-graders and up. It works as a visual retelling of an incredible piece of textile art, the Unicorn Tapestries.
The Lady and the Unicorn by Béatrice Fontanel & Vanessa Hié
First, the facts: the Unicorn Tapestries were made in the Middle Ages, woven in rich materials such as silk, silver thread, and wool. When you see a depiction of a lady with a funny cone-shaped hat weaving or embroidering away, that lady was possibly busy doing this fascinating type of work, millefleurs style (a thousand flowers, which, in turn, means a lot to see and discover).
The Hunting of the Unicorn is one of seven tapestries held by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Cluny Museum in Paris.
This entirely visual tale depicts a unicorn outsmarting a lord and his huntsmen. The chase is a lively one, filled with spears, bloody wounds, and ferocious dogs. When the unicorn finds his way into a secret garden in the forest, he is rescued in more ways than one.
The book connects the illustrations to the symbols and meanings of the original Unicorn Tapestries, and Vanessa Hié, known for having adapted other artistic works into books, has made this a most vibrant adaptation—a truly visual reenactment that gently and deftly serves the purpose of telling both the story within the tapestry and the tapestry’s history as well. It is both fascinating and engaging.
As for the text, it could have been a bit less self-explanatory, since the power resides in the imagery alone. I feel like a few more questions concerning what you see would have helped a bit more.
Publish Date March 15, 2022