Hey, Al

Author: Arthur Yorinks

Illustrator: Richard Egielski

Publisher and Year: Collin Publishers, 1986

Number of Pages: 27

Genre: Fiction


            Hey, Al is a winner of the Caldecott Medal. It is a story about a janitor named Al and his dog Eddie. Al and Eddie live in a small one-room apartment and Eddie is fed up with living in a “dump” (Yorinks, page 4). One morning a giant bird comes and tells Al of a beautiful island paradise and that he will return in the morning to take Eddie and
Al to this paradise. The paradise is amazing at first but then Eddie and Al start to become birds so they flee the island and return home.

This text could function as a window, mirror and door. Since a big bird flying to someone’s door and taking a person to an island paradise is not realistic it would be considered a window for all readers. On the other hand the story talks about a person who does not have a lot of money who wishes for a better life. So this book could function as mirror for a reader who might be going through tough times. The end of this story has a message, which is “Paradise lost is sometimes Heaven found” (Yorinks, page 27). This important message is what makes this book also function as door for the readers who want to apply it to their lives. The lesson to be learned is that sometimes you will want more in life but having more might not make you happy. You must find a way to be happy with what you have. I think that this is an important lesson to be learned and the book does it in a good kid friendly manor. In the text only one race is represented which is White. This is also the only race shown since the rest of the characters are animals. Both the human and the dog seem to share equal power throughout the text, both of their ideas are taken into consideration equally. I found this important because it shows that just being we are humans doesn’t mean we have the right to treat animals poorly.

All the images within this text are beautiful. They are all framed but in every image there are things that are outside the frame. For example on the first page there is an image of Al’s apartment, which is framed. But Al is physically walking into the door of his apartment into the frame. This style makes the reader feel like they are watching the story unfold and feel a part of it since not everything is in the frame. In the beginning of the story when Al and Eddie are unhappy with their life the colors are very dull. Once they are at the paradise island the colors become brighter. At the very end when Al and Eddie find out that they actually prefer the life they had before, the last image is of Al and Eddie repainting their apartment a bright, uplifting color. I really enjoyed this story, it was fun and in the end there is a lesson to be learned from Al and Eddie’s adventure.IMG_3539

Book Fiesta!

Author: Pat Mora

Illustrator: Rafael López

Publisher and Year: HarperCollins Publishers 2009

Number of Pages: 26

Genre: Fiction


            Book Fiesta is a book that is written in both English and Spanish. The book is about the Mexican holiday El día del niño (The Day of the Child) and a celebration of books. There are multiple children in the book who show the different ways this day can be celebrated around the world. Book Fiesta is a picture narrative, which allows the images to tell most of the story with support of few words.

The book can function as a mirror, window, and door depending on the reader. If a reader has previously celebrated The Day of the Child then this book would function as a mirror. They would be able to personally connect to the text because it is something they have experienced. This would also be a mirror for a lot of readers because throughout the text there are many different cultures represented along with some different disabilities. If a reader has never celebrated The Day of the Child the text would function as a window for them. The book would be a window because they are able to see into a different culture’s celebration. The book could also function as a door for readers who have not celebrated this holiday but wish to participate in it. It can give these readers different ideas on how to celebrate the newfound holiday. There are many different cultures represented on each page of this text. For example on page 2 there is a picture of a Chinese building and on page 5 there is a picture of a Greek style building. There are also books throughout the text that are in all different languages. On page 4 there is a picture of a little boy in a wheelchair, which allows people with disabilities to connect with the text. On my favorite page there are two children reading books next to a donkey and a Mexican style building. The text on this page says, “We read in English and Spanish, in Chinese and Navajo too” (Mora, page 3). I like this sentence because it shows the readers that there are many different languages and cultures in the world. Not only does it show this but also that when different cultures come together great things can happen like friendship. All the children in the text are reading books. On each page the children are having a great time reading books. This is an important image for young children to see since books are becoming less popular. By seeing the images young readers can hopefully gain a new viewpoint on books. The pictures in the text are beautiful. They are cartoon like images that look like they were made from cut outs of different colors of paper. This text did a good job at showing different cultures and the importance of books.IMG_3516

I Have Heard of a Land

Author(s): Joyce Carol ThomasIMG_4391

Illustrator/Photographer: Floyd Cooper

Publisher and Year: HarperCollins Publishers in 1998

Number of Pages: 26

Genre: Historical Fiction


This book is about an African American woman who is travelling westward to claim land in Oklahoma. It describes the challenges that African American pioneer women faced, like having to sleep in a sod hut with a saddle as a pillow, but it also illuminates the pride and freedom that they now have. The story is based on the westward movement in the 1880s, and more specifically, the author’s own family experiences while moving to Oklahoma.

The illustrations in this story both mirror and add to the text of the story. For example, the illustrations describe what the text is saying, but in more detail. Also, every illustration covers the entire page, there is no white space on any page, therefore, every image is unframed. This causes the reader to feel like they are there experiencing the westward movement with the characters. The colors of the images are all shades of brown which give an earthy and powerful mood to the story, but the darker shades of brown portrays a more serious and sorrowful mood. I also noticed that the main character is usually facing or looking to the right of the page which can symbolize her determination to keep moving until she finds her own piece of land.

This story can be used as a mirror to teach children about the Oklahoma Land Runs which allowed not only African Americans to settle and gain land, but also single women. I believe it could also be a window for children to begin to learn about the hardships that African Americans, especially females, were facing at this time in history. I also believe that it could be a mirror for African American females because not often are African American women depicted in literature as tough, hard-working, and independent. This story also touches on the idea of self-perseverance and personal journeys by the way that the main character never gives up on her westward journey even though she may face unexpected challenges along the way. Therefore, I believe this could function as a door to encourage children to always follow their dreams, but also realize that it will not be easy and it will take a lot of hard work and determination but it is worth it. All in all, this story is did a great job of retelling an often looked over event in history that gave African Americans and females the chance at freedom and opportunity.

Papa is a Pirate

Author/ Illustrator: Katharina Grossmann-Hensel

Publishing Information: North-South Books Inc., 2009.

Number of Pages: 24

Genre: Fiction, Picture book

papa 1 papa 2


The little boy’s father makes up a story about himself being a pirate. He depicts his life on the ship to his son. He tells the little boy what pirates eat on board and how they send messages by floating them off in bottles. At first the little boy is skeptical about the story his father tells him. But after his father’s vivid description, the boy finally believes that his father really is a pirate.

The text functions as a window for children to look at what pirates’ life is like on board. It is an interesting book which gives children enough space for imagination. The book includes a lot of details which makes the whole tale more reliable. For example, when they are talking about the language usage on board, Papa says, “While Daffy Dan was scrubbing the deck, Petey squawked,’Avast there, ye landlubber! Yo ho ho!’” (P. 6). Another example is that Papa says to the little boy, “I sleep out under the stars. They are the best compass and guide my way” (P. 15). When Papa is telling the story, not only does he describes the plot, he also explains each of his actions. The other advantage of this book is that, in the story, the little boy’s mother is portrayed as a pirate as well. Papa tells the little boy that Mom could be both a princess and a pirate (P. 18). Gender discriminations are eliminated.

One thing I found the book problematic is that all of the characters in the book are white. Children should learn about diversity of different races in literature. Although the boy’s mother is also a pirate, males still exist as rescuers through the story. In the images on page 17 and 18, Papa is illustrated as tall and strong while Mom is small and weak.

Perceptually, the book uses various kinds of colors to depict the compact plot development. The pictures are not framed so that readers can better put themselves in the story. When they are trapped in the desert, all the characters are facing right which conveys a sense of less security. But after they are rescued and heading back home, the ship is moving towards left which demonstrates an increasing sense of security. Structurally, text and images do not overlap. Ideologically, the book teaches children to be brave when facing difficulties.

The Little Cookie


Author: Margaret Hillert

Illustrator: Donald Charles

Publishing Information: Modern Curriculum Press, 1981

Number of Pages: 32

Genre: Folktale



The Little Cookie is a classic tale of an elderly woman who bakes a cookie that comes to life as she finishes making him. Once he realizes he is alive and active, he runs off across the land meeting a variety of new animals and taking in all the scenery he could not have otherwise seen if he was confined to the kitchen. His adventure comes to an end after he accepts a ride across the stream from a sneaky fox, leaving readers to conclude for themselves what happens next.

            The story only uses a total of forty eight basic words, which are counted and listed in a guide at the end of the book, which evidences that it is a story meant for beginning readers to enjoy. Furthermore, the text is rather repetitive as the cookie goes along his different adventures, making it an easy and fun read for younger children.

The illustrations are done in brighter colored paint, reflecting the lighthearted and fun tone of the story as the cookie goes about his adventure out of the kitchen. He is typically featured on the right-hand side of the page, which interested me because he had seemed so free and excited throughout the story. This leads me to believe that perhaps he is not as secure as one may believe him to be, since he is unfamiliar in the outside world. It is not until the very end (when the fox is giving him a ride across the stream) that the cookie is featured on the left-hand side of the page, although they are moving to the right. This could show that although the cookie thinks he is secure, he is headed toward danger as the fox has other plans for him. There are some instances in which the text does not even inform the reader of who is doing the speaking, which leads me to conclude that the story is mostly a picture book narrative where the pictures could tell the story with little to no help from the text.

Although there is certainly the ideology of the dangers of wandering away from one’s caretaker demonstrated in the story, I feel as though this is mostly a fun book to engage beginning readers.

Have I got a book for you!


Author/Illustrator: Melanie Watt

Publisher and Year: Kids Can Press, 2009

Number of Pages: 30

Genre: Fiction
hqdefault Salesman Mr. Al Foxword claims that he can sell anyone anything, even the book that is being read. Al isn’t very convincing, but by the end of the book, the reader still feels like they have to buy the book.

This book couldn’t really work as a window, mirror, or door. It teaches no lesson and has no real point, other than amusement. In this story, all of the power is in the salesman’s hands. He forces the reader to continue along in the book and at the end of the book, the reader sees that a page is ripped so they are forced to buy it. The “you break it, you buy it” idea is so common in society, mainly because sellers know that no one else will want a broken item, so it would be in the seller’s best interest to make the person who broke it, buy it.

Perceptually, the words add to images and vice versa. There’s lots of dialogue, which makes it an easier read and more entertaining. The main character is speaking to us the entire time. He uses sarcasm and generic compliments to convince us to buy the book. Structurally, the words and images are set up in a way that it looks like an advertisement. Al, the salesman, appears multiple times on one page near the end. He is starting to lose control, as he cannot seem to convince us to buy the book. He also appears much bigger on pages where he is offering something that he feels is irresistible (but is actually really dumb)—almost like he’s in our face telling us to buy it.

The Only Child

Author/Illustrator: Guojing

Publisher and Year: Schwartz & Wade Books, 2015

Number of Pages: 100

Genre: Fantasy/Fiction

A lonely, only child runs away from home and finds a mysterious stag that takes her to a magical world. In this world, she feels loved and eventually misses home. Guojing takes us through the young girl’s journey back home to her family.

This book could serve as a mirror for those who can identify with the young girl. Some children may feel lonely and are only children, or at least feel as such. Children often use their imagination to “run away” to a place where they feel wanted and empowered. This story could also work as a window into the Chinese culture. The author has stated that this book “…reflects very real feelings of isolation and loneliness I experienced growing up in the 1980’s under the one-child policy in China” (P. 1). The longing for attention and love that a child feels is something that a multitude of readers can relate to.

There are no words in this book, as it is a picture narrative. Structurally, the entire story is told with pictures. For majority of the pages, the images are framed. There is no apparent pattern to the unframed images, but the reader feels more connected to those pages. The images are dark, which emphasizes the sadness the girl feels. The background to the images is more of a sepia when she is home and unhappy, but it is white when she runs away. This change in background emphasizes which images are happier than others. However, this story could just be a huge fantasy. When the child goes to bed, we see that she is holding what appears to be the stag that she rode to this mysterious land. Ideologically, this story shows readers that although it is very easy to become lost, there is always a path guiding the way back home. This story also conveys the idea that running away is an acceptable solution to feeling alone or abandoned. The parents of the child search helplessly for their lost child, but the child moseys on home like nothing happened.

March: Book One


Authors: John Lewis and Andrew Aydin

Illustrator: Nate Powell

Publisher and Year: Top Shelf Productions, 2013

Number of Pages: 121

Genre: Non-fiction

march book one page preview 1In March: Book One John Lewis tells about the struggle he has gone through and witnessed since the beginning days of segregation. He highlights the highs and lows of the Civil Rights Movement, and how much influence he had in the process.

This book works hugely as a mirror. There are so many people that can identify with this text, and it is always helpful to get history on one’s culture. This book could work as a mirror for those who can identify with it, a window for those who can’t, and a door for those could learn a lesson from it. The 1950’s-1960’s weren’t an exciting time for African Americans, and John Lewis elaborates on that. In the beginning of the graphic novel, the Whites have all of the power. As time goes on and more Black people realize how powerful a peaceful protest could be, they begin to gain power. The use of peaceful protests is something that is still prevalent and effective today. Perceptually, the pictures mirror and add to the text, and vice versa. Most of the text is dialogue, and the rest are descriptions of scenes, people, and situations.

Structurally, the novel is set up as typical graphic novel would be: pop-out speech balloons and lots of pictures. The characters continuously move to the right, which symbolizes them moving forward. The entire book is in black and white, but the reader can still feel when a scene is “darker” than others. This may also be because the book was about problems between Blacks and Whites, so it would make sense to have the book in black and white only. Some backgrounds are white with black panels, which makes us feel lighter and less tense about what is going to happen next. Other backgrounds are black with white panels or no frames at all. There is usually a life-changing moment occurring on these pages. Ideologically, this story can serve to teach readers about African American history, if nothing else. It shows that everything does not have to be solved with violence, and that peacefully hashing things out can be more beneficial. This story also teaches readers that there are perks to being the bigger person and not letting others get to you.

The Pigeon Needs a Bath!


Author/Illustrator: Mo Willems

Publisher and Year: Hyperion Books for Children, 2014

Number of Pages: 32

Genre: Fiction

IMG_4397This dirty pigeon uses sarcasm and reverse psychology to get out of taking a bath. When his tactics don’t work and he is forced to take a bath, he realizes that baths aren’t so bad after all.

This book could work well as a way to get young, stubborn children to bathe. For some children, bathing isn’t the highlight of their day, so seeing the Pigeon do it could make them feel better about it.  Many parents could probably relate to the Pigeon’s parent who can’t seem to convince him to take a bath. The Pigeon Needs a Bath! Is a book that has some different humor, but is ultimately just a fun read. Like a typical parent-child relationship, the man (assuming he is the parent of the Pigeon) has the power to make the Pigeon take a bath. The Pigeon may feel that it is a choice, but in the end he will take a bath. Some parents could relate to this as well; they allow children to think that they have a choice if they do something, but in reality they don’t.

Perceptually, the entire book is just a conversation the Pigeon is having with himself. He invites the reader into the conversation a few times, but he is really just convincing himself that he shouldn’t take a bath. The text adds to the images, and the images are dependent on the text. Because the illustrations are so simple, it is not clear what exactly the scenes would mean without the text. Structurally, the pigeon is having conversations with the reader as if we someone is actually responding to him. This makes the reader feel more engaged with the book. Emphasized sounds help readers get acquainted with onomatopoeia.



Author/Illustrator: Lizi Boyd

Publisher and Year: Chronicle Books, 2004

Number of Pages: 32

Genre: Fiction

IMG_2271Flashlight is about a young boy who explores the mysterious world outside of his tent. What other way to experience nature than with a flashlight? Like a flashlight, this book helps us experience the beauties of nighttime nature.

This story could work as a window into a world that a lot of children may be curious about—nature.  There are also many children who could identify with this small, curious boy. Children are known for their creativity and imagination, and this boy’s creativity is what creates this journey for him.

There are no words in this book, as it is a picture narrative. The pictures tell the story. Structurally, majority of the book in black and white to show how dark it is without the flashlight. The areas where the boy shines the flashlight are colorful and bright, but there are also two trees that always have color, even though the flashlight is not on them. This is a cut-out book, and every cut-out is a colorful spot on the next page. One of the things that the boy flashes his light on are “prayer flags”, which are common in the Tibetan culture. At one point, the small boy loses the flashlight and the animals seem to be just as curious about him as he is about them. Ideologically, this book promotes the inner creativity and curiosity in readers. Although the boy cannot see what is in the dark, as the reader, the reader can. However, the creative part comes in when the readers attempts to bring these black and white images to life, just like the young boy with the flashlight.