Author: Arthur Dorros

Illustrator: Elisa Kleven

Publisher and Year: Penguin Group 1991

Number of pages: 32

Genre: Fantasy Fiction Picture Book


Abuela is the story of Rosalba and her Grandmother who she calls Abuela. The story begins with Rosalba and her abuela going to the park to spend the day. The story continues on a fantastical journey when Rosalba and her abuela get picked up by birds and begin flying in the sky by themselves. They fly over many different parts of New York City and say hello to many people. They continue to float around and visit different friends and family. Eventually, Rosalba and her abuela land by a lake a take a paddleboat ride.


Abuela is a book that is visually very inviting to children. It contains very bright colors in everything, even though realistically the world is not that bright. It also takes care to separate the text from these inviting and exciting illustrations. Having the text in white spaces along the bottom or on another page would usually seem to separate the text from the pictures, but in this case it allows the two to work in tandem. Because of the business of the colors and patterns used in the illustrations, placing the text in its own simple space draws the eye to the text as well because of the stark contrast. It also makes it easier to read without having it over the busy pictures.


Culturally, Abuela blends typical American and Hispanic culture. That is not to say that these cultures cannot coexist in a person, but rather that this book shows how they do exist. In the book, Rosalba’s abuela uses many Spanish words and then translates them so Rosalba can understand. Culturally, this can reflect the idea that some children growing up in bilingual houses in the United States tend to use and understand English more than the other language.


The setting of the book is in New York City, or rather in the air above it as Rosalba and her abuela fly to different places. Having the Hispanic culture that Rosalba’s abuela brings to the book take place the most stereotypical American city combines these two cultures to represent Hispanic Americans. This book could be useful to children as a window, mirror, or door depending on what culture they identify themselves with. Overall, this book could be good tool to use in a classroom to help learn simple Spanish words. It is also a good book to have to further represent different cultures to cultivate a multicultural classroom experience.



IMG_2438 IMG_2439

Author/ Illustrator: Kevin Henkes

Publisher/ Year: 1993

Number of Pages:

Genre: Fiction



Owen is a mouse who has a blanket named Fuzzy. Owen takes Fuzzy everywhere and they do everything together. But as Owen gets older, Fuzzy also gets older, and more dirty. His parents are not sure what they will do when Owen starts school because he cannot take Fuzzy with him. Ms. Tweezers, the neighbor, comes up with all sorts or ideas to help Owen’s parents get rid of Fuzzy. They dip Fuzzy in vinegar, they try to throw Fuzzy away, and they even attempt to get Owen to give Fuzzy to the Blanket Fairy. But Owen doesn’t give Fuzzy up, even when his parents start telling him the word “no.” Finally, his mother decides to cut Fuzzy into handkerchiefs so that it is small enough for Owen to take to school.

This story is a mirror for children who have a special bond or attachment to a favorite stuffed animal or toy. Some children outgrow their favorite toy/stuffed animal, but others find it very difficult to say goodbye or leave a toy behind. The story offers a positive way for parents to help their kids transition from the home setting to a school setting.

Fuzzy is a yellow blanket. This could symbolize Owen’s happiness when Fuzzy is with him. Yellow also is associated with creating new ideas. Owen and Fuzzy spend their days creating fun and entreating new games. Or the color yellow foreshadows the ideas that Owen’s parents and Ms. Tweezers come with to try to keep Fuzzy away from Owen. It could also foreshadow betrayal. Owen is upset because his parents will not allow him to bring Fuzzy to school.

The text states that Owen’s parents try many ideas to get Fuzzy away from Owen. They come up with all these ideas, but Ms. Tweezers is the one who “fills them in” about using the word “no.” The text kind of implies that Owen is basically allowed to do what he wants because his parents have never told him “no.”

Bedtime for Frances


IMG_2434 IMG_2435

Author: Russell Hoban

Illustrator: Garth Williams

Publisher/ Year: Harper Collins 1960

Number of Pages: 32

Genre: Fiction



It’s bedtime for Frances, but before she can fall asleep, she needs a glass of milk, a kiss from mom and dad, and reassurance that monsters are not in her room.

Many children can relate to this book. It is a mirror for children who have trouble falling asleep or who may try anything and everything to stay awake. Just as Frances asks for milk and later on, a piece of cake before she goes to bed, many times children also ask their parents for a snack or a glass of water/milk before they head on to bed. Another reason Frances can’t go to sleep is because she is scared that there is a monster in her room. Most children have told their parents at least one time that there was a monster hiding in the closet or underneath the bed. And just like all parents do, Frances’ parents look around the room to check for any monsters, tell her that there are not any monsters in the room, and tell her to go back asleep.

The text is almost always on the opposite side of the pictures and is written exactly how a child would think while trying to fall asleep. Frances sings the alphabet to herself, and then stops at a letter and starts to think about something that starts with that letter, then switches to thinking about something totally unrelated. Children’s minds are so full of imagination, they think about one thing one minute, and the next, they have moved on to something else.The pictures are not framed so the reader is inside the story. The pictures have some color, but get darker and then lighter, symbolizing the coming of night and then night turning into day.





IMG_2432  IMG_2433

Author/Illustrator: Ludwig Bemelmans

Publisher/ Year: 1939

Number of Pages: 40

Genre: Fiction



Madeline, one of 12 little girls taken care of by Madame Clavel, is the littlest, but the bravest of the children. One night, Madeline wakes up screaming and crying because she has an appendicitis. She is rushed to the hospital and immediately taken to surgery. The rest of the girls come to visit her in the hospital. After seeing the toys and candy, that night all of the girls wake Madame Clavel because they want their appendixes out as well.

The color yellow is the most used color in the pictures. The color yellow can be used as a symbol for illness or sickness. This color could possibly foreshadow Madeline’s appendicitis.The little girls are always dressed in yellow as well, which could symbolize their happiness or optimism. Madame Clavel is seen dressed in a dark black or blue dress which symbolizes her authority and dignity as the guardian of the girls.

The text is in rhyme; it mirrors the images and is also underneath the pictures. The pictures do not have any frames around them as if the reader is inside the story. The story can be used as a window to teach children about a different culture and time period as this story is sent in France during what seems to be the 1920’s. The style of clothing has changed and the setting would not be familiar to them. It could also serve as a mirror to children who have had their appendix removed or have had some surgery.  Or, the story may help those who know someone who has had surgery.

This story can also be a lesson to those who want even more than what they already have. The other little girls wanted their appendixes taken out so that they could get different gifts and candy. But the story reinforces the idea that the children should be happy with what they already have.

Bug in a Vacuum

IMG_2428  IMG_2429


Author/Illustrator: Melanie Watt

Publisher/Date: Tundra Books 2015

Number of pages: 45

Genre: Fiction



A fly is accidentally sucked into a vacuum and goes through the five stages of grief. After he experiences the final stage, which is acceptance, his luck changes, and he finds a way out of the vacuum.

This book is an informative piece on the different stages that people go through when they experience loss or a traumatic event in their life. This book can serve as a mirror for children who may be experiencing the same feelings as the fly. It also serves as a door to lead children to learn how to cope with these feelings that they might face in the future. Moreover, the book is a window for those who may not have experienced a loss or upsetting event but may know someone who has. It can teach children to understand how another person may be feeling, therefore, helping that person cope with his/her struggle(s).

The illustrations are not framed, so the reader is in on the action as the story progresses.The colors in the pictures are mostly shades of green. The color green can symbolize many thoughts or ideas, but in this particular story, green could symbolize growth. As the story progresses, the fly goes through different stages in the vacuum, and as he is trapped, he finally learns to accept things the way they are; therefore, growing and maturing. Green is also seen as the color for rebirth (associated with nature). Since green is so heavily used in the pictures, it almost foreshadows the fly’s fate as he is “reborn” with a different perspective on life.

Gingerbread Baby

IMG_2426  IMG_2427

Author/Illustrator: Jan Brett

Publisher/Date: Scholastic Inc. 1999

Number of pages: 31

Genre: Fiction



 A little boy named Matti makes a piece of gingerbread into the shape of a boy. The cooking directions specifically say NOT to peek in the oven as the gingerbread is baking. But Matti can’t help himself and takes a tiny peek.  The next thing Matti sees is a gingerbread baby popping out of the oven and running away. Matti and the rest of the villagers must find a way to catch him!

Jan Brett is known for taking classic stories, mostly folklores, and twisting the story just a bit to show her own ideas. The pages of the book are framed so readers are outsiders looking in as the story is told. On the left and right of the pages, there are pictures in the shape of a gingerbread baby that show what has happened or what will happen next. The text could stand alone without the pictures, but it is nice to see the “sneak peak” of what is about to happen. The images are colorful, expressing freedom, at least for the gingerbread baby. The gingerbread baby is always running to the right, as if to keep the story moving forward.

The characters are dressed in what looks to be traditional period clothing from Germany (i.e., lederhosen). This dress acts as a window for children to learn about the past as well as a different culture. The story can also teach a lesson to children to follow directions and/ or to be patient.  If not, something unexpected can happen. The story can act as a mirror for children who might see themselves as Matti, very curious and sometimes impatient but full of imagination and creativity. Overall, the book is just a fun and entertaining read for children.



Harold and the Purple Crayon

harold haroldpage

Title: Harold and the Purple Crayon

Author: Crockett Johnson

Illustrator: Crockett Johnson

Publishers and Year: Harper Collins Publishers, 1955

Number of pages: 63

Genre: Fiction

Harold and the Purple Crayon takes the reader on an adventure through the imagination of a young boy name Harold. Throughout the story, the reader witnesses Harold create an imaginary world full of adventure and peril with a single purple crayon. The story ends with Harold drawing his own bedroom around himself and falling asleep.

The story of Harold and his crayon acts as both a mirror and a door for its audience. It functions as a mirror in that it allows its audience to reflect on their own imaginative and creative tendencies. Every human has creative tendencies to one degree or another. The story of Harold fashioning an entire new world with a simple crayon has the power to awaken that within its readers. In addition to this, all people have a natural need for stability in their lives. As Harold searches for his home, the readers are able to connect with that desire and need, even if on a subconscious level. Not only does Harold’s tale function as a mirror, but it also functions as a door in that it activates and empowers its readers to boldly create and not be afraid to leave their mark on the world.

The illustrations in the book are spread across the entire page and unframed throughout the book. This invites the reader into the adventure Harold is having so that the reader might experience it alongside Harold. Also, the illustrations help to reinforce Harold as a character, as well. For example, the background is all 2-Dimensional while Harold himself is 3-Dimensional. This shows us that, despite living in a 2-Dimensional world, Harold is open-minded and less superficial. This just emphasizes Harold’s role as a creative being compared to the world around him. This is not the only way in which the illustration was intentional. One of the most consistent things about the illustrations is the purple horizon line that Harold draws as he drags his crayon across the page. However, the horizon line disappears multiple times throughout the book to alert the reader to upcoming danger.

The images in this story are a powerful addition to the text. The images show him boldly creating a world from scratch while the text depicts the adventure happening to him, as if it were something he simply stumbled upon. For example, the author uses phrases like “it turned out to be an apple tree.” This contrast shows the intentional split between being bold in our imagination and the surprise that can come when we allow ourselves to walk in such boldness and freedom of thought. Overall, this Harold’s journey offers its readers an opportunity to push the limits of their own creativity without fear of failure.

The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend

Author and Illustrator: Dan Santat

Publisher and Year: Little, Brown and Company, 2014 (2015 Caldecott Winner)

Number of Pages: 38 Pages

Genre: Fantasy, Realistic Fiction

The Adventures of Beekle follows Beekle’s journey in finding his human friend. Instead of waiting for his friend to imagine him in his imaginary world, he courageously decides to go into the real world (the city) in search for his best friend.

As a mirror, it reflects a child’s creation of an imaginary friend. As a window, the story serves a unique view into how an imaginary friends view the “human world.” As a door, the reader is invited into the world of the creation of a child and his or her imaginary friend. In the beginning, the children hold the power because each imaginary friend anxiously waits to be found by a human friend. Beekle took control of his life, was tired of waiting, and did the unthinkable: set out to the real world to find his friend. Beekle quickly learned the “real world” was very different from anything he had ever imagined. The real world was not filled with creativity like his land was. However, he befriends a girl and they go on adventures to help bring imaginary friends to the real world. This power shift stands for the power of a child and his or her imagination. Though Beekle is a white “blob,” the people in a real world represent diverse races and cultures. This shows that the author/illustrator wanted to make this book relatable to children of all races and cultures. No specific human culture is being represented in this book. Instead, the culture is children. This book highlights the importance and benefit of creativity in diverse friendships.

Perceptually, lively colors are used in the imaginary world to symbolize the happiness among the imaginary people awaiting their human friends. On the contrary, dull colors are used in the real world to show how as people age, the world becomes less imaginative. However, the one place in the real world were bright colors are used is the park, where other imaginary friends are shown. This shows the reader that being outside can allow imagination to run free. Also, Beekle wears a crown, symbolizing he is different than his other imaginary friends. With this book being a Caldecott winner, artwork is heavily emphasized in this book. Through the artwork of the author/illustrator, the artwork portrays the creativity of children with the bright colors in the book. In addition, minimal words are used because the author heavily emphasized on the artwork. This was possibly done on purpose so that younger readers would look at the colors on the pages of the book and be inspired to let their imagination take them on an adventure. Also, the author makes the text look handwritten possibly symbolizing his personal journey presented through this story.

The most prevalent themes found in this whimsical story are that power lies within imagination, friends are found in unlikely shapes and sizes, it takes courage to face the real world, and imagination can bring happiness that never has an expiration date.




Marcel the Shell with Shoes On: Things About Me

Author: Jenny Slate and Dean Fleischer-Camp

Illustrator: Amy Lind

Publisher and Year: Penguin Group, 2011

Number of Pages: 39 Pages

Genre: Fantasy

This book is based off of Jenny Slate’s (comedian) YouTube video sensation called Marcel the Shell (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VF9-sEbqDvU). The book follows Marcel’s adventures through a house as she describes how she completes daily tasks. This book serves as a mirror to allow the reader to reflect on themselves and the talents that make him or her special. As a window, the reader is able to see life from a different perspective. As a door, this book invites the audience to be creative and find innovative ways to make things work.

This book originally caught my attention because of how much I loved the YouTube video. This video always makes me laugh and I wanted to know if the authors (they were the original video makers) would do the same in book form. The book has no specific plot, but details Marcel’s adventures in a human house. With Marcel being a shell, no exact human race or culture is represented. However, I think that makes the character more relatable because she is not limited to a specific group. In the book, Marcel tells of how she completes her daily activities. For example, as opposed to sleeping on a bed, she sleeps on a piece of bread (she calls her bedroom the “breadroom”). In addition, she refers to using a ladle as an amusement park ride. Besides having comedic relief, the book sends an important message to the reader: the positivity in being unique. As Marcel tells of how she completes tasks, she begins the book by saying, “I like that about myself and I like myself, and I have a lot of other great qualities as well” (Fleischer-Camp and Slate, 2011). Though Marcel is different, she is not afraid to embrace and use her differences and talents to help her in her way through life.

Perceptually, images take up most of space, indicating the images are more important. This makes sense because the reader can visually see how Marcel completes all her tasks. In addition, the text is written in scribble and hard to read. This tells the reader that though the text helps the story, the most important aspect of book is the artwork. Structurally, there is a full text page and then a full image page. Adding on to what was mentioned above, the authors are reiterating the importance of the images. The close-up images of Marcel and images of Marcel shows the reader that she is the main character of the book and tells the reader to pay close attention to Marcel’s unique way of accomplishing tasks. The full-page images are not framed while pages with images are framed, signaling the reader to engage with the images as opposed to the text. The most important themes this book offers are being unique is perfectly acceptable, doing things differently makes one unique, embrace one’s talents and differences, and make the most of life and what is has to offer.


Captain Jack and the Pirates

Author: Peter Bently

Illustrator: Helen Oxenbury

Publisher and Year: Dial Books for Young Readers, 2015

Number of Pages: 30 Pages

Genre: Fantasy, Fiction

This story tells of the tale of three boys (Jack, Zack, and Caspar) and their whimsical adventures at the beach. The three boys encounter an enemy pirate ship that has the treasure the boys are seeking. The boys get shipwrecked on an island, but still continue on “hungry for glory and enemy booty” (Bently, 2015).

The story is used as a window because it shows the imagination of younger children and the crazy adventures they can make in any kind of place. As a mirror, it reminds a reader of any age the fun and joy of using one’s imagination to create anything. Also, it serves as a door to encourage all that imagination never dies and is the opportunity to be anything one wants to be. For the most part, the power is in the hands of the three boys because they collectively create and engage in the world with the enemy pirates. As the story goes on, they do indeed find the treasure: an abundance of cupcakes, soda, ice cream, and cake. In addition, the reader finds out that the “enemy pirates” were just the adults the three boys came with, attempting to get them ready to leave the beach. This book is not very diverse in terms of skin color, with the exception of Captain Jack’s right hand man Zack (African American). Also, all the “enemy pirates” are Caucasian. As one looks through the images, the adults in the story were the boys’ parents (both Caucasian) and act as if Zack is their son. Based on this, I can say the book is a little more diverse because the illustrator is showing a mixed family. At the same time, the family has only three boys and the only female figure in the story is the mother who brings the boys ice cream at the end of the book. In this story, it is mainly a male and Caucasian culture represented. In a like manner, the culture of young children’s imagination is represented in the creative adventure of the three boys.

Perceptually, the words and text mirror one another signaling the importance of both the image and text. In addition, the pictures take up most of page but text is easy to find. This means that though the images are important, the reader can focus on the text as well. Structurally, words within the text rhyme, allowing the reader to learn a simple structure of poetry and other words. On the contrary, there are some images are colored while some are black and white. The ones with color symbolize the boys on their adventures while black and white stand for the real world. The three boys also wear similar swimsuits standing for the time period of the story and/or making them equal. In addition, the beach is backdrop for the boys’ adventure, which means their imagination, can be very creative in a simple setting. Prevalent themes from this book are imagination never dies and anyone the opportunity to be anything they want to be.