Doña Flor

Author: Pat Mora

Illustrator: Raul Colón

Publishing Information: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005

Number of Pages: 30

Genre: Fiction, Picture book

df 1 df 2


Doña Flor is a warm-hearted giant lady living in a village in the American Southwest. She can talk to all kinds of animals and make friends with them. One day, a terrifying noise scares all villagers. Doña Flor goes on an adventure. With the help of her animal friends, she finds out that the origin of the noise is a puma, which is relatively smaller than her. In the end, she makes friend with the little puma as well.

Besides the Golden Kite Award, this book also won a Pura Belpré Award for illustrations and a Pura Belpré Honor for narrative. The story demonstrates multiculturalism by depicting Doña Flor as a Latino lady. The text functions as a window for children to look at an imaginary world and at the same time shows children the beauty of human nature. She would “tuck her animal friends in and read them a good-night story” (p. 12). When the whole village is frightened by the noise, Flor is worried and thinks “what can I do to cheer my friends up” (p. 18).

I found the book problematic for the following reasons. First of all, in the story there are always some children laughing at Flor because she is giant. However, when they need Flor’s help, they would still say, “Por favor, Flor, could you give us a ride” (p. 3). And then Flor says nothing and “took just one of her giant steps and was at the school door” (p. 3). Children might interpret this plot in a wrong way and think that it is okay to be rude to other people because they are still going to help them in the future. Secondly, although it is nice to depict the main character different from normal people for teaching children to accept the differences among people, the giant figure of Flor suggests that human beings are more powerful than nature. Some texts also reveal this point. For example, “Flor knew that her village needed un rio, a river, so to make her neighbors happy, Doña Flor scratched a new riverbed with her thumb” (P. 18). Children should learn to respect nature instead of always trying to conquer nature.

Perceptually, the author uses a lot of descriptive sentences which makes the story more engaging. For instance, the first sentence of the book is “Every winter morning when the sun opened one eye, Doña Flor grabbed a handful of snow from the top of a nearby mountain” (P. 2). The pictures are not framed which give readers a view from within. The illustrator uses warm colors generally to depict the gentle atmosphere. Structurally, most of the text and images do not overlap. Ideologically, the book teaches children to be brave and not afraid of nature. Also, the nobility of Doña Flor tells children that it is nice to help others. Overall, it is an amazing and beautiful story.

The Reverend Thomas’s False Teeth

Author: Gayle Gillerlain

Illustrator: Dena Schutzer

Publishing Information: BridgeWater Books, 1995.

Number of Pages: 30

Genre: Non-fiction, Picture book

teeth 1 teeth 2


Reverend Thomas was coming to Gracie’s home for dinner. Gracie and her family were so busy preparing the dishes for Reverend Thomas. However, he accidentally lost his false teeth overboard. Everyone tried to get the teeth for Reverend Thomas but they all failed. Finally, clever Gracie helped him find the teeth and they all enjoyed the delicious meal together.

This book includes spiritual and religious elements. The text serves as a window for children to look at one specific aspect of culture. Through the book, readers can have a glance at what the life of a Christian family is like. Therefore, readers can better connect the story with their own life.

I find this book problematic in various ways. Firstly, gender stereotypes and discriminations are presented. In the story, Gracie stayed at home and helped her mother prepare the dinner. We can see that her father was not doing anything because he is only mentioned by “Daddy rushed off with Will” (P. 8). Her brother was playing outside and not helping either. Besides, when people tried to think of methods to get Reverend Thomas’s teeth, nobody listened to Gracie. Secondly, when things happened accidentally, people pray. However, with all due respect, praying is not the way to actually solve the problem. After Reverend Thomas dropped his false teeth, the only thing he did was “praying for the safe return of his lost teeth” (P. 8). All of the neighbors helped him look for the teeth and Gracie’s brother Will even jumped into the water. It is not fair for everyone else to do the job for him even if he is honorable. Thirdly, when I read the method Gracie used to get the Reverend’s false teeth, I got a little confused. I think the author should elaborate it a little bit more about how Gracie used chicken for bait to catch the teeth.

Perceptually, the illustrations use bright colors to depict the joyful atmosphere. The pictures are not framed. Therefore, readers can have the view from within. Structurally, text and images overlap. Ideologically, the book teaches children to use their wisdom to solve problems instead of doing things without thinking.

Town Mouse Country Mouse

Author/ Illustrator: Jan Brett

Publishing Information: Scholastic Inc., 1994.

Number of Pages: 30

Genre: Fiction, Picture book

mouse 1 mouse 2 mouse 3


The town mice want to experience the quiet and peaceful countryside while the country mice want to live in a town where food is ready all the time. Therefore, they trade houses. They all have a difficult time living in environments which are completely different from what they are used to. In the end, they realize that their own homes are the most comfortable. So they trade back.

It is a classic story with wonderful illustrations. The text functions as both a mirror for children to reflect themselves during everyday life and a window for them to look at the differences between living in town and in country. The mice trade houses and experience another kind of lifestyle, and finally realize that what suits it best is the best choice, a rule which can be applied in many different aspects such as view of life and view of love.

One problem I found in the book is the class stereotypes presented in the text. Town mice stand for people who live in cities while country mice stand for people who live in the countryside. Town mice always have food prepared for them while country mice have nothing but the beautiful view and natural habitats. Nowadays, people concern more about environment and humanity construction in the city while focus on technology development in rural area.

Perceptually, the book uses a lot of dark colors to depict the confined situation where both the country mice and the town mice are not used to their new living conditions. The pictures are framed for readers to look into the story. The frames are in different artistic styles which attract younger readers. Structurally, text and images overlap. Ideologically, first of all, the book teaches children that the ones that suit them best are the best choices. Secondly, the story stresses family bond. What individuals have outside is not the most important, as long as they have their family company. Thirdly, the author tries to eliminate the class differentiation by pointing out both the advantages and disadvantages of living in the town and living in the countryside.

A Crow of His Own

Author: Megan Dowd Lambert

Illustrator: David Hyde Costello

Publishing Information: Charlesbridge, 2015.

Number of Pages: 30

Genre: Fiction, Picture book

cofc 1 cofc 2


Clyde is new to Sunrise Farm after the former legendary rooster Larry leaves. He tries everything to gain popularity in the farm but never succeeds even once. With the help of the motherly goose Roberta, Clyde finally decides to be himself and calls out a crow of his own.

The book tells a story about an outsider trying to fit in. The text serves as both a window and a mirror for readers. It allows children to look at an interesting story on the farm and at the same time have some takeaways. The character Clyde is a typical figure who wants attention and popularity but keeps improperly belittling himself.

There is one plot which I found unnecessary. Roberta the motherly goose explains to Clyde why everyone else doesn’t talk to him. Not only does Clyde misspell her name, but he also does not show any appreciation to Roberta. Younger readers might think it is okay to take other people’s help for granted. The other thing I found problematic about this book is that Clyde always tries to impress everyone else. Although in the end he decides to call out his own crow, the reason he makes that decision is still to gain other people’s attention. Children should know that it is important to be themselves. Besides, I think the author should elaborate more about why the other animals despise Clyde. They look down on him not because his lack of talent, but because of his shortcomings which he could totally overcome by himself. For example, Clyde is shy and always tries so hard that he make a scene himself every time. He has his chances but he oversleeps and forgets to crow.

Perceptually, the book uses a lot of bright colors to depict the peaceful atmosphere on the farm. There are some dialog boxes in the illustrations which show readers the conversations directly. The images are not framed. Therefore, readers can actually participate in the story. Structurally, text and images overlaps. Ideologically, the book teaches children to be themselves. Everyone has his or her own advantages. Be brave and keep trying, then you will succeed.

Nice Little Girls

Author: Elizabeth Levy

Illustrator: Mordicai Gerstein

Publishing Information: Delacorte Pr 1974.

Number of Pages: 46

Genre: Non-fiction, Picture book

nlg 1 nlg 2


Jackie is a different little girl. Everyone in her class calls her a boy. She does not wear dresses as other girls in her class do. She wants to build a box. However, her teacher Mrs. James always wants Jackie to be a nice little girl. Suggested by her parents, Jackie decides to be herself. Finally, her classmates realize that Jackie is actually brave. At the party, they paint moustaches on each other’s faces.

The text functions as a mirror for children to have a reflection on their own school life. Readers of different ages may have different takeaways from the story. For children, they might ask themselves if they are in a similar situation as Jackie is or if there is any student like Jackie in their class and how they have treated him or her. For parents, they might reconsider the way they communicate with their children. When teachers call and tell them about the problems of their children, do they just take what the teachers say and blame the children right away or do they do the same thing as Jackie’s parents did, “hear the children’s side of the story” (p. 20).

While gender stereotypes and gender discriminations do not exist in the text, race discrimination is presented. In the book, all characters from the teacher to all of the students are illustrated as white people. Children might get the wrong impression about school. Diversity should be stressed in children’s literature, especially in those with the theme of school life like this one.

Perceptually, the illustrator use pencil sketch to draw the pictures. Such delicate illustrations can definitely attract readers. The images are not framed which help readers to put themselves in the plot development. Structurally, text and images do not overlap which give readers a clearer view of the story. Ideologically, the book teaches children that there is no such thing as a “girl’s job” or a “boy’s job”? They can pursue any kinds of hobby as long as they enjoy them. Secondly, the story also shows children that teachers are not always right. It is important to communicate with parents. Thirdly, the book tells children that if some students in your class seem different than others, do not judge them and if you get to know them personally, they might be very nice people.

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.


Author/ Illustrator: Ezra Jack Keats

Publishing Information: the Penguin Group, 1969.

Number of Pages: 32

Genre: Non-fiction, Picture book

gg 1 gg 2


Two boys Archie and Peter find a pair of goggles. They like it very much. However, some big boys appear and threat Archie and Peter for their goggles. Archie and Peter try to escape with the help of their smart dog Willie. Finally, they fool the big boys and run away with their precious goggles.

The main characters of the book are African Americans. The text serves as a door to for children to explore the life of minorities. I found the book problematic in the following two ways. First of all, although the story is about African Americans, I do not think it can count as a multicultural book because there is hardly any cultural elements presented in either the text or the illustrations. The story only exposes the dark side of African American society. The whole book is about two boys running away from bully and blackmail. Besides, I notice the poor environmental condition in the illustrations. Readers might get wrong impressions about African Americans. That is how stereotypes are made. Also, younger children who read the book might develop a fear for older children which leads to a result that they may be reluctant to school or any other places where there are children older than them.

Perceptually, the first part of the book uses a lot of dark colors to demonstrate the depression and the confined situation Archie and Peter face. But after they escape successfully and save the goggles, the main colors of the illustrations become brighter which depict free and joyful atmosphere. The pictures are not framed so that readers can have a view from within. There are a lot of dialogs in the text which make the story vivid. Structurally, text and images overlap so readers can easily combine the text and illustrations together. There are not many ideologies conveyed through this book. The only thing I notice as a takeaway is to keep calm and be brave in front of danger. Use your judgement and find the best way to save yourself.

Puzzled By Pink

Author/ Illustrator: Sarah Frances Hardy

Publishing Information: Penguin Group, 2012.

Number of Pages: 30

Genre: Non-fiction, Picture book

pbyp 1 pbyp 2


Rose is a little girl who loves pink. She wants everyone coming to her birthday party wear pink fairy wings and tutus. However, her sister Izzy hates pink and tutus. She does not believe in magic or the wand. Suddenly, the wand works and turns Izzy’s cat into a dragon. They play together at the party downstairs.

The text functions as a window for children to look at the story of other people’s life. The author and illustrator really did a great job presenting diversity through the story. There are both boys and girls coming to Rose’s party and boys can be fairies. Children who show up at the party have different skin colors. It teaches children that people of different races or different genders can be friends.

In the story, the character Izzy is kind of mean to her little sister Rose. It was Rose’s birthday but in the text Izzy never congratulates her or even wishes her a happy birthday. It is not the right way how sisters should treat each other. Even though Izzy comes to the party downstairs and plays with Rose in the end, the reason she does that is to escape from the dragon instead of celebrating her sister’s birthday. A possible revision of the text could be even though Izzy won’t wear pink things, she still helps Rose prepare for the party and has fun. Also, for me, the ending is a little confusing. The fact that the dragon shows up as a vicious creature at first but then it comes downstairs to play with children might confuse readers.

Perceptually, the book uses contrastive colors to demonstrate the differences of personality between Rose and Izzy. Rose always wears pink while Izzy wears black and white. The images are not framed so that readers can actually participate in the story. When Izzy decides to go upstairs and has her own party, she moves to the right which conveys a sense of less security. Structurally, text and images do not overlap. Children might not have any insightful takeaways from the book but they can notice the diversity of people through this interesting little story.

The Bicycle Man

bman 1

Author/ Illustrator: Allen Say

Publishing Information: Parnassus Press Oakland California, 1982

Number of Pages: 39

Genre: Realistic Fiction, Picture book

bman 2 bman 3


On the sports day of a school in the south island of Japan, two American soldiers play a few tricks on a bicycle. Students cheer for them and they have a good time together.

The book is a first-person narrative of the author who went to school in Japan. It is based on historical facts. Just after World War II, Japan was still recovering from the damages from the war. However, this story demonstrates that piece of history from a very different view of point. I can hardly notice that the war just happened by looking at such a peaceful and quiet village. The book functions as a window for children to look at another culture. A lot of cultural elements are presented in the book such as various traditional Asian games and the fact that people bow to greet each other. One of the critiques I have about this book is that, I think the book might convey an idea that only Americans can lighten up the life of Japanese by portraying the American soldier showing off his bicycle skills. American characters exist as rescuers and they are depicted a lot taller.

Perceptually, the author and illustrator uses water colors and ink to draw the illustrations which shows calm and peace. Brighter colors are used to depict the joyful atmosphere. The book does a great job stressing diversity and culture. The author takes good care of diversity issue since the numbers of male and female in the illustrations are about average. Besides, one of the American soldiers is African American. Structurally, most of the text and images do not overlap. Some ideology conveyed in this book is culture based. Asian philosophy stresses on group spirit more than individuality. And the principal emphasizes “the spirit of sportsmanship” which is “Whether we win or lose, let us enjoy ourselves” (P. 8). The other ideology the book conveys is that children are innocuous. The conflicts between countries do not necessarily mean conflicts between individuals. Although the war just ended, Japanese children are still very warmhearted to the two American soldiers once they get to know them. War means cruelty, blood and death but on the other side, people can get along well with all differences. That makes us think about the real purpose of a war. The book is extremely insightful.

Otto: The Autobiography of a Teddy Bear

otto 1

Author/ Illustrator: Tomi Ungerer

Publishing Information: Phaidon Press Limited, 2010

Number of Pages: 29

Genre: Biography, Historical Fiction, Picture book

otto 2 otto 3


Otto is a teddy bear. He, David and Oskar are best friends. The war keeps them separated but they never forget each other. The war ends and the three friends finally get their reunion when they are very old.

The story is based on historical facts. During World War II, people lived in danger all the time and often got separated from their families. Jews were treated unfairly and got expelled. It is a first-person narrative from a teddy bear’s perspective. The book functions as both a window and a mirror to show children what really happened on another land decades ago and what war would bring to us.

I found one of the plots in the book problematic. When Oskar’s mother explained to him “what is a Jew” (P. 7), her words sound extremely insensitive. According to the text, she said, “Jews are different to us, they have another religion. The government is against them and makes life very difficult for them. It is unfair and very sad, but they must now wear this yellow star to be singled out” (P. 7). Although she said “it is unfair and sad” (P. 7), she did not want to do anything to fight against the unfairness. Such indifference reminds me the provocative poem written by Pastor Martin Niemöller. “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out — Because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out — Because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out — Because I was not Jew. Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.” Children should learn to stand for what is right and what is wrong. It is important for them to learn social justice from the story. The other thing I notice is that one of the illustration in the book seems a little bit strange. When Jasmin, the soldier Charlie’s daughter, plays with the teddy bear, three boys hit the bear with baseball bat. In the image, there are two adults sitting in the back sneering. It might give children the wrong impression that it is okay, even amusing, to bully. Besides, one of the boy’s shirt said “NYU”, which stands for New York University. It is not fair to put the school name on a negative character.

Perceptually, the illustrator uses various colors to illustrate the story. He uses brighter colors to depict happy moments and darker colors to depict the war. Structurally, text and images do not overlap. Ideologically, this book introduces religious diversity to children and shows them people with different religions can be best friends. Also, the book conveys that friendship can last forever. Finally, the story tells children that wars can hurt people we love. We should cherish the peace and freedom we have today.