Grandfather only speaks Thai. Grandson only speaks English. After some trying and failing to communicate through language (the grandfather’s words are shown in Thai characters; the boys in English) the two realize they can connect through art. The boy draws his version of a wizard; grandpa draws his version of a wizard. From there, the story morphs in a language-barrier art battle of sorts except the two build a bridge and create a new world that’s beyond, well, words. It’s a great story, one that’s made all the more engaging by Santat’s illustrations.
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Rare is the story that’s able to nimbly explain how children process difficult feelings. But Doerrfield sticks the landing. After a toy brick-stacking tragedy strikes Taylor, the young child is approached by a variety of animals each of whom has intentions to help. However, all they do is talk at Taylor. The bear yells and tells Taylor to yell. The snake hisses and tells Taylor to hiss. They all have good intentions but it’s not what Taylor requires. What Taylor really needs, however, is someone who will listen, which is exactly what the rabbit provides. This is a wonderful story on its own, and one that becomes all the more powerful when young children are confronted with and need to work through tragedy.
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100 Great Children’s Books has been published on the occasion of The New York Public Library’s acclaimed exhibition The ABC of It: Why Children’s Books Matter, on view at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building. The list was selected by The New York Public Library’s Jeanne Lamb, Coordinator, Youth Collections, and Elizabeth Bird, Supervising Librarian. 
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