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The Owl and the Shepherd Boy

The Owl and the Shepherd Boy by Tuula Pere follows young Nicky, a shepherd boy who is tasked with managing the cottage and goats for one week while his father goes back down the mountain to the valley where the family lives. Unfortunately, a large storm comes thundering through, destroying the cottage and scaring his goats away. Now Nicky is left with nothing but a torn blanket and must find his way down the mountains back home.

This story teaches children the importance of responsibility and ownership of one’s life. Nicky is now of age to where he must help the family with shepherding duties, and with that comes the responsibility for the goats’ overall well-being and being able to live on one’s own even when fear is present. The author shows this with Nicky’s problem-solving and survival skills. Of course, accepting a little help from a friendly owl would aid in the journey down the mountain but allowing to be helped is also another life lesson that is taught in this story.

I enjoyed the illustrations by Catty Flores immensely. I felt the artwork was vivid and colorful, even in the parts that were dark and stormy. Nicky was venturing down the mountain, the wind was blowing his hair, and the tattered blanket came to life through the well-crafted art. The author and the illustrator had great vision when bringing this story to life.

The Owl and the Shepherd Boy is a heartwarming picture book that teaches children the value of accepting help when offered and learning to trust. It also teaches kids that it is okay to be afraid of things like the dark and that you can overcome your fears. This inspirational story is a great starting point for families and teachers when discussing concerns and what to do in a natural disaster.

Pages: 16 | ASIN : B07HYLRWN2

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Saved From the Flames

Young Sunita and her family have lost all their possessions in a house fire. As well as lost their beloved dog Taro. The story opens with Sunita living with relatives nearby, where her family home has burned down while the parents and neighbors rebuild. This story spans over a few weeks as the rebuilding is happening and follows Sunita through her depression and struggle over this traumatic event. Can things be rebuilt when things seem hopeless?

Saved from the Flames by Tuula Pere is a story with a profound message of rebuilding not only from physical tragedies or traumas but also internally, emotionally, and mentally. After the fire, Sunita is clearly being affected internally by what was lost. The home wasn’t filled with gems or jewels but was a modest home filled with things that held priceless meaning to herself and her family. Add on top of that, her parents argue and blame one another instead of comforting each other and caring emotionally for Sunita. Leaving her feeling detached, abandoned, and isolated.

What the author does well in this children’s book is properly convey to young readers in a simplistic way a rather deep and sometimes emotionally overwhelming real-life trauma. I love that the author knew how to incorporate the sense of community with the neighbors helping rebuild their home by donating their time and supplies. Also, the importance of family and being there for one another through the good and especially the bad times. The author also made an amazing choice by bringing in help from teachers and doctors because sometimes those people can be intimidating to children or someone they wouldn’t even think to ask for help from. I feel the author has a great sense of what it takes to heal inside after trauma, as well as the kind of outside help that is needed as well.

Pages: 16 | ASIN : B07HYW4C3S

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Traveling Companions 

When a mountain village is destroyed by a mudslide, the villagers must relocate to the bottom of the mountain. A young boy is injured in the mudslide and has a broken leg. He can not walk with the rest of the villagers, so he remains in what is left of the village with the old village elder and the blind blacksmith. They face the choice of waiting there with little water and food or trying to reach the valley on their own. Together they form a plan to try and reach safety relying on one another.

Traveling Companions by Tuula Pere is a beautiful children’s book about working together and realizing each person’s strengths and values in life. While each of the three companions has a significant physical challenge, they can work together and put their skills to use to survive.

I love how the weakest and most vulnerable are brought into focus for this story. It teaches compassion to those that need it and shows that even when old, sick, or disabled, people still have value and can contribute. Children will learn that everyone has value, even if you can not see it immediately. Each member of the traveling group has an important job. The young boy had food and water that the other two did not, as well as good eyesight, the blacksmith had strength that hey other two lacked, and the elder had knowledge of how to safely get down to the valley.

Traveling Companions is a heartwarming picturebook for classrooms and families that teaches children about diversity and acceptance and that everyone has value in society. The message of teamwork and persistence shines, though, and kids will see that when they work together, they can accomplish things they would not be able to on their own.

Pages: 32 | ASIN : B07HYXSPYV

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