What do these things have in common? They are the subject matter of four of my favorite picture books which also have the uncanny ability to dissolve me into a sniveling mess each time I read them.
The last culprit to do this was Peter Sis’s The Wall, a beautifully told and gorgeously illustrated history of growing up inside the Iron Curtain that had me weeping for pages. When the Beach Boys come to play during the Prague Spring and Peter and his friends finally get a taste of freedom, then the Soviets roll in, effectively ending it–oh, how it hurts my heart. And then when the wall comes down and they are finally free–tears of joy.
Then of course there’s Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree, the gold standard of heartbreaking picture books. If you don’t cry over this one, you are probably a robot.
My son was only two when I read him And Tango Makes Three, the true story of a Roy & Silo, a gay penguin couple who live at New York’s Central Park Zoo and the baby penguin they adopt. I had no idea what this book was about when I checked it out of our library, so this beautiful story of love and acceptance totally caught me by surprise. And my son was way too young to have a clue as to why I was crying. But all I could tell him was that they were happy tears.
Lastly, the wonderful non-fiction picture book The Man Who Walked Between The Towers by Mordicai Gerstein tells the story of tightrope walker Philippe Petit’s 1974 walk between the Twin Towers. Of course, in the last pages of this story, the Towers are gone. But Gerstein mentions the Tower’s absence in such a gentle and vague way that parents need not worry about traumatizing their little ones. However, be prepared for your own waterworks to start.