My Family Tree and Me
By Dusan Petricic
Age Range: 3-7 years (Pre-K to 2nd Grade)
This one-of-a-kind picture book provides a beautifully simple introduction to the concept of family ancestry. It uses two stories in one to explore a small boy's family tree: the boy tells the family story of his father's side starting from the front of the book, and that of his mother's side starting from the back of the book. Four previous generations are introduced for each, from his great-great-grandparents to his parents. The grand finale in the center of the book reveals the boy's entire extended family, shown in one drawing with all the members from both sides identified by their relationship to him. Of particular interest is the cultural diversity of the boy's family, which includes European and Asian ancestors, and readers can visually interpret the family members' physical characteristics as they get passed on through the generations. Award-winning illustrator Du?an Petri?i?'s classic artwork contains thoughtfully selected details with a touch of play and humor. And, since most of the story is told in the art, this is a wonderful tool for enhancing children's visual literacy as they spend time making connections and looking for clues. This book makes a great springboard for lessons on describing and sharing family histories and naming family relationships. Applicable in-class activities could include having children build their own family trees or imagine and draw portraits of their ancestors featuring period and cultural details. This title also lends itself to discussions on multiculturalism in families and in the larger community.