Oh Lord, I Wish I Was a Buzzard
Polly Greenberg with illustrations by Aliki/ published 1968 by MacMillian
Based on the childhood recollections of a Mississippi sharecropper named Gladys Henton, Oh Lord is the story of a little girl picking cotton and all the animals she daydreams she'd rather be. Though the story is told in a somewhat lighthearted matter, the more serious theme is constant, but still stays within the innocent realm of a child's thinking. Oh Lord provides a wonderful opportunity to open up a larger conversation, and gives lots of room for asking questions. The story encompasses everything wonderful about the heart of a child, and shines a light on how even in the bleakest moments, our imaginations can serve as the perfect escape.
It was hot, oh my, it was hot.
I looked up with the water running off my face,
and I saw a snake, curved up cold and
cool near a rock like snakes do.
I said, "Oh Lord, I wish I was a snake."
I love the illustrations and how they begin tight in the girl's own personal space and span out so that eventually you can see everyone picking in the fields. The graphic design look of the drawings is classic, yet the faces of the children are drawn very much in the dated style of the 60s, which gives them a hip feeling. Chronicle Books has a reissue available in hardcover, but lots of older copies are available online for cheap.
Keep Your Mouth Closed, Dear
This is the House Where Jack Lives
That's Good, That's Bad