Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Tackling Big Topics with Kids - Refugees

Refugees. We hear this word everyday on the news. If your kids are asking questions about what it means to be a refugee, and even if they're not, these two books are gems.  Empathy for the world's displaced and searching peoples begins at home. Build a child's experience and understanding for the new kid in their class or the family that moved into that furnished apartment with only one suitcase. With tenderness, honesty, and hope, these books offer a window into the refugee experience.

MY TWO BLANKETS
by Irena Kobald & Freya Blackwood
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014

"We came to this country to be safe." But Cartwheel doesn't feel like herself in a new country where everything is strange. A personal connection makes all the difference as Cartwheel learns that no matter where she is, she will always be herself.


THE JOURNEY
by Francesca Sanna
Flying Eye Books, 2016

Fleeing war and searching for safety, a mother and her children embark on a harrowing journey. When the narrator notes, "The further we go... the more we leave behind," as the family's belongings dwindle, he is also illustrating the heartbreak of leaving cultural traditions and ancestral land for an elusive safety in an unknown land. There is no specific destination at the end of this book. Like the refugees themselves, there is only hope: "I hope, one day, like these birds, we will find a new home. A home where we can be safe and begin our story again."

Monday, April 24, 2017

Haikus for You

Poetry takes center stage in April. Take a look at these two haiku books!

ANIMAL ARK
Photos by Joel Sartore
Words by Kwame Alexander
National Geographic, 2017

This incredible photo book is just one manifestation of photographer Joel Sartore's vision to "photograph every captive species to inspire people to save those most vulnerable." His project is called PhotoArk. Newbury Medalist Kwame Alexander collaborates with Sartore using haiku, a Japanese poetic style that traditionally highlights nature, to express the incredible diversity of species around the world.

GUYKU: A YEAR OF HAIKU FOR BOYS
by Bob Raczka
illus. by Peter H. Reynolds
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2010

With haiku like "If this puddle could/talk, I think it would tell me/to splash my sister" and "Winter must be here./Every time I open my/mouth, a cloud comes out", Raczka channels his inner-child and returns to his boyhood with actions and expressions that every mother of boys will nod their heads at.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Dynamic Duos

I'm always impressed with books that begin as a solo act and become so beloved that a sequel is commissioned. These hits are very different from a preconceived trilogy because it is only after the fact that a second book is written. So it is even more impressive when the second book takes the personality of the first book and successfully spins a new tale that is just as endearing. Let's take a look at two Dynamic Duos.

GASTON is one of my favorite picture books of 2014. It is cute, clever, and tackles the topic of blended families with humor and sensitivity. And now there is a companion book: ANTOINETTE. This spunky poodle isn't sure what makes her special, but she is about to find out that perseverance is key.


Author: Kelly DiPucchio
Illustrator: Christian Robinson







Marla Frazee's THE BOSS BABY is witty and spot-on in its assessment of how a baby turns a household upside down. And now there is THE BOSSIER BABY. A baby sister joins the scene! Bonus: A movie based on the concept of The Boss Baby will be in theaters soon.


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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

More Picture Books from 2016

So many books, so little time! Here is a quick round-up of some more picture book favorites from 2016.

Best book on grief
IDA, ALWAYS
by Caron Levis
illustrated by Charles Santoso

Stories about writing stories
ALSO AN OCTOPUS
by Maggie Tokauda-Hall
illustrated by Benji Davies

WHERE ARE THE WORDS?
by Jodi McKay
illustrated by Denise Holmes

Favorite rhyming book (with hugely satisfying plot)
TEENY TINY TOADY
by Jill Esbaum
illustrated by Keika Yamaguchi

Most fun I've had discovering the story as a reader in a race against spoilers (meta)
LET ME FINISH!
by Minh Le
illustrated by Isabel Roxas


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

2016 Picture Books: My Pile

2016 was another outstanding year for picture books. Here are four to whet your appetite:

BEAUTIFUL
by Stacy McAnulty
illus. by Joanne Lew Vriethoff
Running Press Kids

This book is the perfect juxtaposition of text and art. If you take the text alone, it reads almost like a mid-century book on etiquette. It is the vibrant illustrations that show the exuberance, curiosity, and individuality of a group of girls who have their own definition of beauty. BEAUTIFUL is PERFECT.

FIELD GUIDE TO THE GRUMPASAURUS
from the notes of Edward Hemingway
Clarion Books

The genius of this book is the mashup of dinosaurs, field guides, and the universal bad mood. Illustrated as a notebook, there are plenty of labeled diagrams, witty instructions, and a very satisfying twist at the end.

A POEM FOR PETER: THE STORY OF EZRA JACK KEATS AND THE CREATION OF THE SNOWY DAY
by Andrea Davis Pinkney
illus. by Lou Fancher & Steve Johnson
Viking

Telling the story of a Jewish immigrant who grows up to be a beloved children's book creator, Pinkney's free verse is full of compassion and appreciation. In my opinion, this gorgeous book is one of the best of 2016.

TIGER AND BADGER
by Emily Jenkins
illus. by Marie-Louise Gay
Candlewick Press

I picked this up because I am a huge fan of Emily Jenkins' TOYS GO OUT books. She has a way with making her characters believably flawed and yet, so lovable. Tiger and Badger are best friends...until they're not. The realistic dialogue leapt off the page and spoke to me and my two (often bickering) boys.

Storystorm 2017

Happy New Year!

Start the new year off write (typo intended!) with Tara Lazar's reinvention of Picture Book Idea Month. It is called Storystorm. Follow her blog for daily posts that will get your storm stirred up! (I realize the month is more than half over, but these posts are an amazing resource, regardless of when you start!) Here's the line up: