ALA Youth Media Awards: Predictions!

 

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The ALA Youth Media Awards (Monday, January 23rd) are upon us and it’s time to share my predictions! This is always fun. ūüôā

I have more faith in¬†my picture book predictions; my middle grade (and young adult) reading this year has been abysmal! The awards I’m covering¬†reflect this and I didn’t choose awards that are specifically for YA books though I did make a few YA predictions for other awards.

If you haven’t guessed already, Caldecott is my favorite, so I spent a lot of time thinking about this award. I even attended a Mock Caldecott at Cincinnati’s Main Library (which was a fun experience).

I picked awards that I had confident & informed guesses about¬†and I tried my best to research and read as many books as I could. I’m certain that I’m leaving a lot out! We’ll see what I miss on Monday! Please feel free to tell me if a pick is ineligible and leave your thoughts in the comments.

So…let’s start, shall we?¬†MY WINNERS ARE:

 

freedom-over-me-9781481456906_hr

Image Credit: Simon & Schuster, Ashley Bryan

 

CORETTA SCOTT KING (AUTHOR) BOOK AWARD: FREEDOM OVER ME by ASHLEY BRYAN

HONORS: DON’T CALL ME GRANDMA by VAUNDA MICHEAUX NELSON & illustrated by ELIZABETH ZUNON

AS BRAVE AS YOU by JASON REYNOLDS

GHOST by JASON REYNOLDS

 

freedomincongosquare

Image Credit: Little Bee Books, Carole Boston Weatherford/R. Gregory Christie

 

CORETTA SCOTT KING (ILLUSTRATOR) BOOK AWARD: FREEDOM IN CONGO SQUARE illustrated by R. GREGORY CHRISTIE & written by CAROLE BOSTON WEATHERFORD

HONORS: RADIANT CHILD by JAVAKA STEPTOE

IN PLAIN SIGHT illustrated by JERRY PINKNEY & written by RICHARD JACKSON

WHOOSH! illustrated by DON TATE & written by CHRIS BARTON

 

two-naomis

Image Credit: Harper Collins, Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich & Audrey Vernick

 

CORETTA SCOTT KING/JOHN STEPTOE NEW TALENT AWARD: OLUGBEMISOLA RHUDAY-PERKOVICH (for the middle grade novel TWO NAOMIS)

~*~

lionisland

Image Credit: Simon & Schuster, Margarita Engle

 

PURA BELPR√Č AUTHOR AWARD:¬†LION ISLAND by MARGARITA ENGLE

HONORS: BURN BABY BURN by MEG MEDINA

 

princess-and-warrior

Image Credit: Abrams, Duncan Tonatiuh

 

PURA BELPR√Č ILLUSTRATOR AWARD: THE PRINCESS AND THE WARRIOR by DUNCAN ¬† ¬† ¬† TONATIUH

HONORS: CANTICOS: LOS POLLITOS by SUSIE JAMARILLO

MAYBE SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL illustrated by RAFAEL L√ďPEZ & written by ISABEL CAMPOY & THERESA HOWELL

MARTA BIG & SMALL illustrated by ANGELA DOMINGUEZ & written by JEN ARENA

 

~*~

 

wolf-hollow

Image Credit: Penguin Random House, Lauren Wolk

 

JOHN NEWBERY MEDAL: WOLF HOLLOW by LAUREN WOLK

HONORS: AS BRAVE AS YOU BY JASON REYNOLDS

PAX BY SARAH PENNYPACKER

THE GIRL WHO DRANK THE MOON BY KELLY BARNHILL

 

~*~

theyallsawacat

Image Credit: Chronicle Books, Brendan Wenzel

 

RANDOLPH CALDECOTT MEDAL: THEY ALL SAW A CAT by BRENDAN WENZEL

HONORS: RADIANT CHILD by JAVAKA STEPTOE

BEFORE MORNING illustrated by BETH KROMMES & written by JOYCE SIDMAN

FREEDOM IN CONGO SQUARE illustrated by R. GREGORY CHRISTIE & written by CAROLE BOSTON WEATHERFORD

THUNDER BOY JR. illustrated by YUYI MORALES & written by SHERMAN ALEXIE

~*~

somewriter

Image Credit: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Melissa Sweet

 

ROBERT F. SIBERT INFORMATIONAL BOOK MEDAL: SOME WRITER by MELISSA SWEET

HONORS: GIANT SQUID by CANDACE FLEMING

WE WILL NOT BE SILENT BY RUSSELL FREEDMAN

SACHIKO: A NAGASAKI BOMB SURVIVOR’S STORY¬†by CAREN STELSEN

 

~*~

 

 

STONEWALL BOOK AWARD (MIKE MORGAN & LARRY ROMANS CHILDREN’S AND YOUNG ADULT LITERATURE AWARD): WORM LOVES WORM¬†written J.J. AUSTRIAN & illustrated by MIKE CURATO

GIRL MANS UP by M-E GIRARD

 

~*~

cryheart

Image Credit: Enchanted Lion Books, Glenn Ringtved, Charlotte Pardi, Robert Moulthrop

 

MILDRED L. BATCHELDER AWARD: CRY, HEART, BUT NEVER BREAK written by GLENN RINGTVED, illustrated by CHARLOTTE PARDI and translated by ROBERT MOULTHROP

 

~*~

we-are-growing

Image Credit: Disney-Hyperion, Laurie Keller

 

THEODOR SEUSS GEISEL AWARD: WE ARE GROWING by LAURIE KELLER

HONORS: HORRIBLE BEAR! written by AME DYCKMAN & illustrated by ZACHARIAH OHORA

                  THUNDER BOY JR. written by SHERMAN ALEXIE & illustrated by YUYI MORALES

                  THIS IS NOT A PICTURE BOOK by SERGIO RUZZIER

~*~

wceggdunlca8rphoz66abhhs4ri12vqgoobrgbrkx2plcphekar3aiznsrpughkiodzcs4glrs3lnnbucm2tzhjr1b6govjk2gg4imspvq5idkycbwtzawmsmq7pk

Image Credit: Harper Collins, Aaron Philip & Tonya Bolden

 

SCHNEIDER FAMILY BOOK AWARD: THIS KID CAN FLY: IT’S ABOUT ABILITY (NOT ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† DISABILITY)¬†by AARON PHILIP (and TONYA BOLDEN)

 

 

 

 

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A Chat with Daniel Miyares

I first discovered Float sitting on the new books table of¬†my bookstore. You see, I had a ritual of familiarizing myself with the new crop every Tuesday; excited to find a new favorite. I picked up the small gray book, took¬†some time to flip through the pages…and kept the story with me.

When I started my blog, I knew I had to review it. I’ve been fortunate enough to get to know Daniel Miyares a bit and he was kind enough to let me interview him. Really, it turned into a great conversation. Hope you enjoy our chat.

 

Alia: Q1. What are three words to describe yourself?

Daniel:¬†Ummmm…introvert, unorganized (or as I like to say intuitive), heartfelt.

Alia: I’m introverted too! Yay for introverts! ūüôā

Daniel:¬†Yay! Let’s get together and feel anxious.

Alia: Q2. I know you’re married with kids. Has your family given you any ideas/inspiration for projects?

Daniel:¬†YES, absolutely my family gives me inspiration everyday. I am married. My wife’s name is Lisa and we have two little children together. I always like to say my best story ideas come from some sort of anxiety or character flaw that I have. Couple that with the fact that children and marriage can be some of the most honest mirrors you’ll ever come across and you’ve got a free flowing fount of possible story fodder.

I do see a lot of my children’s way of looking at and experiencing the world make it into my stories. Not just the innocence, but the honesty of their emotions. I see the ups and downs of Float almost everyday in my house in one way or another. It’s true and sweet.

Alia: Q3. My dad was an artist, so I grew up surrounded by art. Do you have artists in your family? Have you noticed your children taking a strong interest in art?

Daniel:¬†My dad took a few art classes in college I believe, but he never pursued it. My daughter really loves art. She’s always got a project going. I can count on her to sit with me if I need a painting buddy. It’s fun to talk art and design with her. It’s like I have some inside track on all the stuff that hasn’t been “taught” out of her. She frequently schools me on color. My colors are never sparkly enough for her. ūüôā

Alia:¬†Cool! Yeah I agree with her. I love sparkly but then there has to be balance. I’ve also noticed that children often have insight that we are too old and too “trained” to have.

Daniel:¬†So right! That’s why I feel like I’m continuing to learn about my own books. The more I share them with children the more insight I walk away with.

Alia: Kids are pretty sweet. I learned a lot from my students when I was a teacher.

Daniel: I bet you did! What did you teach?

Alia: I taught Elementary school English in Korea for four years.

Daniel:¬†That’s so wonderful. I’m sure you’ve got stories. I should interview you about that!

Alia:¬†Haha. Oh yeah I have a lot. It’s all kinda a blur of dirty noses, screaming kids and lots of laughs.

Q4. I love the paintings you post on Instagram and Facebook. Are you a paper margin doodler?

Daniel:¬†I am a margin doodler, an over the important information doodler, an on my desk and chair doodler. It’s kind of an obsession. Thank God someone invented Instagram. Now I have a place to put all those random scribbles. Actually it’s been freeing to post things without much editing. I can get pretty calculated when it comes to making art and I need to be reminded to loosen up and not worry about it so much.

Alia:¬†It must be nice to just make art for arts sake when it’s your JOB to make art. Just put it out there and go!

Daniel: It is nice to just make art without a big agenda. It also reminds me of the things I love about making pictures.

Alia: Q5. Okay big question. Why do you make picture books? What do YOU get out of it?

Daniel:¬†Okay this is a biggie. Picture books kind of found me. I had always loved drawing and painting, as well as secretly writing poetry, but I never dreamed of making picture books. A friend introduced me to my artist rep and through working with them I realized that the things I love about making illustrations and telling stories could be really meaningful in picture books. I suppose what I get out of it is the sense that I’m using more of the whole of my creative self on a project. For me there is an emotional cycle to the process of making a book- the passion and uncertainty of conceiving an idea, the anxiety of pitching/selling it, the craft and focus of making it, all ending with the joy of sharing it with so many people. It’s a roller coaster and I feel in love with it.

Alia:¬†Ah what a great answer. I love it! ūüôā

Daniel: Great question!

Alia: Thanks!

Q6. What kind of jelly do you like on your PB&J? lol

Daniel:¬†Grape. Absolutely, Grape. Smuckers if it’s on the shelf, but the generic store brand works too. Every now and again I do make a monster PB&J. You know the one with the extra piece of bread in the middle?

Alia:¬†Classic. Good choice. But I’m more about Welch’s Grape. I’ve never done a monster PB&J and now I’m wondering why I haven’t. Haha

Daniel: Me too!

Alia: I guess I have to try it now!

FloatDounpour

Image Credit: Simon & Schuster, Daniel Miyares

Q7. Where did Float‘s story grow out of? The book-making process can be quite long. Can you remember any big or tough edits you made to the story or design of Float?

Daniel:¬†I was on a plane flying home from my Aunt’s funeral. It had been raining so I did a drawing of a little boy floating a paper boat in a puddle. I wondered what happened before that moment and drew that. Then I wondered what happened after that moment and drew that. I went on like this until I found the beginning and end of the story. The book making process is quite long and requires you to stay focused on what‚Äôs best for the story throughout. That’s how I know I’m working with good collaborators- if they honestly critique with that lens. Hurdle one for me with Float was should it have words or not. It seemed like a strong visual narrative that took you to all the emotional places necessary without words, but I wasn’t sure. I tried a whole string of variations on the manuscript, but none of it seemed to say anything that the pictures weren’t. My editor Kristin Ostby at S&S was great about helping to weigh and measure that. At one point I wrote a sound poem for the story. I’d still like to do something with it someday. I’m actually thinking of trying to do some readings of Float in the music rooms of elementary schools instead of a regular class. I figured the children could help tell the story with the instruments. Kind of a rainy day orchestra! Another hurdle or edit was how to get all the emotional beats into the story in an interesting way. Panels seemed like a logical way to pace things out and reveal information as the reader needed it. It was just another layer of design that became really important once I got into building the book.

Alia: Doing readings of Float in music rooms sounds awesome! I can see kids really getting into that.

Daniel:¬†Yeah I’d like to give the instruments a try.

Alia: Q8. I read Float as a story about imagination and delight in play. What were your favorite imagination activities or games as a child?

Daniel:¬†My favorites were drawing, building forts or hideouts, exploring the woods, playing in the creek near my house. The spaces weren’t that big, but they seemed like whole different worlds. I don’t know how many makeshift boats and action figures met their end in that creek.

Alia:¬†Me too. I grew up in the city but I loved making forts out of sheets in my room. Crawl inside and…read books.

Daniel: Those little hiding spots were the best.

Alia: Yup!

Q9. Do you like origami? Origami used to be MY THING so I enjoyed the paper-folding element of Float very much.

Daniel:¬†I do. I’ve worked at Hallmark Cards as an artist for the past twelve years. I’ve gotten to make a lot of things out of paper in that time. It has always amazed me how just a blank piece of paper can take on a life of its own.

Alia:¬†Well that’s pretty cool. I always wonder about card artists. There are so many well designed and unique cards out there.

PardonMe

Image Credit: Simon & Schuster, Daniel Miyares

Q10. While preparing for this discussion, I realized that Pardon Me is your book and I got really happy because I think that book is a little dark and very hilarious. Can you share some background on that book?

Daniel:¬†Absolutely, remember what I said about starting with an anxiety or character flaw for a story idea? That’s how Pardon Me! started. I’m introverted so I like to have my alone time and think space. With a family I’m often scheming of ways to find those quiet moments. So I imagined the little bird as me. I can try to cling to what I think is right, fair and deserved even to my detriment. In short, I just took a look at what was making my blood boil and I wrote it down. I just had to substitute interruptions with animals.

Alia: ¬†Ohhh, I see and I totally understand! Very cool.¬†I’m imagining the animals as your family now!

Q11. What are you thoughts about efforts like We Need Diverse Books and the general push for diversity in publishing and literature?

Daniel: It’s so critical that children have access to books that celebrate a wide range of cultures and experiences. I see it either challenging and expanding what they know about the world or affirming who they are. I feel like I as an individual can choose to invest in projects that help to do that, but I have to tell stories that lean into my point of view. I have very specific memories from growing up where I read a book or a poem and it churned something up inside of me. It widened my gaze in a way that I never would have on my own. That gives me hope that if talented authors and artists from all different ethnicities, ages, genders, and sexual orientations continue to lean into their experiences to craft meaningful stories, then there will be those kinds of transformative intersections. Of course it’s important for that focus on diversity to be present at all points of the book making process-all the way to a child having the book in hand. Over the past few years I’ve gotten to meet so many wonderful book champions who strive to do just that.

Alia:¬†When I think back to books that shaped me growing up, they’re all kinds of books but I definitely connected to seeing little girls who looked like me.

Daniel: Sure, we all want to feel like we belong and are understood.

Alia:¬†Q12. I think I read that you’re from South Carolina? Serious question…Do you like grits?

Daniel: Oh my, yes I do love grits. I was raised on them and biscuits. One of my favorite breakfast foods.

Alia: Yes! Okay, even more important question. How do you like them? Butter? Salt? Cheese? I love biscuits too. My grandma made great ones.

Daniel: I used to take a serving of grits and put scrambled eggs, butter and bacon in them then cover it with cheese.

Alia:¬†OMG…

Daniel:¬†I know…gross.

Alia: Hahaha. We cook ours with butter in the water, add a little salt and I like a side of scrambled eggs too. Sometimes I add cheese.

Daniel:¬†This is all making me really hungry. I would’ve eaten just fine at your house.

Alia: Haha. Yes. My family is from Alabama and Mississippi so I grew up with good Southern Cooking.

Q13. Do you mind sharing a little bit about your next two books Surf’s Up and Bring Me a Rock!?

Daniel:¬†I don’t mind at all. Surf’s Up is a collaboration with the amazing Kwame Alexander. He wrote it and I illustrated. It’s the story of two frog friends, Bro and Dude. Bro just wants to read his book and Dude just wants to get to the beach. It’s really a celebration of the power of reading and imagination. Kwame’s dialogue is fantastic. It is releasing Feb. 1st. Bring Me A Rock! is my next book with Simon & Schuster. I’m the author and illustrator on this one. In it a megalomaniac insect king demands that all of his loyal subjects bring him a rock. He’s going to build a majestic pedestal fit for a king. It’s about how his kingly plans don’t go as expected and how the day is ultimately saved by the most unexpected hero. It’s out June 7th.

Alia:¬†They both sound really cool. I’m looking forward to both! I love the names Bro and Dude haha. That’s awesome.

Daniel: I know! When I read it with my kids we crack up so hard. They call each other Bro and Dude for the rest of the night.

Alia: I feel like teachers are going to enjoy reading that one aloud with their students!

Q14. ALA Midwinter Conference is underway and the Caldecott Medal winner will be announced on Monday. You already know I’m rooting for you…How do you feel about all the love you’re getting for Float?

Daniel:¬†Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine so much love being poured out on Float. You know when you’re making a book you do your best to craft the best story experience you can, but once it’s released it takes on a life of it’s own. I’ve been overwhelmed by all the kind and generous people I’ve gotten to meet along the way such as yourself! It’s given me a more well rounded view of the book community. I’m in awe.

Alia:¬†I honestly think that when a book gets love like Float is getting, it’s partially a reflection of the author’s spirit because you put so much of yourself into every aspect of the book. Float has kinda flown under the radar and into people’s hearts because it’s that good. ūüôā

So thank you for sharing stories.

Daniel:¬†Alia, I appreciate all the support you’ve given to me and Float. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to share them.

Alia: Of course! Okay final question!

Q15. Are you a fan of BBQ and if so, what’s your favorite place in Kansas City?

Daniel:¬†I’m required to be a fan of BBQ if I live in KC. It’s in the contract. There are so many places to go if you’re coming this way, but by far my favorite is a place called Joe’s KC. It used to be called Oklahoma Joe’s. It’s in a gas station and it’s worth the wait every time.

 

I want to thank Daniel Miyares once again for taking time to talk with me. It was a fun chat and I wish you and Float THE BEST on Monday for the ALA Youth Media Awards!

Be sure to check out his:

Website, http://www.danielmiyares.com/ and Instagram, https://www.instagram.com/danielmiyaresdoodles/

Thanks for reading! ‚̧

ALA Youth Media Awards!

BookAwardsImage

Image Credit: American Library Association (ALA)

Well guys, it’s almost that time!

Right now in Boston, the American Library Association’s Midwinter Conference is well underway. Book lovers, librarians, publishing reps, authors and illustrators are talking books, giving away¬†and signing advanced copies of books and (I’m sure) having a blast!

Perhaps the most anticipated aspect of the conference is the ALA Youth Media Awards on Monday morning. This is where they award the BIG AWARDS;¬†Newbery, Caldecott, Geisel, Pura Belpr√©, Printz, Sibert, Odyssey, Stonewall, Coretta Scott King, Schneider Award and more…That’s an awful lot for one day. ūüôā

**Click this link for a live webcast of the awards ceremony and a summary of all the awards**

Unfortunately, I’m behind in my Newbery¬†reading so I have no official selection yet but if I HAD to choose, based on what I’ve read so far, I’d pick Echo¬†by Pam Mu√Īoz Ryan. Why? Because though there are some issues with pacing, it’s an EPIC and unique story and I’ve seen children embrace it. I’m in the middle of The War that Saved My Life and it’s great, so I’d be happy to see that one win too. Either way, I’m celebrating all these great books.

2016NewberyReads

Just a sample of books being considered for the Newbery Medal!

I already posted about my Caldecott Medal Prediction (Float by Daniel Miyares!) I’ve been certain about that for a while…You can read that post here! I’d love to see Drum Dream Girl by Margarita Engle¬†or Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras by Duncan Tonatiuh¬†win the Pura¬†Belpr√©!

Float

Image Credit: Simon & Schuster, Daniel Miyares

There are so¬†many cool books up for the Newbery award this year. The School Library Journal’s blog Heavy Medal does an awesome Mock Newbery and it’s fun to see what people think deserves to win. Check out that post here.

Here are some titles that people are loving:

Echo by Pam¬†Mu√Īoz Ryan

The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

My Seneca Village by Marilyn Nelson (I think this is more suited for the Printz (YA award)! For a more mature reader)

The Penderwicks in Spring by Jeanne Birdsall

Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead

Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson

Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton

Most Dangerous by Steve Sheinkin

Finally, one of the biggest take aways from all this Newbery and Caldecott excitement is the potential for learning in the classroom. Teachers can read the books throughout the year, hold Mock Elections and finally hold an Awards Ceremony Watch Party in class! This might even get your reluctant readers excited about reading! Here is a great post about Mock Elections around the country. Get inspired!

Happy Reading and YAY for Monday Morning!

 

2016 Medal Predictions

2015 is coming to a close and new book releases are trickling down so it’s time to start thinking about Medal Season! Woo. 2015 produced some amazing books.¬†If you look at the bottom of my blog, I have a word cloud for most frequently used “tags”. Click “2015” to see¬†the books from this year that I enjoyed. I also highly recommend taking a look at this excellent book list.

In case you don’t already know, the Caldecott is a medal for the best illustrations by an author/illustrator with an American citizenship or residence for the year. The Newbery is a medal for the best work of children’s literature¬†by an author with an American citizenship or residence for the year. There’s only one “Medal Winner” (gold)¬†for each award¬†though “Honor Medals” (silver) can be given. All medal and honor recipients are selected by fancy schmancy committees.

I’m still deciding¬†on my Newbery pick because I have a few books to read/re-read but I’m certain about my Caldecott pick.¬†I’m partial to the Caldecott¬†anyway because I love picture books, art and illustration SO¬†much! ¬†Without further ado…

My 2016 Caldecott pick is:

Float

Image Credit: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, Daniel Miyares

Float by Daniel Miyares

It’s simple and powerful all at the same time. Float is excellence in illustration and storytelling and is perfect for children, exactly what the Caldecott is awarded for. It’s a gorgeous story conveyed through gorgeous illustrations that deserves to win it all! Win it all I say! You can read my full review for Float¬†here. Good luck, Daniel!

A Chair For My Mother

AChairForMyMother

Image Credit: Greenwillow Books, Vera B. Williams

There are many people around the world who consider A Chair for My Mother a classic;¬†perhaps they grew up with this book and special memories are associated with it.¬†For me, this book is brand new. Nevertheless,¬†I’m grateful for knowing it now¬†and being able to share it here, with you.

What a sweet book this is. A young girl’s mother works hard every day at the Blue Tile Diner and all she wants to do is make her mother more comfortable. Their house was ruined in a big fire but their community came together to support them¬†with a new home and beautiful¬†items to fill it. Though they have many new things, they still don’t have a big comfy chair. So, they work together to fill a large glass jar with left over change, so that one day they can buy the most comfortable and beautiful chair to rest in. This story of family and community is diverse and relatable; the girl’s mother is a single mother and works hard to support her family.

Williams’ watercolor illustrations are warm and inviting. She uses bright colors and every scene is framed with a sweet border, as if the pictures are in a frame. The image below is my favorite; mother is tired but peaceful, resting on the table with her shoes off while Grandmother and her granddaughter smile and add coins to the jar. I’d say that A Chair for My Mother is perfect for Mother’s Day but since Mother’s Day is really every day, take time to enjoy this book with your family.

AChairformymother2

Image Credit: Greenwillow Books, Vera B. Williams

 

Recommended for: Kindergarten and up
Great for: We Need Diverse Books, Family, Community, Caldecott, Single Mothers, Reaching Goals
Book Info: A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams, 1982 Greenwillow Books, ISBN: 9780688009144

Flotsam

Image Credit: Clarion Books (Houghton Mifflin), David Wiesner

Image Credit: Clarion Books (Houghton Mifflin), David Wiesner

I’ve mentioned earlier how much I love a bold line and simple images that “pop.” Well, I also love DETAILED illustrations. David Wiesner is a master at storytelling through skilled detail. I love his book Flotsam and it’s very easy to see why this book won the 2007 Caldecott Medal.

Image Credit: Clarion Books (Houghton Mifflin), David Wiesner

Image Credit: Clarion Books (Houghton Mifflin), David Wiesner

This book is wordless. The lack of words encourage imagination and the illustrations have so much packed into them that you can come up with various interpretations of what’s happening. Keep staring at the gorgeous watercolor illustrations and you will find something new each time.

In Flotsam,¬†a curious boy enjoys a day at the beach when suddenly, a huge wave knocks him over and washes up an old underwater camera. Inside he finds a roll of film, gets it developed and what he discovers is pretty amazing; a mechanical fish, a hot-air-ballon-puffin fish¬†and more! Has he discovered the secrets of the ocean?? Each photo is even more fantastic than the first. Perhaps the coolest discovery is a portrait of every child that’s found the camera taking a photo with the portrait photo found before. I love this aspect of the book because we see children from all over the world and throughout time, who, like the young man in the story, discovered the wonders inside the camera. If you have a child with a vivid imagination, they will enjoy this book because it encourages fantasy and creativity.

Recommended for: All ages
Great for: Creative Thinking, Storytelling, Discussion, Diversity, Cultural Diversity
Book Info: Flotsam by David Wiesner, 2006 Clarion Books (Houghton Mifflin), ISBN: 9780618194575

Outside Over There

Image Credit: HarperCollins, Maurice Sendak

Image Credit: HarperCollins, Maurice Sendak

Happy Halloween!

Ah, such a delightfully creepy holiday deserves an equally creepy book review. Today I’ll discuss Maurice Sendak’s 1982 Caldecott Award winning book,¬†Outside Over There. Let me just put this out there, I like Maurice Sendak but I think Where the Wild Things Are is a bit overrated. I like many of his other books much more, including this one. The color palate is very muted¬†and his style is more realistic. There’s a lot going on in the detailed illustrations and they are very fantastical.

In Outside Over There, little Ida’s dad goes away to sea and leaves his family to fend for themselves. While Ida’s mother looks forlorn and sits in her arbor daydreaming, Ida takes care of business. She plays her wonder horn to soothe her baby sister but she doesn’t watch her carefully. Two goblins sneak through the window and steal her sister, leaving a baby of ice. Ida goes “beast mode” and sets off to find her sister BUT she goes through the window backwards and falls into…outside over there. Creepy right?

The writing of this book is very beautifully done; there’s some rhyme and it is reminiscent of classic western literature like Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Outside Over There isn’t for everyone but it’s definitely worth a read and a look, especially if you are a fan of Sendak’s work.

Recommended for: All ages (with caution due to kidnapping/creepy goblins)
Great for: Creepy Tales, Sisterhood
Book Info: Outside Over There by Maurice Sendak, 1981 HarperCollins, ISBN: 9780060255237

Ten, Nine, Eight

Image Credit: Tupelo Books (HarperCollins), Molly Bang

Image Credit: Tupelo Books (HarperCollins), Molly Bang

While browsing the web, I saw the cover of this book and immediately had flashbacks. I’m a very visual person and the last time I’d seen this cover was when I very little.¬†I’d completely forgotten about this book, and so, I set out to find it.

Molly Bang covers a lot of important basics here; love, family, counting and warm illustrations. Her oil illustrations really shine and you can’t help but smile while looking at them. The cover illustration is very reminiscent of Goodnight Moon in composition. I especially recommend this book in board book form because it is the perfect size for toddlers to hold. Formulaic, descriptive lines like “Ten small toes all washed and warm” create¬†a comfortable feeling¬†and little ones will enjoy¬†going to bed with this book.

We see a black father loving his child. This is important because it isn’t depicted often, in all types of media. This little book celebrates their love for each other. Regardless of ethnicity, the father-daughter relationship is underrepresented in picture books (but luckily that is changing). Ten, Nine, Eight is a great book for counting, vocabulary and bedtime and it just happens to feature a beautiful, black family. ¬†ūüôā

Recommended for: Toddlers
Great for: Counting, Vocabulary, Bedtime, Family, Diversity, We Need Diverse Books, Father-Daughter, African-American
Book Info: Ten, Nine, Eight by Molly Bang, 1983 Tupelo Books (HarperCollins), ISBN: 9780688149017

Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters

Image Credit: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Books, John Steptoe

Image Credit: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Books, John Steptoe

Can we just take a moment to admire how beautiful the cover is? It’s easy to see why this book won a 1988 Caldecott Honor Award. This is one of my absolute favorite books from my childhood because it was one of the first books in which I saw a reflection of myself. Look at that beautiful black girl on the front!

Author/illustrator John Steptoe created this African-Cinderella story after being inspired by African folktales published in a collection called Kaffir Folktales by G.M. Theal in 1895. Theal was a South African historian who also felt it was his duty as a Christian White male to civilize the Africans. So from African roots to colonization to a Black artist living in Brooklyn, these stories traveled and inspired. Steptoe created a book that celebrates Africa. He uses water soluble inks applied by brush and pen and with this technique, his illustrations glow. They are so beautifully vibrant!

In Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters, Mufaro has two daughters named Manyara and Nyasha. Manyara is a rotten person and treats her humble and kind sister Nyasha horribly. One day it’s announced that the Great King is looking for a new wife and only the most worthy woman will become his Queen. Manyara’s selfishness catches up with her and Nyasha’s gentle nature and kindness give her all the treasures she deserves. This twist on the western Cinderella tale is very sweet and is full of morals for people of all ages to learn from. If you have a child who loves Cinderella stories, add this one to their collection! You’ll enjoy reading it together.

Recommended for: All ages
Great for: Fairytales, Cultural Diversity, Diversity, Morals, History, Discussion
Book Info: Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters by John Steptoe,¬†1987¬†Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Books,¬†ISBN: 9780688040451