Juliet Menéndez’s Latinitas

h1 January 21st, 2021    by jules

(Click image to enlarge)

In the introduction to her book, Latinitas: Celebrating 40 Big Dreamers (Godwin Books/Henry Holt, February 2021), author/illustrator Juliet Menéndez writes that she wishes she had, as a child, discovered the women she features in this book. She adds: “When I first had the idea … I was working as an art teacher in Upper Manhattan. Like me, most of the students at the time were bicultural and had families from places like the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Mexico. But as I walked through the halls, the posters on the walls were of historical figures like Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, and Dalí. I asked myself: What if some fresh, new faces, that looked more like my students, were up on these walls?” This was the birth of her book, which features women from all over Latin America and the U.S. and includes life stories that go back as far as the 17th century.

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Bear Island: A Conversation with Matthew Cordell

h1 January 19th, 2021    by jules

It’s a pleasure to have a chat today with author-illustrator Matthew Cordell about his newest picture book, Bear Island (Feiwel and Friends, January 2021), a moving story about loss and working one’s way through the emotions involved. It’s a story that, as the Publisher’s Weekly review puts it so well, “respects grief’s slow pace.”

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #726: Featuring Yael Frankel

h1 January 17th, 2021    by jules

Would you like to take a look at an Argentinian import? Today, I’ve got some spreads from Yael Frankel’s The Elevator, originally published in 2019 in Argentina and translated from the Spanish by Kit Maude. It comes from Tapioca Stories, a New York-based publisher that brings readers Latin American children’s books, originally written in Spanish and Portuguese.

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Time for Kenny

h1 January 14th, 2021    by jules

Here’s a post to celebrate an engaging new book for emerging readers (but also a book that would be a fabulous read-aloud, at story time or otherwise, to children not yet reading on their own), written and illustrated by Brian Pinkney and on shelves this month. Time for Kenny (Greenwillow) is a set of four short stories about a boy named Kenny, pictured above. Kenny is bright, curious, active, and crazy about his family (his Mommy, Daddy, big sister, and Grandaddy).

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Shawn Harris on A Polar Bear in the Snow

h1 January 12th, 2021    by jules

It’s a pleasure to have a visit today from illustrator Shawn Harris, who discusses not only the genesis of A Polar Bear in the Snow (Candlewick), written by Mac Barnett and released at the end of 2020, but also how he created the illustrations for the book.

“There’s a polar bear in the snow. … Where is he going?” With engaging, appealing sentences and striking cut-paper artwork, the story brings readers a polar bear’s adventure, one of play and movement and joy.

I thank Shawn for sharing images and videos (all videos are captioned) about his artistic process. Let’s get right to it. …

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #725: Featuring LeUyen Pham

h1 January 10th, 2021    by jules

On shelves now is LeUyen Pham’s newest picture book, all about living during the pandemic — Outside, Inside (Roaring Brook). I’ve seen quite a few books published in response to COVID-19, but I think this one does a superb job of capturing the ways in which the pandemic has wreaked great havoc, while also acknowledging the hope that one day this will all end. To be blunt, I’m not fond of the books that spin the pandemic in only positive ways, such as the hey, we may be stuck inside, but we get to spend more time together! approach. (People have died. Let’s do a better job of reading the room.) I would highly recommend handing LeUyen’s book to a child, though. It gets it.

I’ve a review of the book over at BookPage. That is here, if you’d like to read more about it.

I also got to ask LeUyen all about making the book. That chat—in which she talks about cataloging the world as it is (“Outside, Inside was the first time I really allowed myself to paint exactly what I saw”)—is here.

And here at 7-Imp (below) are some spreads from the book. Read the rest of this entry »

Over the Shop

h1 January 7th, 2021    by jules

Want to take a peek at a beautiful, touching early-2021 picture book? After yesterday’s news, I do.

JonArno Lawson’s Over the Shop (Candlewick, January 2021), illustrated by Qin Leng, is on shelves now. Reading it is a superb way to start 2021.

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Speaking the Unspeakable

h1 January 5th, 2021    by jules

“Once upon a time on Black Wall Street, there were dozens of restaurants and grocery stores. There were furriers, a pool hall, a bus system, and an auto shop —
nearly two hundred businesses in all.”

The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre respresents one of the most heinous occurrences of racial violence in American history, yet students won’t read about it in most history textbooks. Acclaimed poet and author Carole Boston Weatherford addresses the story of the massacre and what spawned it in her newest picture book, illustrated by Floyd Cooper and on shelves early next month — Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre (Carolrhoda Books). It’s a tour de force, this one.

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Visiting The Book of Life podcast

h1 January 4th, 2021    by jules


Today, I’m sending you over to The Book of Life, a podcast focused on Jewish children’s literature. I had a chat with Heidi Rabinowitz about the Sydney Taylor mock awards blog, which is called The Sydney Taylor Schmooze and was started in Spring 2020 by Heidi, Susan Kusel, and Chava Pinchuck. For the podcast episode, Heidi talked to me about Calling Caldecott (the Horn Book’s mock Caldecott blog that Martha V. Parravano and I co-run); Amy Seto Forrester about Guessing Geisel (the mock Geisel blog); and Steven Engelfried about Heavy Medal (School Library Journal’s mock Newbery blog).

Heidi asked us for advice on running a mock awards blog, and she also asked us about our favorite books, both secular and Jewish, from 2020.

The episode is here.

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #724: Featuring Stephen T. Johnson
and Romana Romanyshyn & Andriy Lesiv

h1 January 3rd, 2021    by jules

— From Romana Romanyshyn and Andriy Lesiv’s Sound: Shhh … Bang … POP … BOOM!


— From Stephen T. Johnson’s Music Is …

Who’s up for exploring the world of sound with me today? I’ve got two 2020 picture books here — Stephen T. Johnson’s Music Is … (Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster, October 2020) and Romana Romanyshyn’s and Andriy Lesiv’s Sound: Shhh … Bang … Pop … BOOM! (Handprint, October 2020). The latter was originally published in Ukraine and is translated by Vitaly Chernetsky.

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