Archive for the 'Picture Books' Category

Matt Phelan on Turtle Walk

h1 Tuesday, October 20th, 2020

Author-illustrator Matt Phelan visits today to talk a bit about his playful new picture book for very young readers, Turtle Walk (Greenwillow, October 2020). Librarians and educators, take note: This is your next best pick for storytime for your youngest patrons and students.

Matt, as he notes below, likes the “challenge of making something that is clear and simple, yet can be read again and again.” This particular story—one in which small turtles, much like small children, amble through a year, taking in everything around them (and in a palette of vivid, rich colors)—was inspired by his daughter. He visits today to talk about that and share some images from the creation of the book. As always, a few final illustrations are included here as well.

Thanks to Matt for visiting!

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #713: Featuring Kasya Denisevich

h1 Sunday, October 18th, 2020

“My ceiling is someone’s floor, and my floor is someone’s ceiling.”

Today, it’s a pleasure to share some spreads from Neighbors (Chronicle, September 2020), the debut picture book from Kasya Denisevich, a Russian-born author-illustrator now living in Barcelona. These illustrations were rendered in ink, and the book’s typeset is called Kasya Hand—a font created from the author’s handlettering.

“[I]f you stop to think about it … My ceiling is someone’s floor, and my floor is someone’s ceiling.” A young girl moves into a new apartment—number 12 in Building 2 at 3 Ponds Lane. She considers who lives in the building: “If I could stretch my hand through that wall, I could actually touch someone. And that someone is my new neighbor!”

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Sugar in Milk

h1 Thursday, October 15th, 2020

“But my friends and my family were all back home.”
(Click spread, which is sans text, to enlarge)

I’ve a review over at BookPage of Thrity Umrigar’s Sugar in Milk (Running Press Kids, October 2020), illustrated by Khoa Le.

That review is here, and below at 7-Imp today are some spreads from the book.

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Christy Hale on Out the Door

h1 Tuesday, October 13th, 2020

It’s a pleasure to have a visit today from author-illustrator Christy Hale. Her new picture book, Out the Door (Neal Porter Books/Holiday House, October 2020), takes readers to busy Brooklyn. Here, a young girl makes her way to school and back home again, and it’s all about the journey—”out the door, down the stoop, past the neighbors along the block….” As you can tell from the spreads below, it’s an adventure in prepositions (perfect for elementary students in that particular unit of study), but it’s much more. As Christy says below, it’s a book about “the connection between the words ‘commute’ and ‘community.’”

Here’s Christy, in her own words, and a handful of the beautifully textured cut-paper collages from the book.

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #712: Featuring Ashley Wolff

h1 Sunday, October 11th, 2020

(Click spread to enlarge)

It’s a pleasure today to welcome author-illustrator Ashley Wolff, who talks about a new version of an old book.

Only the Cat Saw was originally published in 1985, and as you’ll read below, Ashley had an opportunity to update it. This new version, on shelves in June of this year (Beach Lane Books), is the story of a small multiracial family on a farm. While they bustle about, getting ready for bed after a busy day, the cat is the only one to see the sun set; fireflies at night; an owl; a shooting star; and more. The text is spare and rhythmic with pleasing repetition, and Ashley’s richly colored illustrations are deliciously textured. Young children, who wonder what their pet sees at night, will delight in this warm, cozy story.

Thanks to Ashley for visiting today to share more about this updated version. And don’t miss her September visit with Jama Kim Rattigan to talk in even more detail about the book. (That is here.)

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All Because You Matter

h1 Friday, October 9th, 2020

“Did you know that you are sun rays,
calm, like ocean waves,
tough, like montañas,
magic, like stars in space?”

(Click spread to enlarge)

Over at BookPage, I’ve a review of Tami Charles’s All Because You Matter, illustrated by Bryan Collier.

That review is here, and below are a couple more spreads from the book.

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Reading Picture Books in 2020

h1 Wednesday, October 7th, 2020

Head on over to the Horn Book’s Calling Caldecott today, if you’re so inclined, for a post about what it’s been like to read picture books during a pandemic—specifically, what it’s been like to read so many picture books on screens this year. (Oh, page turns, we miss you!) We also want to know what your year of reading and sharing picture books has been like. Have you seen less picture books this year because of social distancing? If you’re a teacher or librarian, how has the pandemic affected your reading this year? Are you a reviewer who has seen more picture books on PDFs this year? Come and join the conversation! We would love to hear from you.

That post is here. Hope to see you over there!

If You Come to Earth:
A Conversation with Sophie Blackall

h1 Monday, October 5th, 2020


(Click image to enlarge)

Author-illustrator Sophie Blackall and I have been chatting back and forth via email about her new picture book, If You Come to Earth (Chronicle), which arrived on shelves last month. It’s an ambitious picture book that asks big questions about life, and it’s funny and poignant and thought-provoking all at once. Our narrator, Quinn, writes a letter via scroll to any aliens who are perhaps considering visiting Earth. What is Earth like anyway? That’s the question Quinn poses. Not a small task, but over the course of 80 pages, they manage to cover a lot of ground.

I asked Sophie about the book’s genesis, and she also talks to me about the challenges of creating a book with such a wide scope—and why the tiny details in such a story matter and matter a lot. A transcription of our chat is below. There’s also lots of the book’s dynamic, exquisite art in our chat, and I thank her for sharing. Let’s get to it! Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #711: Featuring Kenneth Kraegel

h1 Sunday, October 4th, 2020

I love the newest book from author-illustrator Kenneth Kraegel. It’s a board book called This Is a Book of Shapes (Candlewick, September 2020), and it is suprising and fun and subversive.

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Reading Recommendations Before Breakfast

h1 Thursday, October 1st, 2020


I love to be a part every July of the Center for Children’s and Young Adult Literature’s (CCYAL) “Best of the Best” conference at the University of Tennessee, in which I gather with other librarians and book critics to discuss the most outstanding books we’ve seen in that year. Because of the pandemic, we didn’t gather this year. But after asking each of us presenters to name a few favorite books of the year, the CCYAL still created a list. If you’d like to see everyone’s recommendations (books published, generally speaking, in the latter part of 2019 and first half of 2020), the list is here. You can also click on the image above to be taken to the list.

Happy reading!