Archive for January, 2022

The 2022 Robin Smith Picture Book Prize

h1 Monday, January 31st, 2022

Look at that beautiful seal above!

The Robin Smith Picture Book Prize was created in honor of my late friend Robin Smith. Her husband, Dean, annually chooses a picture book for this award, a picture book that he thinks Robin would have loved reading aloud to her second-grade students. And he chooses a book that he thinks exemplifies what she looked for in picture books (excellent writing and outstanding illustrations) as the incredible teacher, reviewer, parent and picture book expert she was.

Over at the Horn Book today, Dean announces this year’s winner (!) and shows off this beautiful sticker, created by his daughter, Julie Schneider, and her friend Cristina Gomez. The award is five years old now, but the seal is new!

You can read more here.

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #780: Featuring Yong Ling Kang

h1 Sunday, January 30th, 2022

There are lots of picture books about death and lots about the death of a pet, but please make way for this one — Rodney Was a Tortoise (Tundra, February 2022), written by Nan Forler and illustrated by Yong Ling Kang. Because it is honest in every way and conveys tremendous respect for children.

“Day after day, year after year, Rodney was there, loyal and true.” Rodney is Bernadette’s very old pet tortoise. They play games together (even if Bernadette must regularly take Rodney’s turns); have staring contests; play dress-up together; have snacks together; and share stories. They always have fun together: Bernadette is just sure that she can sometimes catch Rodney smiling. (Mind you, he is never anthropomorphized, though Yong Ling Kang may give him a slight smile or two.) It is clear that Bernadette loves him very much.

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In Case You Missed It . . .

h1 Thursday, January 27th, 2022

Be sure to check out Martha Parravano’s beautiful post over at the Horn Book about Floyd Cooper and Unspeakable, which won many awards this week, including a Caldecott Honor. (You saw the Caldecott winner and other Honor books, right? Wonderful choices. Here is a complete list of all ALA Youth Media Award winners.)

Martha’s post is here.

More soon …

My Chapter 16 Q&A with Kathlyn J. Kirkwood

h1 Tuesday, January 25th, 2022

Over at Tennessee’s Chapter 16, I talk to Kathlyn J. Kirkwood about her new middle-grade memoir in verse.

In Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me ‘Round: My Story Of The Making Of Martin Luther King Day (Versify, January 2022) with illustrations by Steffi Walthall, Kirkwood shares memories of her growing civic awareness and activism as a teenager in Memphis as well as her decades-long struggle to turn Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday into a national holiday.

Our chat is here.

Photo of Dr. Kirkwood is © Padrion Scott, Sr. / P. Scott Photography.

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #779: Featuring Devon Holzwarth

h1 Sunday, January 23rd, 2022

Want to see a beautiful new intergenerational picture book from Pura Belpré Award winner Ruth Behar and illustrator Devon Holzwarth? Tía Fortuna’s New Home: A Jewish Cuban Journey (Knopf) will be on shelves next week, and it tells the tender story of a girl named Estrella who learns about Sephardic Jewish culture from her aunt. Tía Fortuna — who, as a child, had to flee her home in Havana — must now leave her home near the sea in Miami; bulldozers are on their way to tear down the Seaway and construct a “fancy hotel.”

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A Visit to Kat Hats Before Breakfast

h1 Thursday, January 20th, 2022

I’ve a review over at BookPage of the mighty entertaining Kat Hats (Abrams, February 2022), written by Daniel Pinkwater and illustrated by Aaron Renier.

That review is here, and below are some of Renier’s gouache illustrations.


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The Depth of the Lake and the Height of the Sky

h1 Tuesday, January 18th, 2022

(Click spread to enlarge)

Forgive me for posting about a book months in advance (I try not to do that), but I hope 7-Imp readers will see this post as a treat (and not a tease). I’ve some spreads to show you today from Kim Jihyun’s The Depth of the Lake and the Height of the Sky (Floris), coming to U.S. shelves in April. This is the picture book debut for Jihyun, who lives in Seoul, and it originally published in South Korea as Last Summer in 2017 and then in Scotland last year. (I’m fascinated by this change in title and would love to know who was behind that. The publisher? Jihyun? The translator, even though this is a wordless book? Whoever decided this, it’s beautiful.)

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #778: Featuring Ashley Lukashevsky

h1 Sunday, January 16th, 2022

Claire — the narrator of Lois-Ann Yamanaka’s Snow Angel, Sand Angel (Make Me a World, January 2022), illustrated by Ashley Lukashevsky — lives in Hawai’i and is dismayed when, for a school project, she must make a diorama about winter. “I’ve never even seen real snow!” she thinks. This is a sore point for her; she longs to experience winter and play in the snow. So she’s delighted when her father tells her he’ll show her and her brother, Timbo, some snow up on Mauna Kea, “the top of the tallest mountain in the world, if you measure from seafloor to summit.”

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Love in the Library

h1 Thursday, January 13th, 2022

“And the books were constant company. Which was nice. Tama loved books. Caught in their pages were worlds bursting with color and light, love and fairness. Pressed between their covers were words that planted seeds in the garden of Tama’s mind.
How magical that—even in Minidoka—such a small little library
could fit so much inside of its four walls!”

(Click spread to enlarge)

Over at BookPage, I’ve a review of Maggie Tokuda-Hall’s Love in the Library (Candlewick, January 2022), an exquisite piece of historical fiction illustrated by Yas Imamura.

Here is the review, and below are some more spreads.

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2022 CaldeNotts

h1 Tuesday, January 11th, 2022

(Click image to enlarge)


It’s one of my favorite posts of any year — when, at Calling Caldecott, we look at the year’s CaldeNott books (or best picture book imports of the year). This year’s post is written by Thom Barthelmess, who coined the very term. Pictured above is one of the books he chose for this year’s list (a book I also love).

You can read the post here.