Picture Book Musings Before Breakfast

h1 December 2nd, 2020 by jules

— From Gijs van der Hammen’s Little Wise Wolf, illustrated by Hanneke Siemensma


— From Jairo Buitrago’s Cave Paintings, illustrated by Rafael Yockteng


You may have heard that the New York Times/New York Public Library Best Illustrated Children’s Book Awards have been canceled this year (because of the pandemic). I look forward to that list ever year. At the Horn Book earlier this week, Martha V. Parravano and I were joined by Julie Roach (Manager of Youth Services at Cambridge Public Library and Chair of last year’s Caldecott committee) to pretend we were our OWN three-person committee and imagine which best illustrated children’s books we would have awarded this year. If you’re so inclined to read that, it’s here. And please come join the conversation. Which 2020 books would you have chosen?

Here today at 7-Imp, I’ve got some illustrations from two of those books — Gijs van der Hammen’s Little Wise Wolf (Kids Can Press, September 2020), a Dutch import illustrated by Hanneke Siemensma and translated by Laura Watkinson, and Jairo Buitrago’s Cave Paintings (Groundwood, October 2020), illustrated by Rafael Yockteng and translated by Elisa Amado. And don’t miss this Horn Book Q&A with Jairo and Rafael.


From Little Wise Wolf:


“Far away, on the other side of the mountains, there lived a little wolf. He read big books. He discovered new stars. He knew every herb. He knew everything!
Because he knew so much, almost everyone called him Little Wise Wolf.
And that made him feel rather proud.”

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“The animals who lived nearby often went to see him with difficult questions. ‘Little Wise Wolf!’ called the bear. ‘What do butterflies eat?’ ‘Little Wise Wolf, where does the rain come from?’ asked the goat. ‘Little Wise Wolf, how many stars are in the sky?’ barked the badger. ‘Wise Wolf, I can’t read!’ squeaked a small rabbit. ‘Will you help me?’ But Little Wise Wolf did not want to be disturbed. He still had so many big books to read so that he could become even wiser. ‘I don’t have time for your questions,’ he muttered.
His door remained closed.”

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“Little Wise Wolf thought long and hard, as he liked to do. Then he packed everything he needed. The next morning, he set off. ‘Little Wise Wolf,’ said the mouse, ‘where are you going?’ ‘I’m off to see the king. I don’t have time for your questions,’ he growled.
And he cycled away. ‘I’ve heard that the king is ill,’ said the badger,
‘and only the wolf can make him better.’ ‘Hmm,’ said the bear. ‘But it’s such
a long way to the castle. Do you think he needs our help?'”

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“The mountains rose higher and higher. Little Wise Wolf climbed and climbed and climbed. ‘He’s going so slowly,’ whispered the goat. ‘Do you think he needs our help?’ ‘Well, we’re really rather busy right now,’ said the rabbits.”
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“Finally, Little Wise Wolf arrived at the castle gates. But then he couldn’t go any farther. ‘I don’t think I can do it. Someone else will have to make the king better,’ he said once again. But the crow pushed him inside. ‘Go on! The king is waiting for you!'”
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“Now, Little Wise Wolf is never too busy when the other animals come to see him.
No one knows how, but he reads just as many books as before. And he discovers
just as many plants and stars. Maybe even more.”

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From Cave Paintings:


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“Just like me, everyone is anxious to take off …”
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“I have a note for the flight attendant. So I won’t get lost. But I don’t really need it,
I think, because I’ve seen all of this so many times. Always traveling alone.”

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“From planet to planet. Sun to sun.”
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“… next to so many animals.”
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* * * * * * *

CAVE PAINTINGS. Text copyright © 2020 by Jairo Buitrago. Illustrations copyright © 2020 by Rafael Yockteng. English translation © 2020 by Elisa Amado. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Groundwood Books, Toronto.

LITTLE WISE WOLF. Text © 2017 Gijs van der Hammen. Illustrations © 2017 Hanneke Siemensma. English translation © 2018, 2020 by Laura Watkinson. North American English edition © 2020 Kids Can Press. Originally published by Uitgeverij Hoogland & Van Klaveren in Hoorn, the Netherlands, under the title Kleine Wijze wolf. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Kids Can Press.

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