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Archive for November, 2017

End of the year: Best Picture Books

wrapped gifts boxesNear the end of the year, the Lists start popping up. I’ve made an attempt to gather the picture book lists here. Some are from magazines, newspapers, and from librarians I trust. These lists ar perfect for gift shopping, or for placing holds. You know you’ll need a whole lot of books to get you through the school break! Here we go, in no particular order:

Just in! Tune in to the Fuse 8 blog for 31 days, 31 Lists, starting with Board Books

Publisher’s Weekly lists their favourites HERE

Here’s the Best of 2017 list from School Library Journal

Here’s Brian Wilson’s 25 Best Picture Books of 2017. Brian is a librarian in Illinois, and was on the Caldecott committee last year.

The New York Public Library lists their top 100 books for kids HERE

Kirkus magazine’s Best Picture Books of 2017

The New York Times’ Best Illustrated Children’s Books of 2017

This is MY list of the best Picture Books of 2017

Here’s the TD Children’s Book Awards finalists for 2017

Chicago Public Library has their favourite Picture Books List

I’m sure there are more lists! If you have a favourite list, add it in the comments! And get out there and enjoy some picture books. As you can see, there are a whole lot of really good ones to choose from!

UPDATE! Here are a few more.

My friend Tess’s Mock Caldecott List

Curious City’s Besties

 

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Picture Book Month, Week four

still stuck book coverIt has been a busy week, so I only have time for a quick post this time. I want to make sure that everyone has a look at this silly book, which gives me (and those I’ve shared it with) the giggles. The book is Still Stuck, by Shinsuke Yoshitake. It is a simple enough story, about a little boy who insists that he can undress himself. But he gets stuck. And he stays stuck, for a long time. He figures out how he can drink juice (straw), and pet the cat (sit the animal in the stuck shirt). But the real giggle-fest for me is when he decides to get unstuck, and take his pants off first. Now he’s really stuck and must accept Mom’s help. The image of that little kid on the floor, stuck in mid-disrobe, is just hilarious.

The simple line drawings, in cartoon-style, say so much about a child. Parents will laugh as much as the kids they share this book with. And a little laughter is always welcome, right?

Come back next week, when I’ll be putting together some lists of lists. (Yes, it is LIST time, folks!)

Picture Book Month: Week Three

It is time tCover of I am Bato look at the silly and the absurd. As an adult, I do love an absurd picture book. But you know what? Kids tend to love them as well. Not all kids, mind you, but I can usually count on these books getting a deep giggle from someone in the crowd. I’ve found a few new ones this year that fit the bill.

Perhaps my favourite absurd book so far is I am Bat by Morag Hood. A bat, portrayed in lino-cut prints and bright ink, loves cherries. Do NOT mess with his cherries. Or is it pears this bat most loves? Hard to tell, but the simplicity of the art and text are just right for me. And you may know a toddler or two who have similar characteristics as Bat. Or a few adults?Book cover: I love you like a pig

It is not difficult to find a bit of the absurd in a Mac Barnett book. This may be the sweetest absurd book of the year. I Love you Like a Pig is a silly, playful book that may leave you wondering what it is like to be a lucky as a window, but that’s ok. Because sometimes, being silly is just what we need. Playful cartoon illustrations fit the mood .

Two gorillas dare each other. The biggest dare results in the demise of one gorilla. I dare you to eat a tree. I dare you to read this book to a group of grade 2 kids. Funny, absurd, and that’s all I’m going to say. Read it and see. Oh Cover: I dare youyes, the title is I dare you, by Reece Wykes.

Two more books, both just plain silly, might fit into this category. Give me back my Book is a fun little jaunt with two um, things. A rabbit? A monster of some sort? They fight over a book but make up when a bookworm steals the book. Book lovers will have fun with this one. The other is There’s a Monster in Your Book — this one is what I call an “app book” — if this were an app, the book characters really would move when you tip the book to the left or wiggle it. But since it is paper, your imagination has to do the moving. Still, these are fun to play with in storytime. Just be sure the kids you share it with are old enough to know the monster doesn’t REALLY leave the book and hide in their room….

 

Picture Book Month 2017, Week 2

This week, I’m sharing a handful of comforting books. I’ve noticed a trend– books that promote peace, diversity, and comfort. The news of the world is not always pretty, and there’s a spate of books that can be shared with young children as a sort of bilbiotherapy. ALSC has made a list, Books of Comfort for Children, that has even more suggestions.

First up, there’s Salam Alaikum by Harris J. The subtitle, “A Message of Peace” is telling. The text is based on a song by a young British Muslim artist who is using music to spread the word of peace. Bright digital art accompanies the rhymed story.

I am Peace by Susan Verde and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds is like a primer for mindfulness. Meant as a book to help teach children how to calm, it could also be a good reminder for adults. Reynolds’ line art is simple and calm, matching the tone of the text perfectly.

In your Hands, by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Brian Pinkney is a mother’s love song to her son. It is part prayer that he will be safe, and part instructional life lessons. This book will be sure to generate conversation, especially when the end page of “Black lives matter, Your life matters” is read. Useful for classroom discussion and one-on-one sharing. The idea that the world is “in your hands” is seen in the fluid india ink and watercolour illustrations.

In What’s the Difference?, by Doyin Richards.  Friendship, diversity, and acceptance are portrayed through clear, engaging photographs. The book’s subtitle, “Being Different is Amazing” is fitting: the book leads us through simple questions about differences and repeats the refrain, What’s the difference? A good choice to share in classrooms or at home.

Even though it was written by the woman who ran for president of the US, It Takes a Village avoids becoming political. It is a comforting message to children and adults, that ideas can be shared, work can be shared, and together we can build something wonderful for everyone. Marla Frazee’s fine images show us a diverse world where kids and adults make a difference, together.

 

Picture Book Month 2017, Week One

Happy Picture Book Month! Throughout the month of November AVRL will celebrate picture books.  We’ve got two Picture Book Paloozas scheduled, in Middleton and in Hantsport, so come to one of those to see a huge pile of great books. Our branches will be displaying picture books all month long. Our Book Club 150 featured storyteller is Sydney Smith, and you can enter to win a copy of his fabulous book, Town is by the Sea. Each week, I will publish a new post on this blog featuring some of my favourite new picture books. Let’s start off with a little piece of brilliance from Dan Santat.

cover of After the FallSantat’s latest book, After the Fall, is about a famous egg who fell off a wall. As we can expect, Mr. Santat takes it further, and twists the story into a tale of resilience, transformation, and getting back up to face your fears or anxieties.

First off, this a a masterful bit of bookmaking. On the case cover, it is all white space with Humpty falling, his binoculars tumbling along. The opening end pages show the egg sitting on the wall, in bright sunlight. The back end pages show the same scene, at dusk, with a bird flying away. The end pages give the whole story a big hug, and give the observant reader a clue to the story. Look here for the Asian coin standing atop a building: in fact, there are several images throughout the book that give a nod to Mr. Santat’s heritage. There are hidden, dare I say “Easter Eggs” for those who know more about Santat, who has been very open about sharing the story of how he wrote this book for his wife, who suffered from extreme anxiety.

Next, the Wall. Climbing up the wall are vines which remind me of the shapes oHumput Dumpty egg laying on the floorf mountains in Chinese watercolour scrolls. The wall is dark, and near the bottom we see those binoculars, hurtling down after our hero. Turn the page, and there he is, strolling out of Kings County Hospital. The king’s men! I love these little details.

One of my favourite pages is next — the image of our egg, lying on the floor below his bed, because he is too mentally broken to climb up the ladder to his bunk. His eyes guide the viewer up to that height he dare not climb, to the comfort he is afraid to seek. It is a heartbreaking scene and gives us a huge hint to the rest of the story.

Humpty Egg stands by boxes of cerealThe next page is just brilliant. Standing in front of a wall of cereal, Humpty is still frightened of heights— and the best cereals, of course, are up a ladder. This image does a few things: it shows us how his life is hampered by his fears. It shows us the bright glory of sugar on top, fading to grey at the bottom: visual metaphor for taking the dull, unwanted thing because the bright feels unattainable. And it shows us the clever sense of humour that Santat puts in for careful readers.

The book visually guides us through the story: page after page is expertly designed to show the eye where to go, to show isolation, to show triumph. In the image below, the big diagonal lines cut the page and show us what is important. Look for these sweeping diagonals throughout the book – they imply motion and tension and move the story along. flying paper airplane

As you can see, I am quite taken with this book. I would venture to say that it might even be a better book than Santat’s Caldecott winner, The Adventures of Beekle: the Unimaginary Friend. And if you read this blog or know me, you’ll know I have a big love for that book. So I’m going out on a limb, or shall I say, up a ladder, and saying this is my choice for the Caldecott this year. Now, I’ve not looked at the books the way the committee has, and I have not seen hundreds of books in the way they have. But so far, this is my choice. You heard it here, folks.

See you back here next week for more picture books!

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