…storytime, books, apps, and ideas

Archive for the ‘Picture Book Pile’ Category

Information, please! Favourites of 2018

Two posts in one month? A December miracle. Here’s some of my favs of the year in the “informational” category. There sure are some gorgeous non-fiction books out bloomthere, folks! My whole list is RIGHT HERE, and I can’t possibly tell you about all of them, so here are some highlights.

First, Bloom : a story of fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli  by Kyo Maclear ; illlustrated by Julie Morstead. What a team, Maclear and Morstead. Look at the cover! It is so pretty, it invites me right in. And there’s great information in there. I learn so much from these books. In fact, when I found myself at the Victoria & Albert Museum,  standing in front of a black velvet evening gown, I said, “Hey, that’s a Schiaparelli!” . Kid-lit makes me smarter.

In The elephant by Jenni Desmond, short text and lovely illustrations give you a quick natural history lesson on elephants. Did you know that tusked elephants favour a right or left tusk? They wear down the one they use most. Wow!

The cover gives you a hint of the gorgeous art inside this book. Wab Kinego showw celebrates his heroes, from astronauts to hockey players, from well-known names to many unsung. Take a look at Go show the world : a celebration of Indigenous heroes  by Wab Kinew,  illustrated by Joe Morse, and discover the heroic folks inside.

I love Giselle Potter‘s style, so when I see a book illustrated by her, I always take a second look. I’ve heard Temple Grandin’s story before, and this version for kids is just right. Enough information to build empathy, and to let kids who feel like Temple know they are not alone. What an interesting story! –How to build a hug : Temple Grandin and her amazing squeeze machine by Amy Guglielmo and Jacqueline Tourville ; illustrated by Giselle Potter.

beastsThis book is just , well, lovely. Just like the title says! Lovely beasts : the surprising truth by Kate Gardner ; illustrated by Heidi Smith will make you take a second look at spiders, gorillas, and more. Take the “scary” out of animals and look for the lovely with this book.

Do you know who made polka-dots famous? After you read this book you will. There’s a lot of picture-book artist biographies out there these days, and I love finding out about them from kid’s books! Check this one out and try your own dot art. Yayoi Kusama : from here to infinity by Sarah Suzuki ; illustrated by Ellen Weinstein ; with repoductions of works by Yayoi Kusama.

That’s all for this year! Enjoy these books, and more from your local library . If you are reading this in the Annapolis Valley, place holds on the books right from this post. And if you want to come see stacks and stacks of awesome books in January, I’ll be at the Bridgetown Library on January 25, from 6:30-8:30 for a Caldecott Pre-Game Party. Books, cookies, and tea. How can you resist?

 

 

Advertisements

The year of picture books!

It has been a very long time since I’ve posted here. Embarrassingly long in blog-world time. But I’ve been busy, I’ve been reading books like mad (are you following me on Twitter @annavalley?) So, here are some of my favourites from 2018, as well as a couple of lists I’ve created.

First, the lists:  ***Favourite Picture Books *** Favourite Informational Books ***Favourite Chapter Books ***Favourite YA

And now, some of the best books I’ve come across this year, with links to place holds.Please note I said SOME. There’s not time or room to feature all of the books I think you should look at. Go up to those lists and see how many more there are!

 

Adrian Simcoxboats on the bay book cover does NOT have a horse / written by Marcy Campbell ; illustrated by Corinna Luyken Using white space to the utmost, this story of imagination and acceptance will make you sigh when you get to the denouement. Open this one up, enjoy the whole book, and see what that wrap-around cover tells you .

Boats on the bay  words by Jeanne Walker Harvey ; pictures by Grady McFerrin.  The text is easy to read, and a good way to build some maritime vocabulary. But the illustrations are what make this book rise to the top. The watercolour illustrations fit so well with the watery theme, turning each boat into a work of art.

book cover with two childrenBuilders & breakers by Steve Light.  With deceptively simple text this book might get passed over. But take a look at the excellent book design here. The story begins on the title page, is deepened with end papers and a secret look on the board covers. What a grand example of illustration advancing the story!

Deep underwater by Irene Luxbacher. I’m currently obsessed with mermaids underater sceneand underwater stories, so this one really spoke to me. I love the whimsy and watery scenes in this book. Lovely.

 

Drawn together , written by Minh Lê ; illustrated by Dan Santat. If you are a regular reader of this blog you might think I am a big fan of Dan Santat, and you’d be right. I have to include this one because it is just a brilliant example of illustration fitted in with a heart-warming story of inter-generational understanding.

Hansel & Gretel by Bethan Woollvin. I am also a huge fan of Bethan Woolvin. She has some sort of alien connection to fairy tales, where she is able to perfectly turn them on their heads every single time. Funny, wry, and feminist, her stories are taking these old tales to a new level. Huzzah!

I don’t want to go to sleep,  written by Dev Petty ; illustrated by Mike Boldt. Reluctant hibernating Frog made me laugh out loud. Good enough reason to include it in my favourites. boy inmermaid costume

Julián is a mermaid by Jessica Love. Remember what I said about mermaids? Well, Julian is obsessed with them, too, and his grandmother is happy to cultivate that obsession. I just love this book so much, I hug it every time I read it. If you have not seen it yet, place a hold on it right now. Not only is the story a good one, the illustrations are delightful.

Look by Fiona Woodcock. Never have two O’s next to each other been given such a fantastic treatment. Balloons, food, and a trip to the zoo make this my ballons and textchoice for the best illustrated vocabulary and language arts book of the year.

The origin of day and night by Paula Ikuutaq Rumbolt ; illustrations by Lenny Lishchenko. Inuit publishing house Inhabit Media comes out with some beauties every year. The illustrations in this one put is up in my favs, but there’s a good story, too!

Winter is here / by Kevin Henkes ; illustrated by Laura Dronzek. I don’t really want Winter to be here, but Kevin Henkes almost makes me feel ok about it. Another beauty exploring seasons from the Henkes/Dronzek team.

A world of kindness / from the editors & illustrators of Pajama Press. This is the kind of book I want to buy for every classroom in all the elementary schools. With simple statements and a variety of artists illustrating them, it is a daily reminder of how to be kind. Couldn’t  we all use a little of that these days? hands in a heart shape

Ok, there you have some of my favourite picture books of the year. What are your favourites? What did I miss? I might (please note I said might) have enough time this month to do the same for informational books. Until the next time, follow me on Twitter and watch for the #PictureBookPile tweets! Happy reading.

Flowers and art and dance

My latest stack of picture books happens to have some nice non-fiction in it, as well as some poetry. Since April is Poetry Month, let’s start with Sakura’s Cherry Blossoms., by Robert Paul Weston, illustrated by Misa Saburi.   When a young girl has to leave her grandmother and the joy of all she knows in Japan, she is sad. She moves to the US, and finally makes a friend. They go back to Japan to see grandmother, who is ill, and when she returns back to her new home, her friend is excited to show her Spring, and the cherry blossoms there. It is possible that grandma has died– but not absolutely certain. The book is striking, though, and is written in tankaa traditional Japanese poetry form. So it could be a good mentor text for poetry lessons; probably not the best choice for preschool storytimes.  book cover with woman and dots

If you are looking for a good art book to share, pick up Yayoi Kusama: From Here to Infiinty by Sarah Suzuki, illustrated by Ellen Weinstein. This one also begins in Japan, with a girl who loves art. Her family is not so keen on her being an artist, but she is determined, and follows her dream. Kusama becomes an artist who works with dots, and becomes quite well known. The illustrations are captivating, as is her life story. This book made me want to see more of her work, and it would make a great artist study for classrooms.

Have you ever seen someone dance, and thought, “I want to be able to do that!”  Well, that’s what Amalia Hernandez thought as a child when she saw traditional dance in a village in her native Mexico. Her book cover with dancer in red skirtlifelong love of dance became a world-wide phenomenon as she created Ballet Folklorico. Read about her in Duncan Tonatiuh’s Danza! : Amalia Hernández and el Ballet Folklórico de México. Illustrated in his signature style, the story of this dance comes to life in the pages of this book.

That’s all for this time. If you want more books,  follow me on Twitter @annavalley for my #picturebookpile posts!

Math, poetry, unreliable narrator

Cover of Grandma's Tiny HouseMy latest pile of picture books had a couple of math books in it. I’m not a big math person. I’ve been known to count on my fingers and I always use a calculator when it really matters. So when a picture book makes math seem like fun, I’m all for it.  Grandma’s Tiny House by JaNay Brown-Wood and illustrated by Priscilla Burris is one of those books.  Grandma lives n a small house, but she has a big family. Two turkeys and eight jugs of lemonade, twelve sweet potato pies… and fifteen grandchildren stuff the house to the gills. But the young child on the cover gets a grand idea– move the party to the backyard! The cartoon illustrations are filled with movement and joy.  Count the family, the food, and count on some fun when you read this.

In Sheep Won’t Sleep, by Judy Cox and illustrated by Nina Cuneo, the age-old problem of being able to fall asleep results in a young knitter counting sheep. The only problem is, well, when she starts counting, real sheep start appearing in her room. Then alpacas and llamas and yaks are Cover of Sheep Won't Sleepcounted. When her room is filled with woolly creatures, she has to find a solution. (Hint, it involves knitting). For counting by numbers, sets, patterns, and addition and subtraction all in one book, this will be fun for classrooms and for kids of knitters.

I found another one! Ants Rule, by Bob Barner, uses carpenter ants as the measuring unit. The flap copy says the book is a way to introduce “nonstandard measurement, comparison, and organizing and representing data.” There’s your fancy math terms! It is a fun little book which will have kids getting out their insect rulers.

I am a fan of poetry, and finding a really good poem written for kids is a gem of a moment. Add in fun art and a witchy theme, and I am all in. The Pomegranate Witch, by Denise Doyen and illustrated by Eliza Wheeler, is loads of fun for older readers. There’s a huanted tree in town, with the best pomegranates, but it is guarded by a witch. One night a year she’s off galavanting with ghosts, so on Cover of Pomegranate WitchHalloween, her nice sister shows up and gives out treats. The book is written in a lively iambic pentameter, with a familiar rhyme scheme, and plenty of alliteration. It is a grand thing to read aloud! Don’t save it for October, though it will be a good choice to read in classrooms then.

And now, to our unreliable narrator. Start your fiction readers young and let them figure out if they should trust this girl trying to get rid of hiccups. In this import from Tara Books India & UK, Hic?,Cover of Hic? by Anushka Ravishankar and Christiane Pieper, a girl tries to rid herself of pesky hiccups through means of questionable suggestions. This could be used as a jumping-off point for talking about folklore, old-time traditions, and folk remedies. Just don’t try these cures at home! The illustrations are funny, done in nice lines and only a few colours. The book was hand-printed in soy-based inks, so also fun to see an international small-press book.

Want more books? Follow me on Twitter @annavalley for my #picturebookpile posts!

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

 

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.

 

A pretty large pile

Ok #PictureBookPile fans, here we go!Book Cover: In the middle of the fall

In the Middle of the Fall by Kevin Henkes, illustrated by Laura Dronzek , Greenwillow Books

I always think of Kevin Henkes as an illustrator first, but then I remind myself that he is a fine writer as well.  His fiction books, such as Junonia  and Bird Lake Moon are well worth reading. So when I see a picture book written by Henkes and illustrated by someone else, my first thought is Why? This companion to When Spring Comes, also illustrated by Dronzek, makes perfect sense. The illustrations work so well, pacing the spare text and framing the season. Henkes has a way with words, and Dronzek has a way with illustrating those words.

Lines by Suzy Lee, Chronicle Books

A lone skater slides across the page, in straight, then loopy, then thick lines. She flies into the air, she twirls. She is perfection, until she falls, erasing her lines, and the artist crumples the page. But the page gets smoothed back out, and we realize that perfection is not necessary, that there are more kinds of lines, and Book cover: Linessometimes, the lines are more fun with others. A beautiful wordless book rendered in pencil, with signature Suzy Lee style.

Me and you and the red canoe by Jean E. Pendziwol, pictures by Phil . Groundwood Press

A poetic love-song to a morning on the lake is illustrated with paintings that feel like old postcards. Everything about this book shouts sentimental, yet it comes off feeling fresh. This would make a good mentor text for describing an event, and a lovely gift book that belongs in every cabin in Canada.Book cover: I wait

nipehon: I wait by Caitlin Dale Nicholson with Leona Morin Neilson, Groundwood Press

Three generations are ready to harvest herbs for winter tea. In Cree (two forms) and English, the simple text tells a story of tradition, working together, and respect. Illustrated with textured paintings, this is a book to share with many generations. Back matter includes a recipe for yarrow tea.

 On a magical do-nothing day by Beatrice Alemagna, Harper

A child accompanies Mom to a cabin n the forest. It is raining, there’s nothing to do other than play with an electronic alien game. Finally, Mom has had enough and insists the child go outside. When the game falls into the water, something occurs: a transformation. Now the child begins to be interested in the world around. Snails, mushrooms, and mud become interesting. The transformation is symbolic as well, it seems as though the child matures as nature becomes noticed. Mom looks prettier, and the child sees Dad in the mirror. Sometimes the child seems to look like a girl, sometimes like a boy, which adds another level to the story. The illustrations, done in dark colors, are detailed and lovely. A touch of the brightest orange draws our eye continually to the child. This is a beauty of a book, and it smells nice, too.Book cover: Smoot

Smoot: A rebellious shadow by Michelle Cuevas, illustrated by Sydney Smith. Tundra

Smoot the Shadow is really tired of his boring boy. He wants adventures. And so he removes himself and off he sets. Through Smith’s expert pen, ink, and watercolour illustrations, we see Smoot exploring and unwittingly encouraging other Shadow adventures, all the while being followed by the boy he belongs to. This is a nice story, and would make an interesting discussion book for older readers. Sydney Smith tuns it into a beautiful adventure: make sure you take a look at that central spread of Smoot racing across a wordless page of abstract watercolour flowers. Just fantastic.

Starring Carmen! By Anika Denise, illustrated by Lorena Alvarez Gomez. Abrams

Carmen is a one-girl sensation, what some might call “a handful”. She puts on plays, and her little brother gets to be… a rock. Or maybe a lamp. But when the family tires of Carmen’s always-on antics, she gets everyone involved and discovers her true calling- writing and directing. Illustrated in eye-catching colors, kids will be drawn to Carmen.

When the Moon Comes by Paul Harbridge, illustrated by Matt James. Tundra.

A group of kids wait for the moon to be full so they can go play hockey on the pond in the woods. The ice is magic, the moon gives them light. This slice of life gives us a reason to love winter, to remember the beauty of it. Rich acrylic and India ink on board illustrBook cover: Where Oliver Fitsation moves the story along through light and shadow.

Where Oliver Fits by Cale Atkinson,Tundra.

A little puzzle piece can’t figure out where he fits. He tries several things, including changing himself to try to fit in. This does not work so well. Finally, he finds where he fits, which is just right for the story: he fits in the place where many different areas come together. Such a simple story with a big message that kids will get without being knocked over the head with a heavy lesson. The bright acrylic-looking art was actually created with puzzle pieces, glue, space unicorns, and Photoshop. Kids will love it.

For teachers

Tukuk Tundra Tale by Robin Currie, illustrated by Phyllis Saroff. Arbordale Publishing

Teachers looking for an easy book to share when teaching about the Arctic should make note of this one. With a simple story, plenty of information about Arctic weather, animals, and geology can be learned. There’s also Inuit vocabulary, and a short glossary at the end will help define any unfamiliar terms. “Animal Fun Facts” wrap up this useful book.

Tag Cloud