Category Archives: picture books

This Is How We Do It by Matt LaMothe

There’s been a push in education (and in school libraries) to make connections with those outside of our building.  Tools like Skype and Google Hangouts make it easier to see and interact with children outside our school walls, but those connections are usually across the US.  Trying to get out of North America and learn about others in the world is harder, if for no other reason than the time differences. And that’s where books and librarians can come into play.

It takes a concerted effort to teach global understanding and build empathy for others.  Finding titles that encompassed multicultural backgrounds and deepened world understanding AND are engaging read-alouds is even harder.  Lucky for us, there’s a new book to make teaching global literacy a bit easier.

This is How We Do It: one day in the lives of seven kids from around the world by Matt LaMothe

Children take center stage as they explain what their daily lives are like in seven diverse countries around the world.  Because none of the countries featured are from North America (children from Japan, Russia, Uganda, Peru, India, Iran, and Italy are included), it stands to reason that this was created for children with background knowledge from that continent.  The big takeaway is that we have similarities regardless of where we are from: we play, we go to school, we eat meals, etc.  It’s the little details that make our countries, our cultures, distinctive: while many children walk to school, it is what they experience on that walk – from mosques to fruit stands to cafes – that is unique to their country and culture.  The crisp font and child-like illustrations lend themselves to sharing with a group, and the captions on each page, describing the child’s experience in each country, are brief yet informative.  A book with a timeless quality, this is highly recommended.  Share with ages 6-10.

For teachers developing and implementing social-emotional learning in their classrooms, This is How We Do It is a must-purchase. Oftentimes, a lack of cultural awareness or knowledge is what leads to exclusion and bullying in schools.  There are rich research opportunities within these pages, too. Paired alongside the CultureGrams database, students could research about lives of children not featured in this book and – potentially – create their own.

Were I still teaching in the Northwest, this would be the 4th book in a “Learners Around the World” unit (the other three are Rain School, Waiting for the Biblioburro, and I’m New Here).

 

This Is How We Do It publishes on May 2, 2017.

One of the previewed titles at 2017 London Book Fair at the Chronicle/Abrams booth.

Cheers, y’all! 🙂 arika

Triangle by Mac Barnett

There’s something special about a book cover that has no text on it. It may well be the eyes.  Martin’s Big Words, by Doreen Rappaport and illustrated by Bryan Collier, stands out as the larger-than-life portrait of Dr. King emits radiant life through his smile and eyes. Similarly, Jerry Pinkney’s Lion and Mouse depicts a lion’s strength – and ultimate downfall – through reproachful yet alert eyes.

It stands to reason, then, that there would never be any text on the cover of Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen’s latest collaboration, Triangle.  Because Klassen is, if anything, the master of the picture book eye. With a (not-so) simple dot, he lets readers know how characters feel and think. Paired with Barnett’s always-unique storyline, this hotly-anticipated book didn’t disappoint.

Triangle by Mac Barnett, pictures by Jon Klassen

Triangle lives in the land of triangles: triangle-shaped house, door, even art. Wide eyed, he gives an innocent vibe.  But don’t be fooled: he is a sneaky fellow and, one day, sets off to play a delightful trick on his friend Square.  Square, seeking revenge, chases Triangle back to his house.  Readers will delight in predicting Square’s predicament of not fitting through Triangle’s door and inferring whether Square’s intentions were to play a similar sneaky trick on Triangle.  Square’s legs and – yes – eyes give it away: he is a square, after all.  The first in a planned trilogy (lucky us!), Barnett continues to create inventive, unique storylines and, paired with Klassen, he’s at his best.  Highly recommended.  Share with ages 3+.

The case design stands out, too: a board over paper cover, with rounded corners and heavier-than-average stock pages sewn into the binding. With no dust jacket, there is no chance to a peek underneath for any additional insight into the mind or actions of either character. A well-played choice.

Let’s circle back (pun intended) to Martin’s Big Words and Lion and Mouse.  The two covers shown earlier were upon initial publication. Today, however, they look like this:

People – librarians, booksellers, teachers, students – saw something in those eyes.  They stood out.  Were memorable.  Impactful.  One can only speculate if Triangle will join their esteemed ranks.

One thing is for sure: kids won’t be able to take their eyes off this one!

Triangle was published March 14, 2017 in both the US and the UK

One of the previewed titles at 2017 London Book Fair at the Candlewick/WalkerUK booth.

Cheers, y’all! 🙂 arika

Dad and the Dinosaur by Gennifer Choldenko

Newbery Honor Author.  Caldecott Award Illustrator.  Those two facts alone would sell a book, but when it’s Gennifer Choldenko (of Al Capone Does My Shirts fame) and Dan Santat (the brilliant Beekle creator) that we’re talking about, just take my money now.  Because their collaborative effort Dad and the Dinosaur released yesterday.  And we are all richer for it.

Dad and the Dinosaur by Gennifer Choldenko

Young Nicholas is afraid of everything – from big concepts like the dark to inconsequential things like manhole covers.  But don’t tell his dad, who is the biggest, bravest, most fearless person Nicholas knows and who knows that Nicholas is, too.   And Nicholas can be brave – when he has his trusty little dinosaur by his side.  The small, plastic dinosaur he carries gives him the strength to be big and confident.  It goes with him everywhere, small but mighty, until the day it goes missing. Nicholas had it tucked securely in his sock during his soccer game, and he’s desperate to go out and find it.  But it’s bedtime.  Dark.  Nicholas must face his greatest fear – disappointing his dad – if he’s going to get the dino back.  The tender side of fatherhood isn’t often seen in picture books, and even more rarely when interacting with young sons.  Choldenko’s story – paired with Santat’s eye-catching illusrations – is one for every dad to read and share.  A great springboard to talk about fears and how children can cope with them.  Share with ages 4-10.

Dan Santat created the trailer for the book, below.  Is anyone else as happy as me to see another Santat book featuring dinosaurs?

Still another sneak peek – click the picture below for a flip-through of of Dad and the Dinosaur from Dan.

#DadAndTheDinosaur written by Gennifer Choldenko, art by Me. In stores March 2017

A post shared by Dan Santat (@dsantat) on

 

Dad and the Dinosaur released March 28, 2017 in the US.

One of the previewed titles at 2017 London Book Fair at the Penguin Random House booth. Look how busy it was!

Cheers, y’all! 🙂 arika

Caring for Your Lion by Tammi Sauer

A favorite book from 2016 was Jon Agee’s Lion Lessons. Agee’s crisp cover, showcasing a lion and boy in lion garb, delivered a witty tale (tale?) of a boy who wanted to become a lion.  The best way to learn is, of course, by taking lessons and learning the steps from an expert in the field.  This read-aloud beautifully and begged for some creative dramatics.

Now, in 2017, comes Tammi Sauer’s clever Caring for Your Lion, taking the lion-learning to the next level. How, exactly does one care for a lion? Let’s find out.

Caring for Your Lion by Tammi Sauer

A young boy is expecting a new pet; however, expecting a kitten, he is surprised to receive a lion (a lion is, after all, a slightly larger version of a cat).  Now he is tasked to learn how one cares for a lion – it’s bound to be different than a kitten.  Step by step, humorous details of life with a lion unfold.  Feeding, litter-box training, and creating a space for play are integral to lion-care, as is a feather – it comes in handy to escape unexpected situations!  Sauer’s witty text is enhanced with Cummings’s (The Notebook of Doom) bold, graphic illustrations.  Case in point: the case cover, a pizza box, covered with toppings a lion would choose (veggie or meat?)  A brilliant choice for working on sequencing, it can also springboard into research lessons using primary sources and databases.  Imagine, after reading aloud, a lesson using the PebbleGo database to discover the actual needs and living environment of lions. Or taking notes observing lion behaviors as seen in a primary source: a lion webcam (does this one work? I can’t tell here in London!)  Share with ages 4-8.

Caring for Your Lion releases May 2, 2017.

One of the previewed titles at 2017 London Book Fair at the Sterling booth.

Cheers, y’all! 🙂 arika

Mine by Jeff Mack

There’s this book – Good News, Bad News – that I often put on display in my former library. The cover was eye-catching, but better still was the story’s message: that if you look hard enough, a bit of good can be found in any bad situation. This takeaway, the eye-catching illustrations – along with only those three words (good, bad, news) – made it a favorite among students and staff.

The author is Jeff Mack, and he has another hit on his hands with the forthcoming Mine!.  Mice again star in this limited-word story; in this case, the title word is the only word in the book.  It is, however, far from a one-note hit.

Mine! by Jeff Mack

Two mice. One large rock. And one giant problem: whose rock is it? Both mice declare “Mine!” as they engage in a match of cunning and try to outwit the other to lay claim to the prize. As the trickery increases, so too do the reactions.  The storyline and subject are enough to make it a good read for young learners struggling with sharing; however, it’s Mack’s illustrations that are a gold mine for teachers incorporating social-emotional learning (SEL) with their students. There is much to take in and then discuss from the animated mice – their facial expressions and body language range from ebullient to miserable, triumphant to dejected – and ensuing conversation would likely be rich and impactful.  Mine’s unique case cover under the book jacket adds to the design appeal and provides an opportunity for some critical thinking for young readers: imagine what the mice would do if they saw that cheese!  Pair with Anna Kang’s That is (Not) Mine for a double-dose of consideration for others and cooperative agreement.  Share with ages 2-7.

Mine! releases May 9, 2017.

One of the previewed titles at 2017 London Book Fair at the Chronicle/Abrams booth.

I’m a fan of book cover/case cover designs. It’s something I look for, teach students to examine, and share in every read-aloud. My own children will often inspect library books to see what’s under the taped cover. If you like these design differences too, be sure to look into The Undies, an award for best book/case cover design.

Cheers, y’all! 🙂 arika

The 2018 WCCPBA Nominees

Over the weekend, my colleagues on the Washington Children’s Choice Committee met to select the nominees for the 2018 WCCPB Award. And what a list!  With twenty nominees, there’s something for everybody here (or at least for the students in K-3 in WA State).

Here they are, in ABC order by author. And…new this year: which is your favorite COVER? Which are you most excited to share with children? My votes: cover = Stick and Stone, sharing = More-igami.  Share your opinion and vote HERE!  Bonus: by voting, you can see what other’s think…so take a moment and VOTE!

2017-2018 Washington Children’s Choice Picture Book Award Nominees:

  • Thunder Boy Jr. written by Sherman Alexie, pictures by Yuyi Morales
  • The Magic Word written by Mac Barnett, pictures by Elise Parsley
  • A Bike Like Sergios written by Maribeth Boelts, pictures by Noah Z. Jones
  • The Highest Mountain of Books in the World written and illustrated by Rocio Bonilla
  • Everyone Loves Bacon! written by Kelly DiPucchio, illustrated by Eric Wight
  • Pirate’s Perfect Pet written by Beth Ferry, pictures by Matt Myers
  • Stick and Stone written by Beth Ferry, pictures by Tom Lichtenheld
  • The Marvelous Thing that Came from a Spring written and illustrated by Gilbert Ford
  • The Darkest Dark written by Chris Hadfield, pictures by The Fan Brothers
  • Plants Can’t Sit Still written by Rebecca E. Hirsch, pictures by Mia Posada
  • Quit Calling Me a Monster! written by Jory John, pictures by Bob Shea
  • More-igami written by Dori Kleber, pictures by G. Brian Karas
  • A Well-Mannered Wolf written by Jean Leroy, pictures by Matthieu Maudet
  • The Cow Who Climbed a Tree written and illustrated by Gemma Merino
  • Hare and Tortoise written and illustrated by Alison Murray
  • Madeline Finn and the Library Dog written and illustrated by Lisa Papp
  • Don’t Call Me Choochie-Poo! written by Sean Taylor, pictures by Kate Hindley
  • The Princess and the Warrior written and illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh
  • Nanette’s Baguette written and illustrated by Mo Willems
  • Quackers! written and illustrated by Liz Wong

 

 

Love for AKR

Yesterday – March 13, 2017 – a bright light went out entirely too early.

Amy Krouse Rosenthal, author/writer/creater/maker/human extraordinaire – died of ovarian cancer.

I cried. Big, real tears. And at first I couldn’t figure out why. Because I’d never met Amy. Didn’t go out of my way to shower her with book-love. But damn if she didn’t have a huge impact on me as a human.

From the first book of hers that I read – Cookies: bite size life lessons – I was captivated. Here was someone who could explain abstract concepts and help humans lead a better life through clear metaphors and clever wit. I was sold.

I kept reading, and my appreciation deepened.  Her books always delivered a clear message, applicable to children and adults alike. She challenged readers to be okay with who they are in The OK Book. To say YES to fun and life in Yes Day!. To consider different perspectives (that both could, in fact, be correct) in Duck! Rabbit!.  To look past appearances and form lasting relationships in Friendshape. To make our unique mark, literally, in ! (Exclamation Mark). To think positive and be more in I Wish You More.

There are more books. These stand out. (Side note: Tom Lichtenheld, your illustrations are perfection. I wish you more peace.)

Then there is her essay. THE essay, published by the New York Times. To write so candidly, to be so honest and open (and witty!) in the face of cancer, was utterly heartbreaking. But it was true AmyKR- she explained life, from start to finish – as only she could.

From that, #loveforAmyKrouseRosenthal emerged. The sunny yellow umbrella was seen across the globe, a beacon of light to shine on during dark days, thanks to her publisher Chronicle.

I didn’t follow her online until recently (shame on me). And wow. Was I missing out. AmyKR’s Project 1-2-3 was pure brilliance. A list of three, posted by 1:23 each day. Looking back over her creations in the last weeks, I am drawn to this one:

It’s a daily reminder – literally, I see it every time I turn on my phone – to Be Present, Come Alive, Every Day.

There’s so much AmyKR to explore: TED Talks, adult memoirs, YouTube videos, blog posts…and then there are the books, of which there are still more (an apt AmyKR word).  Make the most of your time here: read her words. Watch her videos. Then make the most of your time here. I will.