The ten books listed in this posting are newly purchased titles, each published in 2023 (except for two).
ALL THE BEATING HEARTS by Julie Fogliano; illus. Catia Chien
From the book jacket: “This poignant, powerful book is a celebration of self-acceptance and a potent reminder that, even in our uniqueness we are divided.” This is a book about reassuring that most of our days are filled with goodness. Sometimes they are not. We carry on. The book ignites wonder and reflection of dreams and hopes and a curiosity of our connection to others and our place in the world and. I so love the wonderful wonderful, colourful and poetic illustrations that often dance on the page our hearts beat.
the beats of our heart, strong, and steady and sure is
that we are here and alive
together but apart
the same but exactly different.”
AT THE DROP OF A CAT by Elise Fonentaille; illus. Violeta Lopez
A young boy loves spending time with his Spanish grandpa Luis who is known for his gardening “The Earth is my mother”, his cooking )”There is always something baking or simmering.” his knowledge of bird language” and his talent as an artist (“Dad says Luis is as good as Henry Rousseau”). When he talks to the chickadees, thy talk back.” Grandpa Luis had a hard life running away from a terrible war in Spain until he settled in France. He never went to school, worked hard in the fields and never learned to read or write. This is a beautiful, beautiful story of the relations relationship between grandfather and grandson (“He says I am ‘the apple of his pie’, which means he really likes me.”)This picture book has been translated from the French with rich, detailed illustrations by Spanish illustrator Violeta Lopez, each image inviting close scrutiny.
A FLOWER IS A FRIEND by Frieda Wishinsky; illus. Karen Patkau
Master nonfiction author Frieda Wishinsky helps readers think about the way that flowers care for those around it. In spare text, Wishinsky explains how flowers are friends because they ‘dust a bumblebee’; ‘Burst with color’; ‘Kiss a butterfly’ an ‘Drink the rain’. Each page of text features a question that helps readers think about the wonders of nature and the beauty of flowers. Full page, close-up illustrations by award-winning illustrator Karen Patkau are spectacular. In an afterward to the book, succinct information about each of the animals we have met throughout the book. This is a gorgeous gem of a nonfiction title. Hooray for Frieda Wishinsky! Hooray for Karen Patkau1 Hooray for flowers!
THE KINDEST RED: A story of Hijab and Friendship by Ibtihaj Muhammed with S.K. Ali; illus Hatem Alythe
The team that created The Proudest Blue now present a story of a young girl named Faisah who is excited to wear a red dress that has been passed down from Asiya, her older sister and before that from her mother. Asiya looks beautiful in her class picture but she is worried when it comes to the sibling photo, that her clothes does not match her sister’s. Faizah’s teacher gives the class (and the reader) the big question: What kind of world do you want to create? Being kind, she says, helps us to make a difference. Faizah’s classmate presents her dress’s red sash to match Asiyah’s hijab. The Kindest Red is an endearing story about the bonds of family and the place of being kind to others when they are troubled.
“What do I want?
A world where there’s always a friend nearby.
HAPPY by Miles Van Hout (2011/2023)
I was as terrifically pleased to see that this terrific picture book from Pajama Press (2011) has been released in a 2023 edition. This is the ideal picture book for recognizing and naming different emotions. Each emotion is depicted in expressive font and colour matched by the image of a single fish swimming on each spread. This is a book that helps build a vocabulary of emotions (e.g furious, glad, content, afraid, startled) facial expressions and love of illustration. A winner of a book. Great to visit these fish friends again! Thank you Miles Van Hout. Thank, you Pajama Press.
ONCE UPON A BOOK by Kate Messner; illus. Grace Lin
A young girl named ALICE is bored with staying inside and when she discovers a book, Alice has adventures in wonderland by entering into the picture book and visiting the homes of birds, a desert, the ocean, clouds, and the moon. In the end she discovers that ‘there’s no place like home’. The illustrations by award-winning illustrator, Grace Lin are exquisite. The narrative pattern of Kate Messner’s story carries readers into the magical world, that can only happen once upon a book.
“That sounds like our home,” said the clouds. “Turn the page and come in…”
So she did.
TOO MANY PIGS and ONE BIG BAD WOLF by Davide Cali; illus Marianna Balducci (2022)
A colourful book with lots and lots and lots of pigs . This picture book offers some mathematical fun figuring out the number of pigs that the hungry wolf has eaten, whether my rainbow colour, by alphabetical names or one a day for a month.
“Once upon a time there were three little pigs. Then the wolf ate them. THE END” (and that’s only the first page!)
WHAT’S YOUR NAME? by Behanie Deeney Murgulia (2022)
I have a nice little collection of stories about names (The Name Jar by Yabsook Choi; Your Name is a Song by Jamila Thompkins-Bigelow; Thao by Thao Lam) by and am pleased to add this title to my bookshelf inviting kids to celebrate their own names. Using a rhyming pattern (and an abundance of graphic speech bubbles), Murgulia’s book invites readers to think about the story about their own names – and nae smtories and identities of other people in their lives.
A name can be common,
familiar and known.
A name can be rare,
unique all your own.
MY BABA’S GARDEN by Jordan Scott; illus. Sydney Smith
They dynamo creators of the special picture book, I Talk Like A River have thankfully joined together once again to offer another beautiful beautiful book about the relationship between grandmother and grandson. Scott pays tribute to the special times he spent with his beloved Baba. Baba loved to cook, she loved to garden and she enjoyed collecting worms on rainy days to nourish vegetables grown in her garden. If I were judge for best picture book of 2023, this would absolutely be a contender. Thanks for sharing your memories Mr. Scott. Thank you for your glorious illustrations, Mr. Smith that compliment the voice of a child reminiscing.
“My mom says that my Baba didn’t have very much food for a long, long time. I eat everything in the swimming-pool bowl, and my Baba walks me to school.”
AN AMERICAN STORY by Kwame Alexander; illus. Dare Coulter
This is a picture book about slavery unlike any other written before. In 32 pages Kwame Alexander, a Newbery Medal-winning author, presents a narrative of the history of slavery in America told in staggering verse. Most pages have text that is less than 20 words. It is. a sory of struggle, strength, horror, hope and survival. Added to the brilliance of this book, are pages (yellow background) where a teacher questions her ability to tell the story to her students (“I don’t think I can continue./ It’s just too painful. I shouldn’t have read this to you/ I’m sorry children.”). The children’s voices spur the teacher on to speak the truth, even when it’s hard. Yes, this is an American story of slavery. It is a story of the past and of now that gives honour to Black Lives Matter. Astonishing!
The powerful illustrations by artist Dare Coulter that appear throughout the book are mixed media created with a combination of spray paint, acrylic paint, charcoal, graphite, ink and digital painting on wood panels, watercolour and Adobe Photoshop. The sculptures are both ceramic and polymer. I doubt there will be a picture book this year with dynamic and dramatic images that appear in this book. Hello Caldecott committee 2024!
How do you tell a story that starts in Africa and ends in horror?
… a story of struggle about bold men and women jumping into the sea?
.How do you tell a story about strenght and pride and refusing to be broken?