NEW PICTURE BOOKS TO BEGIN THE NEW YEAR

This posting lists some recent acquisitions. It’s great to have some great 2024 releases to promote. 

 

HAPPY by Mies Van Hout / 2022; 2024

I’m very fond of Mies Van Hout’s vibfrant, kinetic illustrations (Surpirse, Friends).  Pajama Press has published a terrific board book edition of Happy, which is. a great introduction for young readers to everyday emotions. Words naming emotions are presented on one side of the spread and are accompanied by pictures of fish on the facing pages, each depicting an emotion through strong facial expressions (e.g. ‘confident’, ‘furious’, ‘content’). This book makes me HAPPY.

 

AN INTERESTING WORD FOR EVERY DAY OF THE YEAR by Dr. Meridth L. Rowe; illus. Monika Forsberg / 2021

In my teacher resource, Word by Word, I promote the idea of presenting ‘a word of the day’ into the program. Not a revolutionary idea, but the strategy provides students can stretch students vocabulary and spelling skills and motivate them to pay attention to the power of words in their own reading and writing. This book is a wonderful resource to build readers vocabulary, label their emotions and fire their imaginations. At one-a-day that’s 365 words (more than the 180 word a day possibilities in classroom settings).  The book is organized into spreads for each of the 52 weeks of the year. Each double-page spread provides clear, colourful illustrations in a particular setting to accompany a labelled words, some which may be familiar to readers (ages 8+), other words may be new.   At the bottom of each page, succinct defintions of the words are provided.  An Interesting Word for Every Day of the Year is a  gift of a book. 

Example: Week 28 (seashore setting)/ fractious, briny, turbulent, gallop, alert, tentative, sweltering.

 

THE BICYCLE MAN by Allen Say / 1982

In the Author’s Note to Kozo the Sparrow (2023) Allen Say shares his memory of being in Morita Sensei’s class in grammar school, a teacher who first appeared in one of his splendid picture book memories. The story of the bicycle man is based on a sports day event where a group of Japanese children encounter two American soldiers a year after the war. The black soldier delights the youngsters by performing tricks on a bicycle which the school principal shared with him. 

 

IN EVERY LIFE by Marla Frazee / 2023

 The text of this picture book is rather sparese, with a repeated poetic pattern (e..g. ‘In every birth, blessed is the wonder.’; ‘In every smile, blessed is the light.‘. Each statement is accompanied by ‘spot’ illustrations that help bring narrative to illuminate the text. Gloriaus double-page landscape images  pages are presented to further illuminate significant moments ‘in every life’. Marla Frazee’s picture book was named a  2024 Caldecott Honor book winner. 

 

MISS IRWIN by Allen Say / 2023

This is a tender story about a close relationship between a grandmother and her grandson, Andy.  Old age has challenged Grandma’s memory and she  thinking that he is Willie a boy she taught in second grade. Grandma (Miss Irwin) recalls special times with Willie, his love of birds and the gift hummingbird nest he once gave her as gift..  This is a fine addition to Allen Say’s memory stories and his vivid pastel illustrations executed ina n impressionistic style exquisitely the capture the mood of the story and remembrances to treasure from Miss Irwin’s yesterdays as a teacher, and today as a grandma. 

 

THE ONLY LONELY FAIRY by  Lana Button; illus. Peggy Collins / 2024

Leah enjoys playing “Fairies” but nobody seems to want to play withe her. Is she doomed to be alone forever? This is a rather amusing story with heartfelt insights into the trials and tribulations of finding friendships.   Many young readers will identify with Leah and her plight to find friends to play with.  This is a wonderful title to add to collections of picture books addressing social-emotional growth. 


TEN WORD TINY TALES to inspire and unsettle by Joseph Coelho (+21 illustrators) / 2024

Joseph Coelho is the UK Children’s Laureate (2022-2024). Each spread features a sentence that is exactly 10 words long and readers are left to question, to switch on their imaginations and conjur up a story that could grow from these statements.  The words and the wild colourful illustrations by 21 different artist friends, are designed to ignite and inspire  stories to be told, stories to be written, humorous, bizarre and or otherwise.  In fact, a suggestion of “How to Lengthen A Ten-word Tiny Tale” or an invitation to ‘Take Your Pen on A Journey”are provided as an afterward to the pictures. This picture book stands on the shoulders of Chris Van Allsburg’s The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, where a title and a lead sentence and black and white surreal illustrations have led to thousands and thousands of written work in thousands and thousands of classrooms.  Write on!

Sample Tales

I hear the patter of tiny feet underneath my bed.

We watched the teacher lead the children through the portal.

She spent days trying to climb out of the sky. 

 

SHOUT OUT!

TWO PIECES OF CHOCOLATE by Kathy Kacer, illus. Gabrielle Grimard / 2024

This is a   story set in a Nazi prison camp in Bergen-Belsen in Northern Germany. It is 1945, and Francine Christophe and her mother become Jewish captives caught in horrific conditions. To lift her daughter’s spirits, Maman shows her daughter two pieces of chocolate secretly hidden inside a bag. Though Francine is tempted to eat them, her mother tells her to wait for a day when she really needs the sweets. Francine befriends a fellow prisoner who is pregnant and when she gives birth to her daughter, Francine realizes that the time has come to share the chocolates. This is an extraordinary Holocaust story about hope and survival. Ultimately, the picture book is a story of ripples of kindness paid forward in the decades ahead.   It is a remarkable true story retold by the remarkable Kathy Kacer whose many books focus on the Second World War and the Holocaust. It is a book that helps build understanding and compassion and inquiry into the history of the Holocaust. I received an advanced reading copy of this picture book which is to be released in the spring of 2024.  Buy it, share it, discuss it. There is much to be learned – and felt – from Two Pieces of Chocolate.

 

SHOUT OUT

GROUNDWOOD BOOKS / 2024 PUBLICATIONS

5 new publications from Groundwood Books are to be celebrated for their representation of diverse cultures by diverse authors. 

 

LOOK! LOOK! by Uma Krishnaswami; illus. Uma Krishnaswamy

In India, a young girl discovers a slab of stone on a weedy patch of land. “Look! Look!” she calls out to her friends who clear away the weeds, the garbage and find more stones.  Soon many villagers come to the site and work to uncover an old well buried and forgotten for a number of years. Stories are told of the tine when old wells caught the rainwater and turned the fields green. As Earth’s climate changes fast, the discovery of these ancient wells may be one way to conquer dry spells and sorter rainbursts and ultimately handle the floods and save the water for people who need it. Look! Look! is a beautiful story, beautifully illustrated that pays tribute to community and traditional knowledge.This book is a companion to Out of the Way! Out of the Way

 

THE SCOOTER TWINS by Dorothy Ellen Palmer; illus. Maria Sweeney

Melvin and Melanie are disabled twins, each needing a mobility scooter to ride to school. Brother and sister take a different approach to their new acquisition. Melanie wants something shiny and speedy and is excited about racing. Melvin wants something safe and slow because he is worried he’ll fall. Both children are concerned about how their family will be able to afford new scooters. The Scooter Twins is an inspirational story that can help young readers understand the world of those who are physically challenged as well as the coming together of families to support their needs.

“Mom always said, ‘When people stare, tell them what you want them to see.’

Melvin sat with that for a moment … “Okay, my scooter is a safe little friend that helps me be me.”

 

SOMETIMES I FEEL LIKE AN OAK by Danielle Daniel; illus. Jackie Traverse

I am very fond of Danielle Daniel’s previous publications, Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox and Sometimes I Feel Like a River written through simple syntactic poetic pattern that provide reflection and celebration of the animal world and nature. In this new release,  the author presents twelve lyrical poems that portray twelve different trees in different seasons. Each poem identifies a feature of the tree (e..g.  I share my flowing sap (maple); I am the tallest of trees (redwood); I bloom dainty pink flowers (cherry blossom)).  Daniel Danielle, like her Algonquin ancestors believes that “trees are sentient beings with much to give and teach us”.  Jackie Traverse’s paintings provide rich backdrops to Daniel’s words. 

Sometimes I feel like a pine, 

calm, still and gentle.

My branches cradle fresh-fallen snow,

filling me with peace. 

 

WE LISTEN by Caitlin Dale Nicholson with Leona Morin-Neilson

A child, her family and her friend arrive at a picnic spot by the lake. Before they eat lunch, Nohkom suggest they pick leaves for Labrador tea and once amongst the trees, she invites all to pause and listen and pray. Fulll page illustrations tell a story of the outing. The text that appears at the bottom of each page succinctly encapsulates the story of a memorable outing (e.g., Nokhom gets ready. We get ready / Nokhom walks.We walk. We Listen is a bilingual book, in Cree and English. A recipe for Labrador tea is included. Other titles in the Nohkom by the picture book creators include I Help and I Wait.

 

WHEN I VISITED GRANDMA by Saumiya Balasubramaniam; illus. Kavita Ramchandran

Maya is excited about her holiday in India where she will spend time with her Grandma. Maya would prefer to have quiet time wih her Grandma but a visit to a loud and hot market and visits from Grandma’s  nosy neighbours interrupt her plans. When Maya awakes one morning to find the house unusually quiet, the story takes a turn when Maya learns that her Grandma had a heart attack and is now being taken care of in ICU. When I Visited Grandma is a heartfelt story of cross-cultural and intergenerational relationships. 

 

FYI: CALDECOTT WINNERS 2024

The Caldecott is awarded annually to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book published by an American publlisher in the US> during the preceding year. The winners of the Caldecott Award were announced on January 22,2023

Caldecott Medal:  BIG by Vashti Harrison

Caldecott Honor Books:

> In Every Life by Marla Frazee

> Jovita Wore Pants by Aida Salazar; illus. Molly Mendoza

> There Was a Party for Langston by Jason Reynolds; illus. Jerome Pumphrey and Jarret Pumphrey

> The Truth About Dragons by Julie Leung; illus. Hanna Cha