PICTURE BOOKS: A fine collection, December 2022

Below is a list of ten  (+1 shout out)  picture book titles – a fine collection to finish of the year. Some books  have already received award recognition and are deserved of  of further award recognition that may come their way. 


CREATURE by Shaun Tan

An amazing gallery of paintings, drawings and reflections by Shaun Tan. Each page is like visiting the wall of an art gallery. Wow!


FARMHOUSE by Sophie BIackhall

Award-winning author, Sophie Blackhalll, takes readers on a journey over time through a farmhouse with twelve children who eat and sleep and work and play and argue and dream. This is a sublime portrait of life  and stories – in a particular setting. It is a wonderful portrait of  stories of in a rural home but moreover it is a story that inspires universal connections to family, the seasons, working and dreams. This title was listed as one of the best illustrated books of 2022 in the New York Times.

“The pictures in this book are made in layers… Most of the first layers are invisible now, hidden beneath embellishments and details, in the way that stories become layered as they get told and retold over the years.” (Author’s Note)


I LOVE MY CITY  by Frances Desmarais & Richard Adam; Illus. Yves Dumont

This fascinating nonfiction picture book gives readers an “understanding of where cities come from, and the different reasons humans gather to live in them and to help them appreciate them better”.  (Introduction) Each spread with clear headings (e,.g. Districts, Public Services; Safety, Traffic in the City) introduces readers to the origin of cities, their evolution and how they work.


OLIVIA WRAPPED IN VINES by Maude Nepveu-Veneuve; illus. Sandra Dumais; translated by Charles Simard

Olivia is a little girl with BIG feelings and when overwhelmed and anxious she sprouts vines and gets stuck inside her prickly feelings – until she learns, with help, to manage the vines she is wrapped in order to do the things she loves. A powerful, metaphorical book about emotions and mental health.

PATCHWORK by Matt de la Pena; illus. Corinna Lukyen

Written in the second person, the author speaks to the reader about gender (‘Your mom cut into a two-story cake and out spilled blue’) emotions (…tears are not pink or blue or weak -they’re human’) talents (‘You go everywhere with a ball in your hand’)  and personality (‘You are kind to everyone and everything’).  Another staggering book by award-winning author Matt de la Pena that inspires reflection about the patchwork of our identities. A book worth sharing – and re-reading.

PINK, BLUE AND YOU by Elise Gravel, with Mykaell Blais

This book is framed around kid-friendly questions and information that can lead to conversations about gender (‘What does it even mean to be a girl or a boy?) and sexuality and the right to be true to who you are. (‘Do you think people should be allowed to love whoever they want?) This is a terrific nonfiction title.

THIS IS WHAT I’VE TOLD YOU by Juliana Armstrong

Anishanabowein language teacher, author, illustrator Juliana armstrong shines a light on a number of Anishnabewoin words and their cultural significance that have passed down from Ojibway ancestors. (e.g., Mishkiki: I’ve been told by my Gookmis that our people lived in harmony with the natural world around us. She taught me to gather mishkiki (mi-sh-kiki / Medicine)from the earth to help in our healing.


TIME IS A FLOWER by Julie Morstad

This picture book illuminates the concept of  TIME. Not only is it the tick tick tock of the clock, but time is a seed, time is a tree, time is a pebble, a sunset, night, a sunbeam and a memory.  An exquisite celebration of a universa; concept igniting reflection for readers, young and old.   Winner of the the Children’ s Book Centre Marilyn Baillie prize for best picture book of 2022. 


TODAY IS DIFFERENT by Doua Moua; illus. Kim Holt

Mai is Hmong American and Kiara who is black do everything together until one day Kiara because of a police assault on a Black man, is kept home from school in order to be safe. This is a story about life overcoming fears and the importance of collaborating as a community, especially when fighting for justice.  The characters on the cover page holding protest signs reveal that this will be a story about protesting. 


WHERE BUTTERFLIES FILL THE SKY: A story of Immigration, Family and Finding Home by Zhara Marwan

 Zara learns that her family can no longer stay in the place the young girl has ever known. It is hard to say goodbye; it s hard to adjust to live in a new desert.Time and a friendly welcome by new neighbours help to make settlement into Zara’s new home magical and safe. and a place of belonging. Based on the author’s experiences of moving from Kuwait to New Mexico. The rich illustrations are lively, moody and are evocative of the immigrant story. The artwork in fact, ignites as much narrative as the verbal text. This title was listed as one of the best illustrated books of 2022 in the New York Times.



THINGS TO LOOK FORWARD TO 52 Large and Small Joys for Today and Everyday

Sophie Blackall

A handbook of personal stories and paintings; a list of 52 things to look forward to 

Award winning author-illustrator Sophie Blackall (Hello Lighthouse; If You Come to Earth…Farmhouse)  presents a collection of joyful things to consider, to aspire to to ensure that we life is lived optimistically. Through 52 short personal stories accompanied with remarkable paintings, Blackall offers a handbook of things to notice to make the most of our time here on Earth: A Hot Shower; A New Word; First Snow; A Full Moon; Listening to a Song You’ve Never Heard Before; Moving the Furniture Around; Making A List; Coming Home. I so loved this inspirational gem that I bought 10 copies that will take care of much of my Christmas / Chanukah gift-giving for friends and relatives young and old.