A baker’s dozen of picture books from 2021/2022 (and one a 1994 publication). I have chosen 4 title as “Shout Out’s” when in fact, each of these recommendations deserve “Shout Out” attention. 


THE BOAT THAT BEN BUILT by Jen Lynn Bailey; illus. Maggie Zeng

Ben builds a boat and with gear and curiosity, he meets a black bear, a moose, a goose, a heron, and an an owl, Author’s notes presents facts about every animal that Ben encounters. A journey into ecology, food web, and species diversity.  POEM+NARRATIVE+INFORMATION make this a very clever book about  the ways in which things are connected. Terrific!

This is the OWL that HOOS on a whim/ and startles the HERON all proper and prim. 



The jacket blurb says it best byasking: “Have you ever seen a flower? Have you ever been a flower” The artist dips into a palette of electric/neon/ colours inviting readers to think about, really think about  the joy, the scent, the feel,  the beauty, the wonder and glory  of flowers. (A Caldecott Honor Book, 2022)

“Have you ever seen a flower so deep you had to shout HELLO and listen for an echo just to know how deep it goes/”


THE LIBRARY BUS by Bahram Rahman; illus Gabriele Grimard

Winner of the 2021 Middle East Book Award, Picture book category

In Kabul, Afghanistan, the library bus, with no bus seats, but chairs and tables and shelves and shelves of books, Pari becomes her mother’s helper and yearns to go to school to learn English, and join other Afghan girls who are in pursuit of education.  

“Pari, when you go to school next year, I want you to study hard. Never stop learning. Then you will be free,. Tell me now,” she adds with a wink, ‘how does learning make you feel?”


LIKE CATS AND DOGS by Melanie Perreault; illus. Marion Arbona

When her parents get divorced, Rosalie goes from one house to another. Even though her parents don’t get along, Rosalie knows that she is loved by both her mother and father. This story provides a mirror to many young people who are caught in the middle of parents who fight like cats and dogs. 

“Every time they’re together, everything goes wrong…I become Rosalie the mouse. A little mouse trying to love them both.”


PHOENIX GETS GREATER by Martin Wilson-Trudeay with Phoenix Wilson; illus,Megan Kyak-Monteith

Phoenix delights in twirling and swirling in the flow of pretty fabrics and loves to play with dolls, loves to dance both ballet and Pow Wow dancing. The story is based on the childhood experiences of the authors son, Phoenix. whose family helped him learn about Two Spirit/ Niizh Manidoowag people in Anishnaabe culture, who think and feel like both girls and boys. Family acceptance helps Phoenix to feel special and feel loved  for exactly who he is.  

“In our Anishinabe culture there are Two Spirit people…That makes you extra special because you think and feel like both boys and girls.” 

A SKY-BLUE BENCH  by Bahram Rahman; illus. Peggy Collins

A young girl in Afghanistan is worried about sitting all day on the hard floor of her classroom with her new prosthetic leg. 

“It was right before dawn when a brave new idea came into her mind. ‘I’ll build myself a bench. surely that will help.”

Congratulations to Bahram Rahman, Peggy Collins and Pajama Press for the 2022  honour winner of The Schneider Family Book Award, for books that emobody an artistic expression of the disability experience for children (Young Children category)


RUNS WITH STARS by Darcy Whitecrow and Heather M. O’Connor; illus. Lenny Lishcenko

When a  young girl a await the birth of a new foal, she listens to her grandfather’s stories about a time when horses once ran wild and free.With his own small herd, grandfather hopes to keep the breed alive for future generations.    This is the story of the Ojibwe Horse, the only Indigenous-bred horse in Canada.  It is a story about the loving bond between animals and humans.

“My grandfather has eight Ojibwe Horses. I love them all, but Star is special. She is seven, like me. We were born on the same day.

SUN IN THE TUMMY by Laura Alary; illus.Andrea Blinick

Soil+seeds+oats+rain+ blueberry bushes+ blossoms+ green leaves+sweet sugar+the milk from a cow = SUN IN THE TUMMY, a delightful breakfast made from sunshine. A free verse narrative, mixed media illustrations take readers from the fields of the farms to the sky and back.  An informative book describing the chemistry of how plants turn air and water and sunlight into food.  A brilliant example of nonfiction narrrative. 

“Clouds. Rain. Soil. Sun. They’re hard to see. But look deeper. Everything is there. “


WONDER WALKERS by Micha Archer

Two friends decide to go on a wonder walk and take a journey into the mysteries of nature. A beautiful list poem of questions that ignites the world of imagination, curiosity and the joys and wonders of nature. Wow! to the collage illustrations. (A Caldecott Honor Book, 2022).

“Do mountains have bones? 

Are forests the mountain’s fur?”  




by Johanna Schaible

This book is a journey through TIME. This book might not take very long to read, but it invites contemplation, reflection and wondering. It demands pauses along the journey through time from billions of years ago, to a moment ago, to days months, and years into the future.With each page turn, the pages become smaller, until they reach the present moment in the middle of the book. The pages then grown larger again as time expands into a future full of possibilities.  The one line text on each page may seem simple but the somewhat surreal and sometimes abstract background images astound. A book that ignites response about the past, the present and the future.  Get into groups and discuss…


Where will you live in ten year’s time?

What will you discover when you’re grown up?

What sights will stay with you always?

Will you have children one day?



PLATERO Y YO/ PLATERO AND I  by Juan Ramos Jimenez; illus. By Antonio Frasconi (1914/ 1957/1994)

Selected, translated and adapted from the Spanish by Myra Cohn Livingston and Joseph F. Dominguez

Juan Ramon Jimenez  wrote Platero y yo in 1914, a book of 138 chapters telling stories of the wanderings of a man and his donkey through Moguer, a small Andalusian village in the south of Spain. In this bilingual edition, 19 stories appear in both Spanish and English , accompanied by woodcut illustrations. Poet Myra Cohn Livingston has selected and translated these stories for their content and appeal format. I am assured that Ms. Livingston has expertly captured the cadence and rhthym of the poetic Spanish.  Each story is no longer than one page, each captured in exquisite language and heartfelt narrative, painting a strong picture of village folk of countryside and the strong bond of a man and his donkey. A treasure.  

Excerpt (from “The Death of a Canary”)

The moon is full now; it sheds a pale silver light in Bianca’s hand, white as a snowfall, the poor soft singer will appear to be nothing more than a sad and withered petal, fallen from a yellow lily in the garden, and we will bury him there beneath the large rosebush. 


TIME TO SHINE: Celebrating the World’s Iridescent Animals

Karen Jameson and illustrated by Dave Murray (Groundwood Press)

In rhythmic, rhyming couplets,  Karen Jameson shines a light on the world of iridescence in nature, taking readers across the globe to meet exotic animals, whose colours can change depending on the angle from which they are viewed. We learn about the shining green flying ‘cap’ of the mallard duck, the reed frog’s reflecting ‘vest’ and the hummingbird’s sequinned ‘costume’. Accompanying prose text on each spread provides further context for the particular environment and adaptation of each animal. Illustrator, Dave Murray, provides a vibrant palette of jewel-like colours of bird feathers



WATERCRESS by Andrea Wang; illus. Jason Chin

Winner of the Caldecott Medal, 2022

The family of a young girl stops alongside the road to pick watercress which inspires a tender memory story of life in China, inspired by the author’s story.

“I look from my uncle’s hollow face to the watercress on the table and I am ashamed of being ashamed of my family.”