Posted in Inspiration, Market Prep, PB, So Many Good Books, The Nitty Gritty of Children's Writing

Keeping Up with Picture Books

It could become a full-time job keeping up with all the new picture books coming out. And especially with libraries and many bookstores still being closed, it’s harder to do than ever. This is where I’m grateful for a number of blogs that help me stay in tune.

One site I’ve not shared before is Picture Book Builders. Formed by a group of well-published authors or author/illustrators, their goal is to explore“how one element of a picture book’s story or art manages to grab us or wow us or strike an emotional chord.” They take turns blogging about picture books. It may be an interview with a new author or illustrator about a book, or a recommendation of a new picture book, or maybe even a giveaway. The blog started in 2014, but I only discovered it last year. I subscribe—there are about 8 posts a month—so the info comes right into my inbox. A recent book from this site that I want to read is FIVE MINUTES (That’s a lot of time) (No, it’s not) (Yes, it is) (Putnam, 2019) written by Liz Garton Scanlon and Audrey Vernick and illustrated by Olivier Tallec.

I think I’ve talked about Susannah Hill Leonard’s blog before. I’m interested in her “Tuesday debuts” and “Perfect Picture Book Friday” posts. For the latter, anyone can add picture books they are reviewing or recommending, too. Susannah’s shared books on Fridays aren’t always the newest books, so there’s a nice mix of old and new. One of her recent posts is a book I’d already discovered, but love so much I’M A HARE, SO THERE (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2021) by Julie Rowan-Zoch. Susannah posts about 3 times a week. Again, I subscribe.

And if you’re familiar with Storystorm, you probably already know about Tara Lazar’s Writing for Kids (While Raising Them). It’s not just a January idea month blog. Posts are often written by other authors sharing their inspiration for a book, a cover reveal, success stories, etc. Here’s a book birthday post I recently enjoyed: BIRDS OF A FEATHER! (Philomel Books, 2021) by Sita Singh and illustrated by Stephanie Fizer Coleman. Except in January when posts are daily, posts vary but usually there are several per week. Again, I subscribe to get them in my inbox.

And the final blog I depend on is Kathy Temean’s Writing and Illustrating. Among her variety of posts there are always book giveaways—they aren’t always picture books, but I love the interviews and insights into these books. One that caught my attention recently was LITTLE EWE: The Story of One Lost Sheep (Beaming Books, 2021) by Laura Sassi illustrated by Tommy Doyle. Posts are daily! And, yes, I subscribe.

Do I look at these posts every day? No. Instead I take a few hours a few times a month and look at a batch of posts. Sometimes that means I miss out on giveaways from all of these sites, but since my main purpose is to get my eyes on picture books, that’s okay, too.

Do I like every book they share? Of course not. Books are very subjective. But I definitely find books I want to read. My library doesn’t always have them, but that doesn’t stop me from requesting they order the picture books!

Posted in PB, So Many Good Books

The Star Festival

Perfect Picture Book Friday

In The Star Festival (Albert Whitman & Company, 2021) by Moni Ritchie Hadley and illustrated by Mizuho Fujisawa, I loved learning about this Japanese festival of Tanabata Matsuri through the eyes of little Keiko. The parallels between the folktale of Orihime and Hikoboshi (lovers separated by the Emperor of Heaven) and Keiko and Obaasan (her grandmother) are fun. The twist on who gets lost was great. I like how the traditions of the festival are shown through the actions of the story. I love the bright illustrations, too.

This is the author’s debut picture book. The book is being launched virtually at Once Upon a Time bookstore on April 3rd. Read about Moni here. You can see some pictures that inspired the book on this page.

You can see the illustrator’s other books here and look at more samples of Mizuho’s artwork here.

Posted in PB, So Many Good Books

I’m a Hare, So There!

Perfect Picture Book Friday

I love this picture book I’m a Hare, So There! (HMH Books for Young Readers, 2021) by Julie Rowan-Zoch coming out this month. It’s humorous and so true to how we are. Plus kids will be learning about a variety of animals as they read. And who doesn’t like a main character with an attitude?

When called a rabbit, Hare is incensed. He argues about why he’s not a rabbit. Of course, he calls the ground squirrel a chipmunk, a tortoise a turtle, a coyote a jackal, and doesn’t seem to care that he is wrong about them. But don’t call him a rabbit!

Lovely back-matter explains the differences between other animals who are similar. I can see this book being read and reread.

To learn about the author/illustrator read her bio. See some other books Julie has illustrated here and check out her portfolio with a variety of styles of artwork here.

Posted in PB, So Many Good Books

The Capybaras

Perfect Picture Book Friday

Coming in April is an interesting picture book about diversity: The Capybaras (Greystone Kids, 2021) by Alfredo Soderguit.

When the capybaras show up the chickens are not happy about these wild creatures. Rules are shared to keep the capybaras away. But when danger comes, the chickens change their minds. And the ending has a surprising twist, too.

I love how the chickens learn that different isn’t bad. I keep smiling at the end–you’ll have to read it to find out why.

The Spanish edition, Los Carpinchos, is a New York Public Library Best Book for Kids 2020.

Read about the author/illustrator here.

Posted in Nonfiction, PB, So Many Good Books

A Little Bit of Dinosaur

Perfect Picture Book Friday

Here’s a heads up on a hilarious book that just came out: A Little Bit of Dinosaur (Mims House, 2021) by Darcy Pattison and Elleen Hutcheson, and illustrated by John Joven. I love how it’s not what I expected from the cover.

Did you know you have a bit of dinosaur in you? And it’s your mother’s fault?

How could one not read this story after that? The funny illustrations add to the humor of this nonfiction picture book.

Read about both authors and the illustrator here and find more information about dinosaurs, too. Check out John’s portfolio here.