Watercress (Holiday House/Neal Porter Books, 2021) by Andrea Wang and illustrated by Jason Chin is such an emotional story.
In Ohio, a little girl’s family stops on their drive and the parents make the girl and her brother help harvest watercress growing in the ditch. She’s embarrassed and doesn’t want anyone to see her. At dinner that night her parents press her to eat it. It’s fresh and free. But she thinks free is bad. “Free is hand-me-down clothes and roadside trash-heap furniture…” When her mom talks about the great famine in China, the girls is ashamed of being ashamed of her family. She tries the watercress and together they make a new memory.
This book is for everyone who hasn’t had enough, and for everyone else who needs to understand what that’s like. The award-winning book received a Caldecott Medal (for illustrations), a Newbery Honor, the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, a New England Book Award, and a Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor.
Read about the author here and see Andrea’s other books here.
The spread about the great famine in China made me tear up. So much shown in the illustrations.
Jason is not only the illustrator, but he’s an author too. On this page you can read about him and see his titles scroll by on the bottom.
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.
Going Down Home with Daddy (Peachtree, 2019) by Kelly Starling Lyons and illustrated by Daniel Minter is a sweet and touching story of family. Plus it’s lovely art made it a 2020 Caldecott honor book. Go here to read about the other awards this story has garnered.
It’s family reunion time and Lil Alan doesn’t haven anything for the celebration. Everyone will have something to share. Except him. Granny (great grandmother) welcomes them when they arrive. Other family members arrive until there are more cousins than he can count. Others talk about what they’ll share for the celebration, but Lil Alan only has empty hands.
You’ll have to read the book to find out along with Lil Alan that he has something to share after all.
Check out the author’s numerous other books here. Read about how Kelly became an author here.
See the illustrators some of his other books and art here. Read about Daniel and his work here–there are links to follow from that page, too.
I love this simple, but sweet picture book On My Way to Buy Eggs (Kane/Miller Book Publishers, 2003) by writer/illustrator Chih-Yuan Chen. Shau-yu is sent to the store to buy eggs. She has simple adventures as she enjoys pretending along the way. The book has a nice mixture of diversity and universal feelings.
I really like how the artist has let us see what Shau-yu is seeing, first through the blue marble, then through the glasses. I also like the use of shadows. Both of these you’ll have to look inside the book to enjoy. On My Way to Buy Eggs was named a Best Children’s Book by Publishers Weekly.
Chih-Yuan Chen has illustrated and written The Featherless Chicken, Guji Guji (a story about a crocoduck), Best Christmas Ever, and Artie and Julie–all of which have been translated into English and Spanish, as On My Way to Buy Eggs has been. He also illustrated Mimi Says No and Mimi Loves to Mimic. Several of the books have also been translated into German and French.