Posted in Writing Life

Watercress

Perfect Picture Book Friday

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.

Posted in PB, So Many Good Books

American Desi

Perfect Picture Book Friday

I loved American Desi (Little, Brown and Company, 2022) by Jyoti Rajan Gopal and illustrated by Supriya Kelkar. And whether one is dealing with multiple cultures or not, we all wonder where we fit in and could find this story reassuring.

In the picture book, the main character wonders “which is the color of me?” Does she fit on the Indian side or the American side? As we go through the story we realize with her she doesn’t have to pick one or the other–she can just be who she is.

Told in subtle rhyme, the left page shows Desi events and the right page American ones. My favorite spread says,

“One foot here, one foot there
Straddling, bridging worlds apart.
Searching deep within my heart
The different colors of me.”

The art is fabric, paper, mixed media, and digital collage which I think is perfect to represent this story.

The book has garnered attention:

Read about the author Jyoti here. Her next book is ready for pre-order here. And she’s sold four more, which you can read more about here. She’s been busy! Jyoti also has a lovely page of inspiration.

Supriya illustrated this book, but is also an author–see more here. You can find all her books here and see all the notice about them here. And finally check out Supriya’s wonderful portfolio.

Posted in PB, So Many Good Books

People Are Wild

Perfect Picture Book Friday

I love a story that turns a concept upside down. And that’s what People Are Wild (Alfred A. Knopf, 2022) by Margaux Meganck does. Instead of the story being told from a child looking at animals, the animals are looking at people.

Words and art are a great match. It’s hard to choose a favorite spread because I loved them so much. I also like the variety of animals and how there is more information about them after the story ends. It’s nice to see diversity in the human characters too.

This is Margaux’s first picture book she has illustrated and written. Previously, she illustrated Kathy Wolff’s All We Need.

Read more about the author/illustrator here.

Posted in PB, So Many Good Books

Swashby and the Sea

Perfect Picture Book Friday

Swashby and the Sea (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2020) by Beth Ferry and illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal is a delightfully warm story that can be read over and over. This story has such a sweet ending.

I love what it says about the sea and Swashby, “She knew him in and out, up and down, and better than anyone.” And I love the adorable illustrations.

Captain Swashby, now retired, is happy living by the sea. Until…neighbors show up. He keeps writing messages to them like “no trespassing” and the sea fiddles with each a bit like “sing.” Will Swashby learn to accept these intruders?

Beth Ferry is the author of Caveman Crush and has quite a number of other books–see them here. I need to check out some more. I like the unusual facts and the box format of her about page.

Author/illustrator Juana Martinez-Neal was born in Peru. You may have heard about her debut picture book, Alma and How She Got Her Name which was a 2019 Caldecott honor book. She’s also a 2018 Pura Belpré Medalist. Read her other awards here.

Posted in PB, So Many Good Books

Floaty

Perfect Picture Book Friday

Floaty (Henry Holt and Co., 2018) by John Himmelman is a fun book. I missed it when it came out and am glad a friend brought it to my attention. I think kids and adults will appreciate the humor in words and illustrations.

Mr. Raisin only likes sewing. One day a basket is left at his door and inside is a troublesome puppy who floats. The old man can’t quite just let him go and eventually Mr. Raisin becomes fond of the dog he names, Floaty. But what is he to do when one day the leash breaks and Floaty floats away?

Author/Illustrator John Himmelman has done over 80 books! He’s on Facebook where it looks like he posts book news regularly and has his own website. Many of his books are nature related.