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

When Pencil Met the Markers

Perfect Picture Book Friday

When Pencil Met the Markers (Imprint, 2020) by Karen Kilpatrick and Luis O. Ramos, Jr. and illustrated by Germán Blanco is a fun and encouraging book for anyone who at some point didn’t fit in.

All the markers love to color, but the purple marker loves to color everywhere! He doesn’t stay inside the lines. When Purple is told he doesn’t fit, he feels blue. But then he meets Pencil who gives him the idea of coloring on plain paper. Pencil adds to the drawings. Not only do they have fun, but now the other markers are interested, so now they work together.

This book stands alone but is a sequel to When Pencil Met Eraser. Here’s the story behind that book from Karen. Learn more about the authors: Karen here and Luis here, and about the illustrator Germán here.

Posted in Award Winners, PB, So Many Good Books

this way, Charlie

Perfect Picture Book Friday

this way, Charlie, inspired by a real animal friendship, (Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2020) by Caron Levis and illustrated by Charles Santoso is a tear-jerker of a story.

Everyone at Open Bud Ranch can see that Jack, the goat, likes space to himself. Except Charlie, the horse, who can only see out of one eye. Still Charlie is cheerful. Jack watches him carefully and realizes they have a lot in common. One day when Jack sees Charlie having trouble, he decides to lead the way. The two become close friends and help each other live better lives despite the storms that come their way.

I feel like my description is so inadequate for this powerful story of healing and friendship. Don’t miss out on this lovely book.

Caron Levis and Charles Santoso have also teamed up on another picture book. Check out Ida, Always and the awards and honors it has received. Read about the author here and the illustrator here. And don’t miss out on Charles’ other books on his website and Caron’s other books here.

Posted in Award Winners, PB, So Many Good Books

Going Down Home with Daddy

Perfect Picture Book Friday

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.