August 22, 2017

Let's Talk Illustrators #37: Katey Howes and Rebecca Hahn

I am quite the lucky girl today. Today is the day I get to brag about the amazing people I work with! Author Katey Howes and I work together over at All the Wonders, so it was a no-brainer that I was dying to see her debut picture book Grandmother Thorn. What I didn't know at the time, though, was that it would quickly become one of my favorite books of the year (I mean, the story? Those illustrations? Yet another no-brainer for me). So I immediately called up Katey and asked if she would be willing to do a joint interview with Grandmother Thorn illustrator Rebecca Hahn. Just wait until you see these gorgeous process images — they're going to blow you away!


August 20, 2017

THE BAD SEED

I just found the BEST read-aloud book of the year. The Bad Seed by Jory John and Pete Oswald. Seriously. I had someone read this to me when I experienced it for the first time, and it was one of the funniest storytimes I've ever attended. 


August 17, 2017

THE WOLF WHO FELL OUT OF A BOOK

This month's #kidlitpicks theme is Traditional Stories and Fairy Tales, and I'm so excited to share Thierry Robberecht and Grégoire Mabire's The Wolf Who Fell Out of a Book


August 15, 2017

Let's Talk Illustrators #36: Jonathan Bentley

In my email to famed Australian illustrator and part-time author Jonathan Bentley, I told him that I got three pages into his new book Blue Sky Yellow Kite, written by Janet A Holmes, before I set it down and hunted for his email address. Really, I didn't even need three spreads to know that I wanted to interview him, but it was hard to look away. And then once I'd sent him a request, I sat down and studied the book for an hour. Jonathan's illustrations are incredibly moving, and I know you'll find yourself equally swept up in them. Have a read about Jonathan's process below. 


August 13, 2017

THE GIRL WHO RAN

The Girl Who Ran, written by Frances Poletti and Kristina Yee and illustrated by Susanna Chapman, is the true story of the first female runner in the Boston Marathon. When Bobbi Gibb was a girl she loved to run, but female runners were frowned upon. When she saw a call for the Boston Marathon, though, Bobbi set her mind to entering and being an equal competitor. Even when that meant disguising her gender. 


August 10, 2017

ANIMALS HIDE AND SNEAK

Remember when I did all those posts recently about books showcasing complementary colors and I lamented the fact that there aren't more books with yellows and purples? I can lament no more!


August 8, 2017

Let's Talk Illustrators #35: Suzy Lee

Suzy Lee, illustrator most recently of This Beautiful Day, has won the Gold Medal for Original Art by the Society of Illustrators, the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award for Excellence in Children’s Literature (Picture Book Honor Winner), and her books have been featured as New York Times Best Illustrated Books and Best Illustrated Children’s Books. So it's easy for me to say that Suzy's an incredibly gifted picture book creator. But what's the fun in saying when I can just show you? Join me in chatting with Suzy about This Beautiful Day and what she has in store for us next!


August 6, 2017

LIFE

Cynthia Rylant and Brendan Wenzel's recent collaboration Life is a moving meditation on finding inner strength in the face of ongoing adversity.


August 3, 2017

COLETTE'S LOST PET

Have you ever found yourself falling deeper and deeper into a hole of your own making? It's safe to say that Colette has when she bites off more than she can chew in Isabelle Arsenault's Colette's Lost Pet.


August 2, 2017

#kidlitpicks July Round-Up: 17 Books about Little Kids with Big Emotions

Did you know that reading with your kiddos supports the development of emotional intelligence? Well it does! By enhancing vocabulary, creating an openness to experience, and providing safe space for empathic imagination, books open our children to the world of emotions in pretty powerful ways. This month, the #kidlitpicks theme is Little Kids, Big Emotions and we are excited to share some great picture books that address your children's big and budding feelings! Some books will aim directly at helping kiddos understand and express themselves (a major tantrum-busting skill) by featuring an array of emotions, illustrations, and feeling words. Other books will feature stories that give children the opportunity to imagine themselves in interesting narratives about sadness, hope, joy, fear, angry, and all the rest.

This month’s @kidlitpicks theme was chosen and introduced by @afriendlyaffair, with a special message: As a clinical psychologist, I feel strongly about the importance of giving your kids a plethora of ways to express themselves. Hopefully your feed will be full this month of books that help us all along the way of building a good base of knowledge, play, and imaginative experiences so that our kids can understand the world around them and be resilient.



August 1, 2017

Let's Talk Illustrators #34: Mariachiara di Giorgio

Recently I read a book that I know will stick with me forever. I'm both ashamed and delighted to admit that when I picked up this book and read it (read the illustrations, that is -- it's a wordless book) I had no idea what was going to happen at the end. I was totally and completely swept up in the illustrations and the day-to-day activities of the protagonist's life that even the title of the book, Professional Crocodile, didn't tip me off about what I'd find at the end. And that's one-hundred percent because of the immaculately detailed world-building author Giovanna Zoboli and illustrator Mariachiara di Giorgio did for this book. Readers can't help but get swept up in this fantastic world, and it was such a pleasure to talk to Mariachiara about how Professional Crocodile came to be.


July 30, 2017

MARIGOLD BAKES A CAKE

Marigold Bakes a Cake by Mike Malbrough is yet another smart, hilarious, and wonderfully illustrated picture book for cat lovers to add to their shelves. 


July 27, 2017

WHEN YOUR...

There has seldom been as adorable and hilarious a board book duo as Susanna Leonard Hill and Daniel Wiseman's When Your Elephant Has the Sniffles and When Your Lion Needs a Bath


July 25, 2017

Let's Talk Illustrators #33: Thi Bui

As someone who has a soft spot for graphic novels (and a hankering to explore them in new ways for my readers...), interviewing graphic novelist and now picture book illustrator Thi Bui was a dream come true. Thi Bui recently illustrated the highly revered A Different Pond, and rather than creating a large preamble, I'd like to just dive into the interview. Enjoy.


July 23, 2017

WHAT DOES BABY WANT?

As far as impeccably designed and beautifully illustrated board books for babies go, Tupera Tupera's What Does Baby Want? pretty much takes the cake.


July 20, 2017

BLUE ETHEL

"Ethel was old, she was fat, she was black, and she was white. And she was very set in her ways." That is the opening line to Jennifer Black Reinhardt's Blue Ethel, and is the perfect introduction to the cat we get to know and love in this book. Every descriptor acts as a solid plot point!


July 19, 2017

Emergency Social Safety Net Programme

I'm breaking my normal routine today to talk about an initiative called ESSN (Emergency Social Safety Net) Programme, which provides refugees with debit cards to buy whatever they need most for their families: food, fuel, rent, medicine and bills.

Turkey has the largest refugee population in the world, with a total of over 3 million registered refugees, and though they are safe from war, many families live in challenging conditions and struggle to build stable, normal lives. Even the most "mundane" items like toothbrushes, books, and shoes are in short supply.

Recently the European Union (EU) and United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) asked twelve children’s book illustrators across Europe to help the more fortunate understand the impact of these "mundane" items through a child’s eyes. The series of illustrations aims to promote the work of the ESSN.

Have a look at the twelve featured illustrators below (in no particular order), and learn more about the ESSN initiative here.

1: HANNEKE SUPPLY
Belgian illustrator Hanneke Supply highlights the importance of a nightly routine for a child. This image depicts the simplicity of a bedtime story, allowing important quality time with the family.


July 18, 2017

"Best" of Lists

Did you know I do "Best of" lists (there's a whole section of them at the top of this site!) for some of my favorite fairy tale retellings? Today I added this beauty to the "Best Little Red Picture Books" list, so make sure you click to take a look at what else I have on there. The books I add to these lists represent the best of the best in terms of illustration, visual narrative, and design, and each list features at least three to four spreads from my favorite retellings . . . Can't say no to that!

Click here for the Best Little Red Picture Books and here for the Best Alice in Wonderland Picture Books. A list for Rapunzel is coming soon!


Let's Talk Illustrators #32: Ingrid Chabbert and Guridi

In my mind, there is no finer author-illustrator partnership than Ingrid Chabbert and Raúl Nieto Guridi (who pens his picture books with just his surname). The pair has created a handful of books now, including one of my favorite books of all time, The Day I Became a Bird, and their newest collaboration to be published in English, The Last Tree, further solidifies them as one of the most creative picture book teams. Truthfully, interviewing one without the other felt silly to me, so I reached out and managed to get both Ingrid and Raúl in one interview! I hope you enjoy -- this was a blast to put together!


July 16, 2017

FIREFIGHTER DUCKIES!

Wee-ooo-wee-ooo-wee-oooooooooooo!!


July 13, 2017

THE HAPPY PRINCE

The cover of a book can tell a reader a lot, especially when it's an illustrated adaptation of an age-old tale. The story of Oscar Wilde's "The Happy Prince" has been illustrated in many media over the years by many different illustrators, but Maisie Paradise Shearring's new adaptation adds a softness and visual yearning to the story that is yet unprecedented.


July 11, 2017

Let's Talk Illustrators #31: Joe Todd-Stanton

Today I'm over the moon to share my interview with author -- nay, storyteller -- and illustrator Joe Todd-Stanton. Joe is on fire right now, with two perfect stories out this year, The Secret of Black Rock and Arthur and the Golden Rope, the first in the Brownstone's Mythical Collection series. Joe's books are adventurous, with crisp illustrations and fully-formed worlds, and I am so, so grateful that I had the chance to interview Joe so early in his career, which I foresee as impactful and lasting.


July 9, 2017

FEMINIST BABY

Loryn Brantz's Feminist Baby has a baby unlike any other you've met before. Feminist Baby is loud, proud, and unafraid to do her own thing. 


July 5, 2017

I WROTE YOU A NOTE

Ah, yes. Another beautiful book from Lizi Boyd. Given Boyd's steadfast career in creating lyrical and visual masterpieces, it's hardly a surprise that her newest book I Wrote You a Note is yet another example of a fun and charming picture book.


July 2, 2017

#kidlitpicks June Round-Up: 18 Prehistoric Picture Books

Get ready to explore the past...the prehistoric past. During June, @kidlitpicks dug into prehistoric life, dinosaurs, fossils, and those who speak for creatures long since past.

An American Paleontologist named Robert T. Bakker once said, "It's very simple why kids are crazy about dinosaurs -- dinosaurs are nature's Special Effects. They are the only real dragons. Kids love dragons. It's not just being weirdly shaped and being able to eat Buicks. It's that they are real." He is completely correct, children and adults alike are fascinated by the mammoth sized creatures that tower over us in museums. We are always in awe of the creatures that once roamed the Earth 230 MILLION years ago!

A special shout out to Leah from @astoryaday for giving us the idea to celebrate all things prehistoric! And though you might see a few of the same books in this list (can we help it if we all love the same books??), we've added in few extras shared by our featured contributors to help you build out your own list of prehistoric books! Enjoy!



June 29, 2017

LA VISITA DE CONEJITO

Earlier this month I hosted my picture book exchange on Instagram, and I was super excited to receive La visita de Conejito, created by Ko Okada and Chiaki Okada. This book is actually a Spanish translation of the Japanese Usagi-kun to Haru-chan, which is perfect for me since I can read Spanish, but I can't understand a lick of Japanese. So I get exposure to a super talented Japanese illustrator but with the added bonus of being able to understand the text of the story. It's the best of both worlds!


June 27, 2017

Let's Talk Illustrators #30: Daniel Miyares

I've long, long admired author-illustrator Daniel Miyares for the incredible amount of emotion he can pack into one sparsely worded or entirely wordless scene. He has an impeccable track record for creating compassionate and relatable children's books that use few to no words (see FloatPardon Me!, and Bring Me a Rock!), so it's no surprise that his newest book That Neighbor Kid represents yet another triumph for him. Daniel was kind enough to drop by and share his process with me, so let's just dive right in and take a look!


June 25, 2017

THE CURIOUS CASE OF THE MISSING MAMMOTH

This month's #kidlitpicks theme is "prehistoric," and it isn't a stretch to say that I was super nervous -- I don't have many books about dinosaurs and prehistoric life. So when I remembered that I have The Curious Case of the Missing Mammoth, by Ellie Hattie and Karl James Mountford, I knew it'd be a perfect fit. After all, it touches on quite a bit of prehistoric life (and I had to special order it from the UK because I saw the cover and just couldn't wait)!


June 22, 2017

TREES

Trees, created by the Barcelona collective Lemniscates, is an homage to the book's namesake, ruminating on the existence of trees through the eyes of a bird traveling around its surrounding landscape. 


June 20, 2017

Let's Talk Illustrators #29: Zachariah OHora

You guys! The insanely talented (and one of my favorite illustrators) Zachariah OHora is here to talk about his new book The Teacher's Pet, which publishes today! Zach has earned dozens of accolades for his work on children's books, both as an illustrator and as an author, and I'm thrilled to have him discuss his latest adventure here today! Let's get started!


June 18, 2017

I CARRY YOUR HEART WITH ME

Debut illustrator Mati McDonough has recently re-released her adaption of the famous ee cummings poem "I Carry Your Heart With Me" in board book format, and it's somehow even more magical than her picture book version.



June 16, 2017

All the Wonders of DON'T CROSS THE LINE!

This month I'm so excited to say that we're celebrating All the Wonders of DON'T CROSS THE LINE!


Don't Cross the Line! is the incredibly clever and astoundingly funny tale of a general who creates boundaries for his people and the citizens who break the rules. 

Visit All the Wonders to see photo journeys by author Isabel Minhós Martins and illustrator Bernardo Carvalho, a look inside the book, and quite possibly the coolest book trailer ever!

June 15, 2017

A LETTER TO MY TEACHER

A Letter to My Teacher, written by Deborah Hopkinson and illustrated by Nancy Carpenter, is a sweet, touching book about great teachers. It's written as a thank-you note from a student to her teacher, and it's a delight to see this special relationship through the child's eyes.


June 13, 2017

Let's Talk Illustrators #28: Ruth Chan

You know when you pick up a book because the cover makes you think, "Yep, that's how my day is going," and you read the book and it just totally and completely gets you? That was my experience with Ruth Chan's newest book Georgie's Best Bad Day. Of course, it helped that I adore the first book in the series, Where’s the Party?and picking up the second one I couldn't help but relate to everything Georgie was going through. One stroke of bad luck after another is enough to make anyone feel blue, but to me it's the humor that Georgie and his friends discover in their situations that stands out the most, and I wanted to know more about how Georgie could remain so positive. So I asked!


June 11, 2017

A WALK IN THE FOREST

Polish illustrator Maria Dek's debut picture book A Walk in the Forest is a masterfully illustrated and sparsely texted picture book about exploring the wonder of nature and understanding why we should be working to preserve the world around us for future generations.


June 8, 2017

JABARI JUMPS

You've probably already heard about Jabari Jumps, written and illustrated by Gaia Cornwall. It seems like it's popping up everywhere right now, and after taking a look it's no surprise why.


June 6, 2017

Let's Talk Illustrators #27: Greg Pizzoli

At this point, author-illustrator Greg Pizzoli hardly needs an introduction. But he gets one anyway! Greg has won the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award, his work has been featured in dozens of places, including The New York Times, and he's won not one but two Portfolio Honor Awards from the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). A loose follow-up to his 2015 book Tricky Vic: The Impossibly True Story of the Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower, Greg's latest book The Quest for Z: The True Story of Explorer Percy Fawcett and a Lost City in the Amazon walks the fine line between beautifully illustrated, impeccably informed, and super duper creepy (because when a whole line of people walk into the Amazon and never walk back out, that's creepy!). Let's dive Percy Fawcett-style into this book!


June 4, 2017

NIKO DRAWS A FEELING

In Niko Draws a Feeling by Bob Raczka and Simone Shin, Niko loves to draw and he carries his pencils with him everywhere. You never know when inspiration will strike! But it gets tougher and tougher to show off his drawings and hear the same thing every time: "I don't get it." And no one seems to, until a new girl moves into the neighborhood and proves she also has a penchant for abstract art.


June 3, 2017

#kidlitpicks May Round-Up: 13 Books about Flowers

April showers bring May flowers. Or so the saying goes. And so we ease into the season of life and renewal, casting aside the heavy coat of winter. May means more time outdoors, savoring a heightened awareness of Mother Earth's beauty. Children, from their earliest days, bring us flowers. Plucking colorful stems (be they weeds or not) from ground level—extending their clutched fist to us in a generous offering, the tiniest representation of affection.

Georgia O'Keeffe said, "Nobody sees a flower, really. It is so small it takes time. We haven't time." Maybe that's why children gather flowers, bestowing them at every turn, because they aren't in a rush. The flower waits for them and they are eager to be present in the face of beauty. Still, we give flowers for births. For deaths. For celebrations. And sorrow. We weave flowers into crowns and wear them in our hair. We send them in the mail and plant them in our gardens. We make them out of paper to preserve them a bit longer. And even in our rush, we find beauty in blossoms. Not because they ask anything of us, but simply because they exist. We find glints of happiness in flowers of all variety and learn about life through the process of planting, pruning, cutting, giving, and enjoying them.

Thanks to Miranda from My Bookbloom for the timely theme!



May 29, 2017

Yellow & Purple (#kidartlit)

Last up on the #kidartlit list for complementary color pairings is yellow and purple, and boy are they hard to find -- I could only find two. If you have some to add, now is the time!


May 27, 2017

Blue & Orange (#kidartlit)

This week I'm a guest judge for #kidartlit, on the theme of “complementary colors,” so today I’m showing off blue and orange picture books.



May 25, 2017

Red & Green (#kidartlit)

In celebration of my stint as guest judge for #kidartlit, I'm spending the week talking about complementary colors in picture books, starting with red and green! Enjoy, and be sure to add any additions in the comments below — I'm always looking for more!


May 24, 2017

Mel guest judges #kidartlit

Starting today, I'm a guest judge for the #kidartlit challenge on Instagram! #kidartlit is a weekly hashtag challenge that inspires participants to share picture books, process art, crafts, and other learning activities on a theme. Every week features a new guest judge, and yours truly has chosen one of her favorite illustration topics: complementary colors! I hope you'll join me here and on Instagram as I guest judge and chat about my favorite picture books with complementary colors throughout the week.


May 23, 2017

Let's Talk Illustrators #26: Basak Agaoglu

If you haven't heard of debut author-illustrator Basak Agaoglu by now, I can safely say that won't be the case for long. Her debut The Almost Impossible Thing published in April 2017 to critical acclaim, and given the complexities of her debut (which we'll get into below!), the world is definitely waiting with baited breath to see what she'll create next. Basak was kind enough to stop by and chat about her foray into children's books and how she unexpectedly came to write her incredible debut. Enjoy!

May 21, 2017

A DIFFERENT POND

A Different Pond, written by acclaimed poet Bao Phi and illustrated by graphic novelist Thi Bui, is a lyrical, touching story about a father-son fishing trip in the wee hours of the morning. Bao Phi based the story on his own experiences of getting up early to go fishing with his father and reflecting on the future his parents were building for him and his siblings.


May 18, 2017

PRINCESS AND THE PEAS

Princess and the Peas by debut author-illustrator Rachel Himes is a twist on the classic Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale "The Princess and the Pea." But instead of watching a woman's royal identity become uncovered by testing her physical sensitivity, this story is about a woman taking control of her own destiny.


May 16, 2017

Let's Talk Illustrators #25: Kenard Pak

Kenard Pak is a man of many talents. He has worked as a Visual Development Artist for Dreamworks Animation and Walt Disney Animation, and he has made the successful transition into illustrating (and writing!) children's picture books. His newest picture book The Fog, written by Kyo Maclear, is special though, serving as a visual ode to Ken's personal inspirations: nature, time and memory. I'm so excited to take you inside this beautiful book!