December 12, 2017

Let's Talk Illustrators #52: Elly MacKay

Elly MacKay might be the most patient illustrator I've ever spoken with. If you aren't already familiar with Elly's work, you should know that she creates light box dioramas, or paper theaters, from scratch and then photographs them. Every character, mountain, and leaf is hand-cut and then placed into a small 3D world she has created. Elly's process is highly unique, and you can read about it more on her site here, but for the purposes of this interview we focused mainly on her new book Waltz of the Snowflakes, which, in addition to being her first wordless book, sets out to explore visual narratives in an entirely new way. Enjoy the read! 


December 10, 2017

THIS BOOK IS A PLANETARIUM

I'm so glad I saw Kelli Anderson's This Book Is a Planetarium: And Other Extraordinary Pop-Up Contraptions when I did! I'm adding it to my list of best books of the year (coming soon!) because it's one of the most creative books I've ever had the pleasuring of reading and experiencing.



December 7, 2017

MARTHA & ME

Martha & Me by It's Raining Elephants is such a quiet, thoughtful book that it actually took me a few reads to appreciate the gravity of what I was experiencing with it. 


December 5, 2017

Let's Talk Illustrators #51: Gordon C James

The inspiration behind the story in Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut is magical in both its simplicity and its complexity. Author Derrick Barnes says he was inspired by a photo of a friend's son who had just received a hair cut. The boy's look reminded him of how he felt as a child sitting in the barber's chair: he felt like royalty. But as a young black man, that was probably the only place he felt royal, so it was extra special. Simple, yet complex. The magnitude with which illustrator Gordon C James brings Derrick's words to life is awe-inspiring: it's intimate and thoughtful, and it places readers in the barbershop chair with the boy. I chatted with Gordon (pictured below with his own little crown halo!) about his work on this book. Enjoy! 


December 3, 2017

WHAT DO YOU DO WITH A CHANCE?

Written by Kobi Yamada and illustrated by Mae Besom, each book in the What Do You Do With…? series has examined human behavior through a child who encounters an idea (book one) and a problem (book two). For the final installment in the trilogy, we meet the child again in What Do You Do With Chance?


December 2, 2017

#kidlitpicks November Round-Up: 17 Books About Counting Up and Down

10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1… We are fast-approaching the season of the countdown. Children are getting more and more excited counting down the days, lighting candles, opening advent calendars of all shapes and sizes—my family will be having a book-a-day for our advent season. Parents are getting more and more frantic to get organised as the days disappear. It’s the time of year that everyone practices counting.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10… A study several years ago by researchers from the Institute of Education in London found that children who receive bedtime stories from their parents as infants perform better in vocabulary and spelling but also in maths. Reading supports numeracy. Books are full of numbers and images for counting.

A special thanks to Kim from BookBairn for our November @kidlitpicks theme!



December 1, 2017

First Friday 5: Animal Instincts

This month's First Friday 5 is all about animal protagonists who follow their intuitions. The tones of these five books are fairly varied from one another, but the one thing they all have in common is that the characters are very self aware and allow their instincts to keep them (and others) safe. More importantly, the characters in these five books follow their instincts even when it's an unpopular decision or the dangerous thing to do.


November 30, 2017

WILD ANIMALS OF THE SOUTH

Lions and tigers and cheetahs, oh my! In this companion book to Wild Animals of the North, Dieter Braun's Wild Animals of the South offers a brief encyclopedia of animals from the southern hemisphere.


November 28, 2017

Let's Talk Illustrators #50: Joshua David Stein and Julia Rothman

Last year I missed the chance to interview food critic Joshua David Stein and illustrator Julia Rothman about their book Can I Eat That?. So when I heard about their newest book What's Cooking?, I was determined not to let the chance pass me by again! Stein and Rothman's books are humorous, thoughtful, colorful, and –– most importantly –– make food fun. Bon appétit! 


November 21, 2017

FRIDA KAHLO AND HER ANIMALITOS

Friday Kahlo and Her Animalitos by Monica Brown and John Parr is like a breath of fresh air. In a sea of books on Frida, it was so nice to see a divergence in focus in this story. And, of course, it's about her animals! Can't go wrong with that.


November 19, 2017

SOMETHING'S FISHY

Rarely have I laughed so hard as I did when I read Jean Gourounas' Something's Fishy. The essential premise is that a penguin is found fishing in the ice, but as more and more animals gather around the stoic penguin, confusion grows over why they're all there in the first place.


November 16, 2017

I AM LIFE

Once again Elisabeth Helland Larsen and Marine Schneider strike gold with their newest book I Am Life.




November 14, 2017

Let's Talk Illustrators #49: Kathryn Otoshi

For as long as I can remember, I've been infatuated with Kathryn Otoshi's books. Her book One was probably one of the first books I ever studied for its illustrative merit, and all of Kathryn's books have a gentle simplicity about them that makes them relatable, timeless, and, of course, absolutely beautiful. I was so excited to chat with her about her new book Draw the Line for so many reasons (It's wordless! Look at those complementary colors! The underlying message!), and I'm thrilled to share our conversation with you today!  


November 12, 2017

MY FIRST BOOK OF PATTERNS

I'm so excited to talk about My First Book of Patterns by Bobby George,‎ June George,‎ and Boyoun Kim. I genuinely cannot believe I haven't seen a book like this before. It's colorful, easy to understand, and SO much fun to take with you on the go.


November 9, 2017

WINDOWS

Windows by Julia Denos and EB Goodale is such a beautiful book from end to end — the case cover, the dust jacket, the endpapers all come together perfectly to create a  window into the lives of the people in this neighborhood, and that's 100% due to the perfect balance between text and illustration.


November 7, 2017

Let's Talk Illustrators # 48: Natalia O'Hara and Lauren O'Hara

About a year ago, my friend Heather asked me if I's heard of Natalia and Lauren O'Hara, two British sisters who were creating a book called Hortense and the Shadow. I was so excited to follow along on Instagram and see sneak peaks of their book, and I fell in love when I finally received my copy. This interview was both a pleasure to put together and a long time coming, so I hope you enjoy!


November 5, 2017

HOW TO BE AN ELEPHANT

If you haven't already seen How to Be an Elephant: Growing Up in the African Wild by Katherine Roy, then prepare to be filled with awe.


November 3, 2017

First Friday 5: Brave Girls

This month's theme came together so perfectly that it'd be easy to pretend I was planning it all along. The books I've read over the past few weeks were filled with leading ladies who are strong, brave, and unabashedly persistent when it comes to solving their own problems. In addition to the physical challenges they encounter, it's how they work to overcome their inner challenges that makes each of their stories shine. Observing the journeys in these books is an absolute honor, and I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did.


November 2, 2017

NIGHT AND DAY

Hooray for over-sized opposites books where you can lift flaps, peek through giant holes, and play with pop-ups! I'm talking, of course, about Julie Safirstein's Night and Day, which is one of the most fun and interactive opposites books I've seen yet!


October 31, 2017

Let's Talk Illustrators #47: Shawn Harris

Recently I got the chance to chat with debut picture book illustrator Shawn Harris about Her Right Foot, written by Dave Eggers. There's so much that's incredible about this book –– the subject matter, the message, the delivery –– but before I even knew the story, it was the illustration style and design of the book that captured my heart. Shawn might just be starting his career in children's book illustration, but it's clear that this is where he was meant to be all along, and it is my sincere pleasure to share our conversation with you.


October 29, 2017

SECRETS OF THE SEA

While there are many, many books in this world about what lies in the depths of the ocean, Kate Baker and Eleanor Taylor's Secrets of the Sea might take the cake in terms of beauty.


October 28, 2017

#kidlitpicks October Round-Up: 15 Books about Halloween

Broomsticks, jack-o’-lanterns, haunted houses, tricks and treats, ghostly games, neighbourhood parties, skeletons, Frankenstein, candy corn… the list goes on. All things fun and fearsome come out at Halloween. There are children who countdown the days until that frightfully fantastic night when they get to dress up as anything imaginable, hang out with family and friends, and eat bucketloads of candy. The build-up adds to the excitement—carving pumpkins, decorating your home with scary spiders, tombstones and fake zombie arms, picking out your costume, baking apple pies, watching spooky movies and reading Halloween stories.

Throughout October, @kidlitpicks shared standout Halloween-themed books for your children to enjoy. These are sure to delight kids eager for the festivities to start and ease the fears of others that may be a little anxious about the hair-raising holiday. Books are good like that. We hope that you too will dust the cobwebs off your favourite Halloween stories, those scary and those not so scary, and join us! Thanks to Arielle from @childrensbooksgalore for our spooky scary theme!



October 26, 2017

CHIBI SAMURAI WANTS A PET

I was over the moon when I learned that the second book in An Adventure with Little Kunoichi the Ninja Girl was coming out. And it doesn't disappoint! Chibi Samurai Wants a Pet by Sanae Ishida is a wonderful addition to the series.


October 24, 2017

Let's Talk Illustrators #46: Julie Kim

In my mind Julie Kim's debut book Where's Halmoni? represents the most perfect picture book-graphic novel hybrid I've ever seen. Julie is careful to build a well-rounded world in which the story is accessible, the dialogue is easy to follow, and there's plenty to look at in every single panel. What more could you want? As far as introductory graphic novels go, this one has been on my Best Grade School Graphic Novels list for a couple of months now because of its inherent ability to guide young readers through the process of learning to read panels and understand visual narratives. Truly a gem of a book that defies categorization, and I urge you to seek it out immediately if you haven't had the  pleasure of experiencing it. For now, though, I'll let our conversation do the talking. Enjoy! 


October 22, 2017

DANZA!

I think it's safe to say at this point that it's fairly universally accepted that Duncan Tonatiuh can do no wrong. His latest book Danza!: Amalia Hernández and El Ballet Folklórico de México (which is both authored and illustrated by him) serves to drive that point home.


October 19, 2017

CRAZY ABOUT CATS

Everyone stop what you're doing. I found a book that is basically my life, and I must share it with you. I've actually been called crazy about cats more times than I can count, so Owen Davey's Crazy About Cats is basically halfway to a memoir for me.


October 17, 2017

Let's Talk Illustrators #45: LeUyen Pham

If you've ever seen anything by LeUyen Pham –– and let's face it, you definitely have because she's illustrated almost 100 books so far –– then you know just how versatile she is. Each project LeUyen tackles shows us that she is not afraid to take risks as an illustrator and believes every world she illustrates is unique, in style, tone, color, technique, and more. Her new picture book Fallingwater: The Building of Frank Lloyd Wright's Masterpiece, written by Marc Harshman and Anna Egan Smucker, is no exception, and I knew from the cover that I wanted to talk to LeUyen about this book and how she created her illustrations. I'm so excited to share our conversation with you today. Enjoy the brilliance and tirelessness that is LeUyen Pham!


October 15, 2017

MAURICE THE UNBEASTLY

This month at kidlitpicks we're talking about Halloween! And Halloween means scary beasts, ghoulish hijinks, and . . . strange eating habits? At least, that's what you get in Amy Dixon and Karl James Mountford's Maurice the Unbeastly!


October 12, 2017

YO SOY MUSLIM

Yo Soy Muslim: A Father's Letter to His Daughter by Mark Gonzales and Mehrdokht Amini is a touching and lyrical picture book about a father encouraging his child to find joy and pride in all aspects of their multicultural identities.


October 10, 2017

Let's Talk Illustrator's #44: Antje Damm

Author-illustrator Antje Damm has created over twenty-five books in German, and though she ventured into English books about fifteen years ago with Ask Me, I'm excited to say that her latest English book Waiting for Goliath marks the beginning of a much stronger and prolific foray into the English market. She was such a thoughtful person to interview, and I hope you enjoy our conversation.


October 8, 2017

LETTERS TO A PRISONER

Letters to a Prisoner by Jacques Goldstyn is a read. The wordless book tells the story of a man unjustly imprisoned and the letter writing campaigns that help him maintain his faith and eventually earn his freedom.



October 6, 2017

First Friday 5: Call to Adventure

Many graphic novels feature a "call to adventure," something that sets our young heroes' journeys in motion and ignites the impetus for the story. These calls to adventure mean doing whatever it takes to protect loved ones, like joining forces with unlikely groups of people and encouraging (but sometimes forcing) our protagonists to go up against their greatest fears to save the world. No one knows what he or she will do when put up against these forces, but the protagonists in these five graphic novels show readers that anyone can accomplish anything.


October 5, 2017

Best Rapunzel Picture Books


I've always had a special place in my heart for the story of "Rapunzel" Having written a thesis on the tale for school a few years ago, I ended up acquiring many, many versions of the story. I poured over all the illustrations for hours, so it's hardly a surprise that a few stood out to me. And I'm thrilled that I've seen even more come out since my paper. Keep in mind that I'm liming the list to those books published within the last 10 years, so adaptations like those by Paul O ZelinskyBarbara Rogasky and Trina Schart Hyman, and Jutta Ash won't be on here, but they are, of course, highly influential to the more recent interpretations on this list.


October 4, 2017

#kidlitpicks September Round-Up: 22 Books about Books

Throughout September, we're shining the spotlight on the best Books About Books. Introducing children to the magic of books and therein instilling a love of reading and literacy is one of the greatest gifts we can impart. The greatest writers are also prolific readers. It's no surprise that many authors consider reading a crucial dimension of living and have taken to their pages to honour all things books.

We here at @kidlitpicks love everything about books too, so what could be more fun than sharing our favourite bookish books with you? Children love to see parts of themselves reflected in what they're reading. Let's find our budding bookworms characters who love to immerse themselves in books and reading, or who celebrate libraries, book clubs, bookstores and anything that explores what we all know -–– that books rule!

Throughout September, we shone the spotlight on the best Books About Books. This thoughtful and creative theme was chosen by Fee from Fee Loves!



October 3, 2017

Let's Talk Illustrators #43: Bethan Woollvin

I've talked about Bethan Woollvin's debut Little Red many, many times. I included it in my list of Best Picture Books of 2016, I analyzed it over at All the Wonders, and, of course, it's listed on my Best Little Red Riding Hood Picture Books round-up. Needless to say, I've been tapping my foot waiting for Bethan's next project, and I'm excited to share her process with you for creating my new favorite fractured fairy tale Rapunzel!  


October 1, 2017

ABC POP-UP

Courtney Watson McCarthy's ABC Pop-Up breaks the barrier of being "just" a pop-up book or "just" a concept book." It incorporates beautiful imagery with a seek-and-find element that makes reading it not only fun, but also a bit of a challenge.

September 28, 2017

MUDDY: THE STORY OF BLUES LEGEND MUDDY WATERS

It's hard to know where to start when it comes to Michael Mahin and Evan Turk's collaboration Muddy: The Story of Blues Legend Muddy Waters. Every part of the book was created with precision, from the musical flow of the text to the bluesy feel of the illustrations.


September 26, 2017

Let's Talk Illustrators #42: Ryan T Higgins

If there was ever a grump we couldn't wait to see again, it's Bruce, the curmudgeonly bear. So naturally I had a million and a half questions for author-illustrator Ryan T. Higgins about what he has in store for Bruce in his latest book Bruce's Big Move. Suffice it to say, this won't be the book where Bruce finds the peace and quiet he's looking for . . .


September 24, 2017

NIMOSHOM AND HIS BUS

"Nimoshom drove a school bus. Sometimes he spoke in Cree." These are the first two lines of Penny M Thomas and Karen Hibbard's Nimoshom and His Bus, and I have to say, they sum up the story pretty well.


September 21, 2017

AFTER THE FALL: HOW HUMPTY DUMPTY GOT BACK UP AGAIN

Everyone knows that Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall and Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. But what happened after his fall? Dan Santat's brilliant new picture book After the Fall: How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again reveals the events that followed Humpty Dumpty's fall to the ground and how he gets back his confidence.


September 19, 2017

Let's Talk Illustrators #41: Tim Miller

It took months, but we did it! Author-illustrator Tim Miller and I finally had a chance to talk about his books, which are not only growing in number, but growing in acclaim, too! Today we're mainly talking about Moo Moo in a Tutu, but since one of my favorite books right now is Margarash, we're talking about that, too! Check out Tim's process for creating beloved characters like Snappsy and Moo Moo (I can't say Margarash is beloved, but he sure is memorable!).


September 17, 2017

FEATHER

Before I could get my hands on it, I'd heard non-stop buzz about Rémi Courgeon's Feather. Not really into sports (and less into boxing), I didn't really pay the buzz any attention until the one fateful afternoon I caught sight of the cover. I was hooked after that.



September 14, 2017

FRANKLIN'S FLYING BOOKSHOP

As if I needed yet ANOTHER reason to adore illustrator Katie Harnett, we now have Franklin's Flying Bookshop, written by Jen Campbell. And the illustrations don't disappoint!


September 13, 2017

Let's Talk Illustrators #40: Christian Robinson

By this point, Christian Robinson hardly needs an introduction. He has won a Caldecott Honor, Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honors (plural!), a Sibert Informational Book Award Honor, a Boston Globe-Horn Book Nonfiction Honor . . . the list goes on. So, without (much) further ado, I'm proud to showcase my interview with Christian about his latest picture book When's My Birthday?, written by Julie Fogliano, which captures the spirit and energy of the age old question, "When is my birthday?"


September 10, 2017

FULL OF FALL

April Pulley Sayre's latest book Full of Fall might just be the most beautiful one yet (though I could just be saying that because she explores autumn, and autumn is my favorite season — just the colors alone!)


September 7, 2017

THE SCARIEST BOOK EVER

In the style of the classic The Monster at the End of This Book comes Bob Shea's hilarious new book The Scariest Book Ever about a character who's afraid of what he'll find at the end of his own book.


September 5, 2017

Let's Talk Illustrators #39: Molly Idle

A little while back I was putting together a post on complementary colors (which you all know is my jam), and I sent out a tweet about purple-and-yellow picture books. And thus my conversation with Molly Idle about her new board book Flora and the Ostrich: An Opposites Book was born! Molly is a Caldecott Honor winner for her first book in the Flora series Flora and the Flamingo, and I cannot believe my timing that I was able to interview Molly about this book in particular because it's my favorite one in the series so far (yes, yes, because of those yellows and purples). Enjoy the awesomeness that is Molly Idle!


September 3, 2017

#kidlitpicks August Round-Up: 15 Fairytales & Traditional Stories

Whether they are called fairytales, legends, tall tales, fables, folklore, origin stories, or mythology, each of these stories carries pieces of history and cultural connections that draw lines of similarities between those separated by distance and time. They give us insight into the morals, principals, and beliefs of those who came before us, creating history lessons through drama and cultural lessons with plot. These stories provide a testament not only to who we are but how we've grown and what we've achieved throughout the years. They are ways to teach our children patience, perseverance, hope, love, kindness, bravery, and the importance of wit.

So, no matter if your tales are of a Grimm version, told through song, or related by a coyote or a spider, we look forward to hearing them. They are a celebration of heritage and history from around the world, showcasing that which we hold important and dear. Our world is a fast moving place, in which we constantly see shifting changes, especially in literature. But these tales, these have withstood the test of time.

During the month of August the @kidlitpicks book club explored fairytale books, new and old. Thanks to Wendy from Homegrown Reader for the exceptional theme!


September 1, 2017

First Friday 5: Making Friends

Graphic novels exist in the same sphere as picture books: they both use text and illustration to create a cohesive story, and they both require a certain understanding of how visual narratives flow across the page. With the added length in pages, though, graphic novels stand apart as a unique way to show and tell longer, more complex stories to an audience that appreciates visual storytelling as much as textual (ie picture books for adults!).

Because of these overlaps in concept and form (and because I can't stop thinking about them), I'm starting First Friday 5: five themed graphic novels on the first Friday of each month. I'll include a spread from each book so you can sneak a peek at their illustration styles and their storytelling techniques, and I hope you'll join me as I explore them more closely.

The first theme is a timeless one: making friends. Whether it's starting a new school, getting a new neighbor, or having a new crush, we've all experienced the universal trial of making friends in unfamiliar circumstances. Here are five graphic novels that show us the ins and outs of making new friends, one awkward moment at a time.


August 31, 2017

WHEN A WOLF IS HUNGRY

When a Wolf Is Hungry by Christine Naumann-Villemin and Kris Di Giacomo is a laugh out loud folktale that reminds everyone to not take things too seriously and consider all potential outcomes of our actions -- you might be surprised by what happens!