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!


May 14, 2017

IVY AND THE LONELY RAINCLOUD

This month's #kidlitpicks theme is "flowers," so the moment I saw Ivy and the Lonely Raincloud, I knew it was going to be the perfect book to showcase. It's no big secret how much I love Katie Harnett's work (seriously, just do a search for her name in the search bar -->), and the follow-up to her 2016 debut Archie Snufflekins Oliver Valentine Cupcake Tiberius Cat does not disappoint.


May 11, 2017

FATHER'S ROAD

Originally published three years ago in Korea, Father's Road, written by Ji-yun Jang and illustrated by Tan Jun, tells readers the fictionalized story of Wong Chung, a young boy who joins his father's caravan and set out on the first of many journeys along the Silk Road.


May 9, 2017

Let's Talk Illustrators #24: Sydney Smith

It's safe to say Canadian illustrator Sydney Smith knows what he's doing. He has earned multiple awards and accolades for his work, many of which he received recently for his 2015 picture book Sidewalk Flowers, written by JonArno Lawson, and his 2016 book The White Cat and the Monk, written by Jo Ellen Bogart. Given that The White Cat and the Monk is one of my favorite picture books, I was filled with awe when I read his newest picture book Town Is by the Sea, written by Joanne Schwartz. Let's not waste another minute.


May 7, 2017

A RIVER

Marc Martin's A River opens on a wordless spread of a girl at a drawing table in her room. She's surrounded by toys and books and her cat, but the girl's focus is on the window and the river that lies beyond it. It's a wonderfully apt introduction to the story, giving readers time to process this girl's life as it is (and sans words) before she begins to ponder where the river could take her.


May 4, 2017

STACK THE CATS

One cat sleeps, two cats play, three cats stack! Susie Ghahremani’s Stack the Cats is hands-down the funniest, furriest, and most gleefully complex picture book about numbers I've seen in a long time!



May 3, 2017

#kidlitpicks April Round-Up: 15 Books Featuring Mighty Girls

As parents and educators, it is important for us to reflect on the messages we present to our children through literature. Unfortunately, female characters have been historically underrepresented in children’s books and are often an easy target for gender stereotyping. Gender stereotypes are flawed because they are incomplete and marginalize those who don’t “fit” with the label. If we truly want books to be “windows, mirrors, and sliding glass doors” for children (as described by Rudine Sims Bishop), then we must look for books that shatter gender stereotypes and reflect the diversity of the world we live in.

That’s why we are shared books during April that feature mighty female characters—girls who are smart, strong, brave, adventurous, scientific, athletic, and messy. By choosing kids books that go against gender stereotypes, we can redefine what it means to act “like a girl."

Thanks to Jamie from @smallysbookshelf for choosing our mighty theme!



May 2, 2017

Let's Talk Illustrators #23: Corinna Luyken

Corinna Luyken’s picture book debut The Book of Mistakes is a book better read than summarized, but I'll do what I can by way of introducing my interview with her. It's about celebrating the unexpected paths our mistakes lead us down and embracing that these mistakes are ultimately just a part of the process. They’re what lead us to where we are today. There's no way to predict what will happen between the first and last pages, so the end result is brilliant and breath-taking, and the “mistakes” Corinna makes inspire readers to let themselves go and make as many mistakes as it takes. Let's take a closer look!


April 30, 2017

TWIG

Aura Parker's Twig is just about the sweetest story you'll find about fitting in and finding your groove at a new school. Heidi is starting her first day at a busy bug school, and she's nervous about finding new friends. Sadly, her instincts turn out to be right, especially because it's so hard for everyone to find her! I had to order Twig from Australia so forgive my less-than perfect photos of the spreads -- they're just too sweet not to show!


April 26, 2017

BIG CAT, LITTLE CAT

When my friend Sally recommended Elisha Cooper's Big Cat, Little Cat, I knew it had to be an extra special book. Sally and I are both -- let's just say -- cat enthusiasts, and it takes an exceptionally beautiful cat book to impress us. So when she described the book as quiet, gentle, and (most importantly) beautifully illustrated, I immediately purchased it. And, of course, Sally was right, which is hardly a surprise!


April 25, 2017

Let's Talk Illustrators #22: Suzanne Del Rizzo

My Beautiful Birds, written and illustrated by Suzanne Del Rizzo, stands apart from other books in about a thousand ways. For one thing, it's a children's picture book about the Syrian refugee crisis. But more so, it's relatable, impeccably illustrated, and refuses to shy away from depicting the realistic tragedies of displacement. Suzanne stays true to the experiences children are having across the world and puts forth a story about a boy who tries to find the beauty in the ugly around him. But let's let Suzanne do the talking.


April 23, 2017

OVER THE OCEAN

This month's #kidlitpicks theme celebrates mighty girls in children's literature, and I'm excited to showcase Taro Gomi's protagonist from Over the Ocean. Originally published in Japan in 1979, this timeless picture book quietly asks readers to reflect on their lives and use their imaginations to think about the world around them.


April 19, 2017

YAK & DOVE

Hold onto your hats, friends. Kyo Maclear and Esmé Shapiro are collaborating on a picture book and it. Is. Fantastic. If you're a fan of Frog and Toad, then this is definitely the book for you!


April 18, 2017

Let's Talk Illustrators #21: Joseph Kuefler

If there's one thing we all know, it's that politics are everywhere, and playgrounds are no exception. Joseph Kuefler's new picture book Rulers of the Playground allows children to see the complexities of their playground experiences reflected in beautiful illustration and sharp wit. Rulers of the Playground proves to be a keen introduction into the world of political thinking and questioning authority, and it teaches readers about compromising for the greater good. Joseph proves that he has no shortage of playful, intelligent stories to tell after his 2015 debut Beyond the Pond, and it was an absolute pleasure to talk to him about his process for creating relatable -- yet deeply mature -- picture books for children.


April 16, 2017

EVERYWHERE, WONDER

Sometimes it frustrates me to receive a book and then have ZERO time to write about it until weeks later. Everywhere, Wonder by Matthew Swanson and Robbi Behr is one of those books. It feels like it's taken me forever to get the chance to talk about it! 



April 12, 2017

BEFORE & AFTER

Forget the "before" and "after" scenarios you've seen in books, because I guarantee you the situations we see in Jean Jullien's Before & After are funnier, more colorful, and waaaaay more satisfying.



April 11, 2017

Let's Talk Illustrators #20: Deborah Marcero

When I picked up Deborah Marcero's newest picture book Rosie and Crayon, I immediately connected with it in about a thousand ways. Deborah and I had the pleasure of chatting a little about how much her book means to me, and I was thrilled when she agreed to an interview. Deborah has a way of breathing life into every character she conceives, and it brings me so much joy to share her process behind creating this special book about love, loss, and hope.


April 10, 2017

All the Wonders of THINGS TO DO

This month, All the Wonders is jumping into National Poetry Month with All the Wonders of THINGS TO DO!


Jump in with us during National Poetry Month as we celebrate All the Wonders of Elaine Magliaro and Catia Chien’s picture book Things to Do, a lyrical story about the wonder we can find in the world around us.

Visit All the Wonders for a craft that puts poetry in motion, interviews with the author and illustrator, and a chance to win a copy of the book!

April 9, 2017

YOU AND ME, ME AND YOU

Miguel Tanco's You and Me, Me and You provides an interesting take on exploring father-son relationships, showing readers the wonder of being a father, but from a child's point of view. You and Me, Me and You simultaneously walks the line between nostalgia in sentiment and innocence: the young boy spends the book "teaching" his father how to do things like talk to people on the subway and slow down in life, but it also shows how the father silently helps his son grow as a person, too.



April 5, 2017

DOUBLE TAKE!: A NEW LOOK AT OPPOSITES

Double Take!: A New Look at Opposites, written by Susan Hood and illustrated by Jay Fleck, takes a fresh new look at opposites and how they reflect points of view and relativity. Readers follow a young boy, a blue elephant, and a black cat as they move about town demonstrating the opposites they find around them.


April 4, 2017

Let's Talk Illustrators #19: Jon Klassen and Mac Barnett

So I had just about the coolest experience a few weeks ago when I interviewed Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen in person at the Brookline Booksmith in Boston, MA. We talked about all sorts of things (including how easy it is for Mac to forget Jon is even there!), but mostly we talked about their newest collaboration Triangle. Let's dive right in!


April 3, 2017

#kidlitpicks March Round-Up: 16 Poetry and Haiku Picture Books

Parents have the capability to open the door to an incredible world for their child(ren). They have the sole pleasure of sharing the beauty and wonder of poetry with them. Poetry books contain soothing rhythms and rhymes, short, simple sentences and clever repetition of key words and phrases. There is nothing like the rhythm of words flowing together to form a story in such rich language. Poetry is such a happy thing! It's magical to watch children's eyes, minds, and hearts dancing along the rhythmical lines of poetry and into a lifelong love of lyrical language.

The variety of language and structure in poetry is great for children's growing brains and imaginations. It's also refreshing for the grownups who read with them! With National Poetry Month now that we're in April, it's a splendid time to let poetry blossom in your household and in the young hearts of your children.

We hope you enjoyed following @kidlitpicks book club this month, and a special thank you to Charnaie from Here Wee Read for the thoughtful theme!



April 2, 2017

GOLDFISH GHOST

Goldfish Ghost, written by Lemony Snicket and illustrated by Lisa Brown, is the tale of a dead goldfish. Yes, you read that right. It's the story of a dead goldfish who sets out to find out who he is now that he's in his current state, and the humor with which Snicket and Brown tackle this bizarre story is laugh out loud funny.



March 29, 2017

THE ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE THING

Basak Agaoglu's The Almost Impossible Thing had me scratching my head for days the first time I read it. After I had finished it, I didn't put it away, but placed it on my nightstand, and every night for a week I looked at it before I went to bed. I was confused by it, and couldn't put my finger on what I'd just read. But the fact that it stuck with me -- and not just because the illustrations are spectacular -- said something to me: this is a book worth reading and rereading. It's a book that deserves consideration and thought. And it's a book that has quickly become a favorite for me.



March 28, 2017

Let's Talk Illustrators #18: Alessandro Sanna

Italian illustrator Alessandro Sanna has illustrated over seventy books for children and adults. He has won multiple Andersen Prizes for his illustrations, and his United States debut, The River, was included in the IYL White Ravens Selection in 2014. His work is thoughtful and evocative, and he often explores the relationship between nature and humankind. Today, I'm excited to share my conversation with Alessandro about his second picture book to come out in the US, Pinocchio: An Origin Story.

March 26, 2017

THE BLUE SONGBIRD

In Vern Kousky's The Blue Songbird, a little blue songbird longs to sing like her sisters, but finds that she can never quite get the tune right. So when her mother encourages her to leave home and find a song that only she can sing, the little bird takes the opportunity to seek advice from birds she meets all around the world to help her find her special song.