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, 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 by debut author-illustrator Rachel Himes is a twist on the classic Hans Christian Anderson fairytale "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


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


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


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


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!