December 20, 2019

Favorite Picture Books of 2019

And here are my favorite picture books from 2019! It was another banner year for creativity in illustration, story, and book design, so I can't wait to see what 2020 brings. Talk to you then!


Along the Tapajós
Written and illustrated by Fernando Vilela, translated by Daniel Hahn

Cauã and Inaê are a brother and sister who live in a small community along the Tapajós River in Brazil. Here, the homes are on stilts and everyone travels around by boat—even to school! When the rainy season comes, they must leave their village and relocate to higher ground for a while. But after moving this year, Cauã and Inaê realize they’ve left behind something important: their pet tortoise, Titi! Unlike turtles, tortoises can’t swim, and Cauã and Inaê are really worried. So the pair sneaks back at night on a journey along the river to rescue him. Will they be able to save Titi?



Angryman
Written by Gro Dahle and illustrated by Svein Nyhus

Boj’s father can be very angry and violent. Boj calls this side of his father’s personality “Angryman.” When Angryman comes no one is safe. Until something powerful happens. The book features an important message to children who experience the same things as Boj: You are not alone. It’s not your fault. You must tell someone you trust. It doesn’t have to be this way!

To read my interview with author Gro and illustrator Svein click here.



The Balcony
Written and illustrated by Melissa Castrillon

When a little girl moves from her home to an apartment in the city, she takes her pretty plants with her and one by one they grow and bloom and change both her world and the world all around her as she makes a new friend. When your heart is open, the world is full of possibilities.

To read my review of this book click here.





Cats Are a Liquid
Written by Rebecca Donnelly and illustrated by Misa Saburi

Cats fill. / Cats spill. / Cats flow downhill. / Cats tip. / Cats drip. / Cats grip, snip, rip. / Cats are a liquid. / Except when they’re not. Inspired by an Ig Nobel Prize–winning investigation of how cats behave like liquids, this book introduces some of the physical properties of liquids―they adapt to fit a container, they flow like fluids―and is just pure fun.

To read my interview with illustrator Misa click here.






Child of Glass
Written and illustrated by Beatrice Alemagna

Gisele is a fragile, strong, transparent girl who denounces the meanness that can mark life in the world. In sparse, poetic language that all of us, however young or old, can understand, Child of Glass reminds us of our birthright to become ourselves. Freedom isn't about accepting what is; it's about asking the questions and taking the actions that allow us to be at home in the world.



A Different Story
Written and illustrated by Adolfo Serra

Sometimes the world is a small place. Other times it feels huge. Sometimes we feel as though we’re sinking. Other days we can soar. And every creature on Earth is unique. But no matter what the circumstances are, no matter how different we may seem, even a rhinoceros and a beetle have something in common.

To read my review of this book click here.



The Full House and the Empty House
Written and illustrated by LK James

The Full House and the Empty House are very good friends— when they dance they admire in each other the qualities they lack within themselves. Even though the houses are different on the inside, it doesn't reflect how they feel on the outside. The bathroom of the full house was full of many bathroom-y things. There was a big bathtub with gold clawed feet, a sink shaped like a seashell, a hairbrush and comb made of bone, and cakes of lilac soap. In the bathroom of the empty house was just a toilet and a sink. In the evening when the two houses grew tired of dancing, they would rest on the hillside and look out at the world together.

To read my interview with author-illustrator LK click here.





How to Walk an Ant
Written and illustrated by Cindy Derby

There are nine steps to becoming an ant walker, and Amariyah, the expert ant walker, is here to show you how it’s done. This irreverent and quirky picture book, How to Walk an Ant, follows a young girl as she goes through the process of walking ants, from polite introductions to tragic leash entanglements.

*Zero ants were harmed in the making of this book.
**Oops, 7 ants were harmed in the making of this book.

To read my interview with author-illustrator Cindy click here.






A Life Made By Hand: The Story of Ruth Asawa
Written and illustrated by Andrea D'Aquino

Ruth Asawa (1926-2013) was an influential and award-winning sculptor, a beloved figure in the Bay Area art world, and a devoted activist who advocated tirelessly for arts education. This lushly illustrated book by collage artist Andrea D'Aquino brings Asawa's creative journey to life, detailing the influence of her childhood in a farming family, and her education at Black Mountain College where she pursued an experimental course of education with leading avant-garde artists and thinkers such as Anni and Josef Albers, Buckminster Fuller, Merce Cunningham, and Robert Rauschenberg. Delightful and substantial, this engaging title for young art lovers includes a page of teaching tools for parents and educators.

To read my review of this book click here.



The Mermaid in the Bathtub
Written by Nurit Zarchi and illustrated by Rutu Modan

One day, a resolutely ordinary young man named Mr. Whatwilltheysay returns home to find Grain-of-Sand, a mermaid, waiting for him in his favorite armchair. Despite his objections, the two embark on a series of very watery adventures as he tries to get rid of her. But ultimately the thought of being seen with half a fish is simply too much for Mr. Whatwilltheysay to bear—what would people say? So broken-hearted Grain-of-Sand returns to the sea in his bathtub, leaving Mr. Whatwilltheysay to resume his pedestrian existence. Mr. Whatwilltheysay soon finds that his beloved landlubber life, however, lacks the splash and shimmer (and bathtub) of his good times with Grain-of-Sand—and acting against all his instincts, he sets off to sea to find her. 




Most of the Better Natural Things in The World
Written by Dave Eggers and illustrated by Angel Chang

A tiger carries a dining room chair on her back. But why? Where is she going? With just one word per page, in lush, color-rich landscapes, we learn about the features that make up our world: an archipelago, a dune, an isthmus, a lagoon. Across them all, the tiger roams. An enigmatic investigation of our world's most beautiful places.

To read my interview with illustrator Angel click here.





My Cat Looks Like My Dad
Written and illustrated by Thao Lam

Minimal text paired with bright paper-collage illustrations create comparisons on each spread in which the narrator talks about their family--especially the striking similarities between Dad and the cat. Both have orange hair, love milk, start their days with stretches, appreciate a good nap, and are brave (some of the time). The narrator is more like Mom, with wild hair, blue eyes, and a love of dancing. A surprising twist at the end reveals the narrator's unexpected identity, also hinted at with clues in the art throughout the book. Warmth and whimsy in the illustrations add a playful balance to the story's deeper message about the love that makes a family a unit, no matter how unusual it may look from the outside.

To read my review of this book click here.



The Phone Booth in Mr. Hirota's Garden
Written by Heather Smith and illustrated by Rachel Wada

When the tsunami destroyed Makio's village, Makio lost his father...and his voice. The entire village is silenced by grief, and the young child's anger at the ocean grows. Then one day his neighbor, Mr. Hirota, begins a mysterious project—building a phone booth in his garden. At first Makio is puzzled; the phone isn't connected to anything. It just sits there, unable to ring. But as more and more villagers are drawn to the phone booth, its purpose becomes clear to Makio: the disconnected phone is connecting people to their lost loved ones. Makio calls to the sea to return what it has taken from him and ultimately finds his voice and solace in a phone that carries words on the wind.

To read my interview with author-illustrator Rachel click here (coming January 14, 2020!).




Stars and Poppy Seeds
Written by Romana Romanyshyn and illustrated by Andriy Lesiv

As the daughter of well-known mathematicians, Flora loves to count more than anything in the world. She counts all the things around her—the animals, grains of sand on the beach, and letters in her dad’s newspaper. When Dora looks at the Milky Way, she begins to wonder how to count the mesmerizing number of stars. Is it even possible? Is the night sky so full of stars that even all the numbers she knows would not be enough to count them? Dora soon learns that she needs to deal with such a complicated task by starting with the simplest of steps, and who knows, maybe one day she will achieve her dream.

To read my review of this book click here.



Who Am I?
Created by By Tristan Mory and Stéphanie Babin

Hoo, hoo! Ribbit, ribbit! Yip, yip! Little ones will enjoy discovering the animals that appear in this visually dynamic and engaging pull-tab book. Tabs reveal ears, eyes, noses, mouths, and even tongues of the 10 special creatures. And children will be delighted with the sweet surprise at the end, when a baby animal makes a special appearance!

To read my review of this book click here.
To see the book in action click here.





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