Teaching the Truth

h1 August 3rd, 2021    by jules



 

I’m taking a small break from sharing picture book art to signal-book this excellent opinion piece (from just yesterday) at the New York Times from Nashvillian Margaret Renkl, an essay that touches on children’s books too. Click on the image above to be taken to the piece, and if you can’t access it but you contact me, I’ll glady summarize it for you.

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #754: Featuring Kazue Takahashi

h1 August 1st, 2021    by jules


“That evening Mayu went to the forest mailbox with her letter.
Her heart beat faster as she put her letter into the box. Then she ran home.”


 
Those of you who still correspond with friends and family via letter-writing know that to receive a letter from a friend, sitting there in your mailbox amongst all the credit card applications, is to receive a gift. In fact, I received one such gift this week, which brightened my day. Kyoko Hara’s newest illustrated chapter book for children, The Mailbox in the Forest, is a tribute to letter-writing. Originally published in Japan in 2007, it will be on U.S. shelves in September and was illustrated by Kazue Takahashi. (Fans of the fabulous Kuma-Kuma Chan books will recognize that name.)

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The Little Library: Seven Cheers for Librarian Beck

h1 July 29th, 2021    by jules


“Librarian Beck put a heavy book into Jake’s hands. It was old and worn. …”
(Click spread to enlarge and read text in its entirety)


 
There’s so much to love about Margaret McNamara’s The Little Library (Schwartz & Wade, March 2021), illustrated by G. Brian Karas and a new entry in a series of picture books called Mr. Tiffin’s Classroom, that I’m not sure where to begin. But we’ll begin with Jake, one of the book’s main characters. “Jake was a slow and careful reader. Sometimes he read the same page more than once so he could figure everything out. When it came to Library Day, Jake felt behind.”

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Stephen Costanza’s King of Ragtime

h1 July 27th, 2021    by jules


“What could Scott do with all that music buzzing in his brain?”


 
Let me say right off the bat that this post is best read while simultaneously listening to “Gladiolus Rag” (or your Joplin ragtime of choice).

Coming to shelves in September is King of Ragtime: The Story of Scott Joplin (Atheneum) from Stephen Costanza, author-illustrator and one-time ragtime player himself. And it is a beauty.

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #753: Featuring Hadley Hooper

h1 July 25th, 2021    by jules


“Meanwhile, the elephants ride in a trailer, past sycamore figs and acacia trees,
beyond the Umfolozi swamp, and along the Nseleni River. They bump over
one … two … three railway tracks and then down a dirt path
where a sign points the way to Thula Thula.
The elephants COME.”

(Click spread to enlarge)


 
I’ve a review over at the Horn Book of Kim Tomsic’s The Elephants Come Home: A True Story of Seven Elephants, Two People, and One Extraordinary Friendship (Chronicle, May 2021), illustrated by Hadley Hooper.

That review is here, and below (and above) are some of the book’s spreads.

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Divya Srinivasan’s What I Am

h1 July 22nd, 2021    by jules



 
We all contain multitudes, but for those who forget, there is Divya Srinivasan’s newest picture book. What I Am (Viking) will be on shelves next month and was inspired by an experience her sister had. She was washing her hands in a restaurant bathroom when someone at the next sink looked up at her and asked: “What are you?”

On the title page spread of What I Am, an unseen, unnamed person asks our protagonist, an Indian American girl, the same question: In a oversized, somewhat intimidating speech bubble above her head, we read: “What are you?”

I didn’t know what to say. So I didn’t answer, and they left. But I kept thinking about it.

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Something Good Before Breakfast

h1 July 20th, 2021    by jules


“The bad-something. My mouth popped open. Tanisha turned around and ran out. Kiyoko kicked a stall really hard, and the sound made us cover our ears. Emmie started to cry.”
(Click spread to enlarge)


 
“The day the custodian found the bad-something on the bathroom wall, all the girls from Mr. Gilbert’s class were called into the principal’s office.” Thus opens Marcy Campbell’s Something Good (Little, Brown), illustrated by Corinna Luyken and coming to shelves in early September.

The “bad-something” scribbled in a bathroom stall is never named — though in a closing note Campbell, while explaining that the story was inspired by real-life events at her children’s schools, mentions “hate speech.” The principal grills the children and then tells them the bathroom is off-limits. Some of the girls sneak in there anyway and have a visceral emotional response to the “bad-something.” This spread is pictured above.

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #752: Featuring James Yang

h1 July 18th, 2021    by jules



 
James Yang’s A Boy Named Isamu: A Story of Isamu Noguchi (Viking, June 2021) is an imagined story about a day in the life of Japanese American artist Isamu Noguchi. The young Isamu spends his day exploring the world around him — and with a sense of astonishment.

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On Rainbows and Icebergs with Grant Snider

h1 July 15th, 2021    by jules



 
Pictured above is a sketch author-illustrator and comics artist Grant Snider made during last year’s pandemic lockdown. Today, he visits to talk about what came out of that experience — his illustrations for Theresa Trinder’s There Is a Rainbow (Chronicle, January 2021), a bright — in more ways than one — book that captures with compassion what the last year was like for many socially isolated children.

Grant also discusses his process for illustrating Travis Jonker’s Blue Floats Away (Abrams), released a couple months after Trinder’s book. This book tells the story of a small iceberg. Blue, just as the title tells you, floats away from his family — unintentionally, that is. On his journey across the ocean, he transforms in many ways. It’s an entertaining tale, with an endearing protagonist at its helm, about the water cycle but also the ways in which climate change is altering our planet.

I thank Grant for visiting to talk about what he did with colored pencils and cut paper last year. …

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Some “wide wings of light” before breakfast . . .

h1 July 13th, 2021    by jules



 
I’ve always wanted to see the Northern Lights, and maybe one day I will, but for now I’ve this beautiful picture book import from New Zealand, originally published in 2018, to hold me over — Elizabeth Pulford’s Seeking an Aurora (Blue Dot Kids Press, January 2021), illustrated by Anne Bannock.

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