Search Results for: picture book gems
Hannah is a children’s bookseller who once stopped by to give us 5 elements of a successful storytime, evidenced by 5 picture books. Now she’s back as part of my picture book gems a bookseller/librarian recommends series! And this is a treat because she’s chosen international picture book translations.
Over to Hannah!
I have always loved learning languages. As a kid, I studied Spanish in school, and as an international affairs major in college, I studied Arabic, Hindi, and Farsi. Each language has a particular nuance, reflecting unique cultures and histories–when translated, the best stories do not lose any of that uniqueness. I’m drawn to translated children’s books in particular because I believe they offer a window to the world to kids that an atlas or a nonfiction book cannot–reading a translated book gives a child a bridge across the globe, connecting the reader to a different way of thinking and imagining. The following are six of my current translated favorites from around the world.
Seven Pablos by Jorge Luján, translated from the Spanish by Mara Lethem, illustrated by Chiara Carrer.
“There are many Pablos in the world, yet they are all one. Inside each of them is a heart that beats to the same rhythm as the ocean’s waves and the rotations of the planet.”
I wish that line from Seven Pablos could be written everywhere and understood by those at the highest levels of power. This is a book that meditates on the universal human experiences of children around the world, touching on issues like migration, poverty, and bullying. It is a necessary book for the time we live in–one of those Pablos could very well be one of the 12,800 detained children at the United States border.
My Valley by Claude Ponti, translated from the French by Alyson Waters.
I’m a huge fan of weird, cozy, imagined worlds–the Moomin series is my absolute favorite–so this one appealed to me right off the bat. Its giant trim size is difficult to shelve, but it’s so necessary for spying all the minute details of the Twims’ world. These cute, squirrel-like beings live in trees with rooms that have specific purposes: a room to be born in, a room to read in, a room to swim in. With notes on their history, their mythology, and their daily lives, Ponti builds an immersive experience akin to reading a fantasy novel–making this book a delight to pore over and get lost within.
Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family’s Journey by Margriet Ruurs, translated into Arabic by Falah Raheem, art by Nizar Ali Badr.
There have been many picture book explorations of the Syrian refugee experience, but this one is my absolute favorite. A true collaboration between author and artist, this bilingual story is a resonant, lyrical tale of one family’s life before and during the war and their hard journey out of Syria and into a hopeful future. Though Badr’s images are composed only from sea-smoothed stone, they are full of life and poignancy.
Chirri & Chirra by Kaya Doi, translated from the Japanese by Yuki Kaneko.
Never have I wanted to hug a book so much. This is a delicious and delightful ride of a book–one of those you want to step right inside and live within, featuring two adorable girls who ride their bikes through a magical world where friendly animals serve them jam sandwiches and clover blossom tea and other delicious treats. Though this book was published in 2016, its comforting, cheery atmosphere gives it the feel of a bygone classic.
Feather by Cao Wenxuan, translated from the Chinese by Chloe Garcia-Roberts, illustrated by Roger Mello.
Feather is a unique, beautiful take on the “Are You My Mother” story structure as a lost feather floats along, trying to find the bird it belongs to. Paired with Mello’s spare yet rich and dynamic illustrations, this hopeful story of searching for belonging soars above the rest. I highly recommend this one for fans of birds, folktales, and accessibly philosophical kids’ books.
On a Magical Do-Nothing Day by Beatrice Alemagna, translated from the French by Jill Davis
Nature can awaken even the most stodgy of imaginations. In On a Magical Do-Nothing Day, Alemagna’s bespectacled, bored child (gender is never addressed, which I LOVE) finds theirs jump-started after they drop their video game in a pond and begin to notice the wonder of the woods around them. Alemagna’s prose and illustrations sing with delicious metaphor, and her magical, mystical forest is rich in texture and detail. I dare you to read this book and not want to immediately go traipsing through the woods, finding your own magic.
Hannah lives in Athens, GA, where she works as the manager of children’s books at Avid Bookshop. She often daydreams about living a calm and peaceful life in Moominvalley or traipsing the Maine coast with Miss Rumphius. A librarian at heart (and in training), Hannah loves the look on a kid’s face when they find a book they truly love.
I’m thrilled to have Alia from Read it Real Good here to share picture book gems she recommends as a librarian, former bookseller, and blogger! You can learn more about her here and check out her list of resources on diverse children’s literature from her blog as well. Get ready to go to the bookstore or have your library card ready because she’s sharing some of her favorite recent and backlist picture books with us!
Over to Alia!
Black Girl Magic by Mahogany L. Browne/Jess X. Snow
This illustrated poem begins with “This book is for you.” And yes it is. It is unabashedly black, young and full of truth and positive affirmations for young black women. Perfect for ages 7 – tween, Black Girl Magic is raw and honest. Snow’s illustrations beautifully accompany Browne’s powerful poetry. Yes, black girls, you are magic. You are strong and let NO ONE tell you any different.
Where’s Halmoni? by Julie Kim
It’s hard to believe that this is Julie Kim’s debut picture book. Well, it’s more of a picture book/graphic novel hybrid. Korean-American kids Joon and his Noona (big sister) visit their grandmother’s house to find that she’s gone, the house is a mess and huge cat-prints are everywhere! >_< Kim takes readers on a journey to a land of trickster rabbits, hungry goblins and angry tigers.
El Primer Corte de Mesita de Furqan – Furqan’s First Flat Top by Robert Liu-Trujillo & translated by Cinthya Muñoz
Ten year old Furqan takes a trip to the barbershop for his first cut. He wants to try a new flat top for his thick, curly hair, but he’s a little scared of change. His dad lovingly reassures him that his hair is gonna come out fresh, no matter what. We get a peek into Furqan’s daily life. This bilingual story features loving parents and a supportive community. Liu-Trujillo’s watercolor & ink illustrations portray so much joy and love.
Up! How Families Around the World Carry Their Little Ones by Susan Hughes/Ashley Barron
I love picture books that use non-traditional mediums like paper, cloth, string, etc. Barron’s illustrations for Up! are gorgeous and unique. They invite you to stare at them for long moments. We learn a bit about how different people around the world carry & transport their little ones. I love the inclusiveness of the illustrations and the bouncy rhythm of the text.
All Around Us by Xelena González/Adriana M. Garcia
It’s special whenever our elders share knowledge with us; it’s something not to be taken for granted. All Around Us is about a little girl and the lessons she learns from her grandfather. They have such a beautiful relationship! He teaches her about circles, continuity and how people are a part of the earth. The illustrations are so beautifully TRIPPY. I appreciate how this book celebrates family, indigeneity and tradition.
We Are Brothers by Yves Nadon/Jean Claverie
Black brotherly love. Strength. Growing up. This quiet picture book explores the relationship between two brothers and how love, support and encouragement are so important. Climbing up and jumping off the top of a cliff into a lake sure is scary but…you’ll never know how much fun it is until you try. I love the soft illustrations in this book and the scenes of transformation.
Where Do We Go When We Disappear? by Isabel Minhós Martins/Madalena Matoso
This is a reflective and thought-provoking picture book about death, loss, or the simple act of someone/something being gone. When I was a bookseller, it was hard to find good books to give to parents to help their kids grieve. This is a great one because it helps begin a discussion about CHANGE. Matoso’s illustrations are bold and colorful and Martins is such a thoughtful writer.
Sidewalk Flowers by JonArno Lawson/Sydney Smith
A young girl and her father take a walk through their neighborhood. Though he’s on his phone for most of the journey, he is present. He is there. She’s on a mission to find flowers and share them as gifts. Smith’s use of color is exquisite in this wordless picture book. We see color when we need to. We watch it bloom. We watch their love as they walk together.
Ten Nine Eight by Molly Bang
Wow, what a throwback this one is. I remember it from my childhood. Can I tell you how special it is to see a little black girl sitting with her daddy, eyes sleepy, getting ready for bed? With its soft, warm illustrations, this book reminds me of the love I shared with my father. Ten, Nine, Eight is a counting book that also celebrates Black Family. It’s also available as a board book! How perfect. 🙂
Alia Jones is a Sr. Library Services Assistant with The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. She is also a former indie children’s bookseller and English teacher in South Korea. She blogs about diverse books & children’s literature at www.readitrealgood.com. You can also follow her on Twitter @readitrealgood. Alia believes that we are truly in a Picture Book Renaissance; there is so much talent out there.
I’m so happy to have Sally from The Curious Reader children’s bookstore in New Jersey here to share some picture book gems she recommends! Sally has wonderful taste in books and her store’s Instagram account is a must follow for the kidlit community!
Over to Sally!
WOLF IN THE SNOW BY MATTHEW CORDELL
My first 2017 love. This tale of kindness repaid is perfect in all the right ways: well-paced, beautifully illustrated, and emotionally rich, despite the only words in the whole thing being sounds. I’m hoping this one gets all the recognition it deserves at awards time.
ALFIE: THE TURTLE THAT DISAPPEARED BY THYRA HEDER
Thyra Heder has only written and illustrated three books, and each one puts a unique twist on traditional picture book storytelling. Her new one is a tender love story between a girl and her pet turtle and is told from each one’s point of view. The pictures are gorgeous and filled with detail, and the inventive structure doesn’t diminish the story’s emotional impact – if anything, its power is enhanced by the two different perspectives. Plus, an absolutely perfect surprise ending.
PROFESSIONAL CROCODILE BY GIOVANNA ZOBOLI & MARIACHIARA DI GIORGIO
This one is another top book from this year. The lovely, witty illustrations are worth lingering over, and the build up to the revelation of this city-dwelling croc’s job is masterfully executed. Told mostly in panels, there are a couple of double-page spreads that are breathtaking, and like most wordless books, it just gets better with each read.
STILL STUCK BY SHINSUKE YOSHITAKE
I have a theory that one of the most difficult things to pull off successfully is producing content that will make both children and adults laugh – The Muppets, Sandra Boynton, and Mo Willems are all experts at walking this fine line. This Japanese import manages to be hilarious to all ages; a perfect, simple idea, executed with deadpan brilliance. A little boy gets stuck trying to take his shirt off and, after struggling for a bit, gives up and imagines what life would be like with the shirt stuck forever.
AMANDINA BY SERGIO RUZZIER
One of my least favorite types of kids’ books are the ones that totally forfeit charm and storytelling for a blandly presented be yourself!!!!! message. Ugh. It’s not giving kids enough credit, and is a terrific way to get them to hate books. That’s why books like this one are so great: it’s quirky and well-written and has a really neat Italian feel, PLUS it’s got a bunch of good messages about practice and hard work and staying true to oneself mixed in. Also, Amandina Goldeneyes is just a terrific name.
TALES FROM OUTER SUBURBIA BY SHAUN TAN
I believe there is no artistic style that Shaun Tan could not master, and on top of that, he’s a super thoughtful guy with a brilliant, weird imagination. Pretty much all his books are perfect, but this one’s a tiny bit more so. Fifteen odd stories, beautifully and inventively told, some quite powerful, all remarkable.
KUMA-KUMA CHAN, THE LITTLE BEAR BY KAZUE TAKAHASHI
Everyone should own this book, this tiny little jewel. The narrator imagines what his friend, Kuma-Kuma Chan, does during the day: “He trims the nails of his paws. Then he lines up the cut nails and gazes at them. He lies on his roof and just looks at clouds floating by. He lies on the floor and listens to the sound of rain falling on the roof.” This book will always make me feel at least 30% better, so I keep it right next to my desk.
BIG PLANS BY BOB SHEA AND LANE SMITH
One of the top five funniest picture books I’ve ever read (Kid Sheriff and the Terrible Toads by the same team is also top five), and the book that made me love Bob Shea. A little boy imagines how he’ll take over the world, in a glorious outline of his “BIG PLANS! BIG PLANS, I SAY!” Unfortunately out of print, this is a book worth tracking down from the library – I guarantee you’ll be quoting it immediately after.
Sally Morgan has been a children’s bookseller for over twelve years, and in 2013 she and her father opened The Curious Reader, a unique children’s bookstore, in Glen Rock, NJ. She tries to read at least one picture book a day.
You can see my previous post with another bookseller’s children’s book recommendations—Jen from Vroman’s in Pasadena, California, too!
I have a treat for you today. Jen Pino from Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena, California has ten picture book gems she recommends! Jen is a passionate bookseller and a delightful person, and I thought it would be neat to find out what picture books are on her radar right now, and have her pass them along to you!
Over to Jen!
The World of Work by Silvie Sanža, illustrated by Milan Stary (2017).
I love that this book features ALL TYPES of jobs. When you are little, I feel like you only get exposed to the jobs your parents do, firefighters, doctors, police, and teachers. This book has so many more. This includes working for the Mountain Rescue Service, being an Operational Planner or even….a Bookseller!!
How Things Are Made by Olderich Reueziecka, illustrated by Alexandra Hetmerovaa (2016).
This is another amazing non-fiction title! Each page features a different way an object is made. Some examples are: a spoon, bread, and a t-shirt! The pages have basic summaries at first, then you can lift the flaps to get even more details!
One Word From Sophia by Jim Averbeck and Yasmeed Ismail (2015).
This book is charming. I instantly fell in love with Sophia and her quest to own a giraffe. Several family members stand in the way of her desire, but Sophia, not one to be easily dissuaded, provides multiple arguments, complete with presentations, pie charts and stellar vocabulary, as she makes her case. Colorful, engaging pictures enhance the book’s delight. Additionally, this book serves as a tremendous resource of SAT worthy vocabulary.
That Neighbor Kid by Daniel Miyares (2017).
Daniel Miyares has been one of my favorite illustrators for a while. Whenever he has something new coming out, I am eager to see what it’s going to be. In this, budding curiosity turns into a beautiful friendship. When the colors on the page go from black and white to warm shades, I get chills. So so good.
Rory the Dinosaur Wants a Pet by Liz Climo (2016).
This is seriously the sweetest book and Rory is endearing as he searches for a pet to love. Liz Climo causes your heart to soar as you witness childhood imagination and innocence in its purest form.
Dylan the Villain by K.G. Campbell (2016).
This is a super funny book for all the little super villains in your life. Dylan strives to be the “very best and cleverest super-villain in the whole wide world.” But will Addison Van Malice and some purple parsnip preserves stand in the way of that?
When Jackie Saved Grand Central by Natasha Wing, illustrated by Alexandra Boiger (2017).
This is another book that gives me chills each time I read it. I never knew what Grand Central had to go through to be the station it is today. Furthermore, I had no idea how much work Jackie Kennedy did, over the course of 3 years, in order to save it from being demolished. I loved learning about how much Americans cared about Grand Central and how it started a movement to save other landmarks across the states.
Panda Pants by Jacqueline Davies, illustrated by Sydney Hanson ( 2016).
Baby Panda wants pants. When his father doesn’t understand why a Panda would need pants, baby Panda illustrates exactly why they would come in handy. However, even if on the surface this could be a book about choosing an outfit for the day, it’s underlying themes could be used to go even deeper. I could see Teachers and Parents using this book as a way to help children own who they are and who they want to be.
I was thrilled to see that this book features characters as diverse as an airport actually is. In calm, but informative text, this book narrates exactly the kinds of things a child might face when traveling to, entering an airport, or boarding a plane. Everything that a child might have a question about (regarding airports), is in this book.
I LOVE LOVE LOVE Kelly DiPucchio. I think everything she touches turns to gold. This book is about a terrible dragon who cannot be tamed. However, turns out our dragon has a soft side for stories! Dragon’s face cracks me up as he “pretends not to listen” to the hero and friend he could be. This is for troublemakers and softies alike.
Jen Pino works at the oldest and largest independent bookstore in Southern California, Vroman’s Bookstore. She’s worked there for almost 7 years and loves all things related to children’s books. Check out her blog: Confessions of a Starstruck Bookseller, where she shares what’s new at Vroman’s Bookstore, reviews books, features gift guides, and showcases booksellers!
Thank you, Jen, for sharing these picture book gems with us!
I primarily feature picture books here, but I’ve been reading so many great chapter books over the last couple of years (plus, they have pictures too!), that I wanted to round up some recent favorites. I hope you’ll add in the comments any chapter book gems I’ve missed.
A range of page counts are included here, in no particular order, and many if not most of these are part of a series with more than one installment for kid readers to gobble up. (Disclosure that some of these I read quite some time ago and aren’t as fresh in my mind for fully fleshed out descriptions as others. But know I enjoyed them all!)
Meet Yasmin by Saadia Faruqi, illustrated by Hatem Aly (2018).
The first installment (with more in the series!) is a compilation of four delightful short stories with illustrations to match. The MC, Yasmin, who is Pakistani American, is creative and bold while also finding her way through sometimes being worried or unsure. Relatable and full of spirit and fun, this one is a true treat.
Jasmine Toguchi: Mochi Queen by Debbi Michiko Florence, illustrated by Elizabet Vukovic (2017).
The ace design of this cover is a perfect preview to what lies inside this terrific book. I like the relatability of a girl who wants to do something designated for older kids, and for boys. I also like that this explores the tradition of making mochi for the new year, and other aspects of Japanese and Japanese American culture. The drawings complement the story beautifully.
Beatrice Zinker, Upside Down Thinker by Shelley Johannes (2017).
A wonderful chapter book about friendship, flexibility, and change with a uniquely funny and charming character at its (upside down) heart. “Some losses were worse than others. A secret base was replaceable. Lenny Santos was not.”
Jada Jones: Rock Star by Kelly Starling Lyons, illustrations by Vanessa Brantley Newton (2017).
In this sweet, engaging chapter book, Jada Jones is not the kind of rock star that first comes to mind. Nope, she loves rocks! A budding geologist, she’s navigating a science project and friendships after her bestie moves away, finding solutions and never giving up.
Juana & Lucas by Juana Medina (2016).
Juana is clever and funny as she tells the reader about her life. I adore how she introduces the characters (Lucas her dog, her friend Juli, the city of Bogotá where she lives, her tía, abuelo, and more) by way of illustrated diagrams. Plus, while Juana is learning English in the story, readers are either learning or recognizing the Spanish words weaved in.
Two Dogs in a Trench Coat go to School by Julie Falatko, illustrations by Colin Jack (2018).
An exceedingly funny chapter book about two dogs who, worried about this school place their boy has to spend his days, impersonate a student in order to protect and investigate. Turns out, these dogs LOVE school! Needless to say, hilarity ensues.
Power Forward: Zayd Saleem, Chasing the Dream by Hena Khan (2018).
Lucky for readers, Hena Khan, author of Amina’s Voice and several exquisite picture books, is bringing her writing to the chapter book arena. I was lucky enough to hear her present this book at Once Upon A Time Books in Los Angeles. A nicely paced story about basketball, following your passion, and a warm and well-drawn family you’ll definitely want to read more of.
Stella Díaz Has Something to Say by Angela Dominguez (2018).
I had the great pleasure of blurbing this book! Stella’s story is relatable, honest, and warm-hearted. She certainly has a lot to say to young readers as she learns that just like the starfish who shares her name—Estrella—she is stronger than she thinks.
A Boy Called Bat by Elana K. Arnold, illustrated by Charles Santoso (2017).
This book, its title main character, and the baby skunk he cares for are all delightful. Shout out to the well-drawn sibling and parent characters in this one, too.
Sarai and the Meaning of Awesome by Sarai Gonzalez and Monica Brown (2018).
Filled with family and positivity, this book was inspired by the story of real eleven-year-old Sarai Gonzalez. In the fictional story, Sarai’s grandparents are forced to leave their home so Sarai hatches a plan to raise money to help them—with chicha morada and cupcakes.
Polly Diamond and the Magic Book by Alice Kuipers and Diana Toledano.
This one had me at the concept. Polly receives a book that makes anything she writes actually happen! Full of magical misunderstandings and charming illustrations, it’s perfect for developing readers (and writers!) who are fans of magic and imagination.
Princess in Black by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale, illustrated by LeUyen Pham.
The most adorable illustrations and girl power adventures make this series another winner.
King & Kayla by Dori Hillestad Butler, illustrated by Nancy Meyers.
Who doesn’t love a gentle mystery to solve? My favorite part about this series is that Kayla’s dog, King, is the one leading the way and figuring out clues before the human characters do. It’s a fun, inventive twist and has humor and repetition to boot.
Heartwood Hotel by Kallie George, illustrated by Stephanie Graegin (2017).
A sweet and thoughtful story with tender adventure and the theme of finding one’s place and home.
Lola Levine by Monica Brown, illustrated by Angela Dominguez (2015).
The irrepressible Lola is a spunky soccer player who wants to be in the school play. I read this one quite a while ago as a library borrow, but Lola made a lasting impression.
Super Happy Party Bears by Marcie Colleen.
A tittle to dance about! The stars of this series are super happy party bears indeed, but they live in the Grumpy Woods. Not to worry though, nothing gets them down and they get others to come around as well. A lively, bright, snappy story.
Zoey and Sassafras by Asia Citro, illustrated by Marion Lindsay (2017).
Zoey follows a clue to find out that her mom secretly helps magical animals. In this story, Zoey discovers her own magical animal in need. Magic + the scientific method = a terrific combination.
Your turn! What’s one of your fave chapter books?