Category Archives: picture books for pairing

picture books for pairing: me & mama + saturday

I haven’t published a “picture books for pairing post” in so long! Here’s one showcasing two picture books I couldn’t help but envision together in a storytime or stack.

They both are about mothers and daughters. They both are about spending time together and the bond between them being their center. They both are about coping when things don’t go as planned. They both have totally distinct styles but are both utterly beautiful.

 

Me & Mama by Cozbi A. Cabrera (2020). 

This picture book is full of paintings as evocative as the accompanying words. It is full of moments. Full of details in the text and details in the art like flowers, curtains, wallpaper, the textures of a home. Full of objects and observations the narrator notices about her day, her day spent with her mama—her constant.

It exudes togetherness and love in the simplest things: a morning, an oatmeal breakfast, their rain boots, their toothbrushes, a walk in the rain. And when there is a mishap, a cup breaks, that is perfectly okay because the narrator is with her mama. And the book ends with her knowing that she’s always with her, a soothing, steady balm.

 

 

“…I want to be everywhere Mama is.”

 

 

 

Saturday by Oge Mora (2019).

This picture book features vibrantly exuberant pastel collage art, energetic language, and a mother-child relationship that is honest and connected and full of love. It is also about a particular day—Saturday!—that has a very particular and special, splendid routine, a routine that on this Saturday has one big mishap, and then more to follow.

But this story embodies resilience. Because with each mishap, with each potential ruined outing, mother and Ava keep on and bounce back and come up with creative solutions. Why? Because they have each other. And that is the most special, splendid thing there is. It’s all they need.

 

 

 

“Saturday was the day they cherished.”

 

 

 

You may also want to check out the collage card craft I made for Thank You, Omu!, also by Oge Mora.

 

 

 

 

 

 

four 2020 picture books on raising your voice + giveaway for educators

These four non-fiction picture books, all published this year, showcase incredible people in history—and some young people today—who raised their voices to create change.

Shirley Chisholm is a Verb! written by Veronica Chambers, illustrated by Rachelle Baker (2020).

This picture book is a tribute to Shirley Chisholm and her verbs, her doing, her work and guts and courage. And the way she raised her voice as part of that. In Barbados, “…her teachers taught Shirley how to SPEAK up, and they helped her understand the power of words.” In Brooklyn, she became a teacher herself.

She helped people. Stood up for people. She was part of organizing Head Start. She ran for State Assembly and won. She ran for Congress and won. In 1968, she was the first Black woman elected to Congress!

She took action upon action. She spoke up and then spoke up again. She ran for President! In doing so, Chisholm inspired so many people and paved the way for so many others.

Rachelle Baker’s bold artwork in this biography portrays the spirit of the time as well as Chisholm’s dynamism.

 

Credit:
Collection copyright © 2020 by Lindsay H. Metcalf, Keila V. Dawson, and Jeanette Bradley. Illustrations copyright © 2020 by Jeanette Bradley. Used with permission by Charlesbridge Publishing, Inc. All work used by permission of the individual authors, who control all rights. All poems copyright © 2020 by the individual authors. “Water Protector” © Joseph Bruchac.

No Voice Too Small: Fourteen Young Americans Making History edited by Lindsay H. Metcalf, Keila V. Dawson, and Jeanette Bradley, illustrated by Jeanette Bradley (2020).

This picture book is a treasure of inspiration, of poems and illustrations by kidlit creators, each featuring a young person creating change.

Some of these kids may be familiar to you, some of them may not, but every spread showcases one kid, their brief bio, a call to action, and a poem in their honor by acclaimed writers like Hena Khan, Traci Sorell, Carole Boston Weatherford, Andrea J. Loney, and Nikki Grimes.

A variety of amazing young people for readers to admire and take a cue from, 14 different journeys and issues of activism that matter to them, that matter to us all.


The Power of her Pen: The Story of Groundbreaking Journalist Ethel L. Payne  by Lesa Cline-Ransom and John Parra (2020).

This picture book captures the life of writer, fighter, and question-asker Ethel L. Payne who grew up in Chicago and “always had an ear for stories.”

Payne also had a lot of courage and persistence—when her school newspaper wouldn’t let a Black student write for it, when she worked toward social change in her neighborhood, when she set her sights on traveling the world as a journalist.

All that courage and persistence landed Payne in the press room of the White House asking important questions as “First Lady of the Black Press.” She documented history—and she was part of it—pushing for civil rights, for answers, and for change.

This non-fiction account is complemented by John Parra’s unmistakable illustrations full of color, texture, and symbols.

 

Lift as You Climb: The Story of Ella Baker by Patricia Hruby Powell and R. Gregory Christie (2020).

This picture book profiles Ella Baker, who took it to heart when her mother told her: “Lift as you climb.”

As a child, Ella Baker looked after neighbor kids and worked on the farm where her grandparents had been enslaved. She worked hard in school at her studies and as a waitress to pay for those studies. She moved to New York City where she worked hard for the NAACP, for the rights of Black Americans.

She worked for voting rights, always listening to people, always lifting her voice for justice, and always lifting as she climbed.

R. Gregory  Christie’s art is extraordinary in this book, as always: technicolor backgrounds, captivating compositions, and portraits that pop off the page.

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Thanks to Penguin Young Readers and Charlesbridge, I’m giving away two picture books—if you’re a a teacher or librarian, enter below to win a copy of SHIRLEY CHISHOLM IS A VERB and NO VOICE TOO SMALL below! (US only.)

 

 

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picture books about mail: a guest post from The Picture Book Club

thepicturebookclub_logo_realstampI’m super excited that YiLing Chen-Josephson from The Picture Book Club is here to share picture books about mail. It’s a fitting post because the subscription service is all about two wonderful things: books and mail!

YiLing, take it away!

 

There has never been a time in my life when I haven’t loved mail.  I can still remember what day of the week each of the family’s magazine subscriptions would arrive, and the names of all the companies — many long since shuttered — whose catalogs I would pore over.  As I got older and started to write and receive letters of my own, the prospect of mail took on a whole new richness of anticipation.

Even now, with so many communication options available to us, I love the mail.  Especially now, in this age of instant gratification, I feel like there’s something important about having to wait for something to arrive.  Part of the impetus of The Picture Book Club was to create a gift that would unfurl over time and that would arrive, of course, through the mail.
 
I’m thrilled that Danielle has asked me to share a few of my favorite picture books about mail.
 
 
postmouseMr. Postmouse’s Rounds by Marianne Dubuc (2015).
If there’s one thing (besides mail and picture books, of course) that I’m a sucker for it’s intricately-imagined drawings of animals’ homes.  This book had me at hello.

 

 

 

 

 

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A Letter to Amy by Ezra Jack Keats (1969).
Peter decides to write a letter to his friend Amy to invite her to his birthday party because it will be more special than asking her in person.  Keats’s nuanced exploration of the joys and challenges of being 7 is a thing of beauty.  
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 jolly-postman
 The Jolly Postman or Other People’s Letters by Janet and Allan Ahlberg (1986).
The fun of this book, which details the correspondence received by familiar nursery rhyme characters, is that actual envelopes are affixed to its pages.   Open them to find letters, postcards, catalogs, and gifts!
 
 

 

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gardener
 The Gardener by Sarah Stewart, pictures by David Small (1996).
This touching story of a Depression-era girl who is sent to live with her uncle in the city is told entirely through her letters home.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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post-office-book
The Post Office Book by Gail Gibbons (1982).
A cool, detailed look at the inner workings of the USPS from Gail Gibbons, a master of the non-fiction picture book.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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letter-for-leoA Letter for Leo by Sergio Ruzzier (2014).
Leo is a mailman who longs to one day receive a letter of his own.  A sweet story about loneliness and friendship, accompanied by Ruzzier’s typically hypnotic illustrations.
 
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Katie Morag Delivers the Mail by Mairi Hedderwick (1984).
A lovely evocation of life on a tiny Scottish island.

 

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YiLing Chen-Josephson reads hundreds of picture books every month.  Her favorites make their way to other families via The Picture Book Club, the subscription service she runs.  The Picture Book Club offers completely customizable subscriptions as well as themed packages such as Around the World in 12 Books and the Big Sibling Book Bundle.  Before launching The Picture Book Club, YiLing worked as a writer, an editor, and a lawyer.  She lives in NYC with her family and many, many books.

 

the-picture-book-club-discount

This Picture Book Life readers get $5 off any purchase at The Picture Book Club with the code, “Dd.” Hooray!

 

 

knock your socks off non-fiction picture books about the natural world + giveaways

I love the kind of non-fiction picture books that make you cry. But also the kind that inform and dazzle. Here are a few of those about the natural world that will enlighten, enchant, and knock those socks right off!

 

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Mad About Monkeys (2015) and Smart about Sharks (2016) by Owen Davey.

I adored the first book and the follow up. Each of these is a compendium on its subject told and illustrated in fascinating ways; both include information about challenges facing each species. I can’t recommend this pair highly enough.

 

What will knock your socks off? The combination of stylish design and spellbinding information.

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disgustingcrittersThe Disgusting Critters series by Elise Gravel (2016).

Rats and lice have never been so charming. Each narrator introduces you to one critter-kind by way of hilarious spreads with at least one attribute to learn and at least one joke to laugh at (from the critter herself). Not to mention, the art is bold, vivid, and engaging. What better way to learn about the creatures who’ve been relegated to repulsive, but are anything but boring.

 

What will knock your socks off? The concept and humor.

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A Beauty Collected by Rachel Garahan (2016).

A beauty indeed. This is an ABC, from aloe to bougainvillea to coconut and beyond. Each page has exquisite photos of elements of the natural world, some familiar, some perhaps new additions to a child’s vocabulary. But this is a book for any age to bask in the amazing stuff of nature told in lovely rhyme.

 

 

 

What will knock your socks off? Those photos. 

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9781847806475The Wonder Garden by Jenny Broom and Kristjana S. Williams (2015).

The Wonder Garden showcases extraordinary flora and fauna on Earth: five amazing habitats and 80 of the incredible animals that live there.

 

 

 

What will knock your socks off? The technicolor illustrations. 

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Professor Astro Cat’s Frontiers of Space by Dominic Walliman and Ben Newman (2013).

I definitely want an Astronaut-Cat-Professor teaching me about space and stars and the speed of light. Don’t you? Inventive and overall stunning, this is the book about the universe to own.

 

 

 

 

What will knock your socks off? Having Professor Astro Cat as your guide. 

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And now, two non-fiction giveaways for you! First up, Mad About Monkeys and Smart About Sharks by Owen Davey, courtesy of Flying Eye Books! One winner gets the set!

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And a set of 6 from Elise Gravel’s Disgusting Critters series, the ones pictured here, thanks to Tundra Books. One winner gets all six paperbacks!disgusting-critters-giveaway

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fifteen fresh and first-rate fairy tales, folk tales, myths, and more

I’ve been wanting to put together a list of recent (published in the last couple of years) picture books that fall into the fairy tale, folk tale, fable, or myth categories and are also first-rate. And here it is!

 

FAIRY TALESthe-night-gardener-fan-brothers

The Night Gardener by The Fan Brothers. Grimloch Lane is forever changed by the gardener who shapes trees into whimsical animals overnight. And so is young William.

 

bloom-picture-book

Bloom by Doreen Cronin and David Small. An unusual fairy, a girl, a kingdom in disrepair, and mud. This tale tells us: “…there is no such thing as an ordinary girl” and that magic can be found in the most commonplace materials and in the willingness to be open and work hard.

 

the-only-child-book

The Only Child by Guojing. Wordless with expressive drawings and lots of wonder, this reminds me of the kind of story a child might invent for herself or dream about.

 

 

little-red-bethan-woollvin

Little Red by Bethan Woollvin. I’ve talked about this retelling’s A+ qualities before.

 

the-tea-party-in-the-woods

The Tea Party in the Woods by Akiko Miyakashi. A contemporary fairy tale complete with a girl’s trek through the woods to her grandmother’s house. But the animal characters aren’t scary in this one—on the contrary, they’re magical, welcoming, and have plenty of pie to share.

 

 

the-song-of-delphine

The Song of Delphnie by Kenneth Kraegel. A bit of a Cinderella in the savannah story, Delphine the palace servant’s singing attracts giraffes to her window each night. It also brings her freedom.

 

fairy-tales-for-little-folks

Fairy Tales For Little Folks illustrated by folk artist, Will Moses. Five familiar tales with fun to pore over illustrations.

 

ugly-dumpling-picture-book

The Ugly Dumpling by Stephanie Campisi, illustrated by Shahar Kober. A dim sum restaurant take on “The Ugly Duckling” that’s substantial and sweet! (See Bonnie from Thirsty for Tea‘s recipe from my original post on the book here.)

 

TALL TALES

marvelous-cornelius

Marvelous Cornelius: Hurricane Katrina and the Spirit of New Orleans by Phil Bidner, illustrated by Jake Parra. The inspiring story of a large-spirited person who cleaned the city with purpose and pizazz before the storm and helped piece it together after.

 

abukchas-shoes

Abukacha’s Shoes by Tamar Tessler. The quirky collage illustrations really shine in this passed down folktale about a man whose discarded giant shoes always return to him. It’s special in part because the historical photos included are of the author/illustrator’s family members who perished in the holocaust as a way to honor their memories.

 

FABLESthe-tiger-who-would-be-king

The Tiger Who Would be King by James Thurber, illustrated by Joohee Yoon. This fable features a tiger who’s thirsty for power at any cost. It’s boldly illustrated and doesn’t shy away from vivid and violent (though stylized) depictions to make its point about the futility of contests and war.

 

louis-king-of-the-sheep

Louis I, King of the Sheep by Olivier Tallec. A lighter take on the lure of power. A paper crown blows onto Louis the sheep’s head while going directly to his head.

 

tokyo-digs-a-garden

Tokyo Digs a Garden by Jon-Erik Lappano and Kellen Hatanaka. An environmental fable/fairy tale about cities and nature and how to balance both. Also, magic beans. (I interviewed both author and illustrator here.)

 

 

MYTHS

echo-echo-marilyn-singer

Echo Echo: Reverso Poems about Greek Myths by Marilyn Singer, illustrated by Josée Masse. This series of poem-pairs is quite a feat! The first tells the story from one character’s perspective and the next reverses the lines to tell the story from the other’s.

 

from-wolf-to-woof

From Wolf to Woof: The Story of Dogs by Hudson Talbott. A “myth of origin” (based on research) about how wolves were tamed, developed a symbiotic relationship with humans, and became the dogs we know and love today.

 

 

Your turn! Any recently published fairy tales, folk tales, myths, or legends to add to this list?