Astronaut Annie Read to You by…an Astronaut! From Space!

Several months ago, we alerted you to the very exciting project Tilbury House Publishers, author Suzanne Slade, and illustrator Nicole Tadgell were quite literally launching courtesy of NASA’s Space Station Explorers Story Time from Space project.

After Astronaut Annie was published, printed, a copy of it cleaned and packed into a delivery capsule to be launched along with other supplies for the crew aboard the Space Station, we waited through a couple of launch postponements, blast off, and then the trip out into space. And then Annie had to be unwrapped, astronaut Anne McClain did some practice reading (as every good read-aloud presenter knows is important!), and then the big event happened:

Who knows where books might take you? or where you might find your own book traveling!

Picture Books Celebrating Emotional Intelligence in the Face of Adult Sadness

A recent and welcome mini-trend we’re seeing is the art of featuring children who recognize and respond appropriately to adult sadness.  Since virtually all small children do have significant adults in their lives and since all of us as humans of any age sometimes experience sadness, the real life reality is that kids do see adults who are feeling sad or, not much less frequently, even depressed. Instead of sweeping these occasions under the cultural rug of saying nothing, these picture books offer positive models for kids in such times.

Paula Knows What to Do cover

From Pajama Press, Paula Knows What to Do, by author/illustrator Sanne Dufft, gives very young readers access to the topic of parental sadness and the child who takes on the project of helping him through a tough emotional time by using her imagination.  Dufft herself is an art therapist and the story offers the opportunity to open a conversation between child and caregiver about situations like the one Daddy and Paula have encountered, a loss that leads to both grief and emotional growth.

Forthcoming from Tiny Owl is a magical realism-touched story that will touch both kids and adults luck enough to discover it.  Felix After the Rain, by Slovenian-Italian author/illustrator Dunja Jogan, has won PEN’s Translates Award for Olivia Hellewell’s work of moving the spare text from Italian so that English language readers can discover its warmth.

Lantana Publishing’s Shadow, by Lucy Christopher and illustrated with stunning art by Anastasia Suvorova, melds allegory with authenticity to present older picture book readers with the experience of parental depression.  This condition can arrive and depart, potentially adding layers of uncertainty to their children’s awareness of it.  As the American Library Association’s review journal Booklist notes in its review: 

This soft-spoken story can be anything from a simple, lovely, modern fairy tale to a stunning allegory about overcoming fear and how a parent’s depression can affect a child. Suvorova expertly incorporates stark, contrasting whites and blacks with sunset reds and oranges for her illustrations. With both words and supporting artwork, there’s a darkness that steadily creeps into the story … but the creative team skillfully lifts the story back into a place of safety and light by the end.

It’s cause for celebration indeed that children have increasing access to picture books that support their experiences with their caregivers’ demonstrative episodes of sadness.  In every case here, too, the story and the art go well beyond having instructive value. They are great books to discover even when no one is feeling blue.

The Southern Hemisphere and Beyond in World Kid Lit

This is the fourth in a series of four posts with which we ask you to join us in celebrating World

Turning to the Southern Hemisphere to explore new books for World Kid Lit Month, we have to start with Gecko Press, New Zealand’s award-winning children’s publisher.  It seems fitting, for the theme here, to give a particular shout out to the new picture book they’ve published by Ulrika Kestere, Otto Goes North. The protagonist is a ring-tailed lemur, the author/illustrator is Swedish, the journey involves heading to the Northern Lights…but wait, this book is from the Southern Hemisphere. Now that’s an homage to the power of World Kid Lit!  Joy Cowley’s classic chapter book, Snake and Lizard, with illustrations by Gavin Bishop, also from Gecko has its roots as well as its publishing credits in the Southern Hemisphere. The story, however, has universal appeal:

While NubeOcho Books is at home in Spain, their authors and illustrators come from many Spanish-speaking countries as well as some from beyond that generous assortment, too. Illustrator Ana Sanfelippo is from Argentina. You can enjoy her wok in Jose Carlos Andres picture book Adopting a Dinosaur or, in Spanish, Adoptar un dinosaurio.

The British-Iranian publisher Tiny Owl also offers kids books that cross the Equator to the Southern Hemisphere. South African illustrator Dale Blankenaar illustrated their brand new picture book by Alan Durant, a retelling of a traditional story familiar to Western readers in its Stone Soup variants. Here, in Quill Soup, the theme of villagers hesitant to help a stranger is a component along with making a meal through cooperative effort.

World Kid Lit Month is most definitely a time to overcome hesitation about meeting other cultures and stories from around the globe. We hope our four-part series has given you a big stack of possibilities for doing some world traveling of your own with your little reader.

World Kid Lit Month and the Richly Diverse Northern Hemisphere

This is the third in a series of four posts with which we ask you to join us in celebrating World Kid Lit Month (#WorldKidLit on social media).

As we continue our month-long celebration of international kids’ publishers and some of their newest books, we find the Northern Hemisphere overflowing with delights to discover. We’ve already noted quite a few in our tours of the Eastern and Western Hemispheres.  Ready for more?

Scotland’s Floris Books offers a bounty that includes board books, picture books, middle grade series and stand-alones, and some young adult titles, too. In addition to publishing Scottish authors and British illustrators, they also bring English language readers Swedish children’s book great Elsa Beskow, and the Netherlands’ Gerda Muller.  Among the newest of their Scottish novels for kids is Victoria Williamson’s The Boy with the Butterfly Mind. The Book Trust, dedicated to “Getting children reading,” praises this one as a “compelling and affecting book about acceptance, openness, mental health and the intricacy of family dynamics.”


Another much praised British publisher is Child’s Play Books. Among their board books, picture books, and sing-along titles, inclusiveness rules! You’ve probably met Clive and Rosa, a pair of toddlers each with their own series in which they pursue both gender-neutral and gender-nonconforming activities.  New in the picture book category this fall is Where Did You Go Today?, written and illustrated by Jenny Duke. No matter your family’s construction, you and your young reader will find plenty to share with the child’s eye view of a day spent outdoors.  Note, too, that Child’s Play makes some of its titles available in American Sign Language.

What On Earth Books increases its reputation both in Britain and North America with its nonfiction explorations of the natural and historical worlds. Whether you have space for a Wallbook with its giant timeline, or want to discover a corner of the natural world in the depth and breadth their Explorers series offers, you’ll want to save time and attention for the new picture books, too, like this one about how different animals’ optical worlds vary:

Kube Publishing provides us with English language children’s books reflecting Islamic and Muslim experiences.   You can find books for babies, for picture book readers, and  older fiction and nonfiction here. Instead of reflecting the point of view of an outsider in the West, Kube’s books place Islamic culture and faith at the center while also making the stories carried in the books accessible to other readers. The I Say series, for ages infant to 4, provides opportunities imagined by storyteller Noor H. Dee, with colorful and cartoony illustrations by Iput to learn “words that are loved by Allah and give your good manners a boost.”

Moving west across the Northern Hemisphere, Tiger Tales Books provides picture books aplenty for the young and a nonfiction imprint, 360 Degrees, for somewhat older children. Board books provide ways to share concepts, traditional rhymes, and seasonal moments.  A brand new picture book, Bedtime for Baby Sloth, by Danielle McLean and illustrated lovingly by Sarah Ward, offers a story both adult caregivers and little ones can appreciate while also providing lots to seek and find on every page.

Also published in the United States, by Tilbury House,  Miss Pinkeltink’s Purse  by Patty Brozo and with engaging and brightly colored illustrations by Ana Ochoa, offers picture book readers the opportunity to discover how a community works together to support a member who needs extra help. Respectful, insightful, and inspiring, this one earned commendation from the National Council for the Social Studies on their 2019 list of best trade books for young people.

So many books arriving from the Northern Hemisphere!  Fortunately, there are lots of worldwide readers to enjoy finding them.

World Kid Lit Month Picks from the Western Hemisphere

This is the second in a series of four posts with which we ask you to join us in celebrating World Kid Lit Month (#WorldKidLit on social media).

As we continue to celebrate World Kid Lit Month with a cavalcade of kids’ books from international publishers, we make our next stop in the Western Hemisphere, home to more than three dozen nations in North America, Central and South America, and the Caribbean. We can only touch on some of the rich possibilities!

Dragon Slayer coverFrom Toon Books, published in the United States, The Dragon Slayer won the 2018 Aesop Prize for children’s folklore.  This collection of Latin American folk tales by cartoonist Jaime Hernandez includes an introduction by Latin American literary and children’s literature scholar F. Isabel Campoy. It’s available in both English and Spanish language editions.
Another format for books is the audiobook and Esquivel coverpublisher Live Oak Media, another US publisher, is a frequent winner in the category of read along materials. Brian Amador’s performance of Susan Wood’s Esquivel! Space-age Sound Artist  was an Odyssey Honor Award in 2019. Be sure to view the illustrations by Duncan Tonatiuh as well as listen to the music-rich reading.
Barefoot Books, located in the US, has Here and There coverbeen reaching out to readers with culturally rich picture books and anthologies reflecting all points on the globe. In the newly arrived picture book Here and There, by Tamara Ellis Smith with illustrations by Daviddi, we meet a boy whose circumstances are not uncommon: he lives sometimes with his mother and sometimes with his father, and the two homes offer different attractions and distractions.
Inhabit Media is the Inuit owned children’s publisher in The pencil coverCanada who repeatedly brings readers everywhere stories that maintain universal appeal while also revealing specific cultural references. Among their picture books that show a typically under-documented era between European contact and modern Nunavit, The Pencil, by Susan Avingaq and illustrated by Maren Vsetula shows and tells how the arrival of new tools were folded into traditional lives. As with many of their books, Inhabit Media has made sure this one too is available in both English and Inuktitut editions.
All the World's a Poem interiorCanada’s Pajama Press provides an array of picture books and middle grade novels that have their roots in English, French, and other languages. All the World’s a Poem, by Gilles Tibo and illustrated by Manon Gauthier, then, may be the best place to start discovering them!

Grandparents Day Picks for Intergenerational Reading

Happy Grandparents Day! Whether your young readers’ grandparent(s) can be visited on a daily basis or seen in person only on rare occasions, there are books they can share that celebrate their relationship. Here are some of our recent favorites:

The Tide coverThe Tide, by Clare Helen Welsh and illustrated by Ashling Lindsay, from Tiger Tales Books, offers an honest and comforting picture book story that pairs a very young child with her elderly grandfather during their day at the beach. This is a grandparent who is becoming forgetful and the generation between him and the little girl, his daughter and her mother, explains how, like the eponymous tide, his memory ebbs and flows.

In The Runaways by Ulf Stark and illustrated by KittyThe Runaways cover Crowther, published by Gecko Press, another grandfather is featured. However, this one, along with his expeditious young grandson, plans and executes one last and glorious trip to the world outside his dull hospital room. This is a perfect picture book for older readers and Publishers Weekly‘s starred review is a just reward.

Encyclopedia of Grannies coverAlso from Gecko Press and celebrating the distaff side of grandparenthood, is the new and hilarious Encyclopedia of Grannies, conceived and illustrated by Eric Veillé. They do yoga, change their hairstyles, and fill the oversized pages with variations on dozens of very active pursuits. This would make a delightful gift for the grandmother-to-be who has a sense of humor.

Old man of the Sea coverOld Man of the Sea by Stella Elia and Weberson Santiago, just out from Lantana Publishing, shows the power and necessity of spending time together for children and grandparents to make deep emotional connections. A Visit to Grandad: An African ABC, by Sade Fadipe and A Visit to Grandad coverillustrated by Shedrach Ayalomeh, and published by Cassava Republic, shows such a get-acquainted visit as well.

Beyond picture books, grandparents have important roles in stories for older children, too. Publishing by Pajama Press next weekend, Harvey Comes Home Twitter Chat graphic for Colleen Nelsonby Colleen Nelson, with illustrations by Tara Anderson, gives middle grade readers a story of a dog and his retirement home setting, complete as it is with grandparents and younger people who visit, too. To celebrate the release of this title, Publisher Spotlight will host a Twitter chat with author Colleen Nelson on Sunday, September 15, 2019, from 2-3 pm Eastern Time!  Join us at #PajamaPressChat and ask Colleen about Westies, writing, and supporting kids looking for their next good read,

Turning to the East(ern) Hemisphere for World Kid Lit Month

This is the first in a series of four posts with which we ask you to join us in celebrating World Kid Lit Month (#WorldKidLit on social media).

German Calendar, No December coverIn German Calendar No December, from Cassava Republic Press, Sylvia Ofili and Birgit Weyhe combine talents to take us into the life a small town Nigerian girl who has become acquainted with her mother’s roots in Germany through postcards and stories. Here’s a graphic novel that depicts a boarding school story that is both universal and particular, and wholly authentic. The author, who currently lives in Sweden, grew up in a Nigerian-Hungarian household in Lagos. The artist, who is German, spent her own childhood in German Calendar, No December interior pageEast Africa. Together they show us a girl, Olivia, who grows from child to teen to young woman in search of discovering her mother’s ancestral home. This is a perfect teen book for the month’s celebration, pulling as it does from multiple Eastern Hemisphere nations and cultures while providing readers with little experience beyond North America with a clearly accessible larger world and a compelling heroine.

From India’s Karadi Tales, the Farmer Falgu picture book series has now reached four Farmer Falgu Goes Kite Flying covervolumes! Author Chitra Soundar and illustrator Kanika Nair take young readers, by turn, with Farmer Falgu as he …Goes to the Market; …Goes Kite Flying; …Goes on a Trip; and …Goes to the Kumbh Mela, which is a 2019 Children’s Book Council Best Children’s Books of the Year. Along the way, Farmer Falgu-and readers-learn about counting, planning, finding out essential information to get where we want to go, and more. After this introduction to Chitra Soundar’s storytelling, there are so many more of her books to discover, including the series, from British Lantana Publishing and gorgeously illustrated by Poonam Mistry, You’re Safe with Me; You’re Snug with Me; and the soon to be released You’re Strong with Me.

Night Windows coverAnother British publisher to get to know during World Kid Lit Month is Cicada Books which is dedicated to visually rich books that give readers information and insight as well as gorgeous art.   Among their newest titles is the picture book from Dutch artist Aart-Jan Venema, Night Windows, an excellent choice for the beginning of a school year or other time of great change and potential for anxiety about fitting in to new surroundings.

Many more rich and charming, wise and engaging books come from the Eastern Hemisphere. You’ll need much more than a week to discover the possibilities!

Errol’s Garden Is an Award Winner

Congratulations to Child’s Play International and author and illustrator Gillian Hibbs! The Junior Master Gardener Program of the American Horticultural Society has honored Errol’s Garden with the 2019 Growing Good Kids Book Award for excellence in children’s literature. Take a quick trip to the beach to join the book’s creator in her acceptance speech and then check out Errol’s Garden at your favorite kids’ book resource.

Women in Translation – Picture Book Edition!

August celebrates Women In Translation as an opportunity to discover voices and perspectives beyond the English speaking book world. When could be a better time to start this exploration than as a picture book reader?

While many of our publishers hail from different parts of the world, here we feature a trio of picture books that were written in other languages and translated to English. These represent just the tip of a lovely iceberg we have translated from other languages and from other publishers as well. Be cool: celebrate the kids’ edition of August as WITMonth:

The Visitor coverFirst up is Gecko Press’s much awarded The Visitor, written and illustrated by German Antje Damm. At 46:43 of this video archive from KidLit TV, you can meet the author and illustrator talking about this picture book with Rocco Staino.

Under the Umbrella cover

French language writer Catherine Buquet published her first picture book with Pajama Press. Under the Umbrella offers a peek into a pair of lives gladdened and changed when a gust of wind brings them together.

Inspector Cros's Emotion-O-Meter coverFrom NubeOcho, Inspector Croc’s Emotion-O-Meter is available in its original Spanish as well as English translation. Author Susanna Isern provides an accessible and entertaining guide for small readers that addresses emotions as facts of life that can be recognized and understood.

Take a trip around the world with picture books that come from other places and other languages!

Small Worlds

Summer days invite us to explore nature up close and in detail, including the small worlds of insects, bees and butterflies. All of these make fine topics for picture books as well, so pairing an outdoor reading time with observation and discovery can turn a plain afternoon into magic.  Pack your hat, a magnifying glass, and one of more of these nonfiction books. Find a shady spot for reading and then see what you can find in its vicinity to make that book a lived experience.

A Children's Book of Arctic Butterflies coverAuthor Mia Pelletier and illustrator Danny Christopher present the beautiful and informative A Children’s Guide to Arctic Butterflies, from Inhabit Media. Among the 20,000 butterfly species in the world, here are details about a dozen that live in the far North. Many of these species can also be found further south than the Arctic, so if you live in a cool climate, you may be able to spot some of them in your own environment.

Hello Bugs, What Do You Do?, illustrated by Loes Botman and Hello Bugs, What do You Do? coverpublished by Floris Books, is right-sized and focused for the very youngest entomologist. A board book with 19 pages featuring closeups of common insects like ladybugs and centipedes, the vocabulary is all about bug-based activities: wiggling, crawling, nibbling, and so on. This is an easy invitation to share those activities, so pack a small snack for your outdoor story time!

If you make your outdoor story and exploring time evening or very early World Never Sleeps covermorning, take along Tilbury House Publishers’ The World Never Sleeps, by Natalie Rompella, with illustrations by Schwartz. here’s a look at all that happens across 24 hours in a small garden, including the buzzing and flapping and web spinning of the insects who live there.  The painted illustrations include the suggested perspective here of a housecoat, who wanders through each spread to share what we readers can spot in the leaves and different degrees of light. Plenty of facts are included at the end of the book for those who have more questions. For more backyard science inspiration, and for slightly older readers, check out The Acadia Files, Book One: Summer, by Katie Coppens and illustrated by Holly Hatam.

Eye Spy cover

How do animals, including insects, see their own worlds?  Let’s turn to What On Earth Books’ Eye Spy, by Guillaume Duprat with that question. This oversized picture book shows us how our shared world appears in the differently constructed eyes of 20 different animals, including insect eyes with their multiple lenses. There is a host of information here for budding fantasy writers as well as scientists, with much to show us all about how differently shape and color and other detail appear from one creature’s eyes to the next.

Cartoonist Kevin McCloskey continues to add to his TOON Books collection of scientifically informed graphic novels for young and beginning readers.  Ants Don’t Wear Pants offers abundant facts about what they do that keeps them so busy and how the senses we share with them–like smell and touch–operate very differently in their world than in ours. This new title joins other garden story time titles from the author, including We Dig Worms and Snails Are Just My Speed.