Olympics Minded? Pick Up a Book!

While the Tokyo Olympics of 2021 can’t draw crowds in real life, there are plenty of ways to share the thrills of world class athletes showing off their best. Extend your family’s sports attention with just the right books for these competitions, too.

Sports coverFrom Gecko Press, let’s start with Ole Könnecke’s picture book Sports, translated by Monika Smith. Illustrated with cheerful and colorful animals engaged in a variety of popular athletic possibilities, these dictionary-style explanations offer both fact and fun. Which track star do you think is most likely to bring home the gold medal?

Sports interior page

Records of the Animal World coverThe Olympic Games often are settings for new records of speed, distance, height, and other measures of physical agility and prowess.  What would athletes have to achieve to compete with the speeds, sizes, and other capabilities of other animals? Records of the Animal World, by Oldřich Růžička and illustrated by Tomáš Pernický, published by Albatros Media, gives us some answers, clearly presented in comparison graphics as well as thumbnail written descriptions.

Records interior speed

From Britannica Books, check out Andrew Pettie’s forthcoming Listified! to find all sorts of almanac-style record entries.

In the meantime, can you find your copy of What On Earth Books’ Sports Timeline Wallbook? This visual history goes back to the first Olympic Games in Ancient Greece and offers lots and lots of details across the 10 feet of chart.Sports Time Line Wall Book

The Young Cyclist's CompanionIf your child’s chosen sport involves a bicycle, Cicada Books has an essential title: The Young Cyclist’s Companion, by Peter Drinkell with illustrations by Thomas Slater, shows and tells all your child needs to know about bike care and safety.



Feeding the Young AthleteHas all this talk about athletics made you a bit hungry? Thanks to Readers to Eaters, there’s the perfect sports-aware book for that, too! Feeding the Young Athlete, by Cynthia Lair with Scott Murdoch, Ph.D., RD, offers sound and engaging advice for tweens, teens, parents, and coaches.


Enjoy your screen time at the Tokyo Olympics—and share a good book with your young sports fan, too.

Celebrate Summer with Active Reading

Howard County StoryWalk 2021

StoryWalk placement by Howard County Public Library

We have a bumper crop of summer-ready, community-friendly books this season.  A great way to share books socially is StoryWalk® installations and events.  If StoryWalk® is new to you, a good starting place to find out the what, how, and why is this website.  You can also explore Let’s Move in Libraries, featuring sample StoryWalk®  programs around North America. Here are some new and very soon forthcoming titles we think fill the bill as perfect picks for these physically and socially active book-centric events. Be sure to contact the publisher and follow StoryWalk®’s directions for receiving approval. We’ve included each publisher’s contact information with their title featured here.

Spin a Scarf of Sunshine, written by Dawn Casey and illustrated by Stila Lim, from Floris Books, invites both activity and inquisitive exploration of nature’s cycle from the arrival of a lamb through sheep sheering, spinning, and creating cloth.

The Wall and the Wild, written by Christina Dendy with illustrations by Katie Rewse, will arrive in September from Lantana. This picture book features a young gardener who discovers the need for diversity in the ecosystem when she looks beyond the little plot of she has tried to keep perfect by throwing less than perfect plantings over the wall.


Lantana worked with the Annapolis Valley Regional Library System, Nova Scotia, in 2019, so the community could enjoy a StoryWalk.

EarthIsBigEarth Is Big, coming from What on Earth and written by Steve Tomecek and illustrated by Marcos Farina, offers a variety of visual perspectives allowing comparisons and contrasts to better understand humans, animals, habitats, our planet, and even Earth’s place in the universe.

A Bouncy 1 2 3, by Sade Fadipe with illustrations by Shedrach Ayalomeh, from Cassava Republic, offers readers opportunities to explore a Nigerian village while strolling through this picture book.

The Neighborhood Surprise, written and illustrated by Sarah van Dongen and published by Tiny Owl, tells the story of a neighborhood getting together to create a surprise party for one of their own who is moving away.

Think about partnering to set up your local StoryWalk®, taking hints from these books as to relevant partner locations. Does your community have a public garden? How about a science museum? If your installation has to to be hyper-local, what about your own neighborhood? Share your StoryWalk® photos with us on Instagram and Twitter and help other communities get active while reading!

Let’s Celebrate Parents Day!

While several different countries honor parents on specific holidays around the calendar, the official United Nations’ designated Parents Day falls annually on June 1. Since our publishers come from various countries around the globe, all of which belong to the UN, we decided to take the international approach in our own celebration. Happy Parents Day to everyone who is or has one!  For the child or children who make you a parent, we have some book suggestions for them to share with you on your special day.

I Am Loved English coverNew just last month from Inhabit Media (Nunavut, Canada) is I Am Loved, a picture book by Mary and Kevin Qamaniq-Mason, with illustrations by Hwei Lim. This one provides a story of foster care and a child’s need to recognize that love comes from both his beloved and absent grandmother and his caring foster parents.  While culturally specific to Inuit values, the concepts of fostering and learning to recognize both present and absent care providers directly addresses the intent of Parents Day’s honoring of those with children. Inhabit Media provides a Resource Guide for this title here.

Real Sisters Pretend

A now classic picture book from Tilbury House Publishers (Maine, USA) celebrates adoption as a way of making a family.  Megan Dowd Lambert’s Real Sisters Pretend tells the story of an older sister explaining to her toddler sibling the veracity of their relationship, Notable seal NCSSrecalling for her how the judge made them real sisters. Beautifully evocative illustrations by Nicole Tadgell show the sisters in imaginative play as well as real world memories. This book is available in both hardcover and paperback and has won numerous awards and critical praise.

Lantana Publishing (England, UK) has an award-winning series of three picture books on the theme of parental comfort. Written by Chitra Soundar and illustrated by Poonam Mistry, You’re Safe with Me, You’ve Snug with Me, and You’re Strong with Me offer imaginative and comforting insights on parent-child bonds. The artwork is gorgeous and the stories each carry ecologically-informed subtexts through them.

What-If-Wilhelmina-spreadA parent’s many nurturing jobs include creating healthy ways to handle emotional development difficulties. From Blair Publishing (North Carolina, USA) and hot off the press What If Wilhelmina, written and illustrated by Joseph Belisle, shows how a child’s dads find ways to help her cope with all those worries about possible unfortunate outcomes when her cat, Wilhelmina, appears to have gone missing.  Like the family in this picture book, the artist author has a husband and a daughter of their own so he does, indeed, know how much Parents Day needs to be recognized and celebrated.

Two more picture books celebrating children’s views of their parents have arrived from their publishers very recently. From Gecko Press (New Zealand), A Mother Is a House, by Aurore Petit, translated from French by Daniel Hahn, offers the many ways an infant relates to a maternal parent who feeds, warms, cuddles, and plays with them. And coming soon, from Tiger Tales (USA), Baking with Daddy, by Kathryn Smith with illustrations by Seb Braun, is just right for the parent of a toddler to share. It’s filled with flaps to be lifted to show all kinds of ingredients and even a simple bread recipe to make together.

Now you have something more to look forward to discovering beyond UN’s Parents Day, too!





A Big Bouquet of Books This May

Sun and rain and all kinds of flowering plants surround us in the Northern Hemisphere during the month of May. This year seems especially bountiful in May-perfect picture books to share.

BloomAnne Booth’s Bloom, illustrated by Robyn Wilson-Owen (Tiny Owl Publishing) has been praised by The Sunday Times, a large number of other critics, and families who have discovered the positivity served up along with a compelling gardening tip: tell your plants how wonderful they are! Not only is talking to them good for gardens, it also helps to remind us that our gardens bring us pleasure and joy.


The latest from cartoonist Liniers is also winning high praise from many quarters. Wildflowers (Toon Books) celebrates imagination, children’s friendships, the magic of story, and, of course, wildflowers! This one is perfect for emerging readers and it’s also a read aloud you’ll enjoy again and again.

A Year in Our New Garden There are new editions of a couple of classic favorites available this May, too. From Gerda Muller, A Year in Our New Garden (Floris Books) combines the story of a family who plan and work in a new garden they plant after they move to a new home with gardening tips readers can use when creating and nurturing their own home gardens. Michael Garland’s A Season of Flowers (Tilbury House) was published as a picture book in 2018. In a new edition, it’s also available as a board book, allowing the very youngest readers to explore all the colorful blossoms that appear in spring, from those that poke through the snow to those that bloom as spring edges toward warmer days of summer.

Coming very soon from Tereza Němcová and Štěpánka Sekaninová, with illustrations by Magda Andresová and Linh Dao, be on the lookout for Learning about the Garden with Sleeping Beauty (Albatros Media). Combining the traditional fairytale with lots of information about gardening, this book will keep everyone exploring connections between stories and information. Take a peek:

May your May days blossom with all sorts of flowers and the many opportunities the season brings to enjoy being outdoors!

For the Love of Words

Books tell stories—both factual and imagined—and most stories need words to communicate the writer’s ideas to the reader. Words, like books, come in all shapes and sizes and can be put together in ways both traditional and creative.  Let’s celebrate words with some recent picture books about them!


Wordplay-coverLet’s start with Ivan Brunetti’s beginning reader book Wordplay (Toon Books). Told through as many frolicking images as words themselves, this offers a fine and fun introduction to compound words. Kids can impress their friends with their ability to read words with lots of letters once they know that many of those long words are really multiple words hitched together to create new ones. a-tangle-of-brungles-cover

A Tangle of Brungles, by Shobha Viswanath and illustrated by Culpeo Fox (Karadi Tales), tells a witchy good story that features collective nouns.  Discover what to call a multiplicity of cobras—and that group of witches at the heart of the story!


The California Reading Association’s Eureka Award Honor title Literally, by Patrick Skipworth with illustrations by Nicholas Stevenson (What On Earth Books), gives us a worldwide tour to show how English has borrowed some commonly used words from many places and indigenous languages.  Find out from where we borrowed “companion” and what it literally meant at its origin. How about the travels the word “potato” made, along with the popular food?


Maybe now you’re saying you’ll believe me about these word histories….i'll=believe-you-when-interior

I’ll Believe You When…, by Susan Schubert and illustrated by Raquel Bonita (Lantana Publishing), also takes us around the world. i'll-believe-you-when-coverThis time, however, we discover where and how the title idiom is phrased in other places. Each such phrase is provided in its English translation; the point here is how different languages, and cultures, rely on specific reference points even when speaking imaginatively. Idiomatic phrases can paint engaging and intriguing images in our minds’ eyes, as does the artwork here.

calvin-gets-the-last-word-coverFinally (just for now) we’ll end with a picture book told from the perspective of…a dictionary! Calvin Gets the Last Word, by Margo Sorenson with illustrations by Mike Deas (Tilbury House Publishers), features a boy in pursuit of words—and a way to find just the right one for his little brother.

All of these picture books use rich imagery to support their texts, making them excellent paths to discovering words as colorful, action-packed adventures in themselves.


Food for a Winter’s Night—Books, Too!

Food plays significant roles in many December events, from festive dinner tables to sweets to remembering to share abundance with those both cold and hungry in winter. Let’s snack on some food-themed books you’ll want to include in your end-of-the-year winter days.

Who ate my fruit coverA new board book series for English (and also for Spanish) readers from NubeOcho Books includes a pair of lift-the-flaps fun from author and illustrator CanizalesWho Ate My Cakes? and its partner Who Ate My Fruit? give lapsitters active ways to explore the unfolding stories of Cat and his disappearing pieces of food. In addition to food, these stories feature counting (up to and down from four) and animals to name.

Bread Lab

Bread Lab!, by Ben Binczewski and Bethany Econopouly, illustrated by Hayelin Choi, published by Readers To Eaters, offers a great way to discover this dynamic children’s publisher as well as guide some real homemade bread making in your kitchen. Be sure to explore the publisher’s website for more food-themed activities and information, too.

Niam coverDid you know Inhabit Media has published a kids’ cookbook? Niam! Cooking with Kids by Kerry McCluskey, and illustrated with full color photos, can make this stay-at-home holiday season a tasty treat.  The foods are all kid-friendly (as is the prep work) and yet composed of ingredients readily available in Nunavut communities—and fairly easy to find outside them, too. In addition to recipes, there’s guidance here, too, for connecting cooking to giving, making this a perfect holiday gift.

Egg and Spoon cover

Egg and Spoon, by Alexandra Tylee and illustrated by Giselle Clarkson, is an equally welcome and eye-catching kids’ cookbook from Gecko Press.  Recipes and illustrations both remind young (and older) readers that baking doesn’t have to be lockstep with traditional shapes (eclairs can be shaped like initials, or spiders, or even a mountain range!) and sometimes the best organization is by necessary tool, like this page spread featuring  “Good things to eat on sticks.”

Things on sticks

See you in the kitchen! And have a delicious holiday season!


Learning about That First Thanksgiving

12000-years-agoThis year’s Thanksgiving holiday will be marked differently from other years in many American households. It also coincides with the 400th anniversary of the colonial founding of Plymouth, in the 17th century Bay Colony of Massachusetts, credited traditionally as the site of “America’s first Thanksgiving.”

Arriving as part of the celebration of that anniversary is What On Earth Books’ The Massachusetts Chronicles, a state-specific title that has lots for Americans to read, see, and take part in building as a record, wherever you live. Cowritten by Mark Skipworth and Aquinnah Wampanoag educator Linda Coombs, this inclusive presentation of history offers all Americans #OwnVoices accounting as well as 100 moments across the past 400 years to whet young historians’ interests in how the past informs the present and future. The opening articles are presented from a Native American perspective as the colonial newcomers arrived and made clear their plans to stay. As the Chronicles unfold (and this being a What On Earth book, the events are included on a timeline, although in this case not the gatefolded kind), other events sited in Massachusetts but of interest and importance to all include slavery, abolitionism, the birth of the Industrial Revolution in the Americas, the development of the atomic bomb….and even Dr. Seuss.

In this year of pandemic when getting out and about even to collect new books can be a problem in many communities, this one comes with its own, and complete, website! Each century’s presentation also includes a YouTube playlist which you can find using its QR code on the website. Take some time this week to learn more about the place and peoples who traditionally are credited with inspiring the modern American Thanksgiving celebration.   As coauthor Linda Coombs discusses in this CBC program, what you believe you know about Native Americans and colonial Pilgrims may not square with the facts. The good thing is, The Massachusetts Chronicles can help you discover the larger story.


Talking with Joe Carriker

Author Joe CarrikerLast week we were lucky enough to catch up with the always delightful and engaging Joseph D. Carriker to talk about his latest publication. Joe has been working for years in the fields of game development and role-playing game books. He’s a leader in helping the gaming world become a more accepting realm for queer gamers. In October, his non-RPG novel Sacred Band was published in a new edition by Green Ronin Publishing. And yes, as you’ll hear in the interview here, there have been some changes since the original publication in 2017. So, come meet Joe and then get yourself his starred review-earning fantasy that offers a band of queer superheroes for both gaming and non-gaming readers! As Kirkus notes “This novel’s effective, understated worldbuilding is a treat, and the action is tight and fast-paced, but it’s the characters that really make the story exceptional.” Let’s hear more from Joe:

Once you’ve discovered Joe, you’ll be as eager as we are to read his forthcoming second novel, Shadowtide (Nisaba, 2021). You can follow Joe on Twitter @oakthorne.

Exhibiting 2020’s Silver Lining

Princess Arabella at the MuseumWhile Mylo Freeman can share a trip with Princess Arabella at the Museum, from Cassava Republic, 2020 has brought the rest of us different options. Who knew this would be a banner year to discover all sorts of museums, to visit great works of art up close, delve into the natural past, find out more about technology, and see how scientific principles work in the world and the galaxy? And yet, it is!  Both in free online opportunities and new books for kids, “getting to the museum” has never been more accessible, no matter where you live.

Take Me to MuseumsBefore we start our tour of other options, let’s look for guidance at Mary Richards’s Take Me to Museums: The Young Explorer’s Guide to Every Museum in the World, newly available in North America from Agnes & Aubrey. This combination activity book and informational package opens with an explanation of what a museum is and how museum buildings are designed for the purpose of inviting exploration of their specialized collections. Young readers can also learn about museum jobs and, of course, the variety of museum types and purposes. Arranged to allow kids to take notes and make drawings of what they see, you can even use this guidebook as you explore virtual museums during this time of travel restrictions and building closures.

Nature Timeline

Bugs! interiorWhat On Earth Books has worked with New York’s American Museum of Natural History in the creation of some of their informational titles. You can create your own natural history gallery by mounting the 10 feet of gatefold pages from Nature Timeline Posterbook as a “gallery” exhibit. If you are enjoying museum books in a smaller space, check out the four-volume collection of Dinosaurs! Bugs! Plants! and Mammals!, each of which includes heavily illustrated introductions to the title subject matter as a
museum curator would discuss it with a young audience—plus those wonderful gatefolded pages of the “museum’s” contents is bound into the back.

Do museums make you think about world-class artworks on display?  Have fun with Greg and Amy Newbold’s series from Tilbury House.  Available in paperback as well as hardcover editions, each of If da Vinci Painted a Dinosaur, If Picasso Painted a Snowman, and If Monet Painted a Monster is stuffed with both wit and wisdom about painting and painters from around the world and through time. This is a world-class introduction to painterly styles and each volume includes biographies of every artist included in the title. Get out your own paint set and try your hand at imagining how your favorite painter might encourage you to see something they never painted!

Combine your museum book explorations with some real-time gallery surfing online, too. Click through to “19 immersive museum exhibits you can visit from your couch” and start looking at art, natural history, and cultural collections, as well as instructive videos that act as a curator’s exhibit choices might if you were visiting in person.

We may be staying in place for months to come, but we can still explore great museums around the world!


Arriving Multilingually: Celebrating World Kid Lit Month, Part 2

In Part 1 of our celebration of World Kid Lit Month, we focused on the delights translators bring English readers by providing access to books written in many other languages. Here we turn to books published simultaneously into a multilingual world by publishers who straddle cultures and help readers find ways to cross language fences with access to the same story.

Cicada Books reaches from the United Kingdom to other countries and languages with richly illustrated offerings that introduce readers to new ways of seeing the world. Underground, by Uijung Kim who lives and makes art in the United States and comes originally from South Korea, is available in different editions to help homebodies around the globe to discover the subway systems of many cities. Kim’s informative and engaging collection of system maps, rolling stock, and station designs gives us exposure to design elements and signage that reflect the home countries of each rail system. Readers can learn how to make sense of these signs without knowing how the words actually might sound or specifically mean. Learn to apply your knowledge of public transit directions and advisories internationally!

Inhabit Media allows readers to discover their books in multiple languages: English, sometimes in French, and always in their own native Inuktitut. In keeping with the season, enjoy When Pumpkins Fly, by Margaret Lawrence who, along with Amanda Sandland, also provides illustrations of Halloween preparations we can “read” in any language. And if you’re looking for costume inspiration, join this story time podcast for pointers.

Encourage kids to start working on their own stories during World Kid Lit Month, too! Agnes & Aubrey designer Mary Richards has put together a trio of notebooks that can prompt recording of adventures outdoors, to museums, and on holidays away from home. While the weather is still fairly good, start with Take Me Outdoors. You can download activity pages on the site as well.

Child’s Play Books also has an October gift for multilingual readers. Carol Thompson’s board book series “Little Movers” arrives with English and Spanish texts on every page—and lots of babies and toddlers ready and willing to Climb!, Crawl!, Jump!, and Run!.

Barefoot Books’ brand new picture book A Gift for Amma: Market Day in India, written by Meera Siriram and illustrated by Mariona Cabassa, can be obtained in English and Spanish editions.  As School Library Journal notes in their starred review, this is an “excellent story for young readers to enhance their understanding of color and an aspect of traditional Indian culture.” You can tun in to hear Matthew Winner interview the author on The Children’s Book Podcast,

Recognize the name of Jon Klassen, the author, illustrator, and animator who has won both the Caldecott Medal and the Kate Greenaway Medal?  Of course, you do! Did you know he is now publishing with Spanish publisher NubeOcho Books and that you can acquire both Yo Quiero Mi Sombrero and This Is Not My Hat in their editions? Hats off to that!