Let’s Explore Architecture

While the official Architecture Day comes only once a year, everyone in the world makes use of architecture every day. Unlike other everyday things like food and clothing, we sometimes forget that shelters and other buildings don’t just “happen”: they are designed and built and even as we use them, we change them.

Whether we are inside a building or outside and experiencing them from a sidewalk, street, or landing airplane, there’s a lot to discover and there are great books to help us uncover the art of architecture.

Atlas of Amazing ArchitectureNew from Cicada Books, let’s start by dipping into Atlas of Amazing Architecture: The most incredible buildings you’ve (probably) never heard of, written and illustrated by Peter Allan. International in scope and containing buildings designed and used for an equally amazing range of purposes, this guide also explores architectural works—and construction methods—across different eras. Imagine an apartment building designed and built with no straight lines! Or a 1600-year-old Chinese temple built more than 100 feet off the ground and tied to the side of a cliff! Ever hear of monolithic architecture? That means that the entire building is created from a single piece of material, such as a carved rock. After touring the architectural works in this book, explore your own home, school, and other buildings you visit to discover how they show evidence of architectural reasons and decisions.

Sometimes a beautifully designed building gains aspects of its visual beauty from architectural Immigrant Architectchoices made for practical reasons. Tilbury House Publishers’ Immigrant Architect, by Berta de Miguel and Kent Diebolt, with award-winning illustrations by Virginia Lorente, introduces us to Rafael Gustavino, Sr., and his son, Rafael Gustavino, Jr. Bringing knowledge of the fireproofing capacity of bricks and tiles from Spain to America, they designed gorgeous buildings in many cities, with their hallmark colorfully tiled vaulted ceilings lending an air of space and a practical insulation againt the spread of fire and disaster.

For a broader perspective of architecture in action and mysteriously complex building methods from history, check out this pair of 360 Degree-imprint books from Tiger Tales Books. In Focus: Cities, created by Libby Walden, is a giant-sized volume depicting all aspects of life in 10 of the world’s best recognized cities, including the architectural styles that support that recognition. Find out how the cultures in each of these cities developed and interact with their built environment.  Then explore some of the architectural monuments of the ancient world in Wonders of the World, written by Isabel Otter with illustrations by Margaux Carpenter of such amazing buildings as the Egyptian Pyramids and the more recently constructed, and still quite old, Taj Mahal.

Want to find out more about the building techniques used to make the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World? Each of these wonders is a different kind of architecture, including monuments, temples, and even gardens. Right now you can download an e-galley of Albatros Media’s How the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World Were Built. Author and illustrator Ludmila Henkova provides detailed information that is STEM-ready.

Want to explore architecture with some activities?  Download our Activity Guide – Immigrant Architect and get busy!

Immigrant Architect Children's Illustrators Award

Tyler Chin-Tanner: The Orphan King

The Orphan KingThis month A Wave Blue World  publishes The Orphan King, a graphic novel with King Arthur roots. Publisher Spotlight interviewed the creator, and publisher, Tyler Chin-Tanner, on all things related to this welcomed launch. Here’s the transcript of our interview, with a big thank you for taking time from his busy life to share! The Orphan King‘s artist is James Boyle.

PS: Hi Tyler, thanks for taking time to share The Orphan King’s background as a graphic novel which you wrote and now celebrate publishing.  Let’s start with a thumbnail of this project.

TYLER: I’ve always been a fan of the King Arthur mythology. I grew up reading the books and watching the movies, and I’m sure it’s had a profound effect on my writing style and general Tyler Chin-Tannerapproach to fiction. That being said, I didn’t immediately gravitate to the idea of writing my own King Arthur story. So much has already been said, with many incredible works out there,  I didn’t want to just rehash that material. Then one day, a scene just entered my head. A boy returning home after his training, but he’s too late. His home is destroyed, and everyone he knows is gone. That was my way in.

PS: You run your own publishing company. How did you choose James as the artist you wanted for The Orphan King?  How did the story arc develop for you as a team?

AWBW logoTYLER: Funny you should mention my publishing company, A Wave Blue World, because the very first title we published was called Adrenaline and James was the artist. We were both right out of art school and I really liked his style. Working on that project was a huge learning curve, but we made it through to a produced a really worthwhile book, even if it was a little rough around the edges. We had been working on separate projects for a little while after that, but as soon as that scene that I mentioned earlier entered my head, I knew James was the perfect artist for an Arthurian-type adventure. I reached out to him and he was really into it.

PS: Let’s discuss thematic details of The Orphan King.  Who were the female role models, from life or literature or gaming or film, you brought to the project?

TYLER: It was important to me that The Orphan King had strong female role models. The Mists of Avalon was so influential to me. Marion Zimmer Bradley wrote the book from the perspective of the female characters. Specifically, it was the character Viviane, the Lady of the Lake, that influences the creation of Lady Taleissa in our story. She’s sort of a combination of the Lady of the Lake and Merlin.

PS: The Arthurian canon, too, is, of course, political from days of yore and resonates today because social dynamics sometimes revolve instead of evolve.  How did each of you discover King Arthur in your own story-seeking lives as kids? When did these stories become important to your own storytelling energy?

TYLER: My first exposure to Arthurian canon was through The Sword in the Stone, the Disney animated feature. Then I read Mary Stewart’s trilogy; The Crystal Cave, The Hollow Hills, and The Last Enchantment. In high school, I read The Once and Future King, by T.H. White. And as noted, I’ve read The Mists of Avalon several times.

PS: Give us some details about how you perceived these legends when you first met them and now reformulate them to address current issues like toxic masculinity.

TYLER: As much as I’ve always loved the King Arthur stories, it was always the element of “birthright” that didn’t sit right with me. I get that Arthur’s birth was orchestrated by a higher power and that he received special training from Merlin. That’s how monarchies work, but it’s hardly the ideal. I mean, why should we care who his parents were? Why should anyone be impressed that he was able to pull a magic sword out of a rock? What does that have to do with ruling? So those are some of the questions we explore in The Orphan King. Yes, Kaidan (our version of Arthur) is born from a king and he receives special training. But he doesn’t just inherit his kingdom and that’s that. Instead, he’s set adrift in this land he was meant to rule. He experiences life through the eyes of the common people and has to find practical solutions to the issues that plague the land. Oh, and he’s also got a price on his head and has to solve the mystery of who overthrew the kingdom in the first place.

PS: Tyler, your company, A Wave Blue World, publishes other comics, too. Several of them clearly offer stories with good chewy political spice and/or reference legends and lore. Tell us about your aspirational audiences these will find most friendly and welcoming.

TYLER: For me, writing is about sending a message to the world. We’ve always had a very global perspective at A Wave Blue World. Stories are about breaking down borders and connecting people. That’s what we’re trying to do here. It doesn’t necessarily have to be overtly political, some are more steeped in allegory. But if we’re not at least offering some insight on who we are as a people and what we’re doing in this life, I don’t see the point.

PS: And, with the graphic novel The Orphan King out late this summer, folks will want to know if either or both of you can be invited to address interested audiences, through remote programming, at comics-friendly venues.

TYLER: Yes, absolutely! We would love to discuss this book with whoever would like to hear more. I’m not doing many in-person events quite yet, but the great thing about virtual events is that they can reach audiences no matter where they are.

Thanks, Tyler! And welcome to the world, The Orphan King!

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.

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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.

AnnapolisValley_Lantana_SW_2019

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!

Baking-with-daddy

 

 

 

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.

Wildflowers

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-interior-spread

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!

a-tangle-of-brungles-interior

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?

companion-interior-page-literally

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.

calvin-gets-the-last-word-interior

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.