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.

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!

 

Happy Grandparents’ Day!

Grandparents’ Day seems extra special this year as so many of our families reach out across households to keep in touch when we can’t touch. Sharing books across generations can provide emotional comfort, whether you hold story time in the relative safety of outdoors or through video chats across the miles. If you are lucky enough to have a grandmother and/or grandfather at home with you, you might want to honor Grandparents’ Day by asking them to tell you and your children a family story of their own.

To prime the pump of storytelling, here are some published ones to get your homegrown story hour started:

I’ll Be the Water, by Alec Aspinwall and illustrated by Nicole Wong, is new from Tilbury House. Right now you can download a NetGalley advance copy.  This is a picture book that crosses generations to tell the story of life changes and family memories, its golden palette of images as comforting as Grandpa’s assurances:

“Think of it this way,” Grandpa says. “Today, you and I are like two fish swimming together in this lake. When I die, things will be different. I won’t be a fish anymore, but I’ll become something even better. My love will be like the water in the lake. You might think I’m not with you, but we’ll be closer than ever because you’ll be surrounded by my love.”

Mango Abuela and MeAward-winning children’s author Meg Medina’s Mango, Abuela, and Me can be enjoyed in its fullest with Live Oak Media’s read-along version in which narrators Alisa, Rosi, and Brian Amador share this sweet story of “connecting across a generational and language divide.” As Live Oak Media reliably does, there is a musical bed, as well as well delivered Spanish, to support the telling of a grandmother and grandchild who don’t share a common spoken language. The illustrations by Angela Dominguez, packaged with the read-along recording, further enhance this presentation.

Lapsitting readers can explore Tiger Tales Books’ Pancakes with Grandma, a board book illustrated by Seb Braun with flaps to lift—and a simple pancake recipe for the ambitious adult willing to head to the kitchen with the toddler in the lead.

Fishing with GrandmaWhile making pancakes is a great way to share an activity with a grandparent, Inhabit  Media’s Fishing with Grandma, written by Susan Avingaq and Maren Vsetula and illustrated by Charlene Chua, shows picture book readers of all ages a customary alternative activity for families in an Inuit community.

 

 

A Fun ABCSometimes geographic distance, as well as the current need for social distance, makes a visit with a grandparent an undertaking of travel and crossing cultures. Cassava Republic’s alphabet book A Fun ABC, by Sade Fedipe and Shedrach Ayalomeh,, takes readers along with Adanah as she goes to visit her grandfather in Modakeke, Nigeria. Beautifully painted scenes and a rhyming text invite lots of exploration and sharing possibilities for other words that begin with each letter featured on its own page spread.

Independent readers who enjoy solving puzzles and have a sense of humor, too, can discover Floris Books’ junior detective series by David Macphail. The titles in “Top-secret Grandad and Me” series include young Jay Patel, son of a disappeared magician, who joins forces with his departed grandfather, a ghost, to solve local mysteries. Yes, these are every bit as much fun as the set up!

However you’re celebrating Grandparents’ Day, pack along a book. And remember to ask for family stories, too!

In Translation: Celebrating World Kid Lit Month, Part 1

Migrants spread 1September is a time to celebrate how diverse and welcoming children’s book exploration proves to be. As we open the doors to World Kid Lit Month, we particularly want to focus attention on the work of translators who help make international reading experiences possible.

Translation, like writing and illustration, is an art in itself.  When we provide children (and adults) with stories and information that come from languages other than our own, we make the whole world a little wider and a little more welcoming to readers as well as creators. This holds true when we can have access to folk tales and other traditional stories from cultures beyond our own and it’s also true when we can read new and imaginative work that only just became a book somewhere else in the world.

Gecko Press, which is at home itself in New Zealand, shares a plethora of children’s books with English language readers who might not be able to enjoy them without these excellent translations. Pulling from contemporary catalogs in various European countries, Gecko Press always has something new, fun, and often insight-provoking to share with English language readers. Rosa Lagercrantz writes early chapter books in Swedish and thanks to Julia Marshall, the translator, English language reading kids have come to love her series featuring Dani, a middle grade girl who leads a happy life with some realistic downs as well as ups. With illustrations by Eva Eriksson, we follow Dani through My Happy Life, My Heart Is Laughing, Where Dani Goes, Happy Follows, and All’s Happy That Ends Happy. You can also explore the stand-alone, Life According to Dani, of which Horn Book says: “The world according to Dani is one that holds disconcerting surprises, drama, humor, play, and flashes of pure joy. This excellent series shows no signs of losing steam.”

In addition to the rich catalog of translated children’s titles Gecko Press provides English language readers, check out this brand new
wordless picture book by Peruvian artist Issa Watanabe. Migrants invests trust in storytelling with images that offer both metaphor and beauty.

Migrants spread 4

Barefoot Books, at home in the United States, has begun an impressive program of including high quality translations and productions from South America and the Caribbean. From My Window, written by Otávio Júnior and illustrated by Vanina Starkoff, offers American and other English language readers an insider’s, #OwnVoices visit to a Brazilian favela, courtesy of translator Beatriz C. Dias:

What on Earth Books, already well recognized for their English language nonfiction for kids, also provides English language readers with fascinating informational books in translation. From France, you can explore all that happens Every Second, according to author and illustrator Bruni Gibert, and thanks to translator Patrick Skipworth.

Lantana Publishing and Tiny Owl Books, both at home in the United Kingdom, have rich translation programs. From Lantana, English language readers can discover Polish author and illustrator Pawel Pawlak’s Oscar Seeks a Friend thanks to Antonia Lloyd-Jones’s translation. School Library Journal calls this picture book a delightfully unique and heartwarming story about friendship.” It’s also an entrancing exhibit of unusual and delightful images that appeal up and down the age spectrum. Find out more about the translator’s work here.

From Tiny Owl Publishing, English language readers can discover both Persian classics and new and original picture book stories in translation.  Felix After the Rain, written and illustrated by Dunja Jogan, comes to English language readers from Slovenian, thanks to the translation provided by Olivia Hellewell. This picture book is particularly fitting for our current season with its mixture of uncertainty and relief as we experience, with Felix, feelings of potential happiness after a time of sadness.

Need even more ideas to get you going in an exploration of translated gems for your children?  Dive in!