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!


Pet (Book Collection) Giveaway!

Pet books giveaway

Fact, fiction, fantasy—all about pets…and we’re giving away more than half a dozen to the commenter who explains best how they are going to use them to promote responsible pet ownership in children’s lives.

The Dog PatrolThe Dog Patrol, by Rob Laidlaw and published by Pajama Press, has collected a pack of positive reviews. School Library Journal’s verdict is “Dog lovers will relish the rich detail and extensive photography in this engaging guide to canine care and advocacy.” Our verdict is this is the perfect choice for young readers who really want to do right by their new dog.  A peek at the teacher’s guide from the publisher will give you a good indication of the ways you might want to share this one.

What if the pet in your young reader’s life is feline rather than canine? Also from Pajama Press, Our New Kittens, by Theo Heras with warm, colorful illustrations by Alice Carter, takes a picture book approach Our New Kittens to providing “a good way to inform young children of the emotional and behavioral aspects, plus accountability, of what pet ownership entails,” as CM: The Canadian Review of Materials notes in its review. If picture books are your particular interest when it comes to sharing information about caring for a baby pet, you’ll be delighted to find we’re including Pajama Press’ My Puppy Patch, by Heras and Carter, too.

kamik-takes-the-leadAnother dog-themed picture book in this collection of pet books is the final episode in Inhabit Media’s stories about the sled dog Kamik.  In Kamik Takes the Lead, by Darryl Baker and illustrated by Ali Hinch, the puppy we first met four books ago is now preparing, with his human Jake, to run in his first dog race. The publisher notes, “Building on the dog-training practices outlined in Kamik Joins the Pack, Arviat, Nunavut, author and dog musher Darryl Baker shares with young readers the basic information needed to prepare a dog team for a race.”

Peachtree Publishing’s take on introducing picture book readers to information about dogs Madeline Finn and the Shelter Dognow includes Madeline Finn and the Shelter Dog, by author and illustrator Lisa Papp.  This is the second title the publisher and creator have dedicated to showing the working lives of both therapy dogs and the children who give back to them. Explore the activities Peachtree has developed for them here.

All these dog-centric books underscore how many varieties of dogs, and dog personalities there are. That’s celebrated in full by Child’s Play with the picture book Milo and Monty, written and illustrated by Roxana de Rond.

Maybe the pet your young reader has in mind is bigger than a dog?  Also included in our prize pack are three volumes of “Pony Camp Diaries,” published by Tiger Tales. Megan and Mischief, Penny and Prince, and Chloe and Cookie, written by Kelly McKain, are chapter books for the equine-inclined.  The first pair of the three noted in the assortment are illustrated by Mandy Stanley while the third one includes a brilliant photograph of pony and girl.

Maybe your young reader can have a pony for a pet. However, everyone will recognize that the final book in our prize pack is sheer and delightful fantasy. From NubeOcho and written by José Carlos Andrés, illustrated by Ana Sanfelippo, and translated by Ben Dawlatly, Adopting a Dinosaur introduces us to some clever parents who know just how to respond to their child’s request for a pet dinosaur. “Humorous without a trace of snark, this Spanish import hatches just right,” says Kirkus Reviews.

What would you do with a pack of puppies, some kittens and ponies, and an adoptable dinosaur? Tell us in the comment section below by 26th August—which just happens to be National Dog Day.

Book Lovers Day for Middle Grade and Teen Readers

We’re guessing that if you are reading this post, you indeed are a book lover! How many young book lovers do you know?  We hope you’ll share these recent and forthcoming books to love.  Show your tween and teen book lover some book love today!

Otherwhere EmporiumSeries can be highly attractive to the book lover, whether they are in the wild or in a library or bookshop.  Coming soon from Floris Books is the conclusion to a fantasy trilogy from Ross MacKenzie: The Otherwhere Emporium wraps up the adventures begun in The Nowhere Emporium, which won the Blue Peter Book Award for Best Book in 2016, and followed by The Elsewhere Emporium.

A long-running middle grade series by Wendelin Van Draanen is now available in almost its entirety in dramatized Sammy Keyes and the Power of Justice Jack audiobookaudiobook format, thanks to Live Oak Media. Sammy Keyes has adventures aplenty and takes on solving mysteries at home and well beyond. Narrator Tara Sands won AudioFile Magazine’s Earphones Award for her recreation of our heroine in Sammy Keyes and the Power of Justice Jack. Hand your young book lover a pair of headphones and let them head to the local online audiobook collection at your library or bookshop.

Pajama Press and author Colleen Nelson have followed up last year’s delightful middle grade novel Harvey Comes Home with a new adventure featuring our favorite West Highland Terrier.  Come along to find out how Harvey Holds His Own, which is already collecting great reviews.

And speaking of great reviews and a tween book lover’s treasure, be sure you gift your local young reader with Michelle Kadarusman’s Music for Tigers, also published by Pajama Press. Here’s an #OwnVoices choice featuring Indonesia, a part of the world young book lovers might meet only infrequently.

Hidden StarTwo more #OwnVoices novels for your young book lover come from Cassava Republic and from Kube Publishing. From the former, The Hidden Star, by K. Sello Duiker, takes us into a township on the edge of Johannesburg, South Africa, and a collection of kids with whom your young book lover will be able to relate readily. The latter has given teen readers the opportunity to read She Wore Read Trainers, by Na’ima B. Robert. In fact, if you follow the link at the title, you’ll get to start reading it right away.

Peachtree Publishing also offers young (and not so young) book lovers the opportunity to take a peek inside a forthcoming book we’re all likely to love. The Candy Mafia, by Lavie Tidhar, with illustrations by Daniel Duncan, starts right at the link under the title.

Does your book lover have a soft spot for graphic novels?  Delight them with Gecko Press’ brand new The Inkberg Enigma, by Jonathan King.  One of the two main characters here is himself a book lover. And when he meets a camera-loving new friend, the two stumble onto…but wait, read it for yourself!

And finally, we’ll circle back to Floris Books and J. A. Henderson’s teen novel It’s Only the End of the World. This one’s for the young book lover in your life who is a fan of snark—oops, irony—and plots where thrills meet slapstick. That is, as the publisher says, “like Alex Rider, just with more sarcasm and less patience.”

Go love a book and share it with the tween and teen book lover in your life.

Celebrate International Friendship Day with a Book—and a Friend, of Course!

When the United Nations first proclaimed July 30 as International Day of Friendship, the idea was to shine a spotlight on how “friendship between peoples, countries, cultures and individuals can inspire peace efforts and build bridges between communities.”  Nine years on, we certainly want to celebrate friendship’s power in today’s world.

If you can visit a library or a bookstore, these are great choices to help you help a friend to celebrate. If you are in quarantine this year, start making a list of books to enjoy when you can get out and about again. In any case, we want to bring some friendship into your reading life.

My Panda Sweater interiorIn keeping with both the theme of friendship and the international aspects of the United Nations, French author Gilles Baum’s My Panda Sweater, published by Barefoot Books, is illustrated by Barroux, who has lived in France, Morocco, the United States, and Canada.  The Youth Services Book Review describes this picture book: “In this sweet story, a little girl not only shares a beloved piece of clothing, but her compassion and friendship as well.”

Princess Arabella and the Giant Cake

Cassava Republic publishes in Nigeria and the United Kingdom, so Princess Arabella and the Giant Cake also arrives with international roots as well as a story about friendship in action. Dutch author illustrator Mylo Freeman’s eponymous princess and her royal friends spend this adventure in the series trying to bake the best cake for Granny’s birthday. The United Kingdom’s BookTrust calls this a “joyful, multi-ethnic tale in the Princess Arabella series, with vibrant illustrations.” Plus cake!

Hedgehog and Rabbit The Scary WindSeries books for kids are another way of making friends inside of books. The Junior Library Guild Erizo y conejoselected Pablo Albo’s Hedgehog and Rabbit: The Scary Wind, illustrated by Gomez, and published in both Spanish and English editions by NubeOcho, of Spain. In this picture book episode, the friends have to face something fearful together. Can you guess what it might be?

Polish author illustrator Pawel Pawlak’s Oscar Seeks a Friend, published by Lantana and translated to English by Antonia Lloyd-Jones, is a picture book for older as well as very young book lovers. When two lonely beings find each other, a “delightfully unique and heartwarming story about friendship” follows, as School Library Journal notes.

Oscar Seeks a Friend

Manga Classics Tom SawyerHow about an American story of friendship retold with a stylistic twist from Asia? Dip into Manga Classics’ version of Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, adapted (gently) by Crystal S. Chan and with full manga art treatment by Kuma Chan. Tom and his friends Huck Finn and Becky Thatcher get into and out of scrapes minor and major. If you haven’t visited these pals for a while yourself, the story might hold some surprises for the 21st century reader.

Considerably older than the story of Tom Sawyer is that of the unusual friendship between a monkey and a crocodile. Tiny Owl Books has published Under the Great Plum Tree, a new adaptation of this fable from the ancient Indian Panchatantra, which dates back more than two thousand years! In this picture book version by Indian author Sufiya Ahmed, with lovely and colorful illustrations by Iranian artist Reza Dalvand, themes of friendship and trust are explored accessibly, another fine inspiration for this year’s International Day of Friendship. As eight-year-old Liam, who reviewed this one for Kids Bookbuzz notes, “The story shows what true friendship is all about.”