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  • Fang-tastic Books About Dinosaurs!

    by Tricia LeMorte, Publisher Spotlight Intern

    Dinosaurs seem to have their claws on the imaginations of children—and adults—everywhere. Some people love dinosaurs as big, scary, prehistoric creatures that can teach us about what Earth was like before we were here. But, in the world of children’s books, dinosaurs tend to be cute, fun characters that you can use to tell all kinds of stories. Dinosaurs may be extinct in real life, but you can find plenty of them among the pages of these ROAR-some titles from our publishers!

    Don’t Mix Up My Dinosaur is the perfect board book for little ones who love to touch anything and everything. This Tiger Tales title by Rosmund Lloyd, illustrated by Spencer Wilson, has a rotating wheel of 5 different types of dinosaur tails and horns, all with different textures. Make sure to match the right tail to the right dino!

    If you’ve got slightly older dino fans on your hands, another great Tiger Tales title is Dinos Don’t Give Up!, written by Smriti Prsadam-Halls and illustrated by Richard Merritt. Dinah the Dinosaur is amazing at just about everything she puts her mind to. But when surfing proves to be a bit more challenging, Dinah must learn with the support of her dino friends that sometimes, what’s more important than being the best is to just keep trying—and having fun!

    What type of car would a t-rex drive? A monster truck, according to Pajama Press’s Dinos Driving! This perfect book for new readers, written by Lynn Leitch and illustrated by Scot Ritchie, imagines how all kinds of different dinosaurs would get around if they could drive, complete with adorable pictures showing off their cool rides.

    Dinos Driving front and back covers

    In some books, dinosaurs drive cars; in others, dinosaurs are the cars! Leilong’s Too Long, written by Julia Liu, illustrated by Bei Lynn, and published by Gecko Press, tells the story of Leilong the brontosaurus who also happens to act as a school bus. When his job starts to cause issues for other cars on the road, Leilong must find a new way to serve his community. Use this sweet story to teach kids that everyone has their own special gifts and talents, and that anyone can find a way to fit in!

    Leilong's Too Long cover
    Benny the Banansaurus Rex cover

    If you’re looking for more dino stories that spark the imagination, look no further than Benny the Bananasaurus Rex by Sarabeth Holden and illustrated by Emma Pedersen! In this whimsical title from Inhabit Media, the only thing Benny loves more than pretending to be a dinosaur is eating bananas. His anaana (the Inuktitut word for “mom,” which just so happens to nearly rhyme with banana) warns him that if he eats too many bananas, he may turn into one. With Benny’s wild imagination, her warning may just come true!

    If da Vinici Painted a Dinosaur cover

    If da Vinici Painted a Dinosaur fromTilbury House is the perfect title for young art lovers! This book, written by Amy Newbold and illustrated by Greg Newbold, is the perfect mix of entertaining and educational! It walks readers through various major artists from throughout history, using dinosaurs to demonstrate their art styles. It even has a space for children to create their own dinosaur artwork, and, for the most curious readers, excellent back matter on all the artists mentioned.

    LOVE: The Dinosaur cover

    For older children who love dinosaurs, we have Love: The Dinosaur, by Frédéric Brrémaud with illustrations by Federico Bertolucci, published by Magnetic Press.This book is a part of the Love series, which imagines what the day-to-day lives of ferocious predators might be like. Kids who aren’t too scared of big, angry dinosaurs will love this graphic novel! These dinos aren’t like the other ones in this roundup—they look and act more like we think actual dinosaurs did.

    We hope these books spark your imagination about dinosaurs—and maybe even teach you a thing or two along the way!

  • Publisher Spotlight at the Bologna International Children’s Book Fair

    by Ellen Myrick, Publisher Spotlight Founder

    In 2023, the Bologna International Children’s Book Fair felt alive with crowds of authors, artists, publishers, and other book-adjacent professionals surging through the halls of Bologna’s business district, its famous fiere. Each region of the world displays in its own fair pavilion, giving the five halls a loose order. Through these pavilions pass the world’s children’s publishers who come together for four days to buy and sell rights, discover new talent, learn from the many educational sessions, and celebrate the best children’s book creators and publishers.

    It had been six years since I last visited this beautiful medieval city. My routine for many years had been to attend Bologna in odd numbered years, saving the evens for the Public Library Association. On the day before I was due to leave for Bologna back in 2019, my foot got caught in a telephone line while we were doing a final walk-through of our new office space. As I crashed to the hard cement floor I thought “There goes Bologna.” And then there was the pandemic.

    Lucky me to be back in action and back at the book fair! The person standing in line next to me for the shuttle to fiere was the fabulous Betsy Bird who was covering the book fair for School Library Journal Do catch her writeup here. It always delights me when one of our Publisher Spotlight publishers surprise Betsy by bringing her favorites from Bologna to North American readers, too.

    Betsy Bird and Ellen Myrick arrive at 2023 Bologna International Children's Book Fair

    Because so many of our clients are based abroad, Bologna is an ideal place to connect in person. My first stop was to the Republic of Ireland booth where I met up with Little Island publisher Matthew Parkinson Bennett and editor Elizabeth Goldrick to talk about how their first year in North America was going. Successes include Meg Grehan’s Baby Teeth being named a Kirkus Best Book, several starred reviews, and four reviews in The New York Times Book Review. Best of all, they are bringing three authors—Dierdre Sullivan, Savage Her Reply; Patricia Forde, The Girl Who Fell to Earth; and Sam Thompson, Wolfstongue—to New York City and Boston in late September!

    The next stop was spent lurking in the French pavilion with Julia Marshall and Rachel Lawson of Gecko Press. Based in New Zealand, Gecko has carved out a special niche for bringing beautiful and fun-filled translated chapter books to North America and Julia was on the hunt! Gecko Press won Bologna’s Publisher of the Year (Oceania) in 2017, the first year that distinction was bestowed.

    Tish cover
    Tish, by Edwina Wyatt, Berbay Books

    Keeping with the southern hemisphere theme, I next visited the Australia booth to meet Alexandra Yatomi-Clarke and Nancy Consecu of Berbay Publishing for the first time in person. There’s always that moment of knowing you know them and the delight of finally seeing more than just the top third Zoom provides! Berbay has been in North America for two years now and has had books selected by Junior Library Guild including my favorite Tish by Edwina Wyatt.

    Translator and book guru Lawrence Schimel took a few moments from his busy Bologna schedule to talk with me about Letters in Charcoal, and his work on that forthcoming book from Lantana Publishing by Irene Vasco with illustrations by Juan Palomino. Lantana has a special way with stories from places we don’t often hear about in North America, and this story of a child learning to read in remote Colombia will make young readers think and feel. I also caught up with Alice Curry, Lantana’s publisher, and we talked about how Lantana’s original mission with the tagline “kids deserve to see themselves in the books they read” has evolved as more publishers are focusing on diverse and inclusive books. Lantana is broadening their original mission, and kids are clearly, and rightfully, the winners. Check out Listening to the Quiet by Cassie Silva with illustrations by Frances Ives, on the Fall list for a good example of how Lantana has expanded the universe of diverse books.

    The next morning brought another chance shuttle queue encounter, this time with Red Comet Press’ Angus Yuen-Killick. Red Comet has brought several books to the United States from France, Italy, and even Ukraine. We especially loved seeing Yellow Butterfly splashed across a large wall in its originating publisher’s booth.

    Yellow Butterfly
    Yellow Butterfly by Oleksandr Shatokhin, published in the US by Red comet Press

    I hurried from the Ukraine booth to Czechia and the gigantic Albatros Media booth where I was meeting up with Marc Aronson, Doris Gebel, and students from Rutgers University. Pavla Fortelna of Albatros told the class a bit about Albatros and then showed off books currently available and a few that are forthcoming. Marc was especially taken with The Young Photographers, by Jiri Foreit and Tereza Nova and
    Illustrated by Nikola Logosova, a book on photography for ages 12 and up that encourages readers to look at the world differently.

    anne hayes, Flowerpot Press

    Flowerpot Press, at home in Canada and the United States, called out to Bologna visitors with Cultured Donuts at their delicious booth. I enjoyed catching up with publisher Anne Hayes. She was having a very successful day of selling rights for Donuts and for all of her energetic and kid-friendly titles.

    Another client whom I got to meet for the first time was Marta Fernandez of NubeOcho in Spain, seen here with a few of their newest offerings. NubeOcho’s Spanish books marketed in the United States are specifically offered in the Spanish of the Americas, making their books perennial favorites at the Guadalajara Book Fair, the Texas Library Association, and any place that is committed to offering books in Spanish to kids in the Western Hemisphere.

    The Grand Hotel of Feelings cover

    The afternoon was devoted to UK-based publishers who were spread across a couple of halls. Ziggy Hanaor of Cicada Books and Sarah Pakenham of Scallywag Press shared a space that enabled them to show their offerings to their best advantage. I was thrilled to hear that the upcoming Fall release from Cicada of Lidia Brankovic’s The Grand Hotel of Feelings had already been licensed to seven countries—unheard of for a debut author-illustrator. Scallywag Press was also fielding several opportunities for titles discovered and nurtured by Sarah, whose decades of experience at Andersen Press helped tremendously.

    Helen Thewlis of What on Earth Books/Britannica Books shared some exciting forthcoming books including the newly revised and expanded Absolutely Everything.

    How to Count to 1
    How to Count to 1 by Caspar Salmon and Matt Hunt, Nosy Crow

    The last publisher meeting of the day was with our newest client, John Mendelson of Nosy Crow. I’ve been a long-time fan of their books and need very little encouragement to do storytime with one of their first books on the new list, How to Count to One (And Don’t Even THINK About Bigger Numbers!) by Caspar Salmon and Matt Hunt. Their nonfiction is also spectacular as evidenced by Goddess, coming in the Fall. Nosy Crow’s presence stood out from the crowd (which is not easy to do) with its bold red frame and stunning covers.

    Publishing for children and teens around the world is alive and well and I cannot wait to show you the new books on the horizon!

  • Feeding Food Awareness

    This spring brings a new crop of informational picture books that offer readers of all ages new insights on healthy eating, food access, and food preparation.  Food topics, of course, are of perennial interest and these new books join contemporary classics featuring food heroes, kids’ science related to food topics, and food gardening. Let’s take a tour of all that’s new this spring and pantry shelves they join.

    “Food is so much more than nourishment. Gottesfeld’s inspiring story with Agatha’s bright, beautiful illustrations is a reminder of how kindness also feeds us.” When Mollie Katzen, best-selling author of The Moosewood Cookbook and Pretend Soup, blurbs a food-centric title, readers take note! Food for Hope, written by Jeff Gottesfeld and illustrated by Michelle Laurentia Agatha, has just been published by Creston Books, and shares the true story of how John van Hengel started the world’s first food bank in 1967 and went on to create a network of food banks through Feeding America. Just as Katzen is known for her taste in cookbooks, Gottesfeld and Creston Books are well known for picture book biographies that introduce important, yet little recognized, cultural history-makers. Step beyond reading about food bank establishments to participating by checking out the nearest one where you, too, can volunteer. The Feeding America site also provides facts about hunger today in the United States and a variety of ways you can work to alleviate it.

    Food for the Future: Sustainable Farms Around the World, by Mia Wenjen and illustrated by Robert Sae-Heng, is also new this spring, published by Barefoot Books.  As the title indicates, the perspective here is global and the content addresses healthy farming. Intended for picture book readers ages three to eight, the facts and featured sidebars can also invite older readers to use this book when performing a first research project. Find out about undersea farming, how farming has changed across history and how different countries and cultures farm today, and also how climate change can be addressed through healthier farming methods.

    Other springtime food book releases offer stories that support food themes. City Beet, by Tziporah Cohen with illustrations by Udayana Lugo, and published by Sleeping Bear Press, transplants the Russian folktale featuring an enormous turnip to a modern and diverse American neighborhood where neighbors work together to plant and care for their urban garden with an end toward celebrating with a potluck.

    Apple Pie Picnic, by Alicia Durant and illustrated by Brian Fitzgerald, published by Red Comet Press, is a bilingual (Spanish/English) picture book about the annual cycle of the fruit-bearing tree that provides the juicy ingredient for that picnic dessert. Rich in back matter, this is a story that also blooms with factual pages about the stages of bud, flower, and fruit development.

    A new paperback edition of Community Soup, written and illustrated by Alma Fullerton, is arriving soon from Pajama Press. Set in Kenya, this picture book story offers a look at creative solutions when a herd of pet goats threatens the work students have put into a school vegetable garden.  Serve this one with How Does My Garden Grow?, written and illustrated by Dutch artist Gerda Muller and published in English by Floris Books. Here the seasonal cycle of gardening vegetables is a new experience for a little city-dweller whose previous experiences were of produce coming from the local supermarket.

    Additional slightly seasoned foodie kids’ books to make sure your collection includes are from the Food Heroes series by Readers To Eaters. Sandor Katz and the Tiny Wild, by Jacqueline Briggs Martin and June Jo Lee, with illustrations by Julie Wilson, is the latest English language addition to this picture book biography collection. This one celebrates the fermentation process and also demonstrates how Food Heroes, like Sandor Katz and others in this series, have many identities: foodies all, yes, and also a professional athlete, an AIDS activist, a food truck chef, and a restauranteur. Readers To Eaters celebrates food bilingually as well. Look for the new Spanish edition of El chef Roy Choi y su remix dela comida callejera, by Martin and Lee, with illustrations by graffiti artist Man One. You can also listen to Readers To Eaters picture books in highly produced audiobook format thanks to Live Oak Media.

    There are dozens of other kid-friendly food titles available in board book, picture book, storybook, and nonfiction narrative. The final one we’ll mention here, however, comes from Inhabit Media, the Nunavut publisher. Niam! Cooking with Kids, by Kerry McCluskey, provides recipes just right for kid production and enjoyment, with the added twist that all the ingredients are indeed available in Nunavut and with ways to use cooking to give back to the community, traditional Inuit knowledge about country food, and lists of skills that kids will develop as they work their way through each recipe.

    Let’s eat! And let’s share our bounty so no one has to go hungry.

  • Celebrating World Hello Day (and Work Toward Peace)
    This is article is by Publisher Spotlight’s Special Projects Librarian Tracy Gallagher.

    Say Hello?November 21st, 2022 is the 50th Annual World Hello Day which invites everyone to participate by just saying hello to ten people today. It was begun in 1973, in response to the Yom Kippur War. Its purpose is to encourage communication, rather than force, to settle conflicts. Since 1973, it has been observed by people in 180 countries.

    Interested in participating? Here are some titles from our publishers that will help!

    The first is from Tiger Tales Books’ 360 Degrees imprint. Hello World is written by Jonathan Litton and illustrated by L’atelier Cartographik. This title, on sturdy pages, has flaps to guide the reader through pronunciations on ways to greet in over 150 languages. Sidebars offer additional information regarding the regions of the world as well as the languages spoken. Readers will want to return to this title over and over to peruse all the tiny details.

    Next up is Children of the World, also from 360 Degrees, written by Nicola Edwards, and illustrated by Andrea Stegmaier. With an emphasis on how children are alike around the world, this title teaches how to greet one another in 14 languages. Demonstrating what life is like throughout the day provides insights into the differences as well as similarities we have to experience in our diverse world. And isn’t that a precursor to peace?

    Our World board book seriesGot a younger audience in mind? Check out this series of board books from Barefoot Books: Our World. While they don’t specifically mention “hello” each title is created by an author and illustrator who have personal experience with each country in the series. Each book contains vocabulary words with pronunciation guides and is designed to portray daily life for a child. These titles were created to increase global awareness for infants and toddlers, and they will be adding more countries in future seasons.

    How hard can it be to Say Hello? Well, for Little Fox and Mr. Wolf it is very hard indeed! One missed opportunity to say hello to his new neighbor turns into an awkward situation for quite some time as each of them is too embarrassed to make the first move. Use this Berbay Books title, written and illustrated by Sung Mi Kim, to show kids that even adults can make mistakes and that we can all learn from them.

    Good Night WorldAnd, while we have been focused on saying hello, let’s remember to add a polite ending to our day with help from Good Night, World. This Tiger Tales title, written by Nicola Edwards and illustrated by Hannah Tolson, offers sweet illustrations highlighting children from all around the world getting ready for bed with the same activities such as bathing, brushing teeth, cleaning their rooms, and sharing a story. And it teaches how to say good night in 12 languages in a picture book format.

    And with that we say both hello and good night.

  • Eureka! Gold and Silver for Many of Our Friends

    The votes have been cast by the California Reading Association for the California Eureka Nonfiction Book Awards.  Among the winners this year, we are proud to announce:

    Eureka Gold MedalThe Eureka Gold Medal has been awarded to A is for Asian American, by Virginia Loh-Hagan, illustrated by Tracy Nishimura Bishop, and published by Sleeping Bear Press. This versatile picture book offers read-aloud possibilities that celebrate Asian, Pacific Islander, and Desi heritages in the United States through events (for example, Remembrance Day), pursuits (for example, Writers), and concepts (for example, Etiquette). However, there is much more here: each page spread also carries a sidebar with lots of detailed discussion to support the book’s use by curriculum developers and middle grade researchers.

    Eureka Silver Medal

    Eureka Silver Medals were attained by six books with which we have been lucky to work. These include Atlas of Cats, by Helena Harastova and Jana Sedlackova, illustrated by Giulia Lombardo, and published by Albatros Media. This oversized compendium goes beyond showing and discussing breeds to take on how to interpret the language of cat tail motions and records held by specific cats.

    Atlas of Cats

    From Red Comet Press, Be Thankful for Trees, by Harriet Ziefert with illustrations by Brian Fitzgerald, provides 80 pages of rhymes, images, and explanations of how trees play key roles in the environment, as sources of food and shelter, and inspiration for many different creative arts.

    Be Thankful for Trees

    Citizen She!, written by Caroline Stevan, illustrated by Elina Braslina, and published Helvetiq, offers middle grade readers a global view of campaigns for women’s voting rights. The volume includes information about individuals, suffrage campaigns, and age-relevant discussions of how women (and men) are viewed and treated within different cultures.

    Citizen She

    Good EatingTilbury House Publishers received two Silver Medals. Good Eating: The Short Life of Krill, written by Matt Lilley and illustrated by Dan Tavis, gives readers insights on the tiny ocean creature that sits near the bottom of our food chain. Lion Lights, written by Richard Turere and Shelly Pollock, with illustrations by Sonia Maria Luce Possentini, provides the story of how a modern Masaai boy invented a Lion Lightsmethod to protect both the flock and lion predators with technology that has earned him a place on the TED Global Stage and Kenya’s youngest patent holder.


    Wonderful Hair: The Beauty of Annie Malone, written by Even Nadel Catarevas with illustrations by Felicia Marshall, and published by Creston Books, celebrates the life and achievements of a young Black hairdresser whose success predates the better know Madame C. J. Walker.

    Wonderful Hair

    Eighteen Vats of WaterEach of the committee members who decide the annual Eureka Awards has the opportunity to choose a title they believe deserves recognition although that book did not ultimately win a medal. Among this year’s Committee Picks, as these recognitions are called, is Eighteen Vats of Water, written by Ji-Li Jiang, illustrated by Nadia Hsieh, and published by Creston Books. This picture book biography both tells and shows the process by which the son of a 4th century CE Chinese calligrapher learned the craft.

    Informational books can delight and inspire and these seven certainly take readers to a wide range of places, cultures, and realms of investigation. Thank you to the California Reading Association for recognizing them.