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  • 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.

  • Q & A with Author and Little Island Books Founder Siobhán Parkinson

    This article is by Publisher Liaison Manager Emma Schneider

    All Shining in the SpringPregnancy is a time of excitement and expectation as parents prepare for the arrival of their baby. But tragically, approximately 1 in 4 women in both the United States and Ireland suffers a miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss. In times of grief and confusion, books often help us put into words or pictures a feeling that we’re unable to express, especially for children. The number of picture books centered on the topic of infant loss is slim, but Irish publisher Little Island Books seeks to fill the void with the recently released All Shining in the Spring: The Story of a Baby Who Died, a new edition of a book first published by O’Brien Press in 1995, and now available from the publisher subsequently founded by its author, Little Island.

    October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, and we talked with author Siobhán Parkinson about the inspiration behind her first book, which was a ground-breaking offering when first published and now is a welcome resource for parents, families, librarians, and teachers.

    Q: October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. There are not very many books on this topic. What inspired you to write All Shining in the Spring?

    My son was five when we learned that our second son would not survive birth. Being a bookish kind of person, I went looking for a book to help my little boy to understand what was happening in our family, but all I could find were books about hamsters dying, or maybe grandparents. So I wrote the book I needed myself. I wanted to tell my child our story, and I wanted to be gentle but honest. I didn’t want it to be sentimental, or to offer false hope, but I didn’t want it to be gloomy either.

    A few months after we lost our baby, we were going to visit the grave, and we stopped off at a garden center to buy bulbs to plant there but for some reason, they only had daffodils and yellow tulips. So I said, well that’s OK, we’ll have lots of yellow flowers, and my son piped up, “So in the springtime, when the flowers come out, it will be all shining” and that is of course where the title came from – I really like that note of hope that the title brings.

    Q: What was the thing you most wanted to accomplish with the book and how did you set about doing that?

    Initially, I wrote the book for my own son. Then I thought, there have to be other families where this happens, and who would appreciate a book to help the parents to talk things through with their child. Simple as that! And so I approached a publisher.

    All Sining in the Spring interior 1Q: What are some memorable stories from the parents that have shared this book with their children over the years?

    I do get emails from time to time from families who have found the book at just the time they needed it, or someone in their family did, and they say things like ‘very grateful’, ‘so helpful’ but they don’t usually share their full story.

    On one occasion I was in a tiny country school, talking to children of varying ages, and they asked me to read this book. I wasn’t sure, as I didn’t want to bring up a subject that some of them might find upsetting, but the teacher told me they’d already read the book in class and that the children had responded very well to it, so I did read it. There was utter silence as I read, and for about a minute afterwards. Then a little girl came forward to talk to me and said something like this: “When the teacher read this book to us, I felt as if a pain I had in my heart all my life had suddenly flown away. When I went home, I told my mammy about it, and she told me that when I was only two she had had a stillbirth. I was too young to remember, but I must have known about it somehow.” That was the most moving reaction I have ever had to any book I have written, and I really treasure that story.

    All Sining in the Spring interior 2Q: How would you suggest libraries and teachers use this book with children, who may or may not have experienced an infant loss in their family?

    This is a book whose relevance is immediately obvious to families who have experienced the loss of a baby at or around birth, especially if there are siblings, and those families will usually be very glad to be introduced to the book.

    It’s a sensitive topic, of course, and I would say it might be better not to shelve the book alongside children’s fiction in the library, but to put it with books about parenting, so that it is first picked up by a parent, and then read to a child in an appropriate way.

    If the librarian or teacher knows there is a child in the library or in the classroom who has experienced such a bereavement, I would think the appropriate thing is to give the book to the parents, or to get parental agreement to reading the book to the child or children.

    I’ve always been very careful myself not to introduce the book to children unless I know it’s relevant to them, either because of an incident in their own family or because one of their friends has had such an experience. So I would say to librarians and teachers to check with families before reading this book, but to be brave also, and to tell parents that children do find it very helpful, especially, but not only, if they have had the experience in their own families. Children are aware of and curious about death, but of course the idea of a baby or child dying might be alarming for them. But even an idea that is theoretically alarming can be mediated as long as it is done sensitively and with love, and even children who have not had the experience in their own families can find a book like this moving and even comforting, as it can help them to think about what seems like a frightening idea in a way that they can cope with. At the end of the day, it’s about the human condition, isn’t it?

    Siobhan-Parkinson_authorMore about Siobhán Parkinson

    Siobhán Parkinson has written more than thirty books for children and adults. She was Ireland’s first Laureate na nÓg (children’s laureate). She is also a translator from German and she writes in Irish as well as in English. She lives in Dublin with her husband, the wood artist Roger Bennett.

    All Shining in the Spring was her first book. It was in writing this book that Siobhán found her voice as a children’s author, a gift she attributes to the baby she lost all those years ago.

    Illustrations for All Shining in the Spring are by Donald Teskey.

  • Heroes All Around
    This article is by Publisher Liaison Christina Moorehead

    How do you define hero?  Some people conjure up images of caped and masked super-powered characters who leap off the pages of comics to roar into action from television and movie screens.

    Are these the only kinds of heroes to be found?  Absolutely not!

    Within the pages of these amazing books we find other kinds of heroes—both real and imagined—who have the power to tickle our funny bones, inspire our dreams, and create impactful, real world changes.

    Maybe, just maybe, defining “heroes” is more challenging than we think!

    Ha-Ha Heroes

    So You Want to Be a Superhero coverWho says heroes have to be serious?  From caped kids to grown cosplayers, there is a lot of fun to be had in pretending to be a superhero.  A good place to start is with Davide Cali Gómez’s How to Become a Superhero (NubeOcho). Hilarious illustrations combine with plenty of SuperJoe Does NOT Say Sorry“how to” advice as readers are taken step-by-step through the superhero building process. And once young readers have achieved all the how-to’s, they can meet a fellow kid superhero in SuperJoe Does NOT Say Sorry by Michael Catchpool with illustrations by Emma Proctor (Lantana Publishing). Here we learn that SuperJoe’s super imagination catapults him into plenty of superhero adventures—leaving behind plenty of super messes that need cleaning up!  Behind all of SuperJoe’s adventurous fun is a gentle message about consideration that is well taken—for superheroes and regular folks alike.

    Fur-tastic Heroes

    Super Mouse and the Volcano of Doom coverOf course, humans aren’t the only creatures capable of being heroes—both in our imaginations, and in real life.  We find a fictional and furry superhero creature ready to save the day in Supermouse and the Volcano of Doomby H. N. Tahl, with illustrations by Mark Chambers (Tiger Tales). This lift-a-flap delight introduces us to Supermouse, whose help is in constant demand—making him a super tired Supermouse indeed!  It is when Supermouse is faced with an erupting Mount Fondue that he discovers asking for help makes him even more super than ever.

    While Supermouse is a creature of the imagination, there are plenty of real life super dogs who are certainly heroes!  In Valeria Aloises Dogs Who Work, illustrated by Margot Tissot and translated for English readers by Jeffrey K. Butt (Helvetiq), we learn about real hero dogs who work to search for missing people, serve as the eyes for people with vision challenges, who help keep people healthy as medical alert dogs, and much more.  Bow wow WOW!

    Heroic Histories

    Human history is filled with true tales of everyday people whose bravery and clear thinking turned them into heroes. Many of these tales are well-known—and even more are not.   Wonderful Hair: The Beauty of Annie Malone by Eve Nadel Catarevas, with illustrations by Felicia Marshall (Creston Books), tells the true story of Annie Malone, a young Black American girl with a tremendous talent—and love—for helping people care for their hair.  When Annie started seeing her sister and other girls with bald patches on their scalps, she realized that the chemicals they were using to straighten their hair were actually destroying their hair.  Annie set right to work to create a natural hair treatment that would help the girls’ hair grow back.  When it worked, demand grew for Annie’s hair treatments—which became the starting spark of Annie’s career and life-long heroic journey.

    Wonderful Hair interior spread

    Another little-known hero in the making receives an introduction to young readers through a picture book biography by Elisa Boxer, illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley:  Splash!  Ethelda Bleibtrey Makes Waves of Change (Sleeping Bear Press). When Ethelda was 15 years old, she contracted polio, a disease that caused her great pain and weakness, and left her with a curved spine.  When her doctor recommended swimming as a way to treat the pain and strengthen her muscles, Ethelda didn’t even know how to swim.  But once she discovered that the water freed her from pain, there was no stopping her from becoming the swimmer, activist, and hero she was meant to be!

     How to be Our Own Heroes

    Citizen SheThe beautiful thing about being a hero is that a person can be a hero by helping just one other individual, or by working with many heroes who together help a great many people. Caroline Stevan’s Citizen She: The Global Campaign for Women’s Voting Rights, illustrated by Elina Braslina (Helvetiq), is one example of how many individual people, working towards the same goal, can create heroic change.  Along with specific descriptions of non-violent ways to speak out and protest unjust practices—in this case, to promote and protect voting rights for women—this powerful book introduces readers to individual heroic activists from the past as well as the present.

    Perhaps the most heroic thing that we can all do (and that is well within our daily grasp) is to make the everyday world a better place in which to live. With that in mind, then Human Kindness by John Francis, with illustrations by Josy Bloggs (What on Earth Books) offers us a guidebook.  Inspired by author’s 17-year vow of silence and cross-country walk as Planetwalker,  Human Kindness is a scaffolding for us to use to build our own kindness in the world.  From stories of historically and famously kind people to advice on how we can be more kind to our world, our fellow human beings, and to ourselves, this book stands tall to make heroes of us all.

    They're Heroes, Too coverThe example of kindness and empathy that John Francis embodies in his life and book Human Kindness is seen most clearly in the heroes that touch our lives every day in our local communities.  They’re Heroes, Too by Pat Brisson and illustrated by Anait Semirdzhyan (Tilbury House Publishers) celebrates the people we meet in our own communities as the heroes who wear scrubs instead of capes, who bake our bread instead of fly through the skies, and who collect our trash instead of grabbing up supervillains. Our local heroes come in all ages and care for our parks, pick us up when we fall, and hold out hands of friendship in a million little, unexpected ways.  Surely these are among the truest heroes of all!

    We hope these amazing books spark your own heroic imaginations and inspire your own inner hero.  Remember:  you don’t need a cape to be a hero!

  • Q & A with Author and Cicada Books Founder Ziggy Hanaor
    This article is by Publisher Liaison Izzy Krause Starred review of Alte Zachen We are delighted that Ziggy Hanaor took time with us to talk about her upcoming graphic novel Alte Zachen / Old Things. With its softly designed sequential art panels by Benjamin Phillips, the story is set in a contemporary New York City–with memories of War-era Germany and then to mid-20th century Brooklyn and Manhattan’s Lower East Side–and features a loving grandson and his Bubbe. Find out more in our interview with Ziggy:
    Ziggy Hanaor
    Author Ziggy Hanaor

    What inspired you to write Alte ZachenI wanted to write a graphic novel and I had an idea for an old lady and her grandson wandering through a city. I wanted to look at some of the aspects of metropolitan life through two very different lenses – one very clear and accepting and the other world-weary and sceptical.

    Whose experiences did you remember as you worked on Alte ZachenThe grandmother character was an amalgamation of my own grandmother and my best friend’s granny growing up. My own grandmother left Germany for Palestine in 1933 and helped found a kibbutz. She was actually a pretty tough, no-nonsense kind of woman. My best friend’s granny was a Holocaust survivor and her memories were disjointed by trauma. Everything around her was filtered through her experiences and you never knew what kind of response you were going to get from her to any given situation. Certain things could set her off and it would all get very dramatic very quickly. Bubbe Rosa is more this kind of person – her responses to the world are filtered through her own passion and pain, and they can be misinterpreted by people who don’t realize that.

    Benjamin Phillips' Instagram of Alte Aachen interior pageHow did you connect to the illustrator? What drew you to his style? I found Benjamin Phillips on Instagram. I’m always trawling Instagram for illustrators and a lot of the people I work with I encounter first there. I was immediately drawn to Ben. He has a real warmth to his work. He uses pen and ink and everything has a very analogue vibe to it. We had a few chats, trying to find a project to work on, and then I sent him the script for Alte Zachen, which had been on the back burner for a while. As soon as I saw his sketches of Benji and Bubbe, I knew he was the right person for the job. He also had a Yiddishkeit grandmother, so knew exactly how to convey her.

    Why did you set the book in New York? I live in London now, but I grew up in New Jersey till the age of 13. New York is where a lot of my childhood memories take place, and I felt like I could see the city quite easily through Benji’s eyes. There’s also a narrative around New York as a place where all cultures and peoples can meet and mingle without judgement; a place where anything is possible. I don’t necessarily subscribe to this narrative, but it kind of served my purposes – Benji embraces that tolerant but slightly naive world view, whilst Bubbe sees the layers of history under the city, relating to it in a way that is tinged with nostalgia and regret, and not a small amount of anger at the gentrified, homogenized beast it has become.

    What’s a favorite recipe of yours for Friday night dinners?  Haha! I don’t really have one. My mum is actually Iraqi Jewish, so we grew up with Iraqi food more than Ashkenazi food. She made a mean slow cook chicken with lentil rice, so probably that!