Picture Book Round-Up #1

Trying to read more picture books in the last few months of the year, so why not round-them-up like I actually have a blog I can write on or something?

Skater Cielo by Rachel Katstaller

A cute, well illustrated “keep trying” book for the older end of picture books–maybe 6 to 8 year olds–this is all about a girl, Cielo, who, you guessed it, skateboards. When a new park comes in and she tries to skate the whale, she faces failure and has to learn to try again and again and again and persevere past her own ego with the help of her friends. The way movement and falling in particular is done in this is really fun. (Published August 2022)

The Queen on Our Corner by Lucy Christopher & Nia Tudor

This illustrations in this are gorgeous and warm and welcoming. A story of a young girl imagining the life that might have come before for the unhoused woman in her neighborhood, complete with dragon battles, shows the way so many people look past those experiencing homelessness, but that they all have their own stories. With a sweet, if not (I saw cynically) unrealistic ending, this is a lovely story especially if your kids are asking questions about unhoused people around your city, but the illustrations especially of the non-spoiler-event are gorgeous. (Published October 2021)

Mama and Mommy and Me in the Middle by Nina LaCour & Kaylani Juanita

What an adorable book! A little girl is missing her mommy when she goes on a work trip and she stays home with Mama. It’s a great week-long story, broken into those little installments and bits kids love with school and errands and food. The little girl’s emotions are so big and her characterization on the page is just so adorable. A super-well illustrated queer family, this book is explicitly queer and diverse without being about how “different” their family is or anything like that–she misses Mommy like any kid misses a parent. Great floral motifs at the end and just all around AMAZING character illustration. (Published March 2022)

Uncle John’s City Garden by Bernette G Ford and Frank Morrison

I am especially looking for books about Black kids gardening this fall, so was happy to see this on the shelves! This is a pretty straight-forward book about growing a garden–planting, waiting for the seeds to grow, harvesting–against a semi-there urban backdrop. The characters are super vibrantly drawn and very engaging, but the prose itself lacks emotional buy-in for the reader. A fine title though–and love that’s it’s based on a kind-of true story. (Published May 2022)

Sarah Rising by Ty Chapman and DeAnn Wiley

Looking for a way to talk about racial justice protests with kids between say, 4 and 10? This book is a great starting point–it is a pretty simple story of a young girl who goes to a protest with her dad, protects a butterfly (a monarch, obviously…) in the process, and loses her Dad only to be safely reunited again. It could be a story set against anything, but setting it against racial justice protests and pairing it with “what comes next” backmatter makes this a much stronger title. the illustrations are okay, nothing stand-out to me for the most part, but it’s an overall engaging title. (Published May 2022)

They’re Heroes Too: A Celebration of Community by Pat Brisson and Anait Semirdzhyan

A saccharine sweet rhyming story about community—perfect for the COVID-impacted world we live in, this picture book is heavy on community-based illustrations with a short and sweet rhyme woven throughout. Rather than looking just at essential workers, this story looks at how everyone contributes to making a community work and how being there for others is what matters and makes us heroes, etc. I think if you asked most children if a hairdresser was a hero they might get confused but….(Published July 2022)

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