Back again with another picture book round up! Today, we have a mix of books from the DC and Arlington “new books” shelf and a backlist title that I placed on hold for a reason I simply cannot remember anymore.
A Library by Nikki Giovani, illustrated by Erin K Robinson
I had to read this, didn’t I? Giovanni is a lovely poet, and I loved Robinson’s illustrations to go along with this rumination on what a library means to a young, autobiographical protagonist. A sweet book about the power of reading and stories and the library has a place—I also loved how large the font was on the page. Yes, it’s a picture book, and the illustrations are vibrant and engaging, but Giovanni’s text gets to be a star too with the large font that stands out.
Itzel and the Ocelot by Rachel Katstaller
I got this one because I read another book illustrated by her and really disliked the prose but loved her illustrations. This is a folkloric/mythology inspired story about a giant snake that brings water and a girl who goes on a journey to wake him–meeting many jungle creatures along the way and seeing the importance of water in so many lives. The prose is a bit longer and loses its beautiful rhythm in the denser parts in the middle–but the frame narrative is well written. The illustrations, I think, read a bit younger than the text, but it events it out mostly. I did feel like the giant snake part kind of…sped by, at the end, but overall, a cute enough read to give to someone who likes Grace Lin’s recent works or even Water Protectors.
Still This Love Goes On by Buffy Sainte-Marie and Julie Flett
I picked this one up for Capitol Choices, and had never heard the song. I didn’t listen until after I read the book through once–with no tune in my head—and then I reread listening to the song being sung. That definitely improved my experience with the book, but I worry that you can’t expect a kid to know this song from…2008? And while the illustrations are lovely and have great brushstrokes and small details, without the music, the prose on the page doesn’t flow from page to page as well as I want it to. I like the book, and I think it will grow on me, but I have concerns about the success of actually giving this to kids.
Tell Me a Lion Story by Kara Kramer
Ordered this one when we were doing Lion & The Mouse (Pinkney) for a book exhibit, hoping it might work for story time. Whoops, out of luck on that one. It’s very conversational and great for two readers to read together, but not really a great fit for my current story time group. It would maybe be fun for a class though! A little girl asks her Dad to tell her a lion story, and when she has too many edits, he suggests they write one together. What follows is a fun outline of a story where you get to insert things like the lion’s name and what the stores sell and how he roars and etc. It’s a very fantastical little story that involves space travel. A cute book–I like what it’s doing with it’s narrative, and the illustration style scratches some childhood memory I can’t place yet with it’s flatter-human characters.
I Am Not a Number, written by Jenny Kay Dupuis and Kathy Kacer, illustrated by Gillian Newland
This is the one that ended up on my desk, intrigued me, but I cannot remember how I came across this book. Someone or some email must have recommended it to me. This is a picture book for older readers–and could maybe even be used with middle and high schoolers, honestly. It reminds me of Polacco—shelved with books like Pete the Cat but with amazing curricular tie-ins and full pages of text. This is a fictionalized but biographical account of the author’s grandmother who was taken to an Indian Boarding School as a young girl. In it’s first person narration, she recounts the horrors of it, the abuse she suffered, and how she was able to hide when she went home over the summer to avoid going back. It’s not the most eloquent prose I’ve ever read, but it’s still very moving and the author’s note alone makes it worth bringing into a classroom setting.
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