Picture Book Round-Up #7

I’m back, back again with another round-up of picture books. A real potpourri this week, of diverse titles covering race, food, civil rights, bedtime routines, and animal rescue.

Hold Them Close: A Love Letter to Black Children by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, illustrated by Patrick Dougher, with photography by Jamel Shabazz

This is a gorgeous book–a great use of illustration, collage, photography and the poetic prose that’s kind of a command and kind of a prayer for Black children. There are many spreads in this book that are powerful but the building made of bricks of the names of Black people killed by police or police-adjacent violence is especially potent. My only real critique is that some of the words are hard to read because of the font color and the metallic nature of some of the background elements. And that the boy is wearing crocs…but that’s a personal problem, for me haha. It’s got strong back matter that’s a great jumping off point–giving a glossary of references without bogging down with timelines and such.

Kimchi, Kimchi Every Day by Erica Kim

I love food based books, because they’re such an easy sell to kids. I know, long term, they don’t shape the cultural zeitgest, etc, etc, but if kids read them, I’m happy. This is a lower-level picture book with short, simple rhyming sentences that follows a girl who LOVES kimchi and her bunny rabbit sidekick, of course. If kids love kimchi, they’ll love this book–if they’ve never had kimchi, it might excite them to try it! I especially love that it doesn’t show anyone saying “ew” or doubting her love of kimchi. This book is just a fun celebration of the food and the various ways it’s used in cooking.

Loujain Dreams of Sunflowers by Lina AlHathloul and Uma Mishra-Newbery, illustrated by Rebecca Green

Fascinating books .GORGEOUS illustrations, and reasonably poetic prose, but it’s all a metaphor for Saudi women not being able to drive. Will most kids get that? Probably not, but this feels as much a book for tweens and adults reading it to kids as younger kids. Again, the illustrations are great, but I think the metaphor of flying may go a bit over kids heads–pun intended.

Good Night Little Bookstore by Amy Cherrix, illustrated by EB Goodale

A sweet, warm book about the closing of a, you guessed it, little bookstore, at night—this is lovely, and has bookshelves you’ll want to run your finger along. But, of course, even though it’s reminiscent of Goodnight Moon, it’s pretty clearly for adult readers who love books more than the actual young readers of modern picture books. I love the illustrations–seriously, wallpaper worthy. And I love the text being separated from the illustrations–that’s great for young readers. But the story line of this is a harder sell to little kids.

The World’s Loneliest Elephant by Ralph Fletcher, illustrated by Naoko Stoop.

While I think the story at the core of this book is an extraordinary animal rescue—a literal saving of an elephant from a zoo and a transportation across country borders with the help of freaking Cher, I found the TELLING of the story in this picture book to be mundane and underwhelming. The illustration style is okay, the palette eh, and the prose eh. The text often gets lost in the illustrations, and it’d be hard to keep a kid’s attention.

What picture books have you read and enjoyed recently?



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