Back again with another picture book round up–all of these published in 2022, and a mix of fiction and non-fiction. We’ve got books are taking care as a theme here, along with a focus on community.
Firefighter Flo! by Andrea Zimmerman, pictures by Dan Yaccarino
This is a fun, action-packed story focused on a female firefighter who gets a call about a house fire in the middle of the night and jumps into action. It’s got lots of sounds throughout and action-words, and a repeated rhyme at the beginning and end which I think kids would love to chant too. The illustration style is really visually pleasing, but not necessarily eye-catching. It’s perfect for the story though!
This Story is Not about a Kitten by Randall de Seve and Carson Ellis
This is a lovely, understated book about a community coming together to rescue a cat and the little ways that care is taken–by stopping, by looking, by holding something or offering another. The prose of the book focuses on the negation–what the book is NOT about–to get, ultimately, to the end about what the book is about, those underlying themes. The illustration style is lovely and full-page and full of diversity, and I love that the words are on their own, separate white backgrounds because it helps ensure none of them are lost in the color of the illustration or behind people and objects.
If You’re a Kid Like Gavin by Gavin Grimm and Kyle Lukoff, illustrated by J Yang
This is a picture book biography that is done in a unique way–it’s about real life trans kid Gavin Grimm, but it’s written to readers and asking questions–what are choices you can make? What are choices you can’t? Through this structure, Grimm and Lukoff recount Grimm’s struggle with bathrooms at his school, and his choice to become a trans activist. It’s a great way to tell the story–to engage readers who aren’t trans or maybe don’t know anyone who is–and educate in the same breath. The illustration style makes the book feel a bit older–so don’t be afraid to give this to middle schoolers too.
Where Butterflies Fill the Sky by Zahra Mahwan
This is a stateless citizen/refugee story, and while I like that it’s told from a child’s perspective, that does make it feel limited and makes it harder to use this as an explicitly educational text. A reader with no experience with refugees might not understand the core of the story, but could relate to Zahra’s feelings of missing home, of feeling like the other, and of looking for familiarity in new places. The illustration style is kind of kooky–I like it, but I don’t know how kids would feel about it. It works perfectly in some places, but the character depictions are..interesting.
The Moon from Dehradun by Shirin Shamsi and Tarun Lak
I’ve seen a lot about Indian Partition recently, and will definitely be using this picture book in relation to longer chapter books like The Night Diary to talk about this moment in history. This is a much less harrowing take on Partition, and follows a young Muslim girl and her family as the leave Dehradun to Lahore. She is distraught to have forgotten her doll at home, but when she finds a forgotten doll at her new home, she sees a beautiful connection across place and religion. This is a sweet story that focuses on a sibling relationship as well–Azra comforting her brother–and ties in seeking something familiar among the new. The illustration style seems to fit the plot perfectly, though I couldn’t describe it artistically.
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