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Thunder Boy Jr.

Yuyi Morales first appeared on my radar in Spring 2012. Running late for a baby shower, I had popped into our local bookstore to purchase a gift. As I walked past the “New Picture Books” table, Georgia in Hawaii caught my eye. Twenty seconds later, I was headed toward the register with Georgia in Hawaii on […]

Snow White

When I first heard Matt Phelan was working on a graphic novel that would transpose Snow White from her traditional fairy-tale locale to Depression-era New York City, I was more than a little excited. Phelan’s previous graphic novels (Storm in the Barn; Bluffton) are favorites of mine and have been a hit with my comics-obsessed students. […]

Du Iz Tak?

Have you seen Du Iz Tak? Carson Ellis’s oversized gouache and ink spreads are impressive to be sure, but it’s her ear for entomological dialogue that shines in this one; well, I’ll let you be the judge. Not to give too much away, but at the emotional climax (***spoiler alert*** when the flowering plant that has […]

Radiant Child: The Story of a Young Jean-Michel Basquiat

I’ve been looking forward to writing about this book’s Caldecott possibilities ever since I reviewed it for the Magazine. This one is way up there on my top ten list for 2016. Maybe even at #1. I have a hunch it’s going to be this year’s Voice of Freedom, getting nods from Sibert, CSK, and […]

We Found a Hat

Whole masters theses will be written about Jon Klassen’s Hat trilogy, if they haven’t been already. Here, of course, we can look only at this one book, since the actual Caldecott committee is not allowed to consider an illustrator’s previous work in its deliberations. We Found a Hat is a morality play in which (this time!) friendship and goodness and life […]

Some Writer!

Each year there is a book I see early in the season that sticks with me. This year it was Some Writer!: The Story of E. B. White by Melissa Sweet. Yes, that Melissa Sweet. The one who wrote or illustrated Balloons Over Broadway, The Right Word, A River of Words, and a whole lot […]

Giant Squid

Do you like creepy, shiver-inducing monster stories? If so, you’ve got to see Giant Squid by Candace Fleming, illustrated by Eric Rohmann. Sometimes when we discuss an information book — yes, it’s nonfiction — here, there are debates about whether it’s really a picture book. Is there enough play between art and text? Is there […]

Can One Balloon Make an Elephant Fly?

Earlier this fall, we took a careful look at Emma and Julia Love Ballet based on Julie Danielson’s recommendation. Here’s another title that Julie has high on her radar. (I hope all of you  illustration-lovers follow her blog Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. Whenever I need in-depth information about illustrators, I try Seven Imp first. […]

Maybe Something Beautiful

On this Election Day (thank goodness we have early voting so I could Do My Civic Duty as early as possible), I bring you something completely different from the headlines: People Getting Along With Other People. Try that ten-second mindfulness training that’s been on the internet: Look at that cover, close your eyes, clear your […]

Before Morning

To paraphrase Kevin Henkes in Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse, sometimes all you can say is “wow.” That’s how I feel about Before Morning. Look at the intricacy and beauty of the scratchboard illustrations and the strength of the compositions. Notice how carefully the book is constructed. Spreads with text are full-bleed double-spreads; spreads without text feature single pages, […]