Today’s Picture Book Biographies: Back Matter Matters

borden_thejourney

Picture book biographies broke out of their formulaic cradle-to-grave structure in the late 1990s and began telling authentic stories with new verve. Fictionalized dialogue and made-up scenes gave way to well-researched, fact-based narratives, often focusing on a particular aspect of the subject’s life. Today’s picture book biographies also include, as a matter of course, supporting […]

Building Our House

building a house2

Jonathan Bean’s Building Our House came out way back in January, so everyone probably knows by now that the book is based on a true story: the author’s parents (the ultimate DIYers) built the Bean family homestead from scratch while living in a trailer and raising three small children (!). Here are things I appreciate […]

Review of Mr. Wuffles!

mr wuffles

Mr. Wuffles! by David Wiesner; illus. by the author Preschool, Primary     Clarion     32 pp. 10/13     978-0-618-75661-2     $17.99     g Is anything so fraught with potential energy as a stalking cat, or as relaxed as a bored one? Mr. Wuffles disdains all the playthings he’s offered — until, amongst scorned balls […]

Persons of Interest: The Untold Rewards of Picture Book Biographies

Abraham Lincoln

It didn’t exactly have to happen. In 1936, Ingri and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire, treasured for their radiant portrayals of child life in Ingri’s native Norway, took up George Washington, and with the wide eyes of new Americans and the same sensitivity to their child audience, struck a chord.  Other d’Aulaire picture book biographies of American […]

Just the illustrations, ma’am

question mark

Hi everyone; Martha Parravano here. All the (much-appreciated) suggestions in the comments on Robin’s last post bring me to a question I’ve wanted to ask for a long time. I have been evaluating and reviewing picture books for twenty-five years. But in doing so I consider the whole book — the interdependence of text and […]

Time to get our lists in order

books_in_bin

Since January, Lolly, Martha, and I have been collecting picture books that might be talked about come Caldecott time. Our first challenge is to make a list that pleases us. Just us. Some of the two dozen titles are there because they will be fun to argue about; some because one of us was wowed […]

Review of Flora and the Flamingo

flora and the flamingo

Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle; illus. by the author Preschool, Primary    Chronicle    40 pp. 3/13    978-1-4521-1006-6    $16.99 A little girl, a pink flamingo, some decorative cherry blossoms, and singular lift-the-flaps contribute to a unique wordless picture book. On the title-page spread, a flamingo gracefully touches down en pointe. The next spread shows the […]

Review of Niño Wrestles the World

Nino Wrestles the World

Niño Wrestles the World by Yuyi Morales; illus. by the author Preschool, Primary     Porter/Roaring Brook     40 pp. 6/13     978-1-59643-604-6     $16.99     g Pint-sized Niño, fearless luchador, Popsicle enthusiast, and reluctantly attentive big brother, dons his red mask (he’s already wearing his orange and yellow sneakers and blue-waistbanded tighty-whities), ready to […]

Review of On a Beam of Light

on a beam of light

On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne; 
illus. by Vladimir Radunsky Primary    Chronicle    56 pp. 5/13    978-0-8118-7235-5    $17.99 The title of this book refers to the mental picture young Albert Einstein conjured one day while biking through the countryside; he looked at the sunbeams “speeding from the sun to […]

Review of Flight 1-2-3

flight 1-2-3

Flight 1-2-3 by Maria van Lieshout; 
illus. by the author Preschool    Chronicle    40 pp. 4/13    978-1-4521-1662-4    $14.99 A counting book, an airport primer, an introduction to international signage, and a simple travel story — van Lieshout’s book packs a lot into its cleanly designed pages. Each spread features a numeral (from one to ten, then […]