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April Picture Books on the Radar

Happy April, everyone! Spring has officially sprung, even if you happen to live in a part of the country still seeing snow. (If that describes where you live but you’re ready for spring, I won’t mention the temperatures in Nashville right about now.)

If you saw our last post here at Calling Caldecott, you know that we’ll be checking in once a month to see what’s being published that month and what looks intriguing. Today we’ll take a look at April picture books (and a few we missed from earlier). Let’s dive right in.

Alma and How She Got Her Name. From Juana Martinez-Neal, newly minted winner of the Pura Belpré Medal for Illustration, comes the story, geared at preschoolers, of a young girl exploring the origin of her name. This is a story about family, belonging, and cultural identity, with Martinez-Neal relying on a primarily pink palette.

Hello Lighthouse is by Caldecott Medalist (for Finding Winnie) Sophie Blackall and tells the story of a lighthouse keeper on a tiny, remote island who tends with great care to both his lighthouse home and his family. Richly illustrated and designed, this one is filled with rewarding details.

Here’s another graphic novel for you (we mentioned one last month, too): Caldecott Honoree Vera Brosgol’s Be Prepared, about a Russian American girl who heads to Russian camp for the summer. Camp isn’t exactly what she expected, as you can tell from the cover. Will the Caldecott committee want to take a look at Vera’s drawings (colored by Alec Longstreth)?

David Wiesner, who has received three Caldecott Medals and three Honors, is back this year with the (very nearly) wordless story of one boy’s attempt to catch a fly ball in the outfield. As you might imagine (because it’s Wiesner), things turn fantastical pretty quickly. When you get your hands on a copy, be sure to remove the book’s dustjacket to see the cover underneath.

The Dragon Slayer: Folktales from Latin America is from award-winning graphic novelist Jaime Hernandez and is his first book for children. Hernandez takes three folktales from Hispanic and Latino cultures and gives them new spins in a comics format. Like Alma above, this one publishes simultaneously with a Spanish-language edition of the book.

E. B. Goodale is back! (How can we ever forget last year’s Windows?) You can read the Horn Book’s review here, which notes Goodale’s warm colors and her use of texture.

Martin Rising: Requiem for a King, written by Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrated by Brian Pinkney, was published in January. The Horn Book review said, “Brian Pinkney’s swirling watercolor, gouache, and India ink illustrations give life and movement to King’s story and reflect the complex emotions (and accompanying turbulent weather) that surface throughout.”

The Field, a story of a dramatic game of futbol played on a Caribbean island, was published in March. Illustrated by newcomer Jacqueline Alcántara and written by Baptiste Paul, it is a riot of color, movement, and joy (and mud puddles!).

Finally, there is Jillian Tamaki’s new picture book They Say Blue, published last month. Tamaki, who won a 2015 Caldecott Honor for This One Summer, is still eligible for Caldecott consideration (she is Canadian, but has dual citizenship). This makes us happy, since we are fond of this gorgeous book.

We are seeing a whole host of exciting 2018 books, but they will come later. Again, we plan to check in once a month here at Calling Caldecott.

What April publications have you seen that you love? What did we miss?

Julie Danielson About Julie Danielson

Julie Danielson writes about picture books at the blog Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. She also writes for Kirkus Reviews and BookPage and is a lecturer for the School of Information Sciences graduate program at the University of Tennessee. Her book Wild Things!: Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature, written with Betsy Bird and Peter D. Sieruta, was published in 2014.



  1. I loved Alma, just read and reviewed Field today. Both include wonderful stories and illustrations. I would add Nicola Davies’ The Pond, beautiful nature pictures interspersed with emotional highs and lows in the illustrations.

  2. Thanks, Linda! I don’t think I’ve seen THE POND, but I’m pretty sure Nicola is British (and not a U.S. citizen) and, therefore, not eligible. It also looks like maybe it published last year?

    If you, or others, think of any other April picture books we may have missed, please do share!

  3. Oh, you’re right, sorry. Here’s one more and I think it does fit: If I Had A Horse by Gianna Marino. Gorgeous pages!

  4. The Town of Turtle by Michelle Cuevas and Cátia Chien

  5. Forever or A Day by Sarah Jacoby

  6. Thanks, Linda and Corinna. I have seen all these books. (Just the other day, in fact, I wrote elsewhere about The Town of Turtle, which will post later this week.) We love it when people chime in. Keep ’em coming.

  7. Elizabeth Stevens Omlor says:

    Love these! Great picks. Everything You Need for a Treehouse is also breathtaking. 🙂

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