Reviews of the 2022 Boston Globe–Horn Book Picture Book Award Winner and Honor Books

Picture Book Winner

Ain’t Burned All the Bright
by Jason Reynolds; illus. by Jason Griffin
Middle School    Dlouhy/Atheneum    384 pp.    g
1/22    978-1-5344-3946-7    $19.99
e-book ed.  978-1-5344-3947-4    $10.99

Reynolds’s introspective narrative poem, with a young man at home during quarantine as its speaker, shares the stage with Griffin’s emotive collagelike illustrations done in Moleskine notebooks and reproduced on the pages to make it look like a real teen’s journal. The first-person text is presented in three parts, or “breaths.” In “Breath One,” the narrator says he’s “sitting here wondering why / my mother won’t change the channel // And why won’t the news change the story / And why the story won’t change into something new.” Along with concerns about the world outside, he thinks about his father coughing behind closed doors, his sister talking about protests, and his brother lost in video games. When the wonderings get to be too much, the narrator reminds himself to breathe “in through the nose // out through the mouth.” By the end of “Breath Three,” the narrator realizes that his “oxygen mask” for living through this uncertain time is the people he loves and the moments they share. The poem and images create an authentic-sounding adolescent narrator trying to grapple with the confusion and fear of the double pandemic (COVID-19 and systemic racism) he is facing. The book ends with a conversation between the two Jasons about their collaborative process for creating this work during the pandemic. NICHOLL DENICE MONTGOMERY

From the March/April 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.


Honor Books

Moon Pops
by Heena Baek; illus. by the author; trans. from Korean by Jieun Kiaer
Preschool, Primary    Owlkids    32 pp.    g
8/21    978-1-77147-429-0    $18.95

One “very, very hot night,” the moon — shown in the textured and creative three-dimensional collage illustrations as a glowing ball in the dark sky — begins to melt. Granny (a bespectacled wolf) scurries from her apartment to catch the droplets in a bucket, then prepares them into frozen treats enjoyed by her neighbors. Everyone goes back to bed, newly cool and contented (“their dreams were icy and sweet”); and then two rabbits knock on Granny’s door. Explaining that their home has “melted away,” the creatures seek refuge and counsel. Not to worry: clever Granny comes up with a solution, one that recalls the Korean folklore upon which this well-paced, accessibly written and translated, and visually sumptuous picture book is based. ELISSA GERSHOWITZ

From the Guide/Reviews Database.


by José Jorge Letria; illus. by André Letria; trans. from Portuguese by Elisa Amado
Primary    Aldana Libros/Greystone Kids    64 pp.    g
8/21    978-1-77164-726-7    $19.95

A series of expansive wordless spreads begins this bleak and affecting picture book personifying the insidiousness and cruelty of war. Spare, hard-hitting prose describes the things that “war is” (“War is a machine for pain…the exact destination of all our miseries”) and what it does (“War feeds on hate, ambition, and spite. War invades the gentle sleep of innocents”). Stark, imagistic illustrations — sepia-toned and shadowy — portray crawling insects and spiders and slithering snakes); recognizable imagery of war and violence (soldiers packed shoulder to shoulder, bombs dropping from the sky, a pyre of books, a KKK hood) effectively underscores the story’s message. An unflinchingly thought-provoking work. ELISSA GERSHOWITZ

From the Guide/Reviews Database.


The 2022 Boston Globe–Horn Book Award winners and honors were announced on June 22nd, 2022. For reviews of the other winning titles and more, click on the tag BGHB22.

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