Dec 29, 2018

Another Fave from 2018

Families Books, 2018

You only need to examine the cover of LUIS AND TABITHA, written by Stephanie Campisi and illustrated by Hollie Mengert, to recognize who the two main characters are in this delightful picture book. Fall into their eyes to feel their irresistible appeal and imagine the star-crossed love story waiting within the pages of this recent picture book.
Luis is one irresistible cat, and I'm speaking as a cat-lover with allergies. Both the text and the sleek, stylized illustrations make Luis's distinctive charm purr-fectly clear. He has become an unofficial member of the fire crew who saved his life, savoring his regular meals, public appearances, and freedom to stroll the neighborhood at will. 
Those strolls introduce him to prim and proper (and indoor) show cat, Tabitha. Unfortunately, Tabitha's owner is not a romantic, especially when it comes to street cats. Charming Luis woos them both, bringing the sweetest (and funniest) treats to Tabitha's door. He wins Tabitha's heart even more, but not her owner's. 
I'll stop the story there and mention that my reading was interrupted at this point. I couldn't return to it until the next day, but I found myself yearning to get back to the book, to find out what happened next. This is often true while reading novels but it rarely happens with picture books. In this case, once I returned to it I wasn't disappointed and realized that this forty-plus page picture book has many of the plot points of a novella. Luis and Tabitha have the character depth to carry it off, and the extra pages allow the illustrator to take a well-told story and "work it" fully. 

This is a thoroughly modern and appealing story enriched by updated/old-school illustrations, giving a solid nod to Disney's LADY and the TRAMP of my childhood memory. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if Luis (and- SPOILER- Tabitha) make a return appearance in future picture books.

Dec 20, 2018

Armchair #CybilsShortlist- Middle Grade Graphic

In case you're wondering... 

I'm eligible to enter this fun challenge from Cybils Awards, even though I am serving as a Round One Panelist for the Fiction Picture Book and Board Book categories. 
 (Note logo in the right margin!) - - - - >

This new challenge allows me to explore the OTHER categories and choose for myself the titles that I believe (hope) will be on the shortlist for that category. 
In my case, I'm a fan of graphic books for the slightly younger set, and so I gave that long list of nominees a close look. 
It turns out that I've read quite a few, enough to settle on my "fantasy" offering for the shortlist.

Here they are:

The City on the Other Side   By Mairghread Scott
Be Prepared  By Vera Brosgol
The Witch Boy  By Molly Knox Ostertag
Undocumented: A Worker's Fight  By Duncan Tonatiuh
The Cardboard Kingdom By Chad Sell
Good Rosie!  By Kate DiCamillo
Feel free to look over the eligible books in that link above and make your own choices in this or any category.
If you aren't familiar with the ever-expanding options in this category, click on the titles and check them out for yourselves. I suspect you'll be pleasantly surprised and find some exciting new offerings for your home, classroom, or library.

Wish me luck- the challenge runs from December 21 to December 30, so you can still enter this or other categories. Just post your choices and link the post to twitter #CybilsShortlilst.

And stay tuned for the official short list announcements for every category, coming on JANUARY !, 2019!   That's when the finalists judges get to work, narrowing down, discussing, and reviewing the shortlist titles to settle on a single winner in each category.
They need about six weeks for that thoughtful process, so look for the actual winners to be announced on February 14!  Then share the love of books with everyone you know!

Dec 19, 2018

"Brief Notes" About IMAGINATION-Spurring Books

If you read my prior post (here) about two outstanding 2018 picture books, you couldn't help but notice that I failed at my stated goal to write "brief notes" and move on. 
I seem to get carried away when it comes to picture books, especially when they combine entertainment with inspiration. 

Never a quitter, I'm diving back in to try this again with other recent titles, reminding myself that the links for each will take you to more detailed info. PLEASE believe me when I say that each book here deserves a place in your hands or in the hands of kids you know and love. Click those links. Start a list for your next library or wishlist.

These cover images and BRIEF blurbs should get you started, and I'll move on to share more titles soon. 
Hang on, here we go!
This is a celebration of imagination and a spirit of adventure. The unfolding story presents a view of important   multigenerational interaction and encourages adventurous creativity.

WALLPAPER by Thao Lam Shyness is dealt with in many picture books, but this wordless exploration of an inner imaginative life serving to build confidence and curiosity feels fresh and effective. 

We all have dreams, but not all dreams come true. I believe that readers, (many who are young, but also many adults) will feel their dreams coming true on the pages of this book. And you'll gasp at the gorgeous illustrations that make that happen. More Here.

Anna At the Art Museum, by Hazel Hutchins and Gail Herbert, illustrated by Lil Crump. So many positives to this share little book, framing multiple qualities: the perspective of a very REAL little girl figuring out how art museums work: mostly a litany of "NO" rules, authentic reactions and emotions, curiosity, and imagination.

Moving on...

There's a Dinosaur on The 13th Floor, written by Wade Bradford, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes. From front to back cover, and every page turn, the absurdity of this story becomes more funny and engaging as Mr. Snore (with an enormous schnoz) tries to get a good night's sleep despite the many bizarre intrusions into his peaceful rest.

If daVinci Painted a Dinosaur is written by Amy Newbold wth pictures by Greg Newbold. This combination of iconic art blended with familiar dinosaur traits is laugh-inducing. Add to that an appealing little hamster(?) who executes the proposed mash-ups and kids will be begging for more. As with Anna's museum visit (above) the back matter offers thumbnails and short blurbs about the original images and the various artists' styles.

TA-DA!  Not quite as brief as I might have hoped, but I'm getting better at this.  Stay tuned for another speed-review, coming to this bog soon!

Picture books are as versatile and diverse as the readers who enjoy them. Join me to explore the wacky, wonderful, challenging and changing world of picture books.