Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Hound Won't Go Cover Reveal

What we humans may see as an odd habit in our canine companions, they consider a part of their job.  I think. In addition to enjoying television and frequently sleeping on her back with all four legs extended, another quirk Mulan displayed immediately was stopping in the middle of a walk to contemplate the universe.  To see this in a puppy not yet three months old was hilarious and a little bit frustrating. Our daily walks were (still are) filled with more than a few stops.

Her routine now consists of stopping and sitting to scan the area in front of and along the bottom of the hill in front of the house as soon as we walk out the door.  We make it halfway down the slope of the driveway and she stops again. Halfway through the walk, after we turn around to return home, she stops at the top of two hills and looks across the street, head lifted and sniffing the air.  She is either trying to tell me to slow down or there’s something that needs my attention.

For this reason, I am happy to host the cover reveal of Lisa Rogers’ second picture book, Hound Won’t Go. The title and first lines for this book came to her in a flash while walking with her pooch pal one day.  I’ll let Lisa tell you this truthful tail . . . err tale.

It’s a pleasure to have you here today at Librarian’s Quest, Lisa.

I was wondering if you would first share with readers how your dog came to live with you and your family, the breed of your dog, your dog’s name and for how long he’s made his home with you.

We brought Tucker into our home after our beloved Dalmatian, Sparky, died. Sparky was our first dog, our daughter considered him her brother, and we treated him royally. We were crushed. But we could not live without a dog to love. We returned to the rescue where we had adopted Sparky and saw this long-legged, goofy, adorable pup, named Bandit 1 (or Bandit 2, I can’t remember). We thought he was a mix, but the shelter told us he was a Treeing Walker Coonhound--think Giant Beagle. I saw videos of these athletic pups climbing 8-foot fences and thought, uh-oh! That was 12 years ago and it’s been an adventure!

Would you please tell readers the particular habit Tucker has that inspired this book?

Most people try to get their dogs to stop. Not Tucker. From the moment we brought him home, we had trouble getting to go--move forward, that is! We call it the Plop O’Doom because he melts into the ground and, at 90+ pounds,  is unmovable. He wants to go where he wants to go, and we pretty much have learned to hang on for the ride.

Does Tucker have any other interesting characteristics readers might enjoy?

Though we changed it, Bandit was an appropriate name for him. He’s fast and stealthy and can swipe a stuffed animal from beneath a sleeping baby without the baby even waking up. It’s happened. Besides the Plop O’Doom, he varies his walking route every other day. One day, he’ll turn right going down our hill to do a woods walk; the next, he’ll turn left for a neighborhood stroll (also good for napping on strangers’ lawns). But he absolutely, never, under any circumstances, goes for a walk after 4 pm unless we take him by car to a favorite place. I have videos to prove it.

They say that dogs mirror some of the personality traits of their humans.  Is this true with Tucker? Is anyone in your family like him?

Stubborn yet even-tempered: my husband. Focused and smart: our daughter. He’s always planning ahead, like me. And we’re all writers, like him. He diligently chronicled his adventures in his blog, Dreams du Dog, until I took over the laptop to focus on my own writing, though he does steal it now and again.

Where is Tucker’s favorite place to walk?  Where is Tucker’s favorite place to simply hang out or rest?

When we walk in our town, no matter where we start, he brings me first to the bookstore, where he gets treats and lots of attention; next, the dog store, where he always manages to cause a ruckus, such as scattering chicken feet all over or grabbing expensive treats and chomping them in seconds. It’s a fun time. By then I’m ready to pack it in, but he drags me another mile or two, and then he hangs out at a brook where he gets in up to his belly and takes a good long drink. Several minutes’ worth.

Hunting hounds like Tucker (not that he has ever hunted) sleep most of the time and are ready to be up and at ‘em when called. So he curls up on our guest bed, one long ear hanging over the side. Half the time we don’t know where he is because he’s so quiet; the other half he’s outside baying at marauding chipmunks.

Would you give us a hint at the writing style used in this book and how or why you decided on it?

As Tucker and I were walking in a crosswalk, I remembered all the times he has plopped, and I thought: “Uh oh. Hound won’t go.”  It made me laugh. The rhythm matched the pace of our walk. I wrote the text in a simple, straightforward, spare way. Because really, that’s the way it is: Hound won’t go, and that is that. Until...

Where is your favorite place to write?

The best place is in my mind while I’m walking, running, or kayaking on the pond near our home. It feels most organic to me. When I must sit down, my favorite place is outside on our patio with the flowers and hummingbirds. It’s quiet and I can hear my story in my mind.

Did you have any exchanges, written or verbal, with illustrator Meg Ishihara about the cover for Hound Won’t Go?

No, but Meg has created an adorable Hound! It’s so great that she’s captured Tucker’s--I mean Hound’s--personality and sense of fun. He’s mischievous but lovable and has a sweet bond with his owner, and that comes through beautifully in her illustrations.

If you had to pick one single thing about the cover you like the most, what is it?

From the expression that Meg gives Hound, it’s clear that he’s perfectly comfortable where he is and that he has no intention of going anywhere. It’s spot on, and I laugh every time I see it.

Here’s to dogs with minds of their own, who stop for reasons unknown.

Here’s the cover of Hound Won’t Go to be released in April 2020 by Albert Whitman & Co.

I want to thank Lisa Rogers for visiting Librarian’s Quest today to satisfy our curiosity about her new book, her dog Tucker and a little bit about herself.

Lisa Rogers maintains a website, and an account on Twitter.  Her debut picture book, 16 Words: William Carlos Williams & “The Red Wheelbarrow”  (Schwartz & Wade, September 24, 2019) illustrated by Chuck Groenink has received two starred reviews. Illustrator Meg Ishihara has a website, and accounts on Instagram and Pinterest.

Lisa Rogers was inspired to write children’s books through her career as an elementary school librarian. She lives with her family outside of Boston, where Tucker makes them laugh and takes them for long walks every day.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Across Time, Country And Culture

It's sitting on my kitchen counter, framed.  It's on a single piece of note paper. (He always kept a pad ready to use with a pencil or pen nearby.)  It's a handwritten recipe for navy bean soup penned by my dad in his signature style of writing.  He made his letter "a" differently than we were taught in school, as an architect or engineer might.  It's probably from watching his father, an engineer, work.

Next to me as I write this post are two of my mom's go-to cookbooks, Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book: Every Recipe Tested in Better Homes & Gardens' Tasting-Test Kitchen (November, 1946) and The Joy Of Cooking (1953).  To be honest, of the two, my dad was more comfortable in the kitchen, but for every meal, daily or for the holidays, each had their specialties to make.  We always knew certain foods would be prepared in a certain manner and our mouths watered in anticipation.  Eventually we were allowed to help and that, too, was a highly desired milestone.

Holding Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story (Roaring Brook Press, October 22, 2019) written by Kevin Noble Maillard with illustrations by Juana Martinez-Neal for the first time was believing I was about to step into a tale of tradition based on family and food.  I knew it would be an emotional experience and it was.  It was poignant for two reasons.  It stirred up wonderful memories of my own, of specific recipes and family gatherings.  I know, too, there will be numerous others who will see themselves and their families in this book and this fills my heart with infinite happiness

In this deeply intimate, poetic book with luminous images, thirteen declarations are written about fry bread.  For each of the first twelve there follows four or five descriptive phrases inviting readers into moments stored in collective hearts and minds.  Within these forty-eight pages, including the opening and closing endpapers, a transformative journey awaits all readers.

Flour, salt, water
Cornmeal, baking powder
Perhaps milk, maybe sugar

For making this food all the ingredients are blended in a large bowl.  Depending on the cook and the cook's helpers, the dough is formed into a variety of shapes and sizes.  When this dough is carefully dropped into hot oil the noise is like hearing a friend's voice.

The shades of fry bread are an assortment of those associated with comfort, security and natural truths.  The other foods served with fry bread are dictated by family favorites.  Fry bread means time taken to enjoy each day.  It brings people together to share other forms of creativity manifested in their arts.

Fry bread is a way to enter into meaningful conversations about Native American history and forced relocation into unknown lands without ingredients for making customary meals.  This bread is consumed beyond the lines of cities, states and countries.  It is eaten by many wherever their homes are.

All the known names of Native American tribes within the United States are celebrated in this statement:


In this meaning it becomes everything, then and now.  It is everyone, then and especially now.  It represents resilience. When readers look in the mirror, they will understand the final declaration, a single sentence.

There is strength in the words meticulously chosen by debut author Kevin Noble Maillard.  Each of the phrases combine to form an essential awareness about each declaration.  They act as defining support.  Here is one of the declarations with the four phrases.

Golden brown, tan, or yellow
Deep like coffee, sienna, or earth
Light like snow and cream
Warm like rays of sun

On the front of the dust jacket, the curve of the elder's arm around the bowl brimming with fry bread and the other arm holding the youngest child supplies us with a circle representing generations of familial traditions.  The look shared by the duo is one of affection.  Faint shapes similar to fry bread are placed on the background.  The background continues over the spine to the left, the back, of the jacket.  There are spots on the canvas signifying the splatters of oil from the cooking.  Centered on the back are three generations of family, grandparents, parents, six children, one dog and a small cat.  Several of the children are holding fry bread.  The youngest is still chewing on a piece.

On the book case an image spans across both sides.  A speckled blue cloth, like the sky for the declaration


covers most of the right side and nearly a half of the left.  On this cloth is fry bread in multiple shapes, sizes and colors.  Off to the left two hands are holding a cup of Te de manzamilla.  The sleeves on their top are pale blue with white scrolled stitching.  Six different hands are reaching for the fry bread on the table, young and older.  A fork and knife are on the cloth.

On the opening and closing endpapers is a listing, a tribute to,

the Indigenous nations and communities within the United States. . . .
This list also includes groups who were not successful in their attempts to achieve official status with the U. S. or state governments, like the Duwamish or the Little Shell Chippewa.

You cannot see these hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of names, row after row, without being deeply affected.

On the verso and title pages artist Juana Martinez-Neal begins with a double-page picture of the elder woman leaning forward and carrying a plate of fry bread.  Behind her on the left (her body begins on the left, crosses the gutter and continues on the right), the publication information is shown in what could be a recipe taped to the wall.  Both dedications are taped on hanging cooking pans.

The illustrations

were done in acrylics, colored pencils, and graphite on hand-textured paper.

Each page turn reveals a double-page image, a visual interpretation of words, extending and enhancing their meaning.  All the people featured are Native American with different physical characteristics, a reflection of the truth.  In the first illustration all five of the young children are happily following the grandmother, each carrying an ingredient.  The grandmother carries a bowl and the baby.  For the next picture, Juana Martinez-Neal shifts the perspective showing a table covered in ingredients, cooking utensils, hands shaping dough, and the large bowl with the elder stirring.

In each illustration the expressions on the children, the adults and the elders mirror their emotional state with perfection.  Many elements from Native America culture are included.  A portrait of an important woman is shown several times.  You'll go back and look at the pictures and study each one for the work of art it is.

For one of my many, many favorite pictures we are in the kitchen with a row of pots hanging from the top of the pages.  A counter spans from page edge to page edge.  On the counter is an assortment of food; beans, tomatoes, leaf lettuce, cut-up small corn cobs, a jar of sorghum, honey and cherry jam, and grated cheese to name some of them.  The children are lined up along the counter; their faces a mixture of excitement, bliss at the tastes to come and calm.  The father carries a plate of fry bread in front of them and partially off the right side.

This book, Fry Bread written by Kevin Noble Maillard with illustrations by Juana Martinez-Neal, is a masterpiece.  Kevin Nobel Maillard's Author's Note is nearly eight pages of detailed explanations about each of the declarations.  Items in the illustrations are explained as well.  This is an outstanding addition.  On the final page of text are three references and a list of fifteen notes.  Prior to his Author's Note Kevin Noble Maillard shares his recipe for fry bread.  The illustration shown on the back of the dust jacket is enlarged and opposite this page.  This is an essential title for all professional and personal book collections.  It is an honor to have read this work.

To learn more about Kevin Noble Maillard and Juana Martinez-Neal and their other accomplishments, please visit their websites by following the links attached to their names.  Kevin Noble Maillard has accounts on Instagram and Twitter.  Juana Martinez-Neal has accounts on Instagram and Twitter.  The cover reveal for this title was hosted by Scholastic's Ambassador of School Libraries, John Schumacher at Watch. Connect. Read. with an interview with both the author and illustrator.  There is a question and answer forum with both creators at Publishers Weekly.  This book is showcased on NPR Morning Edition.  Kevin Noble Maillard is interviewed at School Library JournalThe Horn Book has five questions for Kevin Noble Maillard.  Author Chris Barton interview Kevin Noble Maillard on his blog, Bartography. Both Kevin Noble Maillard and Juana Martinez-Neal visit with teacher librarian Matthew Winner at The Children's Book Podcast.  I believe you will enjoy this article in Indian Country Today about this title.  At the publisher's website you can view interior illustrations.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Considering Questions

Curious children question . . . everything.  This is the very act which makes them so amazing. Being near their inquiry is invigorating.  It's wonderful to see curious children continue to be curious teens, curious young adults and curious adults.  I can still recall, as I have mentioned previously, sitting in church thirty years ago, listening to the first female minister in any church I attended utter the words, "When you're through learning, you're through."

There will never come a time when our fascinating minds are filled to capacity; there is simply too much wonder in the world.  Two publications in the final third of the year address this compelling need to know; this lively speculation about all sorts of things.  Just Because (Candlewick Press, September 10, 2019) written by Mac Barnett with illustrations by Isabelle Arsenault follows a bedtime conversation between a child and their father.

Why is the ocean blue?

Surprisingly enough, the father elaborates with story instead of science.  According to him, the fish play guitars and sing sad songs once the child is asleep.  They then sob tears of blue.

Now accelerating the inquiries, the child asks about rain.  The father replies with a mixture of fact and fantasy.  His explanation as to why leaves change color makes perfect sense if you forget about the dryness of leaves and trees in general.  He attaches the next answer to the previous answer with astute cleverness.

When the child asks about the disappearance of dinosaurs and goes on to ask about black holes, her father gives two of my favorite interpretations tying them together.  When a barrage of questions fills the bedtime conversation, the father has a kindly request.  This, as you might expect, prompts another query.  With the special gift fathers are known to have, his response is loving, wise and truthful.

In the manner storytellers have of inviting listeners into their tale, Mac Barnett starts with one of the classic questions children are known to ask.  With the father's reply to this first question and the subsequent ones, he gives readers a gift every single time, the gift of thinking outside what is expected or accepted.  The cadence we have come to appreciate and respect in picture books of excellence is supplied when the answers to questions one and two, three and four and five and six become splendid pairs.  Here is a part of one of Mac Barnett's father's answers.

Millions of years ago,
thousands of asteroids
fell on the earth.

But the dinosaurs
had planned for this.
They fastened themselves . . .

In looking at the open dust jacket you initially notice a blend of geometric with whimsical.  This look is a pictorial representation of the verbal approach taken by the father in answering his child's questions.  The dots on the child's bedding are enlarged to hold text.  The text is placed within circles throughout the book.  The colors shown in the artwork above the text are depicted in question and answer sets.

To the left, on the back, the first question, is placed in a large circle.  Three smaller circles hold leaves, a seashell and an automobile.  In a fourth circle, white, is the ISBN.  The book case is a stunning contrast to the jacket.  On matte-finished paper is a light cream shade.  A pattern is fashioned from leaves and flowers found on land and below in the sea, and there are sea creatures.  Lavender, hues of blue and green, purple and a reddish orange are given to these elements.  It's a depiction of all the wonder waiting to be found.

On the black opening and closing endpapers are dots of various colors and sizes.  Isabelle Arsenault rendered these illustrations

in gouache, pencil, and watercolor and assembled digitally.

On the title page is the nightstand in the child's room with their jar of marbles and some of them scattered on the floor.  A two-page picture is devoted to the first question with the text in a large circle on the left and a picture of the child in her bed in her room with her father standing in the doorway on the right.  The colors are shades of black, gray, white, cream and blue for the circle.  For the answer we are taken under the sea, with a brighter focus in the play of light and shadow.  The blue is featured.  The father's answer is in white circles.

For each question and answer the father, child and the child's dog change their position and expressions.  Readers need to carefully watch.  Whatever color appears in the circle will become prevalent in the following image. For the illustration after the two pages depicting multiple questions in multiple circles, we see a larger perspective of the child's room.  Many of the items in the room are incorporated in the questions and answers.

One of my many favorite illustrations is for the answer as to why birds fly south in the winter.  For the background on the right showcasing two flying swallows, each carrying leaves in their beaks, Isabelle Arsenault selects a pale mint green.  On the left is a collage of greenery, leaves and stems in all shapes and sizes in shades of black and gray with the same pale mint green.  It's a breathtaking array.  Tucked among this collection is a small insect with two arms raised in praise.

Just Because written by Mac Barnett with art by Isabelle Arsenault is a conversational masterpiece.  It allows us to see inside the bond between a loving parent and an inquisitive child.  This book was recently selected at one of The 2019 New York Times/New York Public Library Best Illustrated Children's Books.  I can't imagine a professional or personal collection without this title on the shelves.

To learn more about Mac Barnett and Isabelle Arsenault and their other work, please follow the links attached to their names to access their websites.  Mac Barnett has an account on Instagram.  Isabelle Arsenault has accounts on Facebook and Instagram. At the publisher's website and at Penguin Random House you can view interior images.  At Art Of The Picture Book both Mac Barnett and Isabelle Arsenault are interviewed about this title.  At author, reviewer and blogger Julie Danielson's Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast this book and the artwork of Isabelle Arsenault are highlighted.  Enjoy the book trailer.

If you could take a few moments thinking extraordinary things about what we accept as true, you might find yourself reflecting as the children in this second title do.  I Wonder (Random House, October 1, 2019) with words by K. A. Holt and pictures by Kenard Pak is an exploration of the art and craft of questioning.  It's like having a list of inquiries you could spend a lifetime searching for answers.  Speculation has rarely been this . . . wonderful.

What if the sun is really a kite?

This first of a combination of twenty-six wondering and questioning phrases is the spark that ignites a fire of possibilities.  It also generates another series of questions.  If the sun is a kite, what are the planets?  Are they kites, too?  If they are all kites, who is holding the string? 

Children from all ethnic backgrounds ponder.  Our next focus is on food.  How does it feel to be consumed?  When you think of water bottles, how big can you go?  What realm could be found inside a bottle?

We are asked to wonder if inanimate objects get tired, lonely or sad?  Insects find a place in these musings. 

Does a grasshopper take hopping lessons?

If you believe in unicorns, it stands to reason you need to know where they are now.

Clocks and a question of time makes sense, but belly buttons and galaxies are a completely new pair.  Thoughts turn to how a form of air is created.  Have you ever studied your shadow and its expressions?  As one child of many is tucked into bed, one final thought is offered.  For this one, and this one alone, there is a reply.  And it is the truth!

In reading over this collection of contemplations, you become aware it might be difficult to definitively reply to most of them.  K. A. Holt inspires us to go beyond what is known and to brainstorm the potential for stories.  Each one of these twenty-six is the ticket to a new adventure.  Here are two more for you to celebrate and pour into your imagination.

Do bubbles tickle everything they touch?

I wonder if books read us, too.

One look at the open dust jacket and you know this book is no ordinary book.  Oh . . . no.  This book showcasing a whale carrying a house with a unicorn coming from the back with fish swimming nearby and a blue car floating along with a kite flying is the stuff of fantastic.  The subtle, muted shades of the main image stand in sharp contrast to the sun and the bright colors of the title text.  This initial image urges you in the best possible way to open this book. 

To the left, on the back, five colorful kites fly upward from the darker shades of green along the bottom.  A lone smaller kite of blue stretches from the center edge on the left.  These kites frame the words in a pastel setting.  The words read:

What do you wonder about
when you look at the world?

On the book case of pristine white three children from diverse backgrounds run beneath the title text.  On the back, to the left, a home in pencil with gray shading above it is beneath a full moon and a cluster of stars.  On the opening and closing endpapers is a repeating pattern of a tiny red car, a teddy bear, a sun, a kite, a ladybug, a faint blue planet and a bubble.  The title page is like a dream.  The text is in lower case, partially in pencil and partially erased from a pencil rubbing.  The pastoral scene beneath it is very faint, mystical.

On the jacket flap it states Kenard Pak

uses watercolor, pencil, collage, ink, and digital media

to create his art.  For this book he alternates between double-page pictures and full-page pictures.  Each one is a unique perspective.  We are outside looking inside, looking upward, up-close, from a bird's point of view or shown a combination of two on a single illustration.  By looking at the light and sky in the images, it appears as if Kenard Pak is taking us from sunrise to bedtime except for the final picture. 

He begins and ends with a form of the sun bringing his visuals full circle.  Careful readers will see items in one picture appear again.  Readers will also want to see if the same children are shown in more than one image.

One of my many favorite illustrations is for the words

I wonder if books read us, too.

The floor and walls of the room are etched and lighter as is the staircase in the background, mostly in shadow.  In the center and filling more than half the space is a light tan rug.  Seated on the rug in her pajamas is a little girl.  With her a dog is calmly sitting and a kitten is seated next to her.  In front of this trio is an open book with the words


on the front.  A talking yellow bird separates the two words.  Is the book reading the little girl and her furry friends?

Lighthearted, soulful and compassionate, I Wonder written by K. A. Holt with illustrations by Kenard Pak is a reflective selection of why we love what children think and have to say.  They are the reason as adults we strive to make the world better for them; so they can continue to wonder.  I highly recommend this title for your collections, professional and personal.

To discover more about K. A. Holt and Kenard Pak and their other work, please access their websites by following the links attached to their names.  K. A. Holt has an account on Twitter.  Kenard Pak has accounts on Instagram and Twitter. At the publisher's website you can view interior illustrations.  At author Cynthia Leitich Smith's website, Cynsations,  K. A. Holt is interviewed.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Collectively Giving Thanks

Trust me, there is a time in your life, the younger the better, when you wake up each morning grateful to still be breathing with clothes to wear and food to eat in a home with the ability to keep you warm and cool when necessary.   For this writer every day begins with the first of several mile walks with my canine companion.  Today I am grateful for no encounter with the local bear.  Time during the morning is spent connecting with friends on social media, some of whom I have never met.  Yet, I am thankful for knowing them and hold onto the hope of chatting with them one day soon in person.  Hours are dedicated to making Flu-Fighter Cookies for colleagues at work.  It's good news when all the necessary ingredients are located, and they are baked to perfection. 

Winter is here covering nearly everything today in a snowy coat.  Getting to and from work without incident is a cause for rejoicing. An evening spent with an ever-so-patient pup playing and laughing at her antics feeds a work-weary soul.  It is indeed a time to express thanks when your day closes with writing about a book.  In this book, Thanku: Poems Of Gratitude (Millbrook Press, an imprint of Lerner Publishing Group, Inc., September 3, 2019) illustrated by Marlena Myles and edited by Miranda Paul, there is an abundance of words written by talented authors expressing numerous forms of gratitude.  If you seek it, you will find it.

Giving Thanks
In memory of Chief Jake Swamp

Thanksgiving is more
than just one day,
so a Mohawk elder
said to me.
(This is the first stanza in the first poem written by Joseph Bruchac.)

With each page turn (with the exception of the first poem and one other) we are presented with two poems.  Numbering thirty-two, these poems offer thirty-two different formats by thirty-two distinctive authors.  Each of their compositions gives us a fresh way to view our world as a whole or a small part of it.

In this first poem we are reminded every day is a day to give thanks.  We are given a new point-of-view of the sky everyone shares followed by expressions of thanks for the beauty of our avian friends, their flying abilities and songs.  Praises are penned for dinosaurs by future fliers and for the development of species, some not named or counted, over generations.  A math poem brings to life computations featuring compassion.  The true value of zero revealed in a tanka leaves you wondering.

Friends discuss birthdays and parties and hope for having a first one.  Teamwork is praised in a race.  There are all kinds of emergencies, but assistance is shown from a new perspective.  It appears when light and water are in a special alignment.  Roy G. Biv is introduced.  When we least expect them, the smallest words of thanks appear hidden among other words in a found poem.  An arachnid sends out a plea.

Are we ever thankful enough for sleep until we really need it?  Attitude is shown to be the key to gratitude.  We enter a cobbler's realm of waiting shoes.  Not necessarily painless, but scars, as an elder states, are a blessing in disguise.  The worth of passing stories from one generation to the next will leave you deeply moved.  The girl who entered a wonderland and a looking glass has reason to be pleased with her spectacles.  You'll grin at the descriptions of delightful dimples.

Humans with canine companions will knowingly nod in agreement at thankfulness for a puppy.  Sometimes doing the right thing brings gratefulness to both the giver and the receiver.  We love the colorful vistas during autumn but falling leaves have their special appeal.  Who knew a sweatshirt could have a best day ever.  Sometimes, during the best times, we can understand parallels between nature and humans.  The most common object can become a beachcomber's treasure.

Have you ever written words in the sand hoping the message is noticed by someone else?  An ode to dreams speaks invaluable truths.  There will be a moment in a family's history when the first individual will receive a college diploma.  It is important to be persistent in going wherever you need or want to go.  Just keep going.  We are reminded there is more than the expected mediums for painting.  On this day of winter's first big snow, the final poem about a snow-filled day closes with this repetition

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

The thirty-two authors in order of their poems are Joseph Bruchac, Naomi Shihab Nye, Kimberly Blaeser, Sun Yung Shin, Ed DeCaria, Becky Shillington, Padma Venkatraman, Gwendolyn Hooks, Jane Yolen, Janice Scully, Charles Waters, Carole Lindstrom, Sylvia Liu, Carolyn Dee Flores, Sarvinder Naberhaus, Lupe Ruiz-Flores, Baptiste Paul, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Patti Richards, Chrystal D. Giles, Margarita Engle, Kenn Nesbitt, JaNay Brown-Wood, Diana Murray, Megan Hoyt, Jamie McGillen, Renee M. LaTulippe, Vanessa Brantley-Newton, Traci Sorell, Edna Cabcabin Moran, Charles Ghigna and Liz Garton ScanlonThe poetry formats in order are:  didactic poem, epistle, concrete (shape), sijo, Fib, math poems, tanka, poem for two voices, septercet, hyperbole, quatrain, found poem, Tyburn, onomatopoeia, echo, allegory, tricube, (chant, free verse), (narrative poem, allusion), acrostic, decima mirror, McWhirtle, ode, mask, Shakespearean sonnet, ballad, pantoum, limerick, cinquain, palindrome, metaphor and Etheree.  Each poem penned by each writer, without you being aware, brings you into the essence of what they are saying.  It is a stunning achievement by all thirty-two people.

Like the words of all thirty-two authors, the illustration on the open and matching dust jacket and book case is an eloquent portrait in calming hues of blue and green with the warmth of pastel yellow, pink, peach and purple.  The contrast of the silhouette of the individual blowing on the flower and the text in navy blue is marvelous.  Featuring the names of the authors in those colorful shades of breath is a wonderful design decision.  It pairs beautifully with the words to the left, on the back, written by Joseph Bruchac in the first poem.  The silhouette flows over the spine and continues to the middle of the back.  Another lovely contrast are the flowers in white and navy along the bottom of the front and back and the scattering of seeds on both sides of the spine and within the spine.

A robin-egg's blue covers the opening and closing endpapers.  Black text of the names of the authors, the illustrator Marlena Myles, and the editor Miranda Paul as well as silhouettes of clusters of flowers in both lower corners appear on the title page.  These are placed on an array of pale colors like watercolors spreading out and blending together.


in Adobe Photoshop with Texturino

by Marlena Myles the images vary between double-page pictures and full-page pictures.  The adept skill in which two poems are placed on a single double-page illustration and find commonality is wonderful.  Even the full-page visuals, though separate, have connections in the color palettes used.  The pictorial interpretations employed by Marlena Myles enhance every written piece.

One of my many favorite illustrations is for the two poems titled College Degree by Traci Sorell and A Graceful Journey by Edna Cabcabin Moran.  At first glance you are focused on the two college graduates, holding their diplomas and garbed in their gowns on the left and a bird's eye view of group of three people in single kayaks paddling on the right.  A more studied look shows their placement on a map of the world with the land masses in shades of gray amid blue, green and a bit of yellow swirls.  This is only one of many excellent artistic choices made by Marlena Myles.

Thanku: Poems Of Gratitude illustrated by Marlena Myles and edited by Miranda Paul is filled with words of wisdom from a diverse group of creative artists.  You could read one or all of them every day and still feel the positive peace they bring as if it's the first time each time.  At the close of the book are several pages dedicated to explanations of the poetic forms and brief biographies of the contributors.  Miranda Paul closes the book with a note to educators and parents about the value of gratitude all year.  She urges people to seek the truth and remain factual in discussing Thanksgiving.  She says: in one of several paragraphs:

Learning and sharing the fuller context of Thanksgiving doesn't mean that we need to stop celebrating entirely.  Many citizens of the hundreds of Indigenous Nations within the United States and Canada give thanks to the Creator not once a year, but every day, for all the gifts of life.  On Thanksgiving, Americans reach out in significant numbers to people in need within their communities.  Might we start there and move forward?  While we cannot change the past, we can acknowledge its consequences and work for peace and unity in the future.

Miranda Paul has included four resources after her note.  I highly recommend this title for your professional and personal collections.

I have attached links to all the authors' names, Marlena Myles' name and Miranda Paul's name which for most take you to their respective websites so you can learn more about them and their work. For a few I selected the best source I could find online other than a website.  At the publisher's website are interior images and excerpts which are breathtaking.  Marlena Myles is showcased at Kid Lit 411.  Marlena Myles and Miranda Paul are interviewed at author Cynthia Leitich Smith's website.  The cover was revealed at We Need Diverse Books.  Author, educator, founder and writer at American Indians in Children's Literature, speaker and recipient of the 2019 (May Hill) Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Award Dr. Debbie Reese (tribally enrolled Nambe Pueblo) speaks about this book on her site.

Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy hosted by educator Alyson Beecher to view the other titles selected this week by participants in the 2019 Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge.

Dear Readers:

Please do not be confused by time references in this post.  I started it well before midnight on November 6, 2019 but did not complete it until the early hours of November 7, 2019.  Thank you.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

A Miscalculation

One day in the middle of August my canine companion refused to go out in the backyard in broad daylight.  Inside she paced and would not rest.  A quick conversation with a nearby neighbor confirmed their dog was pacing and barking.  This lasted for two hours. A call to the Department of Natural Resources revealed the distinct possibility of a browsing bear.  A wildlife biologist sent pamphlets and they were distributed.  Did neighbors take down their bird feeders?  Did the neighbors who leave their garbage carts out 24/7 put them in their garages?

A few weeks later when walking with my dog, a bear cub crossed the road about a half a block in front of us.  I did not say a word to anyone, certain in my mind no one would believe me.  Today I received a call from another neighbor, who knows I walk a lot each day, warning me of spotting a bear cub in the same vicinity.  Another call to the DNR resulted in receiving explicit instructions to remove bird feeders and garbage carts.  After a door to door canvas, we will see how people respond.

The truth is hungry animals in the wild, already encroached upon by an increasing population of humans, will seek the readiest food supply.  They have a keen sense of smell.  They have remarkable memories.  And they are clever.  This is how they survive.  One Fox: A Counting Book Thriller (Peachtree Publishing Company Inc., October 1, 2019) written and illustrated by Kate Read is about a wily predator who, as the suspense builds, gravely misjudges his prey.  This is how they survive.


One number at a time this cunning stalker moves closer to its meal.  In its sights are three chickens intent on devouring three juicy worms.  They are oblivious to the lurking danger.

The fox moves with stealth one paw at a time.  The now roosting hens snooze.  Nestled near them are more than four eggs but less than six.

The moon is high in a black nighttime sky.  The fox is right outside the chicken coop.  He's ready to make his move but first politeness takes precedence.


Inside the henhouse it's darker than beneath the black nighttime sky except for the whites of four sets of eyes.  YIKES!  A frantic fracas ensues.  What has happened to the three hens?  More importantly, readers, you should be wondering about the


Every suspenseful moment is presented in three word phrases except for a pause and the stunning surprise by author Kate Read in her debut picture book.  The use of alliteration and rhyming words astutely fashion a gentle beat.  By meticulous blending of story and counting readers, the intended audience and others, will be engaged and participating in the tale.

On the open and matching dust jacket and book case the fox is displayed in all its sly glory.  The folds in its fur, the direction of its ears, the eye looking at readers, the slight lines for its mouth and whiskers give us an up-close and personal view.  The title text takes its color from the fox's fur.  To the left, on the back, continuing with the same background, and in the center of the page, the fox's tail is flipped up in a curve with its white tip pointing to the left.  The text reads:

A gripping farmyard tale and fantastic
counting book for early learners

On the jacket the fox and the words One Fox are varnished.

On the opening endpapers is a pattern of colorful single paw prints.  Shades of red, blue, green and yellow and blends of these hues cover the pages except for one small portion.  In this the fox is tucked.  It's walking, smiling and looking behind it.  On the closing endpapers is an equally vivid array of sleeping hens set in diagonal rows.  Across the white verso (dedication and publication text) and title pages are twelve paw prints in various shades.

The illustrations by Kate Read are rendered

as mixed media with collage and painting.

The first illustration on a crisp white canvas is of the fox curled as if resting and opposite the words on the left.  It is next featured on the left, much closer to readers, looking ready to pounce or pursue.  All we see is its head, a small bit of its back and two front paws.  The text for this picture is on the right page.

When the number four is shown, the darkness is falling.  In this illustration Kate Read shifts her perspective.  The text is in a large horizontal column at the bottom of the page.  Along the top we see four paws and a tail moving in front of a shadowy chicken wire fence.  Now the crisp white background is replaced with black until a pause and pacing dictates change.  Hilarity follows on a page covered in chicken feet prints in many hues with the words

No hens or foxes were harmed
in the making of this book.

One of my many favorite illustrations is when the fox has its head in the henhouse.  It is a double-page picture (Nearly all of them are double-page pictures.) There are various shades of black to denote the straw, hens, the inside walls of the henhouse and the fox.  The number 8 is in red.  The text
is in white to match two sets of frightened eyes looking right at readers, one set of horrified eyes looking at the fox and another set of eyes fiercely looking at the chickens.  There is also a row of sharp white teeth.  This is when readers will probably gasp out loud.

As a read aloud, One Fox: A Counting Book Thriller written and illustrated by Kate Read, is a treasure.  With the right voice and pacing, the words and images will move off the page into the storytelling circle wrapping around listeners whether it's one-on-one or with a group.  I highly recommend this title for your personal and professional collections.

To discover more about Kate Read and her other work, please follow the link attached to her name to access her website.  Kate Read has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter.  At the publisher's website is an excerpt and an activity kit.  The book trailer is revealed at educator Alyson Beecher's site Kid Lit Frenzy

Monday, November 4, 2019

Gratitude-An Attitude

It's name comes from the Roman god of agriculture and harvest, Saturn or Saturnus.  By definition it is the seventh day of the week, coming between Friday and Sunday.  It is considered a part of the weekend; those forty-eight hours when the five previous days of work or school are completed.  It is a time for a more leisurely pace or, at the very least, a day dedicated to doing exactly what you choose to do, alone or with family or friends.

The demands of watching the clock and keeping to a set schedule are hopefully put aside for most people on Saturday.  In Saturday (Little, Brown And Company, October 22, 2019) written and illustrated by Caldecott Honor Medalist (Thank You, Omu) Oge Mora, readers understand the true worth of this day.  More importantly, through this composition of meticulously chosen words and a signature collage style, we connect on a personal and emotional level with this girl and her mother during their shared hours on this Saturday.

This morning Ava and her mother were all smiles.  It was SATURDAY!

Ava's mother was committed to her job on the other six days of the week, but Saturday, each and every one, was for Ava and her mother.  They loved this day!  On Saturday they could go to the public library for storytime, go to the beauty salon for new hairdos, and enjoy a quiet picnic in the park.

This Saturday was more highly anticipated then most.  They had tickets for a puppet show only being performed once on this particular day.  Their hearts were full of joy as they left their home to begin their expected adventures.  BUT . . .

For every one of their planned stops, there were surprises.  To begin storytime at the public library was cancelled.  Mother and daughter had a routine they performed to deal with setbacks.  It was three steps.  With those completed, they continued with hope.

With three disappointments behind them they arrived, finally, at the puppet show.  Something important was forgotten.  As her mother voiced her failure in defeat, Ava did what they always did.  She then uttered the most loving words anyone wishes to hear.  At home without the library, beauty salon, park or theater, Ava and her mother created their own happiness.

The first time reading the words written by Oge Mora, I could feel my eyes welling with tears.  She brings us into the story initially by binding us to what we know.  We know about working five or more days a week.  We know about the significance of being able to share hours with people we love when we are not working or going to school.  She further elevates the anticipation by telling us what Ava and her mother are going to do.

Repetition of three key phrases before and then after each disappointment stress the meaning of this day to a parent and her daughter.  It establishes a storytelling cadence as does the three steps they perform after their unsuccessful visits to the library, beauty salon, park and theater.  The placement of dialogue within the narrative makes it more intimate for readers. Here is a passage.


. . .their hairdos were ruined.

"Oh no!" Ava sobbed.
"Our dos!" boo-hooed Ava's mother. (page turn)

They paused, closed their eyes,
and---whew---let out a deep breath. . . .  

The front of the dust jacket displays the total bliss Ava and her mother feel on any given Saturday, but especially this Saturday.  And I ask you, don't we all feel this way on Saturday?  Their hearts brimming with happiness are seen in their expressions and body movements.  The chosen color palette is soothing but conveys utter elation.

To the left, on the back, the pale green shade on the front crosses over the spine and becomes the canvas.  In a circle around one of the most touching lines in the story, we see Ava and her mother in four positions signifying their intended activities.  On the book case Oge Mora has used textured paper in purple, almost like the cover of an album.  In the center on the front is a photographic representation of Ava and her mother.  It is held in place by two pieces of tape.

The opening and closing endpapers feature off to the side a piece of paper with the word NOTES at the top.  Ava has listened the highlights of her Saturday Wish list.  Opposite this list is a thirty-day calendar.  Ava has crossed out each day from the 1st to the 29th.  She has labeled some of the activities that happened during the month particularly on Saturdays.  On this Saturday, the 30th,  puppet show!!! is written in crayon.  She has placed a gold star there.

In an About This Book section Oge Mora states:

The collages for this book were created with acrylic paint, china markers, patterned paper, and old-book clippings.

She begins her visual story on the double-page picture for the title page.  Ava's mother stands in her bedroom doorway, holding a cup of a steaming beverage as Ava gets out of bed.  With each page turn we find ourselves enchanted by double-page pictures, a group of four small images over two pages, full-page pictures, and single page pictures with wide framing around carefully created artwork.  The shift in background colors indicates the emotional state of the characters perfectly.

One of my many, many favorite pictures is when Ava and her mother, with their beautiful new hairdos, are leaving the beauty salon.  They are nearly dancing down the street they are so thrilled with how they look and feel.  Both have their eyes closed in contentment with their arms outstretched and one of their legs raised.  Careful readers will note, however, the placement of a large puddle right in front of Ava and close to the edge of the sidewalk.

Every emotional up and down in this book Saturday written and illustrated by Oge Mora, has been experienced by readers of all ages. What we can appreciate are the expressions of love between this parent and child.  We might all want to start making a Saturday wish list and having a routine in place when faced with disappointment.  This book is all about finding a silver lining when it appears as if there is none.  I highly recommend this title for your personal and professional collections.

To discover more about Oge Mora and her other work, please follow the link attached to her name to access her website.  Oge Mora has accounts on Instagram and Twitter.  At the publisher's website is a wonderful video chatting with Oge Mora about one image, a double-page picture, in this title.  Oge Mora is showcased at School Library Journal, We Need Diverse Books and at author, reviewer and blogger Julie Danielson's site, Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast talking about this title.  If you would like to hear a bit of the book read aloud visit this link posted by HatchetteAudio.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

To Go With The Flow

When you wander along its boundaries or cross over it in a vehicle, it's a partial point of view.  When you walk along or live near its edge, your vision is a bit clearer.  Your perspective shifts entirely when you sit in a canoe or a raft upon it.  As you quietly paddle or quickly ride the rapids on a river, depending on the width or how close you are to the banks, you can see everything as if you are a part of it, instead of a stranger.  You are now intimately connected to this body of water and all its inhabitants.  For this reason, you now need to heighten your sensory perceptions and skills you would not normally need.

This is the way, I have learned, nature works.  We are stunned by both its beauty and its danger.  It's always a challenge but the rewards are etched in our memories for the rest of our lives.  River (Orchard Books, an imprint of Scholastic, October 1, 2019) written and illustrated by Elisha Cooper is a breathtaking portrait of one woman's adventure as she canoes down the Hudson River.

Morning, a mountain lake.  A traveler, a canoe.  As she paddles out into the blustery middle of the lake, she turns for a last wave to the shore behind her.  Her journey begins.

We learn her voyage, as she travels alone, covers three hundred miles before she reaches home.  At first, entering the river from the lake, the water level is very low.  Sometimes she is walking and towing the canoe.  It is laden with appropriate supplies for her survival.  One rock in the shallow water is not a rock at all.  She and a moose exchange curious glances.

On this first day she hears thunder.  It is not a storm but a series of rapids. She and the canoe survive.  After a night under a starry sky, she awakens and spends the day passing from civilization to the wilds and back to civilization again.

In the following days she struggles to carry the canoe and her supplies around a dam, she battles hordes of insects, she descends a waterfall through a series of locks and arrives at a town.  She buys more supplies, postcards and replaces her hat lost at the rapids.  That night she finds an island to make camp.  Soon the hours between sunrise and sunset become a series of moving over the water, drawing in her sketchbook, eating, resting and camping at night.  She is changing; becoming hardened, cautious and vigilant.

A too-close encounter with a tugboat and an unexpected squall place her in grave danger.  At long last the landscape on either side of the river is familiar and leads to an individual whose hands have determined her safety.  With a meeting completed the river she followed on this personal passage leads her to an ocean, to a lighthouse and a sandy shore full of welcome.

In the writing of this woman's travels, as an author Elisha Cooper chooses spare melodious text.  He creates vivid moments of the wife and mother's actions and reactions.

She takes a deep breath and pulls her paddle through the cold water.

His selection of descriptive words, adjectives and verbs, composes eloquent landscapes, intense circumstances and the calm of solitude and reflection.

The moon climbs up among the stars.  She is alone, but not.  The river stays beside her, mumbling to her and to itself all through the night.

Clouds roll over mountains and the river runs through the mountains, between earth and sun.  The river is broad here.  She hugs the shore.  The land passes by, mile after mile, as she guides the canoe south past apple orchards, hilltop houses, and industrial plants.

For canoeists the front of the dust jacket is a well-known and beloved sight.  Often, depending on the time of day and time of year, it is you alone with the river and the vista spreading on either side and in front of you.  Elisha Cooper paints the serenity of seeing water, woodlands, blue sky and clouds from the seat of a canoe masterfully.  His signature artistic style welcomes readers into this scene and into this book.

To the left, on the back, he features the woman paddling the canoe past a cityscape many will recognize.  Above the buildings in the cloud-filled sky is a list of four of Elisha Cooper's books with commentary from starred professional reviews.  The spine color is taken from the title text on the front.

The book case is a study in the research conducted by Elisha Cooper, showcasing sketches of scenery beside actual photographs.  There are tiny images of animals, items from the family's home, and completed color thumbnails, as well as color studies.

On the opening and closing endpapers are a pattern of continued color studies with tiny sketches contained in a column on the far left of the first and on the far right of the second set.  A single rusty red line separates these columns from maps of the Hudson River area.  The first map brings readers closer to the area revealing states, Lake Ontario, Lake Champlain, the Atlantic Ocean and the Hudson River; all of which are labeled.  The second map is from a larger perspective with captions of places and wonders seen and experienced along the route the woman followed.

The pictorial story begins on the verso.  Here, in the kitchen, the woman is showing her route on a map to one of her children.  The other child is playing with the family dog. (I think the dog looks like the main character in Elisha Cooper's Homer.  It is one of my top ten favorite dog picture books of all time.)  The husband (and father) is placing the canoe on top of the car.  It is 8:20 a.m.  Steam rises from a tea kettle.

On the title page a single canoe paddle is shown beneath the text.  Each illustration in this book is a thoughtful portrait of a meaningful moment.  Some are placed on a single page framed in white space.  Others span two pages in a glorious display of nature and the woman in her canoe, small in comparison.  At times there are groups of larger illustrations on two pages; sometimes one crossing the gutter beautifully.

To indicate the passage of time in close succession, several small pictures are shown together.  The depiction of her fighting the effects of the squall is amazing! Small drawings and paintings of animals and plants are interspersed with text and larger images.  It's like we are reading a journal or being given a glimpse of her sketchbook.

Above the author's note is the same setting as on the verso, the family kitchen.  It is now 8:20 p.m.  All the family members are gathered in the kitchen.  The woman has her open sketchbook and is speaking with the older child.  The youngest child is opening a gift of a toy canoe.  The dog has claimed the woman's small piece of collected driftwood in the shape of a fish.  The father's (and husband's) eyes appeared closed.  Why do you think this is so?

One of my many, many favorite illustrations is a combination of pictures.  Beginning near the top of the upper, left hand corner of the left page and extending to the center of the right page is a landscape scene with the river and its rapids cutting through rocks and a rough green terrain with clouds hanging above it.  The woman is battling the rapids while trying to stay inside the canoe.  There is a single sentence and a single word above this visual.  Beneath it is more text on the left and on the right.  Five small pictures between the two pages show close-ups of the woman in the rapids.

Whether you've canoed on a river, dreamed of canoeing on a river, crave adventure or favor storytelling at its best, The River written and illustrated by Elisha Cooper is a powerful presentation.  An Author's Note, A Note on the Hudson River and Sources and Reading are included at the close of this title.  I can't imagine a professional or personal book collection without this in it.  I highly recommend River.

To discover more about Elisha Cooper and his other work, please follow the link attached to his name to access his website.  Elisha Cooper has an account on Instagram.  Elisha Cooper visits with John Schumacher, Scholastic's Ambassador of School Libraries, at his site, Watch. Connect. Read.  At The Horn Book Elisha Cooper talks with Roger Sutton about River.  On October 10, 2019 author, reviewer and blogger, Julie Danielson, showcases this book on her blog, Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.  There is a lot of artwork as Elisha Cooper talks about the book case.  At Scholastic, Canada, there is a view of the first double-page picture.  Please enjoy these two videos.