Quote of the Month

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

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Happy New Year 2020---One Little Word

Every year it seems as though time goes faster and faster.  The days, weeks and months in 2019 came and went like lightning.  With the welcoming of 2020 a decade ends and a new one begins.

For some each new year is an opportunity to start over, to readjust goals and shift points of view.  These 365 days are a gift.  Since 2006 the project One Little Word, initiated by Ali Edwards, has been adopted by numerous people.  Each year a word is chosen to be a guide, an objective or an inspiration.  This year, as happened last year, I find myself with running out of time to talk about wonderful 2019 picture books written and illustrated by people committed to bringing their best to children's literature.  A single word has been assigned to each title.  Links to the author, illustrator and publisher websites are attached to each respectively.  A passage from each book is provided.  May this year, 2020, bring wonder, health and changes for the good into all your lives.  (The books are listed in order by release date.)


Spencer's New Pet (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, August 27, 2019) written and illustrated by Jessie Sima 

Guide To Sharing Wordless Picture Books With Young Readers

A boy is enraptured with his red pet balloon dog until the inevitable happens.  In a word---surprising.


Just Ask: Be Different, Be Brave, Be You (Philomel Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, September 3, 2019) written by Sonia Sotomayor with illustrations by Rafael Lopez

Despite our differences, our physical, medical or mental characteristics, we are more alike than we are different.  Remember, no two snowflakes are alike; therein lies their beauty.  In a word---truth.

Kids are all different too.  Some of us are in a hurry, and others take more time.  Some of us seem shy and quiet, while others are chatty and loud.  Some of our differences are easy to spot.  Others take longer to notice.  Each of us grows in our own way, so if you are curious about other kids, JUST ASK!


Five Minutes (That's a lot of time)(No, it's not)(Yes, it is) (G. P. Putnam's Sons, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, September 17, 2019) written by Liz Garton Scanlon and Audrey Vernick with illustrations by Olivier Tallec  
Educator Guide 

Five minutes has a whole different meaning depending on who says it and the situation in which they find themselves.  In a word---hilarious.

Are we there yet?

We'll be there in five minutes!

How am I supposed to wait five minutes?


Apple Cake (Frances Lincoln Children's Books, an imprint of The Quarto Group, September 24, 2019) written by Dawn Casey with illustrations by Genevieve Godbout
Discussion guide

Everything is connected in ways we rarely stop to consider.  We really cannot have one thing without another.  In a word---lyrical.

Thank you, hedge,
thank you, tree.

Thank you, flower,
thank you, bee.


The Balcony (A Paula Wiseman Book, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, September 24, 2019) written and illustrated by Melissa Castrillon
Popup Storywalk

Single words introduce portions of this wordless picture book following and illuminating a young girl's attitude and actions when leaving a home she loves.  In a word---ripple.


Explorers (Feiwel and Friends, an imprint of Macmillan Publishing Group LLC, September 24, 2019) written and illustrated by Matthew Cordell
Cover Reveal at A Fuse #8 Production
Elizabeth Dulemba interview about this book

In this wordless tale exquisite details and shifting perspectives on every page pull you into the separate world of a museum and the diverse group of people who are drawn to museums.  The day begins and ends with magic and in-between there are many discoveries during the day; discoveries about places, objects, people and us.  In a word---revelation.


Sulwe (Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, October 1, 2019) written by Lupita Nyong'o with illustrations by Vashti Harrison
Curriculum Guide 

A special starry night journey into the world of lore, allows a young girl to see her true self and the lightness she holds inside her heart.  In a word---stunning.

Mama asked, "What is your name?"
"Sulwe," she muttered.
"And what does it mean?"
"Star," Sulwe whispered.

"Brightness is not in your skin, my love.  Brightness is just who you are.  As for beauty," Mama said, rubbing Sulwe's stomach the way she always did to comfort her.  "You are beautiful."
Sulwe sighed.

"Well, you are beautiful to me.  But you can't rely on what you look like to make you feel beautiful, my sweet.  Real beauty comes from your mind and your heart.  It begins with how you see yourself, not how others see you.  Now, up you get and out you go."


Chicken Break: A Counting Book (Feiwel and Friends, an imprint of Macmillan Publishing Group, LLC, October 29, 2019) written by Cate Berry with illustrations by Charlotte Alder
Cynsations author interview
PictureBookBuilders author interview

With fowl-less wordplay and a rhyming narrative readers are taken on a riotous romp as a flock of chickens make an escape for the day and then, break back inside the coop.  Readers can expect non-stop laughter from beginning to end.  In a word---chaotic comedy.  (Okay, that's two words but I can't stop laughing.)

One chicken, standing guard.
Two chickens scan the yard.


Sofia Valdez, Future President (Abrams Books for Young Readers, November 5, 2019) written by Andrea Beaty with illustrations by David Roberts  
Publishers Weekly  

Sofia Valdez's beloved Abuelo is injured one day at a local landfill and this further motivates this spirited young girl, who does as much as she can for others, to build a park in the place of the rubbish heap.  Her can-do mindset soon has others championing for her cause.  In a word---inspirational.

Up the squirrel ran to the top of the hill
made of leftover junk for the local landfill.
They reached the tip-top of that mountain of trash
which jiggled and broke with an earsplitting CRASH!

Down they tumbled and hit with a THUD
on a moldy old pumpkin surrounded by mud.

"Ouch!" cried Abuelo.  He struggled to stand.
"A dangerous mess!" he said, grasping her hand.


Pluto Gets The Call (Beach Lane Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division, November 12, 2019) written by Adam Rex with illustrations by Laurie Keller
Publishers Weekly
Scientific Inquirer
Writing for Kids (While Raising Them)
The Children's Book Podcast

After receiving the shocking news, he's no longer a planet, Pluto takes readers on a tour of the solar system introducing them to planets and other space objects.  Conversations will have readers laughing and learning.  In a word---space-tacular.

Are you awake?

This is Neptune.  He's closer to the Sun than me, but he's still so far away that it takes him 165 years to orbit all the way around!  It only takes Earth one year!  One year exactly! That's what a year is, actually.

Don't get sucked in!


The Cool Bean (Harper, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, December 3, 2019) written by Jory John with illustrations by Pete Oswald
Activity sheets

In the beginning there were four beans in the pod but three of the four became "cool" beans able to do "cool" things.  The fourth was feeling like there was nothing special about him.  One day, this all changed when he learned no gesture is too small when done in kindness.  In a word---excellent.

Here come the cool beans!

The cooooool beans.

Oh yeah . . .check out how they move.
Look at the way they swagger.
Notice their sunglasses. Yow!

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