Quote of the Month

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

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Happy New Year 2021---One Little Word

In looking back at each One Little Word  (2)( One Little Word was started in 2006 by Ali Edwards.) post for the first few days in 2020, it is obvious this writer was not aware of what was unfolding for the days and weeks ahead.  We, as people on the planet, were not prepared for the challenges and heartbreak.  Although some days, weeks, and months still raced by as they seem to do the older you get; other days time seemed completely skewed.  To be sure, our world, our sense of normal, as we knew it is gone.

In this, at times, overpowering sense of imbalance, one constant remained.  This constant was the blessed creativity of children's authors and illustrators.  The quality of their work enveloped us like the warm hug we needed.  It bolstered us.  It empowered us.  It made us better people. 

As 2021 begins, I find myself once again with a stack of books I cannot fail to highlight before I begin showcasing new releases.  For each of these books, to be divided over two posts, I have given them one little word.  Links to author, illustrator, and publisher websites (or social media accounts) are included.  Passages from the books are shown.  Short summaries, observations, are given.  The books are listed in order of release date, earliest first.  May 2021 be a healthier, happier, and more creative year for each and every one of you.  My one little word for the rest of my life is JOY.  This is my hope for all of you.


Two Dogs On A Trike (Abrams Appleseed, May 19, 2020) written by Gabi Snyder (debut) with illustrations by Robin Rosenthal

(Many thanks to the Nerdy Book Club The 2020 Nerdies: Fiction Picture Books announced by John Schumacher, Scholastic Ambassador of School Libraries for introducing me to this book.)

One dog stands alone.

Two dogs on a trike.

Three dogs on a scooter.

This is a comedic counting book from cover to cover with modes of transportation more complex as the number of dogs increases toward ten.  The canines are oblivious to a feline in hot pursuit until a return to number one is imperative. The hilarity begins anew when the pursuer is pursued. 


Three Squeezes (Roaring Brook Press, August 4, 2020) written by Jason Pratt with illustrations by Chris Sheban

Author interview at author Kirby Larson's Friend Friday

When you could neither talk nor stand,
life's hourglass still filled with sand,

I gently held your hand
and gave it three soft squeezes.

Coming full circle, the love between a father and his son is acknowledged and grows through three squeezes, hand to hand.  A rhyming text like a lullaby with realistic, meaningful, and sometimes humorous artwork focuses on life's memorable everyday moments.


Dance like a Leaf (Barefoot Books, August 14, 2020) written by A J Irving with illustrations by Claudia Navarro

Author interviews at websites of Katelyn Aronson, Maria Marshall, and Cynthia Mackey

Green goes to sleep.
Yellow sings a sweet melody.

Grandma loves autumn.
We sip our tea.
"Tea makes your tummy toasty."  Grandma says.

The generational affection between a grandmother and her granddaughter is strengthened by their shared joys.  As the elder's heath declines and she passes, the little girl realizes from sadness a new happiness rises in memory.


Sing Some More! (Sleeping Bear Press, August 15, 2020) written by Deborah Diesen with illustrations by Howard Gray

We're the birds that make the music
That you hear up in the trees.

And we vocalize with gusto
As we hit the notes with ease.

With our chirps and our arpeggios,
We sing just what we please!

And when we're DONE?

Join these four birds as they mark every occasion during the day to sing with exuberance.  They follow a family of four with persistence causing a bit of chaos and disturbing their animal friends.  Humorous artwork elevates the text making this a good choice for creative dramatics.


I Talk Like A River (Neal Porter Books, Holiday House, September 1, 2020) written by Jordan Scott with illustrations by Sydney Smith

At the publisher's website are a list of numerous lists citing this book as a best book of the year 2020, a video of the author and illustrator speaking about the book, and an educator's guide.  There are additional images at Penguin Random House.  There is an interview between the three collaborators, Jordan Scott, Sydney Smith, and Neal Porter at Publishers Weekly.

I wake up

each morning

with the sounds of words

all around me.

Author Jordan Scott reveals the experience of having a stutter through an intimate verbal portrait elevated by the eloquent artwork of Sydney Smith.  His father's understanding and wisdom remain with all readers, his words calming us in times of turmoil.  This book is powerful, poignant, and utterly breathtaking.


The Runaway Belly Button (Roaring Brook Press, September 22, 2020) written by John Flannery with illustrations by Mika Song

At the publisher's website there are multiple interior images and the book trailer.  Here is a link to an activity kit.

Grace loved to get dirty.

But she was also pretty good at getting clean.

The difficulty in this scenario is Grace cleans everything on her body very well, except for her belly button.  Belly Button decides to leave.  She is disgusted with being

and stinkier
and filthier.

After her recent cleanliness courtesy of Dad's car washing, her freedom from filth is less than desirable.  Where is Grace when she really needs her? There is a laugh-out-loud twist at the end.
To be completely honest, I cannot stop smiling reading this book.  I hold a visual in my mind of listeners during a story time glancing down at their own belly buttons wondering if they will come to life and run away. 


The Alphabet's Alphabet (Little, Brown And Company, September 29, 2020) written by Chris Harris with illustrations by Dan Santat

Has anyone told you, "You look like your mother"?
Or, "You and your best friend resemble each other"?
When I was a boy and I heard that, I'd shriek:
"Can't I just look like myself?  I'm unique!"

In this book we discover or are remined that we, like the alphabet, are distinct individuals while sharing similarities with others. With jaunty rhyming sentences, the truth of this is presented letter by letter.  Ingenious, signature artwork heightens the fun.  Every page turn will have you wondering what viewpoint will be depicted.  


In The City (A Richard Jackson Book, Atheneum Books For Young Readers, September 29, 2020) written and illustrated by Chris Raschka


tall and good,

over every


sometimes early, often late,

(doesn't matter what the date)

if you tilt your head up high

you will see the pigeons fly.

Two strangers, unaware of the other, follow a flock of pigeons to a city park.  In a lyrical lilting ode to the birds and the city, friendship is found.  The rhyming flows flawlessly, the words weaving among the distinguishing artwork done in watercolor and ink. 


The Poisoned Apple: A Fractured Fairy Tale (Page Street Kids, October 6, 2020) written and illustrated by Anne Lambelet

This title was featured in a Facebook Live presentation by An Unlikely Story.  This book is part of a themed collection at Let's Talk Picture Books.

Once there was a witch who detested a princess.  This particular
princess was getting a little too sweet for her own good, and any
decent witch knows just how to deal with a princess like that

a poisoned apple.

This in no ordinary fractured fairy tale.  This tale focuses on how best-laid-plans have a way of coming full circle to deliver the desired results to the wrong character.  As the errors multiply, the evil one gets more and more frustrated leading to a darkly comedic conclusion.  


We Will Live in This Forest Again (Neal Porter Books, Holiday House, October 6, 2020) written and illustrated by Gianna Marino

At the publisher's website there is an educator's guide.  At Penguin Random House there are interior images to view.  At The Guest Book author illustrator Gianna Marino and Neal Porter talk about this book in an audio interview.  Gianna Marino addresses her personal experiences during the wildfires.  At the close of the book Gianna Marino speaks about the 2017 fires in northern California.    There is further information about wildfires and resources.

We have always lived
in this forest.

Its trees and shrubs were
filled with birdsong and
the rustle of animals.

Through the eyes of a forest animal, readers experience a very real portrait of a wildfire in their home.  We understand their terror, their race for their lives, and their acceptance of the event.  The narrator reminds us of the hope found in the renewal of the forest growing back to its original glory.  The gouache illustrations on Fabriano watercolor paper are exquisite.

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