Quote of the Month

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

Friday, January 15, 2021

Happy New Year 2021---One Little Word Part Two

Nearly two weeks into this new year, 2021, and we have witnessed unprecedented events in human history.  In looking back at both the One Little Word posts for 2020 (here and here) and the Happy New Year 2021---One Little Word, it has become more evident than ever how quickly days, weeks, and months can develop in unexpected ways, ways we can never have imagined.  This makes each moment we are here a challenge and a joy, both to be embraced.

This is my third and final post featuring 2020 books before shifting to 2021 releases.  It is with gratitude for the work of dedicated authors and illustrators these books are presented.  My choice of One Little Word is assigned to each title.  Links to the author's, illustrator's, and publisher's websites (or social media accounts) are supplied.  Other pertinent resources are provided.  The books are displayed in order of release date.  Happy reading to you.  May this year, 2021, be a year of change, change for the good, one book, one person, at a time, coming together.


A Whale Of A Mistake (Page Street Kids, March 17, 2020) written and illustrated by Ioana Hobai

At the publisher's website there is an activity guide linked here.  Ioana Hobai and this title are showcased in a post at KidLit411.


You made a mistake.

Your concern of making this mistake follows you, growing and growing.  It becomes large, as big as a whale, engulfing you.   It will not leave.  Instead, it carries you away on a journey.  It is a trip fraught with trouble, until you stop.

 Gathering your bravery, you open your eyes.  An umbrella of stars hangs over you.  Perfection.  But is it?  There is a world of mistakes, making you a part of the universe.  This fuels your self-confidence.  Somehow, the whale diminishes, until it rides away on waves, growing smaller and smaller.  Artwork rendered in ink, watercolor, and acrylic invites readers into the realistic and reassuring words.


Our Little Kitchen (Abrams Books for Young Readers, September 22, 2020) written and illustrated by Jillian Tamaki

There are additional images at House of Anansi.



Every Wednesday 
we come together
in this little kitchen.

A group of neighbors gather one day a week to prepare a meal.  For ingredients they use what is at hand mixed with a whole lot of heart.  They have a garden they have planted.  They have some items in their refrigerator.  They have donations.  All the tasks, cutting, pealing, pouring, chopping, stirring, frying, baking, and simmering work toward their fabulous goal.

Others gather around a table, grateful neighbors from their community.  A soup, a salad, and apple crumble fill stomachs and souls.  Conversation, narrative, sound words, and two recipes, one on each of the endpapers fashion an uplifting and inspiring story.  The illustrations made with a nib and ink and colored with a computer are glorious, flowing flawlessly from page to page and brimming with animation.


The Boy and the Gorilla (Candlewick Press, October 13, 2020) written by Jackie Azua Kramer with illustrations by Cindy Derby  

There are other interior images at Penguin Random HouseKidLitTV hosted a launch party.  Author Tara Lazar shines a light on this book on her blog Writing for Kids (While Raising Them).

Your mother's garden is beautiful.
May I help?


The presence of a gentle giant appears when a little boy is grieving the loss of his mother.  He begins a conversation with the gorilla about death.  He asks questions and the gorilla replies with honesty.

Will we all die?
Yes. We all do. But you have many more kites to fly.

Through the days, in a variety of moments, the child and the gorilla work through the sadness, moving toward healing.  Ultimately, the boy reaches out to his father.  Grief shared is easier to bear.  Astute writing guides readers as atmospheric, tender art rendered in watercolor, gouache, India ink, and digital collage brings us into the heart of the story.



The Blue Table (Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, October 20, 2020) written and illustrated by Chris Raschka

Author, reviewer, and blogger Julie Danielson features this book with artwork on her site, Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.

A child,
a parent,
and another parent . . .

This trio has plans.  They bring together items from a garden, a store and a farm.  Some of those things are used to make a dessert.  Flowers are placed on the blue table.

There are never more than four words on a page in large print.  The pacing is slow, deliberate and enhanced with excellence by the images rendered in watercolor and cut-paper collage.  At times there are pages with wordless illustrations. The blue table is part of every page until another family joins in the delectable dining.


Seven Golden Rings: A Tale of Music and Math (Lee & Low Books Inc., October 27, 2020) written by Rajani LaRocca with illustrations by Archana Sreenivasan

There are multiple interior illustrations at the publisher's website.  There is an activity guide.  This book and one or both of the creators are featured at Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez's site, the publisher's blog, Book Q&As with Deborah Kalb, Writers' Rumpus, Critter Lit, Writing for Kids (While Raising Them), Vivian Kirkfield's site, Soaring '20s High Flying Picture Book Debuts, and Jena Denton's site. The cover reveal and interview is at Scholastic's Ambassador of School Libraries, John Schumacher's Watch. Connect. Read.

Look ago there lived a kind rajah who ruled over vast lands.
He loved music, and gathered the finest players and singers to perform in his court.

Unfortunately, kindness and a love of music are not the only qualities necessary for a rajah to rule well.  Mismanagement of resources made life for the people in his land very hard.  A son, Bhagat, and his mother were barely surviving.  One day Bhagat saw a proclamation from the rajah asking for new musicians for his troupe.  He left to seek a position in this troupe with a single rupee and a chain with seven golden rings.  These seven golden rings were all his mother had left from her wedding necklace.

Arriving in the city, Bhagat found his gift as a thinker would serve him better than his gift of singing.  His cleverness with mathematics is portrayed with adeptness in a narrative reading like a folktale.  Colorful, lively digital pictures depict the marvelous setting and characters.  You feel as if you are there with them.


Star-Crossed (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, October 27, 2020) written and illustrated by Julia Denos

Here is a link to a Facebook Live presentation by Porter Square Books.

It was a time when there were still students of the stars.
Eridani was one of them.
And Acamar---well . . .
He was more of a constellation than a boy.

Separated by more miles than either of them could know, the human girl and the boy made of stars were the best of friends.  Their favorite time of day was when the sky darkened.  Walking home from school, a skilled student of the constellations, Eridani talked with Acamar who was curious about her life on terra firma.

The more they talked, the more Eridani wanted to be up in the stars and Acamar wanted to be on Earth.  Eridani wanted to fly.  Acamar wanted to see a sunset.  One evening they wished at the same time on each other.  It is said you should be careful what you wish for.  Sometimes you get exactly what you want.  Through the conversations of the two characters and the narrative and stunning artwork of Julia Denos, readers are witness to a miraculous wonder.  There is a joyous, informative author's note at the conclusion of the book.


The Couch Potato (Harper, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, November 3, 2020) written by Jory John with illustrations by Pete Oswald

There is a book trailer at the publisher's website.

I am a potato.
Not a small potato
like my brother.
Not a sweet potato
like my mother.
Not a mashed potato
like my uncle Stu.

This potato is, as you might suspect from the title, a couch potato.  He is no ordinary couch potato.  Oh, no.  He is a high tech, greatest gizmo and gadget couch potato.  He never has to leave his couch for anything.  One day, though, the power zaps off and the couch potato is plunged into darkness.

Shocked at the sunlight streaming in his now-open window, he decides to take his dog Tater for a walk outside.  Wow!  Nothing is as expected.  It's better.  This first-person story is penned with perception and heightened by detailed, humorous pictures created with scanned watercolor textures and digital paint


The Runaway No-Wheeler (Viking, November 17, 2020)  written by Peter Stein with illustrations by Bob Staake

TONY was a rugged truck who had a lot to haul.
He'd load his rig and hit the road
without a hitch or stall.

One day Tony's good luck disappeared. This eighteen-wheeler lost a wheel.  He was down to seventeen and heading down and around curves and bumps.  Before Tony knew what was happening, two more wheels flew off his chassis.  

Every time Tony encountered a glitch, his number of wheels diminished.  With a romping,
rhyming cadence and hilarious illustrations, this is read aloud gold.  Where else can you find baby ducks, thieves, aliens. slim and gooey globs of green in the same book?


The Bear and the Moon (Chronicle Books, December 1, 2020) words by Matthew Burgess with pictures by Catia Chien 

There are several interior illustrations at the publisher's website. There is another illustration at the illustrator's website.  The BookMark hosted an event.  The link is here.  Catia Chien is highlighted at This Picture Book Life.

Opening his eyes after a long snooze,
the bear saw a red dot in the blue sky.

The closer it floated,

the bigger
and rounder
and redder

the dot became . . .

Readers will see what the bear cannot know.  The red dot is a balloon which offers the bear a day of play.  The next day the cub takes his new friend on a tour of his favorite places.  He is so excited with this miracle of a thing which floated into his life, he squeezes it.  

Nothing can repair the damage.  The bear drifts into a deep sadness until the moon rises.  In what can be said as a special connection, the moon speaks to the bear.  Through enchanting, luminous artwork and lyrical words, readers, like the bear, come to understand a life truth.



The Snow Dancer (Two Lions, December 1, 2020) written by Addie Boswell with illustrations by Merce Lopez

Sofia was asleep when the snowflakes came.
All through the night they fell---
frosting the rooftops, fluffing the sidewalks,
laying fuzzy hats on the fire hydrants.

After looking out the window, Sofia's reaction in three sentences builds in readers all the excitement we feel discovering it's a snow day. After Sofia covers herself in winter clothing and goes outside, her joy at the white and silence is contagious. Descriptive verbs and onomatopoeia portray her trip to the park and her merry dance.

It's beautiful until the rest of the children arrive and race around with abandon, destroying her graceful paths.  One child and Sofia move among the others doing their own dance.  A surprise leaves everyone exhausted.  The full-color artwork is as spirited as Sofia and the other children enjoying the delights of a winter wonderland.


Amy Wu and the Patchwork Dragon (Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, December 15, 2020) written by Kat Zhang with illustrations by Charlene Chua

During story time, Ms. Mary
reads Amy's class a book
about dragons.

Dragons that hoard treasure.

Dragons that blow fire.

Dragons that fight knights
in gleaming armor.

After their story time their teacher asks them to make dragons, dragons that are special.  Dragons that are their kind of dragons.  No dragon Amy Wu makes feels right to her.  She and a couple of friends go to her home after school.

After explaining her dilemma, Amy's grandmother tells her a story, a story of dragons.  With the tale finished, Amy runs to their attic finding the perfect dragon.  That evening with the help of her grandmother and her parents, they fashion from fabric, Amy's dragon. Charming, cheerful pictures rendered digitally are as uplifting as the narrative.  At the close of the book is a dragon activity to be completed on an Eastern dragon or a Western dragon. 


My Very Favorite Book In The Whole Wide World (Orchard Books, an imprint of Scholastic Inc., December 29, 2020) written by Malcolm Mitchell with illustrations by Michael Robertson

You'll enjoy the post at We Need Diverse Books written by Malcolm Mitchell titled How I Fell in Love With Reading.  Malcolm Mitchell and Pam Allyn (LitWorld) were guests of John Schumacher, Scholastic's Ambassador of School Libraries on Book Joy Live on January 14, 2021.

Hi! I'm Henley.
And this is a story about finding my very
favorite book in the whole wide world.

Reading can be hard, you know?

Once upon a time, everyone thought I hated to read,
but that's just not true.

Henley explains his struggles with reading through examples everyone can easily understand.  

I tried to read books about dinosaurs,
they made my brain hurt.  So I gave the books
back to the dinosaurs.

When Henley thought his troubles could not be any worse, his teacher, Mrs. Joy gave the class a horrible assignment.  They had to bring in their favorite book in the whole wide world.

Henley went to the usual sources for books, the public library and Mrs. Rackley's Bookshop. With the help of the librarian and shop owner, he looked at stacks of books.  Henley had no luck.  At home, Henley's mama gave him an idea.  Creativity and bravery helped Henley vanquish his homework assignment.  The words of this story ring true and honest.  The wide-eyed expressions on the characters in settings we wish we could enter elevate the text.

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