Quote of the Month

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

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Happy New Year 2022---One Little Word

Three years ago, in 2019, I began my One Little Word posts.  The One Little Word concept was conceived by Ali Edwards in 2006.  Numerous people select a single word at the beginning of the new year.  This word becomes their focus for the coming year.  Whatever their choice is, this word partners with them throughout the year.

This year, 2022, is no different than the three previous years.  I find myself with books I've read, but not featured on this blog.  Prior to the start of hosting 2022 books on this site, I wish to honor some 2021 books.

I started with fifty-five fiction picture books.  I can usually cut the number to ten books for two blog posts, but this year was much harder.  I have selected twenty-eight books.  I have read and reread these titles, knowing the commitment of their authors and illustrators.  I recognize how these authors and illustrators work and rework their words and art to convey something special to readers.   I think how these books have enriched my life and the lives of other readers especially in a year filled with ups and downs for everyone.  These books, through their marvelous authors and illustrators, give us strength and hope.  For that we are grateful.

As in the past,

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. 

If I were choosing a word for this year it would be miracle.  I will be looking for them, small or large, however defined, every day.  Here is the hope miracles find their way into your days for 2022.  


The Thingity-Jig (Peachtree Publishing Company Inc.,April 1, 2021) written by Kathleen Doherty with illustrations by Kristyna Litten

At the publisher's website you can view interior images.  There is a teacher's guide and an author Q & A.

One night under the light of a silvery
moon, all of Bear's friends were deep

With no desire to sleep, Bear sets out looking for an opportunity to play.  His explorations reveal a Thingity-Jig (an abandoned sofa).  It is much too large for him to move.

No amount of pleading induces his friends to give up their rest, so he returns to the site of his discovery and creates a Rolly-Rumpity.  Each time Bear asks for help, his friends' lack of assistance gets his mind working and he invents a quirky, ingenious mechanism to help him.  At home, at daybreak, his friends change their tune, until Bear shouts out his frustration and promptly falls asleep.

The use of repetition, alliteration, action verbs, and sound effects will have readers joining and enjoying Bear's endeavors.  Highly animated, full-color illustrations complement the text.  The opening and closing endpapers offer readers a contrast between the beginning and marvelous end of the story.  


I Sang You Down From The Moon (Little, Brown And Company, April 6, 2021) written by Tasha Spillett-Summer with illustrations by Michaela Goade

There is an interview with illustrator Michaela Goade about this book on NPR Weekend Edition Sunday.  There is an author's note and an illustrator's note at the conclusion of the book offering explanations of the traditions of Indigenous peoples.  Here is a link to the launch event on May 27, 2021.

I loved you before I met you
Before I held you in my arms,
I sang you down from the stars.

A mother gathers sacred objects from the Earth and makes an additional item to place in a bundle which will belong to her unborn child.  Each object represents the precious connections the child will make with the Earth, her family, and community.  After the child is born, readers are told the child is a sacred bundle, too.  

The lyrical words of the author read like a poetic lullaby, to be read before and after a child is born.  The opening words are spoken again to complete the circle of gathering and giving.  The pictures fashioned by the illustrator are luminescent.  They employ the swoosh element developed by the artist.

The swoosh helps us visualize the connections to land, culture, family, and identity.


Even the smallest will grow (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, April 20, 2021) written and illustrated by Lita Judge

At the publisher's website, you can view interior images.  Author Jill Esbaum chats with Lita Judge at Picture Book Builders about this book, her other work, and her creativity.

Tucked beneath a blanket of leaves,
the acorn sleeps until its roots are ready to reach
deep into the earth,
and it begins to grow. . .

just as you,
stretching your toes under warm sheets
and resting your head on a dream-filled pillow,
will grow.

In a reassuring voice, the narrator advises the little girl to have patience.  She is shown how even the smallest, like a tadpole, grows to leap heights.  Comparisons demonstrate her possible choices.

Or will you be a poet
like the seashell that grows in spirals
until his depths hold a secret song?

She is reminded she, like all things in nature, can be anything she desires.  Lush pencil, watercolor and digital illustrations take readers on a journey of imagining as the child dreams.  Her cat is her constant companion.


Run, Little Chaski!: An Inka Trail Adventure (Barefoot Books, May 1, 2021) written by Mariana Llanos with illustrations by Mariana Ruiz Johnson

The four final pages of the book contain a glossary of Quechua words, information about the Inka, chaskis, khipus, the Inka empire, using Inka or Inca, The Inka Trail, and a few of the animals of South America mentioned in this story.  At the author's website, there is a special post describing twelve more facts about this title.  At the publisher's website you can view interior pictures. There is an interview with the author at Latinxs in Kid Lit.

Little Chaski wakes up before Tayta Inti shines
in the sky.  Little Chaski's stomach twists.  It is his
first day delivering royal messages.  Will he be a 
good messenger?

Brave Chaski, Big Chaski, and Wise Chaski remind him to be strong, swift, and sharp.  Little Chaski is given a message from the Queen to be delivered to the King before the sun sets behind the mountains.  Despite his speed he encounters a chinchilla, an allqu, and a condor.  Each of these events, each time he stops to help the animals, steers him off course.

Dialogue, sound effects and the repetition of a key phrase speed the action as quickly as Little Chaski runs.  Bright, bold, and lively illustrations enhance the text as they feature traditional and historical elements.  Readers will be cheering for Little Chaski as they find themselves participating in the story.


Have You Ever Seen A Flower? (Chronicle Books, May 4, 2021)written and illustrated by Shawn Harris (his authorial debut)

At the publisher's website, you can see interior illustrations.  At author, reviewer, and blogger Julie Danielson's Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, she gives her insights on this title as well as shares other interior pages.

Have you ever seen a flower?

I mean really . . .

seen a flower?

Leaving the city, a girl and her terrior friend find a field of flowers stretching as far as the eye can see.  They explore every inch of what seeing a flower has to offer.  The girl inhales the scent of the flower to see.

She looks inside the depths of a flower, studying every nook and cranny.  She touches the flower.  She IS the flower!  Pencil and colored pencil images in vibrant pastels literally leap off the pages to surround you in this narrative.


When Lola Visits (Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, May 18, 2021) written by Michelle Sterling with art by Aaron Asis

At the publisher's website, there are interior images, including the radiant endpapers indicating a shift in the seasons, to enjoy.  At author, reviewer, and blogger Julie Danielson's Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, you can view more images as well as read her thoughts about this book.  At librarian, lecturer at Rutgers, and writer John Schumacher's Watch. Connect. Read., you can savor a chat between the author and John.  The book trailer is here, also.  The author is interviewed about this title at the Asian Journal.

How do I know summer is here?

Summer smells like stone fruit ripening on the kitchen counter
and jasmine on the bloom everywhere in the neighborhood.

So begins a story rich in the culture of the Philippine people and their families living in the United States.  For this girl, summer is full of smells, sensations deeply embedded in her memories.  Summer truly begins and ends with a visit from her grandmother who travels from the Philippines.  

Food, traditional dishes, binds the past to the present.  In turn, the girl takes her grandmother to those spaces important to her in the summer like the pool, tennis court, the beach, and Fourth of July fireworks.  Remarkable imagery made with highly descriptive words and delicate sensory illustrations will have readers recalling their own summers and wishing for its return.


Lala's Words (Orchard Books, an imprint of Scholastic Inc., July 6, 2021) written and illustrated by Gracey Zhang

Gracey Zhang is interviewed at We Need Diverse Books about her author illustrator title, Lala's Words.  Gracey Zhang is featured at Let's Talk Picture Books in a discussion with Mel Schuit.  Gracey Zhang is a guest at Watch. Connect. Read. hosted by librarian, lecturer at Rutgers, and writer, John Schumacher.  They chat about both her story and her art.

Hot, hot, hot.
The sidewalks steamed and the sun hung heavy in the sky.
Everyone was still.

Lala was not.

Lala was on the move.  She was always on the move, despite her mother's admonishments.  Her favorite place to visit was a vacant lot filled with weeds.  She gently spoke to them.

Each day she watered them, encouraging them with her words.  For every rebuke of her mother's, Lala responded with kindness to her plants.  One day, her mother refused to let her leave the house.  From afar Lala spoke to her friends, all day and at night.  How did they reply?  The neighborhood was never the same.  Neither were Lala and her mother.  A limited color palette makes for stunning images.


Lala's Words: A Story of Planting Kindness by Gracey Zhang from Let's Talk Picture Books on Vimeo.


Listen (A Paula Wiseman Book, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, July 13, 2021) written by Gabi Snyder with illustrations by Stephanie Graegin

At the publisher's website, you can view interior images, including the dust jacket in its entirety.  There is a curriculum guide for this book and a guide about using books dealing with feelings and emotions in the classroom.

When you step out into the big, wild world
sometimes all you hear is . . .


The child is asked to pause and separate the noise into separate sounds.  As she hears those individual sounds, she is asked to listen.  More sounds come to her from her neighborhood.  Again, she listens.

As she walks, each sound signifies all the individuals and their activities.  What do they mean?  What do they convey?  Even in quiet, at home and at night, there are soft sounds like the words in your mind.  Readers will have fun looking at the illustrations which mirror all the sounds blended together to make noise.  Careful readers will note special details, especially in the child's classroom.


Poultrygeist (Candlewick Press, August 17, 2021) written by Eric Geron with illustrations by Pete Oswald

Available at the publisher's website is a teacher's guide and notes from the author.  At Penguin Random House, you can see the first few pages of the narrative.

What happened?

What readers know, but the chicken does not, is in crossing the road to get to the other side (insert groan amid giggles), the chicken is hit by a big truck.  It is now on the 


Yes, that other side.

An assortment of five animals, also deceased, convince her of her current status as a poultrygeist.

To this chicken's dismay, the crew says she needs to be scary and mean.  She would rather be like Casper.  In fact, at one point after the scariness of the animals, she asks the readers if they are okay.  When she opens her mouth to object louder, the animals with a simultaneous scream suddenly head for the proverbial hills.  Perfect color selections and appropriately spooky artwork elevate excellent punny text toward the final hilarious wordless two-page picture.


Let Me Fix You a Plate: A Tale of Two Kitchens (Neal Porter Books, Holiday House, September 7, 2021) written and illustrated by Elizabeth Lilly

At the publisher's website, there is an educator's guide and an event kit.  At Penguin Random House, there is a view of the fabulous opening endpapers.  At the author illustrator site are more interior images.  Author, reviewer, and blogger Julie Danielson's features this book at her Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.  Many thanks to author Julie Falatko for bringing my attention to this book via a tweet.

Once a year, on a Friday night,
my family leaves the city
and drives for hours and hours . . .

. . . to a mountain in West Virginia.

Beginning in the mountains of West Virginia, the first person narrative describes their paternal grandparents, Mawmaw and Pawpaw, their kitchen, and the food prepared.  We are privy to the personalities of these grandparents through the descriptions of the surroundings inside and outside their home.  Three days later, another journey far to the south takes place.

Here, we are introduced to Abuela and Abuelo, the children's maternal grandparents, living in Florida.  Amid a large gathering of relatives, Spanish words swirling in the air, food is enjoyed and conversations abound.  Again, the inside and outside of the home is a reflection of the lifestyle of these grandparents.  Three days later, the parents and their three children head toward home, a home where two cultures are blended into one.  The writing paints vivid pictures of place and time as surely as the intricate and colorful images made with

pen-and-ink, colored pencil, and illustration markers.


Hello, Star (Little, Brown and Company, September 21, 2021) written by Stephanie V. W. Lucianovic with art by Vashti Harrison

At the publisher's website, they have a three-page Teaching Tips guide. Author and librarian Elizabeth Bird interviews Stephanie V. W. Lucianovic about this title on her site, School Library Journal, A Fuse #8 Production.  Stephanie V. W. Lucianovic visits with librarian, lecturer at Rutgers, and writer John Schumacher about this title on his site, Watch. Connect. Read.

One winter night, a light shone in the dark sky, brighter
than any other star, brighter than any planet.

Far, far away, a girl who was young and new and bright
and strong was curious about the light.

After an explanation by her mother about the star, the little girl looked toward it

and whispered, "Hello,
Star.  I know you are scared, but you're not alone."

This quiet, gentle soul started a life-long learning about stars.  Library books were read to her and by her.  As a young adult, her college education revolved around the study of stars.  She finally decided she needed to get nearer to her star.

Her course of study and actions changed.  She was training for space travel.  She became an expert.  When her spacecraft took her to the Moon, she was now closer to her bright friend, a friend whose life was ending.  Never alone.  A poetic narrative is complemented by equally poetic art alluding to night skies, stars, space, and dreams coming true.


Time Is A Flower (Tundra Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House Canada Young Readers, September 21, 2021) written and illustrated by Julie Morstad

At the publisher's website, you get a peek at the dedication and title pages.  At author, reviewer, and blogger Julie Danielson's Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast this title is showcased with multiple interior images.

Time is the tick tick tock
of the
numbers and words
on a calendar.

White space and dark space are strong elements with a limited but intentional choice of hues in this volume dedicated to showing all the fantastic measures of time.  Time is a seed, a blooming blossom, and a wilted flower with a scatter of petals beneath a naked stem.  Can time be measured by how we grow compared to the growth of a tree?

Can a mountain become a pebble?  Somewhere time is night and someplace else time is daylight.  Time is light and shadow,   Why does time seem to stall and then move quickly?  As each relevant example is proposed, we see the fluidity of defining time until the final sentence is guaranteed to make every reader smile.


It Fell From The Sky (Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, September 28, 2021) written by illustrated by The Fan Brothers (Terry Fan and Eric Fan)

At the publisher's website, you can view multiple interior illustrations including the entire dust jacket.  They also have a set of activity pages.  At the brothers' website there are also interior images.  The brothers are interviewed about this book at School Library Journal, A Fuse #8 Production by Elizabeth Bird, author and librarian, We Need Diverse Books, and JeanBookNerd.  The cover was revealed at Publishers Weekly with an interview with the brothers.

It fell from the sky on a Thursday.

It lay among the flowers and weeds as a bee buzzed nearby, a ball of brightness in a gray-toned world created by 

graphite and colored digitally.

During the day, a gathering of insects ventured their opinions on what it was and from where it came.  At night, the Luna Moth believed it was a chrysalis imbued with magic.  The next morning a wily spider claimed the object to be his.  For some reason, the ball was now surrounded by his web.  Was it there before?

Riches were gained by Spider after the building of WonderVille around the ball.  Crowds attended the grand space until one day, it was empty.  And then, the unimaginable happened.  A five-legged creature removed the object.  There was only one thing left Spider could do.  


A Hundred Thousand Welcomes (Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, October 12, 2021) written by Mary Lee Donovan with illustrations by Lian Cho

At the publisher's website, there is a ten-page classroom kit titled Picture This: Home and Community.  It includes this title along with three other books.  Author, reviewer, and blogger Julie Danielson interviews artist Lian Cho at her Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast about this title.  I am grateful to her for introducing me to this book through that post.  At the end of the book is an author's note, an artist's note, and a pronunciation note.  There are selected sources and a list of books for further reading.

Welcome, friend.
Dear neighbor, come in.

On the opening pages, author Mary Leen Donovan explains the narrative is written as a poem.  Within this poem are many translations of the English word welcome.  Pronunciations are woven into the illustrationsShe further notes in the introduction:

The call to welcome the stranger and to offer peace and refuge---aman---to those in danger is deeply rooted in ancient traditions and in all major religions.

In the beautiful depictions by the artist, the words of the author are presented in realistic portraits of situations and events encountered by many.  Shelter is given in a storm and bread is offered.  Greetings are exchanged in cultures around the world.  There is acceptance and honor and light.  People believe their home is to be open to others who need a home.  People value the stories of others as much as their own.  A splendid four-page gatefold highlights the conclusion.

Links to previous One Little Words Posts are 2019, 2020, 2020 #2, 2021, and 2021 #2These are for fiction picture books.

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