Quote of the Month

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

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Happy New Year 2022---One Little Word Part Two

Here we are on the fourteenth day of January, 2022.  In my city, the sun is trying to shine through a haze as the temperature dips to eight degrees with a wind chill of minus six.  Our local school district has closed its doors today due to the rising number of positive COVID cases in the past two weeks.  It is hoped this pause will still that rise and allow time to disinfect the buildings.  Beyond our boundaries, the scales in world and national politics remain in a delicate balance.

Feeling grateful and seated in the comfort of my home, sweet Mulan curled up next to me with her head resting on my leg, one constant remains.  Not only does this constant remain, but it grows ever stronger.  The written and pictorial stories presented to readers by the work of dedicated authors and illustrators offer readers hope through the supplied rhythmic language, breathtaking images, laughter, heartbreak, healing, and a reminder of striving to be our best selves.  Each title either reinforces what we know to be true or offers a new idea for us to consider.

This is the second set of fourteen fiction picture books from 2021 not previously discussed, but simply too good to not honor.

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 shown.  Other pertinent resources are provided.  The books are displayed in order of release date.

Happy reading to everyone!


Julia's House Goes Home (First Second, October 19, 2021) written and illustrated by Ben Hatke

At the publisher's website, you can look at interior pictures.  This is the concluding book in a trilogy.  The first two books are Julia's House for Lost Creatures and Julie's House Moves On.

Julia's house roamed the
high hills, looking for a home.

And so, when Julia saw the Perfect Spot glittering in the
distance, she told her creatures, "That's where we're going."

And the creatures all cheered.

In its excitement to get from mountain top to valley bottom, the house took an unexpected tumble.  Julia was thrown from the house and down into a 

Deep Dark Place

holding only the sign from the front door.  The house was nowhere in sight, of course.

As she made her way toward a light, Julia met Patched Up Kitty!  They first encountered a chaotic group of goblins and folletti.  Together they all went to look for the house.  Each time they met one of their creature family members, they had found other creatures they wished to bring to the house.  Julia kept saying---

"We'll make room!"

A mountain king troll, the front door of the house, and a junkyard gave Julia and the multitude of creatures all they needed to go home.  Ben Hatke, through his narrative and honest dialogue, gives us a most pleasing and heartfelt end to the story of Julia and her house.  His visuals, in all shapes and sizes, depict an array of emotions, but the most important one is love.  You will pause repeatedly to look at the endpapers.



VAMOS! Let's Cross the Bridge (Versify, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, October 12, 2021) written and illustrated by Raul the Third, colors by Elaine Bay

At the publisher's website, you can view two videos.  One is author Kwame Alexander speaking about this title.  The other is the official book trailer for the series.  There is a special page titled The World of Vamos!  There are two separate activity kits to download on this page.  The two previous titles in the series are VAMOS! Let's Go to the Market and VAMOS! Let's Go Eat.

Little Lobo has a brand new truck!

The truck is packed up and ready to go!

Que bonito camion!
What a beautiful truck,
Little Lobo!  What do
you have back there?

Little Lobo, Kooky Dooky, the rooster, and Little Lobo's canine companion, Bernabe, are taking a trip across the bridge for a celebration.  This bridge between two cities and two countries is used daily by a multitude of people.  They use it to get to and from work, to shop, and to visit friends and family.  The bridge is not just for vehicles, but individuals walk and converse on this bridge.

Today, though, too many people are waiting in their cars and trucks to cross the bridge.  Minutes of waiting turn into hours of waiting.  As daylight fades and nighttime begins, before the thought of it is finished, the celebration begins on the bridge.  La Ranita y sus Lily Pads sing, pinatas are hung by El Toro and his crew, and the food trucks happily distribute their wares.  Raul The Third beautifully blends a mix of Spanish and English with meanings easily understood in this story of bridging cultures.  The images will have you pausing for hours.  


Only My Dog Knows I Pick My Nose (Orchard Books, an imprint of Scholastic Inc., October 19, 2021) written by Lauren Tarshis with illustrations by Lisa Bronson Mezoff

At the publisher's website, there are interior images to see.  This title has its own website full of resources for teachers and caregivers linked here.  On the Scholastic blog, On Our Minds, Lisa Bronson Mezoff chats about how she created the pictures.  At An Unlikely Story Bookstore & Cafe, they are hosting a virtual event with Lauren Tarshis and Lisa Bronson Mezoff reading and speaking about this book to celebrate World Read Aloud Day on February 2, 2022.

I always do everything right.
Anyone can see that.

It seems this child is pure perfection, eating everything on his plate, even the broccoli.  No one could be a better older brother to a sister than he is.  He shares his toys.  He is a quiet bather, and he goes to sleep as soon as he is in bed. HA!

Sometimes, he plays in bed instead of sleeping.  Who do you think REALLY eats the broccoli? Do I see a paw raised?  The boy's very best toys are not shared, they are hidden.  This the dog knows.  The boy climbs too high in the tree.  He races through the house.  He burps REALLY loud.  This the dog knows.  In fact, the boy and the dog are inseparable, so the dog knows everything about his boy.  And . . . he loves him as much as the boy loves him.

All aspects of this boy's life are related with lively text and the repetition of 

only my dog knows 

inviting readers to join in the story.  The watercolor illustrations portray the exuberance this dog and human exhibit in everything they do.  It extends elements of the narrative wonderfully, especially in the final double-page picture.  The endpapers are certain to bring on the smiles.


Moose's Book Bus (Candlewick Press, November 2, 2021) written and illustrated by Inga Moore

At the publisher's website, there is an activity kit to download and an image to view.  At Penguin Random House, there are multiple interior illustrations to see.  This is a companion title to the earlier A House in the Woods.

Moose lived with his family
in a house in the woods.

At the end of every day Moose, his wife, and children would gather in front of the fire as Moose told a story.  One day, Moose did not have a new story to tell.  He strolled through the woods from neighbor's house to neighbor's house asking to borrow a book he could read aloud. No one had a book!  The very next day, Moose visited the library in the nearby town.

He came home with loads of books.  It did not go unnoticed by Bear.  That night she and her cubs joined the moose family as Moose read aloud Little Red Riding Hood.  Word spread of Moose's evening read aloud sessions.  More and more woodland animals arrived to listen until Moose's living room was too crowded.

With the help of the librarian in town, a visit to the local junkyard, and lots of hard work, Moose had a bus, a book bus, for his animal friends to use.  They all needed to learn to read.  And they did, teaching each other (except Fox was not allowed to teach Hare).  Now, all the homes were filled with the sound of evening read aloud sessions, but no one could read aloud like Moose, so . . .

The text and images pair beautifully in this story of the power of story, books, and reading.  


Our Table (Orchard Books, an imprint of Scholastic, Inc., November 2, 2021) written and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds

At the publisher's website, you can enjoy interior illustrations.  At librarian, lecturer at Rutgers, and writer John Schumacher's Watch. Connect. Read., the cover is revealed.  There, Peter H. Reynolds and his editor each write letters.

Violet fondly remembered the table.

The table represented finding and preparing food, setting the table, and her family engaging in the telling of stories.  Unfortunately, more often than not, Violet was alone at the table.  Her other family members were busy doing other things.  It seemed that a big screen television, a phone, and online game playing were more important.

Day by day, Violet noticed that the table was shrinking until one day it vanished!  Violet took matters into her own hands.  She visited her father, mother, and brother and asked them questions.  And they answered.  Together they made something better than ever.  White space is a strong element with the color purple in the artwork before it becomes full-color again.  The pacing of the narrative is superb as is the repetition of the words---

and they did.


A Thing Called Snow (Doubleday Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Random House Children's Books, November 2, 2021) written and illustrated by Yuval Zommer

Be sure to visit Yuval Zommer's Instagram account to view sheer happiness through his artwork and additional posts.  This title is a companion to The Tree That's Meant To Be.

Fox and Hare were born in the spring,
grew up in the summer,
and were the best of friends by autumn.

They both moved using the same motions, but one was better at sniffing and the other was best at hearing.  One day Fox smelled something new and Hare's ears heard something different.  And a bird mentioned something called snow.  Snow?

They sought advice from Bear.  They started to seek something as white as their fur.  Caribou gave them a new description.  So did Salmon and Goose.  The day got later and darker.  Fox and Hare were too tired to keep looking for snow.  They curled together and fell asleep.  They did not see what readers could see.  They did not hear who missed them and came looking for them.  Who was it?

With a dedication that reads---

Dedicated to the wild,

this is a book for everyone.


Off-Limits (Candlewick Press, November 9, 2021) written and illustrated by Helen Yoon

At Penguin Random House you can view the first few interior images which begin the pictorial story prior to, including, and after the title page.  You can already feel the hilarity creep into your soul.  Be sure to visit Helen Yoon's Instagram account for more of her humor and creativity.  She loves to play with office supplies as much as her character.  At author, reviewer, and blogger Julie Danielson's Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, she gives her insights on this title and includes more interior images.

Hello!  I'm just looking.

There's nothing wrong
with just looking . . .

Even though she has ignored her father's off-limits sign on his closed office door, it is true there is nothing wrong with just looking.  She can't resist, though.  It begins with a

teeny-tiny piece

of tape. 

Faster than lickety-split, the child, a lamp, and the stapler look like mummies. Connected paper clips and binder clips swirl around the room like gusts of air on a windy day.  There might be a few wrapped around the child. (Insert uncontrolled laughter here.)

You know those stacks of notepads in multiple colors?  You would be surprised what you can create with them . . . everywhere!  The father's office is an explosion of office supplies until it dawns on the child, they have crossed a boundary.  Hurrying to the safety of their room, another shock awaits them and readers.  Highly animated illustrations pair perfectly with the deliberate and spare text to bring us the ultimate comedy.


The Story of a Story (Neal Porter Books, Holiday House, November 9, 2021) written by Deborah Hopkinson with pictures by Hadley Hooper

At the publisher's website are downloadable activity sheets.  At Penguin Random House, you can view the title page. 

This is the story of a story.

A child, walking outside on a wintery day, arrives with their dog at a cozy house.  They are armed with supplies for writing, pencils, an eraser, a pencil sharpener and a snack

(a healthy one).

They also bring their physical and mental qualities to the writing table (which is placed in front of a large window to the outside world).

There is a lot of staring and a bit of snack nibbling.  Marks appear on the papers, but they are not a story.  The urge to give up is strong.  

They love the stories of others, but it is not their own.  Another snack break leads to looking out the window, and there it is.  From a chickadee comes the wisdom needed for a story.  Simple, profound text elevated by

pen, ink, and pencil images finished in Photoshop

is guaranteed to have you never looking at a chickadee or a blank piece of paper quite the same way again.


Loving Kindness (Godwin Books, Henry Holt And Company, November 16, 2021) written by Deborah Underwood with illustrations by Tim Hopgood

At the publisher's website, you can view interior illustrations.  There are also pictures from this book at the website of Tim Hopgood.

You are a blessing.

You are beautiful just as you are.
You are loved and you love.

Nine affirmative statements begin this uplifting book.  They read like an affectionate mantra.  The final words refer to our connection to the earth and its connection to all of us.

These distinctive declarations are repeated three more times, identical in every way except for one.  The first time they are repeated the word she is substituted for you.  It is followed by they and then, everyone.  Each time a larger number of individuals are enlivened by the words.  The stylized artwork of Tim Hopgood made with

pencil, charcoal, wax crayon, chalk, ink, paper cutouts, and Photoshop 

is vibrant and colorful, reaching out from the pages just as the words do.  Both wrap readers in
loving kindness.  The book case is stunning.


Amos McGee Misses the Bus (Roaring Brook Press, November 23, 2021) written by Philip C. Stead with illustrations by Erin E. Stead

At the publisher's website are multiple interior illustrations to view.  Philip C. Stead and Erin E. Stead are interviewed on NPR Weekend Edition Saturday, Special Series, Picture This about their work and Amos McGee.  Philip C. Stead and Erin E. Stead speak with Dan Skinner on Kansas Public Radio about this book.  There is The Stead Collection website.

awake on his pillow, planning an outing for his friends.

Amos did get up when his alarm rang.  He did get dressed.  He put a kettle on the stove, but forgot to light it.  As he waited at the table for the water to boil, he fell asleep.

When he woke up, he knew he was late.  He rushed, but he missed the number five bus.  His best-laid plans were out the proverbial window.  

As he went about his chores at the zoo, Amos apologized to his animal friends.  He did notice the tortoise seemed to be missing.  Resting for a bit, Amos fell asleep again.  It was then we noticed how his friends cared for Amos as much as he cared for them.  And the outing he had planned, happened even better than expected.

Readers will be looking at every page turn for the mouse and yellow bird and all the delicate, intricate details in the artwork 

handmade using woodblock printing and pencil.  

There are several wordless pages and a two-page gatefold.  The placement of the text, narrative and dialogue, is done with excellence.


African Proverbs For All Ages (Roaring Brook Press, November 30, 2021) written by Johnnetta Betsch Cole and Nelda LaTeef with illustrations by Nelda LaTeef

Multiple interior images are available for viewing at the publisher's website.  Both Johnnetta Betsch Cole and Nelda LaTeef are interviewed by librarian, author, reviewer, and blogger Elizabeth Bird at School Library Journal, A Fuse #8 Production.

It has been said that a proverb is a short sentence based on long experience.

Whether you are young or old, proverbs can open your mind to a whole new way of seeing the world.

Taken from the cultures of Africa, this book presents four proverbs for each of sixteen double-page illustrations.  It is the belief of the authors and illustrator these four choices will encourage conversations and debate among readers.  They are certain to have each reader pausing and wondering which of the four inspired the picture.

At the close of the book, three pages are dedicated to the proverbs.  Thumbnails are shown for each of the illustrations with the four proverbs.  The proverb which inspired the artwork is shown in bold print.  When it is known, the country of origin for the proverb is stated.  Stunning artwork in various perspectives accompany words which will resonate long after the covers are closed.  This is a book to visit repeatedly for its vision of African cultures and its wisdom.
(In thinking about this title more, I realize I could/should have placed it in the upcoming nonfiction post.)


Group Hug (Godwin Books, Henry Holt and Company, December 14, 2021) written by Jean Reidy with illustrations by Joey Chou

There are several double-page interior images to view at the publisher's website.  Author Jean Reidy joins author Jill Esbaum at Picture Book Builders for an interview about this title.

There once was a slug,
needing someone to hug.


Before long, there was a lonely bug.  That bug got a hug from Slug.  Now, there were two creatures willing to hug.

They met a mouse who had more downs than ups, a stinky skunk, a squirrel who smelled of skunk, a beaver needing a break, and a too-prickly porcupine.  Each time a group hug was given.  The group hugs got bigger and bigger as four more animals joined the crew.  When Bear came into view, everybody ran except for Slug.

Slug knew what to do for Bear.  So did everyone else.  The upbeat rhythm flows from page to page as the rhyming words ring out kindness regardless of the recipient's state of mind, odor, or physical characteristics.  The images bring us close to the heartfelt hugging with their cheerful colors and scenes.  (The interior of the dust jacket is a poster of the final image.)


We Shall Overcome (Orchard Books, an imprint of Scholastic Inc., December 28, 2021) illustrated by Bryan Collier

There are stunning two-page images to view at the publisher's website.  Bryan Collier is the guest author at Scholastic's blog, On Our Minds.  There he speaks about his pictorial interpretation of the words to this anthem.  At librarian, lecturer at Rutgers, and writer John Schumacher's site, Watch. Connect. Read., he chats with Bryan Collier for the book's cover reveal.

We shall overcome, we shall overcome, we shall overcome someday.

As each line spreads across two pages, the artwork of Bryan Collier depicts two worlds.  We view those two worlds by following a young African American girl, dressed in yellow, as she walks to and from school.  The two worlds are the past and the present.

They represent significant moments from the past in black and white with color superimposed from the present.  It is a breathtaking collage of accomplishments and work still necessary.  At the close of the book are discussions about We Shall Overcome History, Historical Moments, Did You Notice The Church On Pages 12 And 13?, Did You Notice The Bus On Pages 14 And 15?, Did You Notice The School On Pages 20 And 21?, Did You Notice The Black Lives Matter Mural on Pages 32 And 33? and an Illustrator's Note. 


What Is Love? (Chronicle Books, December 28, 2021) written by Mac Barnett with illustrations by Carson Ellis

At the publisher's website, you can view several interior illustrations.  At librarian, lecturer at Rutgers, and writer, John Schumacher's site, Watch. Connect. Read., is the cover reveal.  In this post, John talks with both Mac and Carson about their book. (I dare you not to laugh at the end.)

When I was a boy,
in the garden out front
of the house where we lived,
I asked my grandmother,

"What is love?"

My grandma was old.
I thought she would know.

Everything about this book, the dust jacket, the book case, the opening and closing endpapers, the title page, the two-page images and single page images, and every word, was done with loving intention.  After the boy asks his grandmother the question, she replies she cannot answer it.  She suggests he go out into the world to seek an answer.

Each individual the boy encounters gives him a different answer.  They explain why their definition is correct.  The boy is puzzled and voices this confusion.  And they all reply

"You do not understand."

As time passes and the boy gets older, he returns home to his grandmother.  In that moment of being outside this home, savoring it with his senses, he answers his own question.  The final page with a scene in the garden, the young man and his grandmother together as darkness settles around them, and three short sentences is certain to make readers cry . . . with understanding.

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