Quote of the Month

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

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Happy New Year 2023 One Little Word Fiction Part II

Wowee!  Where has the month of January gone?  We are getting close to celebrating books at the ALA Youth Media Awards on January 30, 2023.  No matter how hard I have tried, I cannot get the number of titles to include in these posts under fifty books.  This post will be the second of four.

Due to time constraints, I will be shortening what I include in the listing of each book.  Each one will receive one little word.  There might be more than one title for a given word.  I will link to the author and illustrator websites or one of their active social media accounts.  A link will be attached to the publisher's name, also.  If there are additional resources at the publisher's website, that will be noted.

The first few sentences in the book, a short blurb of my own, and comments about the words and artwork will be provided.  If there are other resources I believe to be helpful, like articles or videos, I will include them.  My goal with these posts is to provide readers and educators with everything they might need to use these books in their lives.  I can never say enough how thankful I am to these dedicated authors and illustrators for shining a light with their work in our world.

Happy reading my friends!


All from a Walnut (Abrams Books for Young Readers, March 22, 2022) written by Ammi-Joan Paqette with illustrations by Felicita Sala

At the publisher's website, you can view interior illustrations.  There are also interior images at the illustrator's website.  At Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez's Math Is Everywhere, author Ammi-Joan Paquette is interviewed about this title.  Julie Danielson features this book at her Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.

On a chilly morning when Emilia woke,
there was a nut on her nightstand.

On this day, Emilia's grandfather tells her the story of he and his parents leaving their home across the ocean.  They each brought a single suitcase apiece.  He brought a walnut gathered from a tree outside their home.

As he and his family moved, the nut planted in soil in a pot moved with them, until it was placed in the ground where Emilia, her mother and grandfather live now.  Today they will plant Emilia's walnut in a pot, so it can grow into a tree next to her grandfather's tree and one planted for her mother.  As her tree grows larger, her grandfather grows slower.  He finally stops, but his legacy lives on in the walnut trees.

Author Ammi-Joan Paquette pens a loving and lovely story of the bond between generations through their connection to the natural growth of a tree.  It is a story told in text and dialogue; a story of something small becoming something larger than the tree.  It is a story of the ebb and flow of life.


watercolor, gouache, and colored pencils

Felicita Sala fills her images with warmth.  She shows us the everyday life of three generations, somehow ordinary, but extraordinary in their accomplishments.  Careful readers will see how she uses color to designate the past and present, happiness and sadness.  The opening and closing endpapers show a variety of suitcases to represent the journey taken by the grandfather and others immigrating to our county.  The dust jacket and book case differ.  The latter using an interior illustration.

The Garden We Share (North|South, March 22, 2022) written by Zoe Tucker with illustrations by Julianna Swaney

At the publisher's website, you can see fifteen pages including the delicate endpapers.  At Simon & Schuster, you can view interior visuals.  There is more artwork from this title at the illustrator's website.

On a bright spring morning
as the sun peeps shyly through the trees
we step out into the garden.

I hold the seeds tightly in my hand,
each little dot full of hope and promise.

The child and her older friend are going to a fenced-in garden area in the city.  They are met by two other older women.  All three plant seeds in the raised garden beds, carefully covering them with dirt.  They wait, sharing a hot beverage together, seated in a companionable circle.

As the seasons pass the seeds sprout and grow and blossom and bloom.  Vegetables hang on vines and creep on the ground.  The foursome sit and soak up the sun, enjoying their gardens.  They preserve the food and feast on it.  They save seeds from the now resting garden.  In the spring, four is now three, but memories whisper to the child as the new sprouts push through the soil.

Through her descriptive words, Zoe Tucker gives readers a true sense of place and the passing of seasons, even human ones.  She has captured and presented to readers the miracle of growing flowers and vegetables from seeds.  Most of all, through this story, we know this act is better shared with the best of friends.

Readers will first notice the different front of the book case and dust jacket.  The case shows the joy the child feels in the middle of the garden among the flowers and vegetables.  The opening and closing endpapers feature folded seed packets with hand-lettered labels.  Cheerful hues and fine lines depict each moment of this shared experience between the woman and the child.

I'll Go and Come Back (Candlewick Press, March 29, 2022) written by Rajani LaRocca with illustrations by Sara Palacios

At Penguin Random House, you can view interior illustrations including the opening and closing endpapers.  This title is featured by John Schu with an author interview at his site, Watch. Connect. Read.  The illustrator has several interior images for you to see at her website along with some process art.  The author chats about this book with Kathleen Temean on her site, Writing and Illustrating.

For the first time since I was a baby, I flew across the world to see aunties and uncles, cousin-brothers and cousin-sisters, and Sita Pati.

At first Jyoti is shocked by the difference of being in India compared to her home.  The weather is rainy.  There are mosquitoes at night and street dogs barking before dawn.  There are so many people and vehicles.  She is lonely when her cousins go to school.  But then . . .

her Sita Pati shows her how to make designs in her garden with colored sand, takes her to the market and plays Pallanguzhi with her. They eat specialized food and drink and savor

warm milk with saffron to bring us sweet dreams.

When Sita Pati comes to America, she feels the same as Jyoti first did in India, but she shows her grandmother how to draw in colored chalk on the sidewalk for hopscotch, shop in the grocery store, and play Chutes and Ladders.  At night they drink hot chocolate together.  When Sita Pati has to go home, Jyoti does not want to be separated from her again, but they share the same words again,

I'll go and come back.

Readers will enjoy the technique author Rajani LaRocca uses to tell this story of a grandchild and her grandmother.  Each of them are sad at first in the new surroundings, but the other shows them what makes their respective worlds wonderful.  Rajani LaRocca pairs each thing Sita Pati shares with Jyoti to those things Jyoti shares with Sita Pati.  There are so many things that are alike rather than different.

Done in gouache and acrylic and assembled digitally, the artwork by Sara Palacios is vivid and animated.  We feel as though we've stepped into each of the worlds of Sita Pati and Jyoti.  The affection the granddaughter and grandmother feel for each other is moving, utterly heartwarming.

A Gift for Nana (Random House Studio, May 10, 2022) written and illustrated by Lane Smith

At the publisher's website, you can view interior pictures.  You can also listen to an audio sample.  You are going to really enjoy this interview of Lane Smith about this book and other children's literature topics at Max's Boat.  There are more interior images to see at Brightly.

It was not his Nana's birthday.

It was not even a major hare holiday.

But Rabbit wanted to give 
his Nana a gift anyway.

With directions given to him by Crow, Rabbit sets off to find the perfect gift for his Nana.  First, Rabbit meets Moon, resting until it's time to rise.  Moon's suggestion for a perfect gift is not right for his Nana.  

Through the forest, across a huge lake, and a rocky shore are places where Rabbit meets Stickler, a big, big fish, and a volcano.  After each of their suggestions, Rabbit replies how his Nana really does not need that kind of gift.  With these replies, we are getting a clear idea of who Nana is.  At the top of a big peak, the perfect gift is found.  Is it really the perfect gift or is Rabbit the perfect present for his Nana?

Word choices and pacing highlight this narrative by Lane Smith.  Each encounter told in conversations tells us more about Rabbit and his relationship with his Nana.  The thoughts of Rabbit as he makes this journey are charming and comical.

Lane Smith's signature artwork adorns each page.  You want to hug the depiction of Rabbit for the care he is giving this quest.  These visuals are rendered 

with mixed media.  They were painted in gesso, oils, and cold wax and drawn with an Apple Pencil in Procreate.

With every page turn we are close to Rabbit.  We are on this quest with him.

At the publisher's website, you can view interior visuals including the open dust jacket.  This book is showcased at Picture Book Builders with an interview with the author.


Ring the doorbell.
"Who's there?"

This is the beginning of the first visit with grandparents.  Everyone is overjoyed to see everyone.  They gather and snack before the fun starts.  

During another visit with another child and their elder, gardening blossoms as does their love.  Chalk drawing might be involved, too.  In another scene, there is baking and reading.  Grandparents picnic and do yoga and . . . nap.  Others explore in attics, dance, star watch, and tell tales as we drift into dreamland.

Readers of all ages will delight in the poetic, simple text by Jean Reidy.  Her superb word choices convey much with one or two words.  She uses alliteration, rhyming and repetition to perfection.  You will want to join in these grand day activities, every single one.

The artwork by Samantha Cotterill is, in a word, stunning.  

The illustrations for this book are hand built, mixed-media three-dimensional sets photographed with a DSLR camera.

With every page turn, readers feel as though they can step into the scene.  This adds to the intimacy of the book.  Multiple grandparents from diverse backgrounds are portrayed.


Something About Grandma (Candlewick Press, August 9, 2022) written and illustrated by Tania de Regil (The Spanish version, Un verano especial con la abuela, was also released.)

At the publisher's website, you can download an activity kit.  At Penguin Random House, you can view several interior illustrations. This book is highlighted by John Sch at Watch. Connect. Read. with an author illustrator discussion.  This book is featured at Let's Talk Picture Books with a chat between the author illustrator and Mel Schuit, the host.

One early morning in July, Grandma arrived from a long way away with a suitcase in hand.  She was there to take Julia for their first summer together without Mom and Dad.

Grandma lived in a small house in a small town at the base of a mountain outside of Mexico City.  At her home Grandma had a huge garden filled with an array of flowers and fruit trees.  Life with Grandma was different.  She bought tasty breads from a woman who carried them in a basket on her head.  She cooked in her kitchen using herbs from her garden.  This place was different.  Grandma was different.

Grandma seemed mysterious in what she knew and in what she did.  A letter from home made Julia feel homesick, but her Grandma did exactly what she needed for days.  One day, Mom and Dad and a new little baby brother arrived, because of Grandma Julia did exactly what she needed to do.

After reading the words by Tania de Regil, readers are aware of how magical grandmothers can be.  They live in a world fashioned by experience and time.  They use it, like Julia's grandmother does, to heal and help and hold those they love close.  

Tania de Regil lifts her words into the realm of timelessness with her images.  

The illustrations were done in watercolor, gouache, colored pencil, and digital collage.

She used poems written by her great-grandmother and handwritten by her grandmother for elements in her pictures. Through her visuals we are transported to then and now.  We are enveloped like Julia in love.


Holding On (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, August 30, 2022) by Sophia N. Lee with illustrations by Isabel Roxas

At the publisher's website, you can view interior pictures including the open dust jacket.  There is a discussion guide there for you to download.  At Let's Talk Picture Books hosted by Mel Schuit, the illustrator is featured as is this book title.  You will enjoy the process art discussion.  John Schu chats with both the author and illustrator about this title at his site, Watch. Connect. Read. This book is highlighted at Asian Journal.

There is always
singing in Lola's house.

Every summer spent there is filled with song.  Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Ella Fitzgerald and Dean Martin's voices ring throughout the house.  In the evenings, grandmother and granddaughter listen to Tagalong love songs.  Her grandmother says---

"If you want to hold on, you gotta
sing your songs."

Her grandmother tells her, she holds on to her.

In the winter, the little girl remembers all the other things about her that her grandmother holds close.  Back during summer, the child holds onto other things that happen with her grandmother, a pot, her breath, and her grandmother's belly when they dance.  She holds tight to her grandmother's stories.

Now there are days when Lola is quiet.  She struggles to remember.  Her granddaughter releases those things they held together and reminds her.

The beauty of a grandmother giving song, dance, affection, and stories and a grandchild returning them to her when she needs them is told marvelously by Sophia N. Lee.  There is joy and warmth in every sentence.  The repetition of the word hold ties every thought together with excellence.

Rendered in mixed media, the artwork of Isabel Roxas extends and enhances the joy and warmth found in the text.  Music fills the pages with musical notes, mouths open in song, and dancing with abandon.  Even when the two are separated, they are still tied together with memories.  You will greatly appreciate the images of Lola and her granddaughter together.  They are heartwarming with a capital H.


Endlessly Ever After: Pick Your Path To Countless Fairy Tale Endings! (Chronicle Books, April 19, 2022) written by Laurel Snyder with artwork by Dan Santat
(A story of Little Red Riding Hood, Jack, Hansel, Gretel, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, a wolf, a witch, a goose, a grandmother, some pigs, and ENDLESS VARIATIONS)

At the publisher's website, you can view interior images.  Laurel Snyder chats about this title at The TeachingBooks Blog.  Laurel Snyder and Dan Santat have a conversation about this title with John Schu at Watch. Connect. Read.  This book is discussed at Unleashing Readers.  Betsy Bird chats with Laurel Snyder and Dan Santat about this book at A Fuse #8 Production, School Library Journal.

Your mama shakes you out of bed.  She says, "My darling dear,
you need to run to Grandma's, quick!  She's feeling ill, I fear.

"Now take this cake, to cheer her up, and have a lovely day.
But mind the path! For danger tends to lurk along the way."

With these six sentences and three more, we come to our first choice in this fractured fairy tale phenomenon.  What coat will our protagonist select? One choice leads her to a crafty, hungry-looking wolf.  The other option leads her to a house new to her.  And at each of these stops, she has two more choices.  

Who will she meet? What out of the ordinary as far as the classic telling of these tales will she encounter?   There are wolves galore.  There are characters from other fairy tales.  There is good and evil.  It is up to the reader to make their own fairy tale mix and match.

Not only is the organization which Laurel Snyder must have done to piece together all these possibilities impressive, but her rhyming couplets are fantastic.  Although this is definitely a delight for an individual, can you imagine how this might be as a read aloud?  And, the final two words are perfect.

Artist Dan Santat does not disappoint in the illustrations for this book.  He takes the traits for which we are familiar with these characters and exaggerates them.  His wolves are downright dastardly.  It is the facial features, especially the eyes, upon which we focus.  Rendered in watercolor and Photoshop, they take this telling of tales to new heights.


Kicks (Versify, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, April 19, 2022) written by Van G. Garrett with illustrations by Reggie Brown

At the publisher's website, you can view the title page.  At the illustrator's website you can view an interior image.  Poet Van G. Garrett chats with Nadia Salomon at the Picturebooking podcast.

You can't pick KICKS
the way you pick sticks,
or stones, or dinosaur bones.

Whatever you pick for your kicks, they have to be super-charged.  They have to make you feel like a combination of your favorite things.  When you walk anywhere with them on, you are capable of anything.

There is no feeling quite like the feeling of wearing new kicks.  The newness makes you and your feet feel like singing.  Everyone with new kicks soars just like you do, no matter the style or color.  Your KICKS make you a star whatever you do.  Rain or shine with your new kicks, you feel fine.

If you don't want to run out and get new kicks after reading the writing of Van G. Garrett, you might want to check if you have a pulse.  His words vibrate on the page.  They send your soul soaring.  The words elevate you (and your new kicks) to new heights.  His use of literary forms is splendid!

The differing dust jacket and book case by Reggie Brown will have you believing you are a superhero.  The complementary colors used for the new KICKS are fabulous.  His digital illustrations are filled with elements certain to make readers pause.  And just like a word in the text, they are electric!  Happiness abounds in all his art here.


Little Houses (Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, May 24, 2022) written by Kevin Henkes with illustrations by Laura Dronzek

At the publisher's website, there is a teaching guide to download for an author study of Kevin Henkes.  This title is included.  There is a book trailer at Kevin Henkes site.  There you can see interior images.  Kevin Henkes and Laura Dronzek are interviewed about their collaboration at Parnassus Books Musing and Association For Library Service To Children (ALSC).

When I visit my grandparents at the beach,
we stay in a little house.
It is so close to the water,
you can hear the waves.

The waves seem to have a language all their own.  Each morning the little girl and her grandmother look for shells, only keeping the ones that are empty.  Her grandmother says they are little houses.

The child begins to wonder about all the colors and shapes of those little houses and who lived there and what happened to them. Hearing a few words over the sound of the waves by her grandmother, the little girl starts to think about all those things under water.  Grandpa agrees with her assessment of the vastness and beauty before them.

Her curiosity is running wild.  She wants to know everything about everything.  For now she has the little houses.  And that is enough.

Readers cannot help but be endeared to this child through the words penned by Kevin Henkes.  She looks at the world as a magnificent puzzle to be solved with the encouragement of her grandparents.  The pacing is excellent and the sentences mirror those of a child's thinking.  Kevin Henkes is a master at simple but profound.

The shades and hues of color and the use of shadow and light by Laura Dronzek are outstanding.  Her opening and closing endpapers are pink with a scattering of sea shells in their marvelous bright colors.  The matte-finished paper is an excellent choice for her acrylic artwork.  Her two-page pictures transport us to to the child's grandparents' home, the texture of the sand, the sound of the waves, and the sea shells peppering the beach.  Her individual shells are exquisitely depicted.  Her underwater scene is gorgeous.


To Make (Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, May 31, 2022) written by Danielle Davis with pictures by Mags DeRoma

There are loads of resources including two fabulous videos, a song by Emily Arrow, and a classroom librarian companion guide for this title at the author's website.  One of the videos which can be seen at the illustrator's site, too, is featured by Travis Jonker at 100 Scope Notes, School Library Journal.  It talks about the process for making this book.  This title is part of a STEAM guide at the publisher's website.  You can read a post about the creation of the artwork at the illustrator's website.  Mags DeRoma is showcased at Kid Lit 411.  Danielle Davis has a guest post at the Nerdy Book Club.  Here she salutes some of her teachers, all teachers, and talks about this book.

To make a cake,




For a series of creative endeavors, the mantra of gather, make and wait are used.  We see how a garden is grown.  We understand how a song can be shaped.  We are inspired to keep doing all three things, gather, make, and wait.

We see how making a plan can work.  What kind of story can we make?  What kind of friend will become a part of our lives?  There are so many things to be made if we gather, make, and wait.  Sometimes the waiting is hardest, but oh so worth it!

What author Danielle Davis does with her spare text is amazing!  She leaves room for reader participation, imagination, and creation as well as the outstanding artwork.  She establishes a rhythm, but pauses that cadence to remind us to keep going regardless of whatever portion of the process in which we find ourselves.

The artist used all kinds of art supplies from graphite to pastels to gouache, paper and glue, and a fair amount of waiting (for the paint to dry, of course) to create the illustrations for this book.  The images after each page turn by Mags DeRoma will definitely have readers pausing.  They reach out and draw you into the story.  They are intricately detailed and highly animated, even in the waiting.  She includes a family pup, gnomes that come to life, a tiny fairy, and a friend as companion creators.

To Make by Danielle Davis and Mags DeRoma from Let's Talk Picture Books on Vimeo.


Lulu & Zoey: A Sister Story (Running Press Kids, June 7, 2022) written by Carrie Finison with illustrations by Brittany Jackson

This book is featured at author Vivian Kirkfield's site.

Sometimes Lulu wants to play.
But Zoey doesn't "Not today."

Lulu, the younger sister, hides and grabs things from Zoey.  Sometimes Zoey wants to share, but Lulu simply does not care.  She would rather decorate something of Zoey's without asking.  Yikes!

They tussle and argue until their Aunt asks them to stop.  They are still grumpy and prone to 

sulk and pout.

They decide on their own to give each other some space.  Soon they have forgotten their squabbles.  Together they work to make a book, compromising as sisters can.  A endearing surprise at the end means they will need to compromise again and again and again.  

Author Carrie Finison has told a timeless and true tale with just the right amount of humor.  Siblings will see themselves in these pages, knowing there are good days and not-so-good days with sisters.  Her rhyming couplets are smooth and flow well as they introduce us to these charming characters.

Bright and cheerful full-color pictures by Brittany Jackson welcome us into this story of sisters who display a full range of emotions.  Their facial expressions will have readers nodding knowingly.  She uses full-page images to great effect with close-up perspectives.  Her use of lines when the sisters are arguing are fantastic.  Her opening and closing endpapers in pale blue with delicate flowers are exactly what these sisters would enjoy.

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