Quote of the Month

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

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

To Remember

My one grandparent I knew, my dad, and my mom were mentally and physically great before a heart quit beating, ALS took over, and old age (94) claimed each one respectively.  For the last few years of her life, my mother resided in assisted living.  When I shared a meal with her and other residents in the dining room, the occupants at our table would be deep in conversation when one would suddenly pause.  You could see by the look on their face, they were desperately trying to recall a word or a thought.  It was utterly heartbreaking to watch and experience this with them.

The loss of memory through the disease of Alzheimer's is particularly difficult to see happen to those we love.  This disease is relentless and can affect people at different ages, young or old.  Never Forget Eleanor (Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, February 14, 2023) written by Jason June with pictures by Loren Long explores memory loss through the affectionate bond between a grandson and his grandmother.  For as long as you can, you will remember this tender story about the power of words.

Elijah loved doing crossword puzzles with his
grandma Eleanor.  She always seemed to know 
every word in the dictionary.

Elijah read aloud the clue and Eleanor knew the answer almost before he finished.  There wasn't a word she couldn't spell or understand.  The best thing about her gift with words was the stories Grandma Eleanor would tell Elijah.  

On Saturdays, Grandma Eleanor would hold special story sessions.  Everyone in town would come to listen.  Can you guess which one was Elijah's favorite?

When Elijah and Grandma Eleanor walked around town, she knew everyone's faces.  She believed each face held a tale.  They called her 

"Never Forget Eleanor."

One day Elijah noticed his grandmother couldn't recall an answer to his clue or even remember the clue.  One Saturday she forgot about story sessions.  The next Saturday Grandma Eleanor was missing for the town tale telling.  Elijah looked everywhere for her.  He thought and thought about how to find her.

He remembered their crossword puzzle fun, their walks throughout town and meeting the individuals whose faces she always knew, and her Saturday story sessions.  That was when an idea came to Elijah.  He knew how to find and assist his grandmother.  He had listened.  He had learned.  It was all about words and love and the help of those who named her 

"Never Forget Eleanor."

From the first page of words written by Jason June, the genuine affection shared by Elijah and Eleanor is clearly present.  Their conversations are like those between the best of friends as are their walks in the community and their wonderful Saturdays.  The manner in which this story is told allows readers along with Elijah to understand the true beauty of Grandma Eleanor.  She leads by example, embracing the best things in others and raising them up through her words.  Here is a sentence.

As she spoke, Elijah felt like his grandmother's words danced in the air and wrapped him up in a warm hug.

When you look at the open and matching dust jacket and book case, the love between Grandma Eleanor and Elijah radiates from the front, right side.  The color choices of artist Loren Long are complementary, hues of yellow and purple.  The flower Elijah is offering his grandmother is worn behind her ear in many of the images.  She holds the latest issue of the newspaper, folded to show the crossword puzzle they enjoy doing together.  

To the left of the spine on a crisp white canvas is an interior illustration.  Here Elijah and his grandmother are in the park.  She sits on a bench near a small tree and a few flowers.  Bunnies are near them, one on Eleanor's knee and the other in front of her.  Elijah sits on the grass in front of her.  All of them are listening to her tell one of her beloved tales.

On the opening and closing endpapers is a hue of purple.  Under the text on the title page, the duo walk to the right with their backs to us.  On the dedication page they sit face to face along the bottom of the page.  The flower, a Black-eyed Susan, is between them

These illustrations by Loren Long were rendered using

gouache and color pencil.

There is a liberal use of white space to highlight the characters and whatever they are doing.  Their body postures and facial expressions are lively and full of emotion, even in the sad times.  It is absolutely wonderful when the inhabitants of the town all listen together when Grandma Eleanor is telling her stories regardless of their prey-predator status in our world.

The sizes of the pictures vary to enhance the pacing and to show the passage of time.  Careful readers will notice the tiny details added by Loren Long.  Words relative to this story are tucked in a newspaper article.

One of my many favorite illustrations is a double-page picture.  It is of Grandma Eleanor and Elijah on a white background.  It is in response to several sentences including the above-quoted one.  From the left we see a portion of Grandma Eleanor's body.  Her mouth is open as she tells Elijah a story.  Her trunk and right arm are raised. Elijah is in the center of the right side.  His arms are clasped as if to give himself a hug.  On the tip of his trunk is a blue butterfly.  In a circle around him are the words,

Legend says it's good luck when a butterfly lands on your nose.

Elijah looks at the butterfly and his grandmother with awe, a slight smile on his face.

Like Elijah we won't forget Never Forget Eleanor written by Jason June with artwork by Loren Long.  There is an author's note and an illustrator's note at the close of the book talking about Alzheimer's disease and their very personal connections to it.  I can't imagine a personal or professional collection without a copy of this gentle, truthful title.

To learn more about Jason June and Loren Long and their other work, please follow the link attached to their names to access their website.  Jason June has a newsletter geared to slightly older audiences along with an account on Instagram.  Loren Long has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  This book is featured by John Schu at his Watch. Connect. Read. with a conversation with the creators.  

Monday, February 27, 2023

Get Lost And Found In A . . .

It happens to all of us regardless of the length.  When the last word is read and the cover is closed, we look up.  For a few moments, we are confused as to where and when we are.  We are still lost in a story, a story other than our real lives.  Not only are we still part of the world within those pages, but we come away with having found something.  It may be something we have misplaced or misunderstood or something fresh and new.

This is the gift of a book, given to us again and again whenever the cover is opened.  Authored by Grace Lin and Kate Messner with illustrations by Grace Lin, Once Upon a Book (Little, Brown And Company, February 07, 2023) is a layered narrative with hidden references to other titles and different cultures. It is a story of longing and belonging.

Alice was tired of heavy sweaters and thick
socks and staying inside with nothing to do.

As she grumpily walked away from her mother, wishing to be away from the constant chilly and cloudy weather, she noticed a book on the floor. Its pages gently flipped in the air.  Reading it aloud prompted the birds in the illustration to invite her into the book.

When Alice stepped into the book, the book she was reading appeared there, too.  The warm air and the birds as playmates suited Alice perfectly. until it started to rain.  Using the book like an umbrella, Alice continued reading and wished for somewhere dry.

Several camels asked her to join them in the desert.  Riding on a camel through the desert was grand until a dust storm began.  Alice did not stop reading.  What she read next encouraged the inhabitants to welcome her into their world.  Away she went.

Two more times, Alice was not quite as satisfied as she believed she would be in a new and distinctive setting.  With her final wish, she read words describing a place memorable and comfortable to her.  A voice she had heard her entire life said,

"Turn the page."

What do you think Alice did?

Authors Grace Lin and Kate Messner have penned an imaginative, immersive and original circle story.  They have masterfully used classic storytelling elements.  The places Alice visits are enticingly descriptive, appealing to the reader's senses.  Each time Alice reads from the book, the inhabitant (s) of that place request she joins them.  This is followed by the same reply from Alice.  Now at a new setting, she continues to read until something specific interrupts her satisfaction.  This repetition fashions a participatory rhythm. We can't wait to read where Alice will venture next!  The blend of text from Alice's book, her commentary, and the words of the beings inside the book take readers on a remarkable journey.  Here is a passage.

"I wish I were someplace that wasn't so
cramped and crowded." Then Alice read,

So the girl went to a place of wide-open blue,
where she would be boundless and free.

"That sounds like our home,"
said the clouds.  "Turn the page
and come in . . ."

The open dust jacket reveals a single large image.  It is the open book read by Alice.  Four of the book's corners bleed off the edges of the jacket.  Tropical birds fly from the upper, left-hand corner, across the spine to the lush flora of the forest.  Hidden in this forest is a white rabbit, a companion who joins Alice on her adventures within the pages of the book.  Notice the fabric of the dress Alice is wearing.  This is intentional by artist Grace Lin.  The title text and Alice are raised to the touch on this glossy dust jacket.

The book case is a bright, shiny red.  The only element on the case is a white rabbit in the lower, right-hand corner on the front, right side.  The rabbit is leaping upward.  

On the opening endpapers is Alice's home.  Icy sleet falls on the snow-covered roof and ground.  A snowman creates a mound in the snow with only a head and one arm remaining.  A flamingo is walking to the left, placed at the far corner of the house.  A cat sits in the large picture window.  Alice looks outside from a window on the right.  She is not happy.

On the closing endpapers is Alice's home.  What we see in the windows is altered.  It is evening and the sleet has stopped.  A full moon hangs in the sky.  A rabbit is curled within its boundaries.

With a page turn we find ourselves at the dedication, verso and title pages.  Rabbit slippers belonging to Alice are tossed on the far left.  Clothes make a pathway to Alice as she takes her print, sleeveless dress from her dresser.  On top of the dresser, readers will want to notice the items there.

These gorgeous illustrations by Grace Lin were rendered 

in gouache on Arches hot press Watercolor Paper.

Pausing to look at each visual will reveal to readers undisclosed tiny elements.  When Alice first begins to read the book before stepping into the story, the mix of reality and imagination is wonderfully portrayed.  I can only wonder at the gasps when readers see her first walk into the book.

The luminous, vibrant colors in each setting are breathtaking.  Whether we are viewing the story from a more panoramic perspective or close-up, we cannot help but feel as if we are there with Alice.  Astute readers will notice that each time Alice goes into a new setting, her dress becomes the hue of her surroundings, forest green, sandy brown, sea green, sky blue or charcoal or black, until she arrives where she began.  All of the illustrations are double-page images except for the first one.

One of my many favorite illustrations is when Alice is still in the forest.  She is holding the book over her head in the rain and continues to read.  She is looking up at the open book.  We see the book as if we are Alice.  The gutter in the book matches the gutter in this book.  A tropical bird rests on her arm, looking at the book.  To the left of the gutter, two other birds look at the book along with a butterfly.  Peering down from the upper, right-hand corner is a part of the rabbit's head. Superb.

This title, Once Upon a Book, written by Grace Lin and Kate Messner with artwork by Grace Lin is wondrous.  To read this book aloud is to take listeners on the best kind of adventure, one of the mind's inventions.  I can already think of wonderful discussions.  Where else might Alice go?  What might cause her to want to leave?  This is a book to share often and widely.  It is a book to gift to others.  I highly recommend it for all your collections.

To discover more about Grace Lin and Kate Messner, please access their websites by following the link attached to their names.  Grace Lin has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.  Kate Messner has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  At the publisher's website is a video you must watch.  Here Grace Lin talks about her illustrations.  Grace Lin, Kate Messner and this book are featured on NPR Books, KidLit TV, KQED Mindshift, The Harvard Crimson, and an upcoming PBS Books event on March 1.

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Returning Home

Wherever we go or whether our absence is planned or unforeseen, we feel the same.  Regardless if hours or weeks pass, when we enter a feeling of welcome washes over us.  It is as if everything is as it should be.  As the now famous words were spoken in the summer of 1939, 

There's no place like home.  There's no place like home. There's no place like home.

It seems that many of the living beings who share this planet with us, either through instinct or natural progression, prefer to reside in a familiar habitat.  When they are displaced, they seek to return if they are able.  Destiny Finds Her Way: How a Rescued Baby Sloth Learned to Be Wild (National Geographic, February 07, 2023) written by Margarita Engle with photographs by Sam Trull is a true story filled with heart and hope.

The tropical rainforest of Costa Rica
echoed with music from colorful birds,
the eee, eee, eee of darting squirrel monkeys,
boom, boom, boom from howler monkeys,
chirps and clicks of cicadas, and a whispering
rustle from the wandering breeze
in green treetops.

Injured and alone, a baby sloth cries for help. These cries alert would-be predators.  Fortunately, humans find the sloth, taking her to a scientist.  The scientist is one of two who founded a sloth rescue center.

The tiny sloth is taken home each night to be fed as often as necessary.  All rescued sloths are named.  Destiny's injured eye does not heal but her appetite is healthy.  Eating guarumo leaves and hibiscus flowers makes her grow.

Climbing is difficult for a sloth with one eye, but Destiny is determined.  She even assists other rescue sloths in their eating to build their strength.  Soon Destiny graduates from 

sloth preschool.

She is taken outside to study life in the wild.  She learns to relieve herself by doing the

poop dance.

She becomes acquainted with the rainforest animals, their sounds, and the smells.  Due to the loss of one eye, her other senses are stronger.  She slowly moves and climbs from tree to tree.  One day, a year later, her weight is heavy enough for her to be released into the wild.  She wears a tracking collar, so the rescue people and the volunteers can monitor her and keep her safe.  To the top she climbs, toward a life she is meant to live.

Take a moment.  Go back and read the first sentence in this title, quoted above and written by Margarita Engle.  This author has mastered the ability to take readers into her narrative with her sensory descriptions.  We experience the assistance received by Destiny.  We experience her growth, her adaptations, and the exhilaration of her delivery into the wild.  Through her personal research at The Sloth Institute, Margarita Engle expertly adds facts to this nonfiction story.  Here is a passage.

Smells were fascinating, too.
Hot, moist air rich with savory leaves
and fragrant flowers.
The stink of a tamandua
and the stench of a porcupine.

With the exception of only a few photographs as noted at the close of the book, all visuals for this title are the work of photographer and cofounder of The Sloth Institute, Sam Trull.  On the front, right side, of the open and matching dust jacket and book case is Destiny in her natural habitat in Costa Rica.  To the left of the spine on the back, the left side, we see her again in two other circular visuals.  Here, too, other books in the Baby Animal Tales are shown.

A muted red orange covers the opening and closing endpapers.  Prior to the formal title page, we are brought close to Destiny peeking between two tree branches.  A gorgeous double-page image brings Destiny into focus with a blurred leafy background for the title page.

Throughout the book there are large pictures crossing the gutter.  They create a sizable column on the opposite page in which other circular pictures are placed along with text.  Any not featuring sloths are labeled with the name of the animal.  The borders and background textures mirror the rain forests of Costa Rica and its people.

There are also informative and beautiful full-page pictures.  If Destiny is not the showcased sloth, the sloths shown are captioned with their names.  There are also half-page horizontal images with decorative borders.  These photographs not only document the sloths, their recovery and release into the rain forest, but take us into the rainforest by showing us other flora and fauna.

One of my many favorite photographs covers three-quarters of a page.  Destiny is embracing another sloth at the rescue center.  They are nose to nose, gazing at each other.  It is a close-up horizontal visual.  This is one of numerous images that highlights the photographic skills of Sam Trull.

This nonfiction picture book, Destiny Finds Her Way: How a Rescued Baby Sloth Learned to Be Wild written by Margarita Engle with photographs by Sam Trull, is one to be enjoyed by readers of all ages.  I guarantee everyone will learn something.  At the close of the book is a full-page author's note and a full-page photographer's note.  This is followed by a map showing where sloths reside.  There is another page with information about The Sloth Institute, sloth books and a video to watch, and Facts About Sloths.  I know you will want to place a copy of this book in all your collections.

To discover more about Margarita Engle and Sam Trull, access their websites by following the link attached to their names.  Margarita Engle has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  Sam Trull has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  Here is the link to The Sloth Institute.

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Wisdom At Every Age

To be guided by the belief that we are all students and teachers is to embrace learning every single day.  On the wall under the windows in my library office, there was a banner voicing this conviction.  Students and those younger than us, need to know adults, teachers, or mentors value their opinions.  They need to know we are learning for and with them.  And if they say something that astounds us, praise their insight, their thinking, and their wit.  

There is something exceptionally beautiful about the relationship between a grandparent and a grandchild.  The one is young enough to appreciate the wisdom in the elder and the elder is old enough to welcome the wisdom of the youth.  This mutual affection and respect is lovingly presented in Just Like Grandma (Heartdrum, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, January 24, 2023) written by debut picture book author Kim Rogers with illustrations by Julie Flett.

On the steps of a house at the end of the street,
Becca watches
Grandma bead and bead
buckskin moccasins.

When Becca asks her grandmother if she can try, she hands her the tools she needs.  The two of them bead side-by-side until Grandpa says dinner is ready.  Next, Becca watches Grandma dancing barefoot in the backyard outside the house at the end of the street.

Becca leaves the house and joins her grandmother.  The two spin until dinner is ready.  Tonight Grandpa has made fried chicken.

When Becca sees what her grandmother can create with paint, she 

wants to be 
just like Grandma.

Together they work on the canvas until day's end.  What will Grandpa serve for dinner tonight?  Watching her Grandma win the grand prize for dancing the Fancy Shawl Dance at the powwow, Becca's heart soars.  During another portion of the event, they dance together until Grandpa signals their dinner is ready.

Back home, Grandma watches Becca.  She joins her outside because she wants to be like Becca.  The next day, the grandparents wait and then celebrate with Becca.  As the narrative closes, a grandchild is grateful for her grandparents, and Grandma perceives the precious gift she has in Becca.

Author Kim Rogers uses the storyteller's gift of repetition masterfully, fashioning a rhythm which reaches out and wraps around readers.  She calls us back to the house and its description repeatedly. Each time Becca sees Grandma doing something she wishes to replicate, the same words are used.  Each of these shared experiences is followed by Grandpa inviting them to eat a different meal for dinner, even at the powwow.  When Grandma surprises Becca and wants to be like her, the narrative takes on an expanded cadence.  Everything is tied together superbly by the duo's musings at the end.  Here is a passage.

Becca sits down next to
Grandma and her pretty palette.
Let me try, she says.

Grandma shows her brushstrokes
on the textured canvas.

Together they paint the most spectacular sunrise
anyone has ever painted,
until the sun dips below the tree line
and Grandpa calls them in for pancakes for dinner.

The portrait of Becca with Grandma seen on the open and matching dust jacket and book case introduces readers to these people bound together with love and admiration. The dragonfly to the right of them is seen one other time in an illustration within the book.  Is there significance in its placement?

To the left of the spine, on the back, Becca and Grandma are seated next to each other.  This time their backs are to us.  A gorgeous shawl or blanket is wrapped around them.  I like to think that based on the sky, the day is coming to an end.  Perhaps Grandpa has just called them to dinner.

A golden tan covers the opening and closing endpapers.  The artwork on the back of the jacket and case is used for the title page.  It is also an interior visual.  

used pastels and pencil and digitally rendered

the images.  Her color choices radiate warmth and a closeness to earth.  She shifts from double-page pictures to full-page illustrations which cross the gutter.  Her full-page visuals sometimes contain tiny drawings and large amounts of white space.  

Her depictions of Becca, Grandma, and Grandpa are lively and full of emotional closeness.  Readers can readily understand the shared love.  Whatever they are doing, they do it with an extension of the rhythm we find in the author's narrative.

One of my many favorite illustrations is when Becca and her grandmother are dancing barefoot in the grass in the backyard.  It is a double-page picture.  Above the large expanse of grass is a sky streaked in peach and cream.  Tall leafy trees are placed on the left.  Lovely dark pink and red butterflies float above the grass.  To the right of the gutter, Becca and Grandma swirl, their skirts like wings.  In the lower, right-hand corner are some flowers and a single butterfly.

Listeners will be captivated hearing the words written by Kim Rogers and viewing the artwork of Julie Flett when Just Like Grandma is read aloud to them.  Both the story and images will linger long after the book is finished.  At the close of the title is a letter by Cynthia Leitich Smith.  Here she speaks about the value of role models and elders and Heartdrum.  This is followed by an author's note, a section on beadwork and a glossary.  This title has my highest recommendation for all your collections.

To learn more about Kim Rogers and Julie Flett and their other work, access their websites by following the link attached to their names.  Kim Rogers has accounts on Facebook and Twitter.  Julie Flett has an account on Instagram.  The cover reveal can be found at We Need Diverse Books.  There is a letter from Kim Rogers there and the letter from Cynthia Leitich Smith.  Kim Rogers is interviewed at Cynsations, the site of author Cynthia Leitich Smith.  It is a wonderful question and answer post.

Thursday, February 16, 2023

In Every Season There Is . . .

If I had a dime, no, a penny, for every time my dad said actions speak louder than words, Forbes would have me on their billionaires list.  He was a doer of the highest order.  For him, every belief, emotion, and statement, and even those things unsaid, were backed by noticeable efforts. 

When I read In Every Life (Beach Lane Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division, February 07, 2023) written and illustrated by Marla Frazee for the first time, it was as if my dad was looking over my shoulder.  When I read it a second time, it was as if every illustration was a testament to something I had heard over and over and over until it became a part of me.  It is one thing to read or hear words, but when those words are made visible, their truth is revealed.  This is what Marla Frazee gives to readers with this book.

In every birth,

blessed is the wonder.

This is the first of seven declarative sentences.  Each sentence speaks to a different experience in human life.  Some are more readily seen than others like a smile.  Some happen for a few seconds like coming face to face with an animal in the wild, but are captured forever in our memories.

We read of goals brought to fruition.  We read of mourning eased with solace.  We read of the many forms of love and how deeply those loves can leave a mark on our lives.

Most of all, these words ask us to embrace our lives, enjoying all they bring to us.  They ask us to be grateful for the happiness and for the heartbreak.  These distinct words and what we find in each one makes us fully human.

On the verso, beneath the dedication, Marla Frazee addresses how this book began to form in her mind.  She was attending a church service and listening to

a call-and-response version of a Jewish baby-naming blessing.

This was in 1998.

Her text for this book begins with the same two words.  After the comma are the same three words for each sentence. In my mind, Marla Frazee has sought to redefine those seven words in the beginning of the blessing by reminding readers of an extraordinary or uncommon meaning embedded in each one.  

There have only been a few times in my life when I've been hiking in the forest, strolling down a beach, or sailing on the water and witnessed sunlight shooting rays through the trees or clouds.  It does not last, but seems to have a spirituality attached to it.  When you see this on the front of the open dust jacket, you realize a special moment is being depicted.  This moving glimpse of time featuring three generations is universal in its appeal.  In the colors of the leaves on the trees, Marla Frazee gives us hints of the passing of seasons.  The palette for the title text is just the beginning of the marvelous artwork we find in the interior of this title.  It is varnished and raised to the touch.

On the other side of the spine, on the back, is a small vignette surrounded by white space.  It is one of the images for the words moment and mystery.  It is of a child ready to blow out a single lighted candle on a piece of cake.  Is she thinking of a wish?

On the book case the front and back are covered in a cream canvas.  A wide band of a darker shade of the purple hue used in the title text covers the spine and an inch and a quarter on either side.  The title text on the book case is identical to the dust jacket.  It is varnished but not raised to the touch.

The turquoise blue in the title text covers the opening and closing endpapers.  The title text is enlarged for the title page.  Opposite the verso page is a swirl of pastel shades of the colors in the title text beginning from a central focal point. 

In a style which is uniquely her own, Marla Frazee has from eight to fourteen smaller images grouped on the two pages dedicated to each phrase.  These smaller visuals represent an array of interpretations of the two main words in each blessing.  Through her delicate use of color and intricate fine lines, she draws us into each of these illustrations.  They are a marvelous mix of generations and ethnic backgrounds.

Each of these seven blessings is followed by a dramatic double-page wordless picture.  These wordless scenes further reinforce the final word in each sentence.  All of them are striking and panoramic.  With the exception of the final one, the people and their companions are small in light of the majesty of their surroundings.

One of my many favorite smaller vignettes is of a young woman and a young man seated on a rustic wooden bench with small boulders under the bench.  They have stopped to sip a bottled drink.  They are looking directly into each other's eyes with their heads turned.  To me it's that instant when you know the other person loves you as much as you love them.  You wonder why it has happened at this exact second.
One of my many favorite wordless visuals is the vast seascape for the same blessing.  Spread before readers across these two pages are crests of waves rolling toward a sandy beach under a sky with storm clouds moving away.  Rays of sun are breaking through those clouds.  A few brave sailors are out in their boats in the distance.  Three dolphins are leaping from the water under the sunshine.  An elder and a smaller child, their footprints making a path in the sand, are watching the dolphins.  Seabirds crowd the beach and a few have taken flight.  These two illustrations, like all of them in this book, are completely sensory.

This book, In Every Life written and illustrated by Marla Frazee, is rich and rare.  Its eloquence needs to be savored often and shared widely.  It will certainly promote discussions about what each day holds for all of us.  It might be interesting to pair it with Life by Cynthia Rylant with illustrations by Brendan Wenzel or You Are A Beautiful Beginning by Nina Laden with illustrations by Kelsey Garrity-Riley.  (And for some reason, it prompted me to watch and listen to The New York Times, An Illustrated Talk With Maurice Sendak.)  I highly recommend this title for both your professional and personal collections.

To learn more about Marla Frazee and her other work, please access her website by following the link attached to her name.  Marla Frazee has accounts on Instagram and Twitter.  At the publisher's website, you can view interior images including the open dust jacket.  Marla Frazee talks with Roger Sutton at The Horn Book about this title.  Travis Jonker, host of this chat on The Yarn, School Library Journal, talks with Marla Frazee about this book.  Author Pat Zietlow Miller showcases this book at Picture Book Builders.

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

It Spoke Volumes For Her

One of many things history teaches us is the power of a single individual to make a significant impact.  This effect can ripple through a community, a state, a region, a country or the entire world.  It can be damaging or beneficial.  It can be temporary or lasting.  

Some names are more well-known than others; people like Elvis Presley, Pura Belpre, Stan Lee, John Lewis Zora Neale Hurston or Greta ThunbergEven if we think we know all we need to know about these individuals and their accomplishments, through the efforts of authors and illustrators collaborating on biographical picture books, we learn more.  The value of the work of these authors and illustrators cannot be stressed enough, especially when they introduce people who are unfamiliar to us.

For whatever reason these individuals are lesser known (to me), they did contribute to the betterment of life for residents on this planet.  How much did we know about Todd Bol, Ben Shahn, Teresa Carreno, Mary Walker, Helen Martini or Jadav Payeng before we read outstanding picture book biographies about them?  Their achievements are inspirational, far-reaching and enduring.  Love Is Loud: How Diane Nash Led the Civil Rights Movement (A Paula Wiseman Book, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, January 10, 2023) written by Sandra Neil Wallace with illustrations by Bryan Collier is a book vital to any discourse on the history of the Civil Rights Movement.  Although, Diane Nash was not given the same platform as her male counterparts at the same time, she was and is a woman powered by and empowered by love.

You arrive in the spring of 1938 on the South Side, when
Chicago's leaves unfurl, emerald green like your baby girl eyes.

CELEBRATION, JUBILATION. Your parents baptize beautiful, honey-brown you, Diane Judith Nash.

For the first four years of her life, she lives in a home her parents fill with love until World War II comes.  With her father in the army and her mother working all day, Grandmother Bolton comes from Tennessee to embrace this child in her special kind of affection.  When she attends high school, love sustains her as classmates from a variety of ethnic backgrounds sit around Diane.  It is not until she goes to Tennessee to stay with Grandmother Bolton to attend college that segregation is blatantly on display.

Signs in Nashville say WHITES ONLY and COLORED ONLY.  It is not right to not share a drinking fountain or a school or a lunch counter.  Diane Judith Nash, raised in love, knows something must be done but she refers to not get arrested. She and other students learn and practice peaceful persistence in church before classes.  

They calmly sit at lunch counters and their numbers grow through the winter months of February and March.  In April, Diane is ignited by an act of violence; she silently leads six thousand souls in a march to meet Mayor Ben West to desegregate the lunch counters in Nashville. Victory is theirs. The next focus for Diane is the Freedom Rides.  She is twenty-three years old.  

Pregnant with her first child, Diane Judith Nash faces time in a Mississippi jail for organizing student protests.  She does not post bail, but goes to jail for the sake of freedom and explains her actions in a letter to the world.  Her two year sentence lasts ten days, dismissed by the judge. Love wins.

Diane is not done.  She works tirelessly to make the Voting Rights Act a reality.  Wherever she can, whenever she can she believes in justice and peace forged from love.  She spreads her truth for fifty years.  On July 7, 2022 this remarkable woman is the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom given to her by President Joe Biden.  She is eighty-four years young.

When you read what author Sandra Neil Wallace has written in this title, page turn by page turn a cadence grows.  She includes specific facts and quotations in her narrative to build and define the distinguished and formidable Diane Judith Nash. Within each section at least two words are capitalized and bolded.

These particular words are like roots or foundations from which the other thoughts grow and form. There is a poetic, almost musical, quality to them through rhyme, repetition, and alliteration.  Toward the end of the book, three 

Love is . . .

statements are repeated to create a powerful and exhilarating meter.  Here is a passage.

Seeing twenty-one-year-old you sit down with your pearls and your books shakes
the cooks and the waitress.  She breaks plate after plate as you wait to be served.
Inside, you shake too.  HANDS SWEATING, NEVER FORGETTING the danger,
the fear of being arrested for ordering a sandwich.
Your family is also afraid.  Of what can happen to you over lunch.  They worry
you've gotten in with the wrong bunch.

The open and matching dust jacket and book case first reveal a vibrant persona on the right side, the front.  Diane Judith Nash is looking straight ahead, focused on her goal.  The colors radiating from her are warm tones, reds, oranges, and yellows.  These are reflective of her beliefs that love is the way to win.  Love Is is varnished as is Diane Judith Nash.  The ray from her mouth is a glazed white with a bright red varnish on Loud.

To the left of the spine, on the back, are three visuals taken from the interior of the book.  They are shown to us in three different rays divided by a wide yellow border.  They show a progression of Diane's life, birth, her lunch counter sit-in, and her speech to secure voting rights.  In each of these Diane presents calmness with intention.

A rich orange red covers the opening and closing endpapers.  Artist Bryan Collier continues his use of rays like a megaphone on the title, verso and dedication pages adding a bold sky blue hue to the red, yellow and white.  His images rendered

in watercolor and collage

span two and single pages.  They are historically accurate in their depiction of clothing, interior design, buildings, fair grounds, and signage in Chicago and the southern states.

Readers cannot fail to notice the outstanding portraits of Diane Judith Nash in every setting.  Underlying her facial features, regardless of her current mood, is love.  We see it in her eyes and in her stance.  It is her North Star.

One of my many favorite illustrations is a double-page picture.  On the left, Diane appears straight and tall at a lunch counter sit-in.  She is wearing a yellow V-neck sweater rimmed in cream with a green blouse.  A strand of pearls rests around her neck.  She is looking to the right.  There we see a scene which might have been at that moment or one of other moments during the sit-ins.  A waitress holding coffee pots is flinging plates.  Some of the customers are displaying anger.  The participants are calm and well-dressed.

Through the stirring, informative words of Sandra Neil Wallace and the equally informative and expressive artwork of Bryan Collier, Love Is Loud: How Diane Nash Led the Civil Rights Movement is a superior nonfiction picture book.  At the close of the book is an author's note and an illustrator's note.  There is an extensive time line, several sources to learn about Diane Nash from video interviews and books for young readers.  There is a page of quote sources and a selected bibliography.  This is an essential title for all your collections.  

To discover more about Sandra Neil Wallace and Bryan Collier and their other work, please visit their websites by following the link attached to their names.  Sandra Neil Wallace has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  Bryan Collier has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  At both the publisher's website and the website of Sandra Neil Wallace, you can view the book trailer.  At Sandra Neil Wallace's site is a link to a six-page curriculum guide.  At the publisher's website, you can view interior images including the open dust jacket.

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Revelations From The Woods

Each time we step into the woods, regardless if the trail is known and well-traveled or barely visible and new, we can never totally predict what we will encounter.  We are never sure what may happen during those encounters.  The wild is full of surprises.

It's this unknown that sends shivers of anticipation or unease through the minds and hearts of those who enter the forest.  If you happen to be the latter kind of individual, with a bundle of other things you fear, going into the woods is the last thing you want to do.  Author illustrator Matthew Cordell shows us bravery can come when we least expect it in his new title, Evergreen (A Feiwel and Friends Book, an imprint of Macmillan Publishing Group, February 7, 2023).  This squirrel's trek represents the special turning point when bravery sets us free to enjoy the best kind of adventure our world has to offer.

Magic Soup

Deep in Buckthorn Forest, at the
northernmost edge of Burr Valley high in the
tallest red oak tree, behind the closed curtain of a
bedroom window, hid a squirrel named Evergreen.

As soon as Evergreen hears her Mama utter three familiar words, her timid heart sinks.  Her mother has more faith in her abilities than she does.  Mama wants her to take soup to a very sick Granny Oak who lives in the opposite corner of Buckthorn Forest.  Evergreen has never been in the woods alone.

One of the things Evergreen fears more than anything else is thunderstorms.  Every sound she hears in the forest gives her pause, but so far no thunderstorms.  A sudden terrifying sound leads Evergreen to a white rabbit trapped between two heavy rocks.  The rabbit is naturally panicked thinking about hawks.  Swallowing her own panic, Evergreen and the bunny, Briar, move the stones.

How does Briar repay Evergreen?  That wily rascal steals the soup, but before Briar can vanish a hawk swoops from the sky.  Does the hawk get Briar?  Does Evergreen get the soup back? (Now would be a great time to recall the Aesop fable, The Lion and the Mouse.)

With Ember airborne again, Evergreen grasps the soup-filled acorn and starts to continue her travels when a bone-chilling sound pierces the air.  An elder and his great-grandson are in need of her assistance.  As she has done several times today, Evergreen places the anguish of another ahead of her own.  With this feat, she surprises herself again.  As she makes her way toward Granny Oak's home, she repeatedly finds herself facing friends and foes.  So far, she has not spilled a single drop of soup!


What is a squirrel who is definitely scared of her own shadow supposed to do upon hearing a sound like that?  After this day's adventure, there is only one thing for her to do.  Granny Oak needs the soup now. Upon returning home, she has no sooner hung up her shawl, when she hears Mama utter those same three words.  Evergreen answers her mother's request with much more confidence this time, but . . . Yikes!  Is that sound what she thinks it is?

Told in six sections, author Matthew Cordell uses the four middle parts to introduce us to forest characters whose expected personality traits offer unforeseen results; an enemy can be a friend, a friend can be a thief and a granny can be downright startling.  Narrative and dialogue are deftly woven together to accurately describe a particular place, create tension-filled moments and astonishing twists and fashion a cast of memorable characters.  Another thing Matthew Cordell does with each of these parts is to demonstrate how courage replaces dread when a being's heart has been supported with and filled with love.  Mama makes more than magical soup.  Here is a passage.

The first two stones were easy to step across.  And the next one, too.  But the next
stone was a big hop away.

Hop!  She made it! The next stone was an even bigger hop.  HOP! SLIP!

When readers look at the right side, front, of the open jacket, there is no doubt that squirrel is afraid.  Framed by forest fauna and a vine, we can see anxiety etched in every line of her body and in her wide-eyed look.  What has her so frightened?  The title text is varnished.

As we move our eyes over the spine to the back, left side, we see more framing with intricate woodland vines and leaves before we look carefully at the circular image of Evergreen and Mama.  They are seated in their home, spooning steaming soup into their mouths.  Their eyes are closed in contemplation.  (It is on the front and back of the jacket that only the most careful of readers can see the clever addition Matthew Cordell adds to specific images throughout this book.  Oh, how I loved this when I discovered it.  Thank you, Matthew!)

Across the entire book case is a bird's-eye view of Buckthorn Forest.  This map shows fourteen labeled places amid trees, fields, hills, a mountain, a pond and a stream.  The compass rose is a centered acorn with branches separating each of the directions.

On the opening and closing endpapers is a soft, grass green shade.  A large full-page image bordered in vine announces each part.  The illustrations vary in size to complement the text and supply readers with a stronger sense of pacing.  The artwork as a whole provides an intimate experience bursting with emotion.  (There is one heart-stopping double-page visual with only a sound and another double-page picture that accompanies shocking text.)


with a 005 Micron pen and painted with watercolors,

the illustrations invite readers to pause and notice the elements within each one.  The fine lines create floral details in Evergreen and Mama's home, notable expressions on the characters' faces and their physical portraits, and in the depiction of Buckthorn Forest.  Sometimes a scene is shown to us in a panoramic view and other times we are so close to the action, we are there.

One of my favorite illustrations of many is a single-page picture.  It captures every small creature's fears as it capture's Evergreen's terror.  The image is framed in a leafy vine.  The background is a field edged with trees along the top.  Coming from the top of the frame are two feet with hooked talons belonging to Ember.  The one on the right is just the open talons.  The one on the left is more of the foot and talons.  These talons grasp Evergreen, barely holding on to the soup-filled acorn.  Her mouth is open in a scream.  This is the second illustration certain to induce gasps from readers, if not shouts of Evergreen!

When you finish reading Evergreen written and illustrated by Matthew Cordell, you will go back to the beginning and read it again.  With every reading something new will present itself to you in either the text or the artwork.  And as you read it, you will wonder how he selected the names for his characters and the points on his map of Buckthorn Forest.  Trust me when I say, people will be reading this title for generations to come.  Be sure to have at least one or more copies in your professional and personal collections.

To discover more about Matthew Cordell and his other work, please follow the link attached to his name to access his website or visit his Facebook and Instagram accounts.  At the publisher's website, you can view interior pages.

Thursday, February 9, 2023

Family. Food. From the Heart.

This year, 2023, is the Year of the Rabbit.  The Chinese Lunar New Year began on January 21, 2023 and finished fifteen days later with the Lantern Festival.  Every twelve years, the animal that is celebrated in a given year is highlighted again.  Many years ago, this reader was born in the Year of the Rabbit.  For this reason, rabbits have a special place in my heart, even when they enjoy eating in my gardens without an invitation.

Like many others, Chinese food is one of my favorite meals.  When I am fortunate enough to go to a larger city near my community, I make sure to purchase spring rolls made fresh daily.  This year to my delight, they were serving three types of bao.  I am not sure if this is a new permanent item or just for the Lunar New Year. Regardless, yesterday I came home with Coconut Custard bao.  (I am still figuring out how to best steam them.)

To be able to eat this delicious food on a more regular basis would be marvelous.  This is one of several reasons Dim Sum, Here We Come! (Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, January 3, 2023) written and illustrated by Maple Lam is pure delight.  Page after page, it is a joyous window into a world of family, food, and tradition, tied together with great affection.

Here we go! It's almost dim sum time!

Come on, Cece---hurry up, let's go.
I can't wait to see everyone!

Dim sum, here we come!

Grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins all join this bundle of energy with her sister, Cece, and her parents every Sunday to dine on dim sum.  As the group waits for an available table, Uncle Irwin takes the children to special spots in the restaurant.  For each one, we are told the cultural significance.  Did you know 

Dancing fish means good feng shui?

Our enthusiastic narrator is seated next to her grandmother. Soon a cart stacked with bamboo baskets filled with steamed food arrives at the table.  A dim sum card allows the diners to select which baskets they want.  They get ten baskets with ten different kinds of dim sum.  

It's hard to be patient for the turntable to spin from family member to family member.  Respectfully, our eager narrator waits for the basket with char siu bun.  Ten people later, that basket arrives in front of her.  She is so excited.

There is one left!  She carefully does three things with the char siu bun before her final act and then, she tells us what dim sum means.  After the families each travel to their homes, Cece and her older sister, our protagonist, have another dim sum moment.  It is here we learn the most cherished definition of dim sum.

With those first five sentences, spoken with pure happiness, our narrator's enthusiasm spreads to readers.  We appreciate how author Maple Lam, through the girl's first-person voice, introduces us to the art of enjoying dim sum, step by step.  Woven into her story are wonderful and enlightening beliefs.  Though the little girl may be hungry, of which she informs us often, mutual appreciation of others is foremost with each family member.  Here is another passage.

Uncle Jeremy refills hot tea for everyone.

Tap tap tap! Tap tap tap!

Tapping your finger on the table means thank you.

On the front of the matching dust jacket and book case, readers are introduced to our narrator, her younger sister, Cece, and the other ten family members who meet every Sunday for dim sum.  Seen here is familial love, merriment, and people who can hardly wait to try these delectable foods.  The design, the way the elements are placed in a large group, the two girls, and then the remainder of the family, leads our eyes to the title text.  

On the back of the jacket and case, the left side, on a white canvas with a delicate pale wash is a light red heart.  Inside the heart is the girl and her younger sister, enjoying the last of the dim sum.  Both are smiling and their eyes are closed in contentment.  Portions of their hair break the borders of the heart to give us a feeling of motion.

On the opening endpapers, as if in a spiral-ringed menu, are eighteen small boxes, nine on each side.  Within each are different kinds of dim sum.  They are labeled.  (This is guaranteed to make your mouth water with anticipation.)  On the closing endpapers the bamboo baskets and plates are still there, but empty.  Instead of the labels, we read commentary about the taste of each one.  On the title page, the siblings are running, hands clasped and mouths open.

These illustrations by Maple Lam were rendered using

watercolor and colored pencils.

The chosen color palette, shapes, and lines made by this artist all contribute and elevate the liveliness of the narrator.  The illustrations vary in size from two-page pictures, to full-page pictures, edge to edge and some surrounded by white space.  The different perspectives are outstanding.  We are close to the characters in many of the scenes.  Sometimes we are looking at them from slightly above.  The food is depicted in all its deliciousness.

Readers will be endeared to all the family members.  They genuinely enjoy each other's company as shown by their facial features and body postures.  This is a day full of promise each week.

One of my many favorite illustrations is a two-page image.  From the lower, left-hand corner on the left to the lower, right-hand corner on the right is an arc.  This arc shows all twelve members of this family seated in their chairs at their table, even though we know it is a circle.  It is as if we can take the two ends and pull them together to complete that circle.  The baskets and plates of dim sum are in the center.  There is some talking and a whole lot of eating.  You want to hold the joy portrayed here in your hands beyond the story.

This book, Dim Sum, Here We Come! written and illustrated by Maple Lam will quench readers' hunger for food, family, and happy hearts.  It is certain to promote discussions about family, family food and family traditions.  Readers will be ready to research dim sum and other Chinese cultural traditions.  I can't imagine a professional or personal collection without a copy of this title.

To discover more about Maple Lam and her other work, please follow the link attached to her name to access her website.  There is a twenty-one page teacher's guide on her website along with several activity worksheets.  Maple Lam has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  There is some process art on her Instagram account.  Maple Lam is interviewed about this book by author illustrator Jena Benton.

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Missions: Incredible

On February 2, 1925, a man and a team of dogs arrived by sled in the community of Nome, AlaskaGunnar Kaassen and Balto, the lead dog, became instant heroes for the delivery of a life-saving serum.  The children of Nome were battling a disease, diphtheria, and desperately needed the antitoxin.  Kaassen and his team drove the last leg, about fifty-five miles, of the serum's journey from Anchorage, Alaska, more than one thousand miles away.   

For many years there were people who didn't know that without the efforts of Leonhard Seppala and his lead dog, Togo, the last leg of the race might have been different.  Seppala, Togo and his other dogs left Nome to meet another team with the serum coming from Nulato. They then traveled back toward Nome to give it to yet another musher and his dogs who gave it to Kaassen's team.  Leonhard Seppala with Togo in the lead traveled a total of 261 miles, the farthest of any musher and their dogs.  And they crossed Norton Sound twice in treacherous conditions. 

Often in the chronicling of events, those in the lead seem to garner more attention then those working as hard or harder, but more in the background.  After reading The Indestructible Tom Crean: Heroic Explorer of the Antarctic (Viking, an imprint of Penguin Random House, January 24, 2023) written and illustrated by Jennifer Thermes, you will understand the importance of those with special and specific talents to a group effort.  It is their determination and steadfastness that can alter the outcome, sometimes between life and death.

At the turn of the century, Antarctica is the last unexplored continent on Earth.

This time period is known as the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration.  In England, the Royal Geographical Society, private investors,
commercial companies, and the Royal Navy support expeditions to the southernmost place in the world. 
 . . .

Born on the seacoast of western Ireland, in a large farm family, Tom Crean, like other Irishmen, aimed his sights on the sea.  At sixteen, he joined the British Royal Navy, working and learning for ten years.  Just before the ship Discovery led by Captain Scott left New Zealand for Antarctica, he needed a new member for his crew.  Tom Crean was that man.  This was the first of three explorations to Antarctica in which Tom participated.

Tom's rank was able seaman.  He and others pulled 800-pound sleds through snow and ice to leave a path of supplies for returning adventurers to the base camp at Hut Point.  Their ship was frozen in place for two years! 

Six years later, Captain Scott called on Tom again for another exploration to Antarctica.  This time their goal was not scientific discoveries but to be the first to reach the South Pole.  They left on a ship called the Terra Nova with ponies, dogs, and sleds with motors.  It was a race against time and Roald Amundsen.

After building a camp, they started to drag supplies along a route toward the pole, going back and forth.  Weather delays and food shortages slowed their progress to the South Pole.  Men, including Tom, were sent back to camp while Captain Scott and four others made the last 150-mile trip to the pole. At the camp on Cape Evans, winter ended but Scott and the four men did not return.  It nearly crushed Tom's spirit when he and the search party found Captain Robert Falcon Scott.  He and the four men were no longer alive.

In August 1914, one year later, Tom Crean was aboard the Endurance as a second officer under the command of Captain Ernest Shackleton.  Shortly after leaving South Georgia Island, the Endurance was trapped in ice.  The men rode out the winter on the ship, but the ice had no mercy.  The ship had moved 1,000 miles!  The story of the survival of the twenty-eight men (but no dogs) of the Endurance was (is) one of heartbreak and unimaginable fortitude.

The twenty-eight made it to Elephant Island, but no one knew they were there.  Twenty-eight became six and six became three.  Of those three, one was Tom Crean.  He and two others crossed a glacial range for thirty-six hours without stopping to bring help to the other twenty-five.  For a few more years after the Endurance, Tom served in the British Royal Navy.  Finally back at his beloved home in Ireland, Tom Crean never spoke of his Antarctic excursions.  

The meticulous research conducted by author Jennifer Thermes is evident through the factual edge-of-your-seat episodes she includes in this nonfiction narrative.  She sets the stage in the prologue, providing general information about the expeditions and the unrelenting environment of Antarctica.  Her text prior to the Discovery exploration is conversational, supplying us with the right words and knowledge to build a bit of suspense.

As we are told about Tom Crean's part in each Antarctic trek, readers find themselves fascinated and astonished at the same time.  Would you be able to balance for hours on an ice floe with killer whales circling, ready for you to slip?  Can you imagine walking alone for thirty-five miles (with no GPS) in Antarctica?  When Jennifer Thermes writes about Tom Crean and his time in Antarctica, we are there with him every moment.  Here is a passage.

Tom Crean, Bill Lashly, and Lieutenant Teddy Evans must return to base camp as fast as they can, before starvation and exhaustion overtake them.  Evans gets sicker by the day with scurvy, which ravages a body in need of vitamin C.  Tom and Lashly pull him on the sled.  The men are tired.  Evans begs to be left behind.  Tom and Lashly refuse.  Tom will go for help.

The artwork seen on the dust jacket, book case, endpapers, and interior pages were rendered by artist Jennifer Thermes using

watercolor, colored pencil, and salt on Arches hot press paper.

On the right side of the dust jacket, the front, we see Tom Crean with his beloved dog Sally, who accompanied him on the Endurance.  The ship is locked in ice under a chilly sky streaked with light.  On the other side of the spine is a cool blue canvas.  An oval image is framed in the center and slightly more toward the top.  It is of Tom and two others hoping to survive the wild seas.

The book case is covered in blue and blue green hues.  It looks exactly like ice.  This pattern overlaps the far left of the opening endpapers and the far right of the closing endpapers like flaps on a jacket.  Opposite this on the opening endpapers is a bulleted list of thirteen Antarctica facts.  Prepare to be surprised.  On the right side and crossing the gutter is a detailed map of Antarctica and the surrounding waters.  The closing endpapers showcase fifteen Animals Of Antarctica with portraits and labels.

With a page turn, we see the Prologue on the left and the title page on the right.  Jennifer Thermes has placed pertinent items around the Prologue representing Tom and the expeditions.  Most of Tom's face, close to us, is beneath the text on the title page.

Jennifer Thermes uses double-page panoramic scenes, geometric panels grouped on a single page, a blend of vertical and horizontal visuals, and full-page pictures to supply pacing and enhance her text.  You pause at each one to study her exquisite details.  She leaves no doubt in readers' minds as to what Tom Crean, the other men and other inhabitants are experiencing. (I nearly cried at the tiny, moving image for the words---The ice can break your heart.)  Carefully labeled maps are frequently included to give readers a sense of place and the paths the explorers took.  (The six small wordless square panels spanning two pages beneath a two-page horizontal map show the events on the trip Tom Crean, Bill Lashly and Lieutenant Teddy Evans took in their struggle to return to the base camp.  You find yourself holding your breath more than once.)

One of my many favorite illustrations is a two-page picture.  The image is filled with the high waves of a rough sea.  There are only two small portions toward the top of the pages showing a star-studded sky.  An enormous wave is curling from the center of the right side to the top of the page and across the gutter.  Tom Crean, Captain Shackleton, and the other four men trying to get help have swooped down from the left side in their twenty-three foot boat to be positioned under the crest of the wave.  In their wake is one word--- Whoosh!

This book, The Indestructible Tom Crean: Heroic Explorer of the Antarctic written and illustrated by Jennifer Thermes, is not only an outstanding biographical account, but depicts three thrilling South Pole adventures.  Her chilly color palette with warmth shown in some of the skies and in the men and their interior surroundings combined with her informative, perfectly-paced text are certain to have readers turning the pages as fast as they can.  At the close of the book is a full-page Afterword along with a Timeline and Select Sources.  This title would be a fantastic read aloud.  You will want at least one copy on your professional bookshelves and one in your personal collection.

To learn more about Jennifer Thermes and her other work, please access her website by following the link attached to her name.  She has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  You can see multiple images from this book at her Instagram account.  At the publisher's website linked above, you can see the opening endpapers and the Prologue page.