Saturday, January 30, 2021

Seven days, Seven books. Day 7. Outside In by Deborah Underwood, illustrated Cindy Derby

I end the week with a beautiful and lyrical picture book, Outside In, written by Deborah Underwood and illustrated by Cindy Derby.

In this story, Outside is personified as loving entity that reminds us of its unconditional presence in everything we do, even when we are indoors and set apart from what lies in the world outdoors.

Simply put, this beautiful book begs for conversation and contemplation in the spaces between listening to the soothing words and soaking in the emotive illustrations. 

I highly recommend this Caldecott Honor Book. I imagine it is one that will beg for revisiting, time and again, much in the same way the outdoors calls to everyone, young and old. 

Friday, January 29, 2021

Seven days, Seven books. Day 6. Where are You From? by Yamile Saied Mendez, illustrated by Jaime Kim

Today is Multicultural Children's Book Day (#ReadYourWorld), which is organized to celebrate and spotlight diversity in children's books. 

In that spirit, I'm sharing the beautiful, lyrical picture book Where are You From? written by Yamile Saied Mendez and illustrated by Jaime Kim (HarperCollins).

This poetic and heartfelt picture book addresses a question that I'm sure is part of many family discussions in recalling history and roots of ancestors. The lyrical text exudes universal feelings of love, comfort, and pride in ancestry, while also acknowledging some difficult truths about the treatment of some people based on the color of their skin.

Yet, the beautiful, soft kernel of Where are You From? remains throughout the story--words full of pride and love. 

This book begs to be reread, and lends itself to being shared in any setting, whether that be at bedtime or story time at school. Children love to hear stories of themselves, and to talk about their own stories, as well as look toward future possibilities of what they might become. This book opens the discussion into personal histories of all.

I highly recommend adding Where are You From? to your library and sharing it with the little ones in your life.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Seven days, Seven books. Day 5. On Account of the Gum by Adam Rex


As a parent, I can attest to having lived through the experience of dealing with gum caught in the hair of at least one of my children. I won't say who, but if you were to guess any of their names, you would be right.

Although I'm sorry to admit that our experience in the detangling of gum was not nearly as fun as the romp that Adam Rex brings his readers on in his new picture book, On Account of the Gum (Chronicle Books).

If you think you know how this story goes, because you've had children, or know young children, or are a professional gum chewer, I can assure you that you are wrong. And I can most assuredly say that I'm right in asserting that when you read this book, you will be surprised at what happens,... all because of the gum.

Any child will love this book, and if they don't laugh out loud or gasp at the illustrations, then perhaps they need a little reining in, because their life probably is far more wild than I could ever have dreamed, or Adam Rex could have thought up....Maybe. I can't really speak for him. But I do speak for myself, and I highly recommend this book! 


Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Seven days, Seven books. Day 4, Swashby and the Sea by Beth Ferry, illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal

When it comes to books, if any part of the story involves the ocean, a lake, or a river, I'm hooked. So, the title of today's feature won my heart with the mention of the sea. And since I'd already become a Beth Ferry fan after reading The Scarecrow (illustrated by The Fan Brothers)I knew I was in for a treat with Swashby and the Sea. However, the heart, ingenuity, and clever literary surprises in this latest book from one of my favorite authors swept me all the way to the moon and back. 

If you have a soft spot for grumpy old men hiding a kinder side of themselves from the world, if you love word puzzles and word play, if you love the idea of your environment working to put your best interests forward on your behalf, you'll enjoy sharing this picture book with the young readers in your life. 

Monday, January 25, 2021

Seven days, Seven books. Day 3. Saturdays are for Stella by Candy Wellins, illustrated by Charlie Eve Ryan

Aren't grandmother's the best?

Although part of Candy Wellins' book, Saturday's are for Stella, is about the relationship between a child and his grandmother and the grieving that follows with her passing; ultimately, the story is about how love is passed along in families from one person to another. Although George struggles emotionally after Stella is gone, he comes to see her spirit in the new baby sister he has, and begins enjoying his Saturdays with her.

Saturdays are for Stella is full of tenderness. I imagine this story will be valuable for young children who may be dealing with an aging, older grandparent, or adjusting to a new sibling. 

I highly recommend it!

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Seven days, Seven books. Day 2, Looking for Smile by Ellen Tarlow, illustrated by Lauren Stringer

 Bear and Smile were always together.

And so begins Ellen Tarlow and Lauren Stringer's picture book, Looking for Smile, a story about a bear and his Smile, who fills him with happiness in all that he does throughout his day.

Bear and Smile go on many happy adventures together. But one morning begins differently.

I love this profound story of the dark days that both children and adults can experience. Like Bear, I remember the joy that simply waking up brought me as a young child, and how that joy followed me, along with expectation, as I stepped outdoors to find unplanned adventure and discovery. But I also knew sad days, too, and those were harder to navigate. 

Ellen and Lauren's story brings shape and form to this type of universal experience without prescription, and instead leaves the reader with hope and understanding that good days follow the bad ones.

I highly recommend Looking for Smile.

If you want to add this title to your collection or gift it to someone you love, consider shopping at your local independent book store. Here is mine, The King's English, in Salt Lake City, Utah. 

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Seven days, Seven Books. Day 1. A Map Into the World by Kao Kalia Yang

It's time for another series of 7 days, 7 books, with a modified twist today of something old, something new. Because although writing projects kept me away from this blog for the last little while, they didn't keep me away from reading.

I'm proud to start off the series with one book I wrote about wanting to read last summer. This book took three "starts" before I felt the connection I needed to become hooked into it: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. This novel had been recommended by many people that know me. And yes, they were right. I loved it. Once things started calming down in my own writing life, I found the space I needed to appreciate the story that Delia had to tell. 

The aspects I loved most about Crawdads were Kya's connections to her environment and her discoveries of the natural world as she explored it. The story threads that intrigued me most were her ability to survive on her own and her choice to live that way at such a young age. Having spent a lot of time in the outdoors on my own as a graduate student doing research in the rocky mountains, I can understand the desire to return to connections with others while being apart from them. 

During my experience, I longed for civilization after a mere handful of days spent by myself in the mountains, but Kya didn't, at least not enough to change her circumstances to a great degree. Thus, this character stuck with me because I wanted to see how she coped with her challenges, along with how the mystery of Chase's death was resolved.

Where the Crawdads Sing brought to mind another book that I read last winter called Magic Hour by Kristin Hannah. Hannah's story presented a different, and equally gripping approach to the effect that aloneness and loneliness can have on a young child who was raised by wolves. This is another novel I highly recommend.

Both the novels mentioned above reminded me of another that I enjoyed at a younger age, which still remains just as much of a page turner. Gary Paulsen's Hatchet, where a boy must figure out how to survive in the Canadian wilderness after a plane crash.

All of these books and many others deal with human connection and the effects of separation from it. Thus, to continue with this theme, I leave you with a picture book: A Map Into the World, which was a 2019 debut picture book by Kao Kalia Yang and illustrated by Seo Kim. In this story, a young Hmong girl observes, reflects, and reaches out in response to changes in relationships that she sees happening in her new home and neighborhood.

Don't forget to support your indies and local shops. Here's a link to mine at the King's English in Salt Lake City.