Kids' Picture Books from the 2016 Winter Newsletter

These titles were featured in our 2016 Winter Newsletter.

Adam Rex tells a story that is so perfect it’s hard to believe no one else has thought of it before. The newly built Frederick Douglass Elementary is nervous about his first day of school. His friend the janitor, who is laconic yet warm, assures him that the kids will like him, that he can be himself (even if he did accidently have a fire drill). Feeling comfortable in one’s own skin, or bricks, while experiencing new ideas is what learning is all about. The acrylic paint and collage illustrations of Christian Robinson (the 2016 Caldecott winner) open the door to the school, where we see that when the children came, “there were more of them than the school could possibly have imagined. They got everywhere.” Author Adam Rex, who in the past has impressed with clever word play and complex construction, here revels in simple lines, easy cadence, quiet wit, and tenderness. While School’s First Day is ostensibly about a particular situation, this book can be read (and read and read) as a sweet, gentle way of overcoming fear. Grades pre-K–2.  — GA

 

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School's First Day of School Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781596439641
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Roaring Brook Press - June 28th, 2016

Probably the most heartfelt book about cowboys that will ever exist, this lovely paean to life on the range celebrates loyalty, endurance, diversity, and the occasional good cry. I fell in love with the ephemeral, soulful art of Jonathan Bean, and with the unexpected sincerity of Kate Hoefler’s mesmerizing, poetic text. This is fast becoming my favorite book of the year. Each time I read it, I fall harder. Ages 5–8. —TERA

 

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Real Cowboys Cover Image
By Kate Hoefler, Jonathan Bean (Illustrator)
$16.99
ISBN: 9780544148925
Availability: Backordered
Published: HMH Books for Young Readers - October 4th, 2016

A young boy feels overwhelmed by his unusual name, which he shares with his boisterous, strong, and loving father. Thunder Boy Jr. is eager to find a name that’s truly his own, and it is eventually granted to him by his thoughtful father: Now he’s “Lightning.” “Together my dad and I will become amazing weather.” Written by the brilliant Sherman Alexie (in his first foray into picture books), this story is illustrated by the multi-award–winning artist Yuyi Morales. Her art sparkles and crashes and bursts with emotion, while the textures of her bold, multimedia collages are taken from the clay bricks and wood of a crumbling, antique house in Mexico, near where she has her studio. Ages 4 & up.  —TERA

 

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Thunder Boy Jr. Cover Image
By Sherman Alexie, Yuyi Morales (Illustrator)
$17.99
ISBN: 9780316013727
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - May 10th, 2016

There are scores of successful individual immigration stories—for example, Allen Say’s Grandfather’s Journey, Helen Recorvit’s My Name is Yoon, Eleanor Estes’ The Hundred Dresses, Francisco Jimenez’ The Circuit, and Shaun Tan’s The Arrival. But until now it has seemed almost impossible to write a composite immigration picture book essay without being reductive or marzipan, without coming off like “We Are the World.” Their Great Gift is clear, honest, and timely, and it belongs in all elementary school classrooms and home libraries. Grades K–4. —GA

 

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Their Great Gift: Courage, Sacrifice, and Hope in a New Land Cover Image
By John Coy, Wing Young Huie (Photographer)
$19.99
ISBN: 9781467780544
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Carolrhoda Books - March 1st, 2016

A series of overlapping stories circle, mesmerize, and change lives and the course of history in this cleverly framed tale by Evan Turk. With the power of story and a dash of mischief and cunning, a small boy just might have the key to defeating a terrifying djinn of the desert. Based on Moroccan traditional storytelling, this folktale bedazzles the mind, while its energetic, whirling art captures an entire world of desert and magic. Highly recommended. Ages 5–9.  —TERA

 

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The Storyteller Cover Image
By Evan Turk, Evan Turk (Illustrator)
$18.99
ISBN: 9781481435185
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Atheneum Books for Young Readers - June 28th, 2016

Everything about this picture book is stunning, from the profound and tender story of renowned artist Louise Bourgeois, to the whimsical visual imaginings of illustrator Isabelle Arsenault that riff off Bourgeois’ art. Best known for her massive and enigmatic sculptures of spiders, Bourgeois’ life was heavily influenced by the threads of comfort and love and loss between her mother and her and by the textures of her childhood, which resulted in the experimental fabric art of her later years. A first-rate introduction for children and a treat for adults. Grades 2 & up. —TERA

 

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Cloth Lullaby: The Woven Life of Louise Bourgeois Cover Image
By Amy Novesky, Isabelle Arsenault (Illustrator)
$18.95
ISBN: 9781419718816
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harry N. Abrams - March 1st, 2016

Snow days in Santa Cruz are few and far between (okay, I’ve never experienced one). Yet even one day of snuggling back in under the covers because school is cancelled can be a treasure chest of nostalgia. This book captures that feeling and adds the longing of a young child for her mother to curl up next to her, just this once, staying home from work too. Caldecott Award–winner Beth Krommes’ distinctive wood-engraving illustrations create the magically charged atmosphere of the winter holidays. This is a gorgeous book, sure to enchant every age. Ages 4–7.  —TERA

 

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Before Morning Cover Image
By Joyce Sidman, Beth Krommes (Illustrator)
$17.99
ISBN: 9780547979175
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: HMH Books for Young Readers - October 4th, 2016

The sheer joy and exuberance of learning is revealed when Frank, a young boy, and Lucky, a black Lab pup from a shelter, are brought together. “Both had a lot to learn.” They learn about science—“Science is when you wonder about something, so you observe it and ask questions about it”—and specifically about botany, entomology, and chemistry because Lucky had “wondered about skunks.” They learn about math—“Let’s say a dog comes in from outside and gets one biscuit, but there are three people in the living room. How many more biscuits should the dog receive?”—and specifically about fractions. At night, how much of the bed belongs to Lucky or to Frank? The answer, as shown in multiple panels, changes during the course of the night. They learn about history and perspective when a cake vanishes—“Sometimes in history there are different versions of what really happened, depending on who is telling the story.” They learn about geography and languages—Frank learns Spanish; Lucky tries to learn Duck. Learning is all around us, and the love of it is celebrated in Perkins’ deadpan but exceedingly funny text and delightful pen-and-ink and watercolor paintings. This is my favorite picture book of the year. Grades 1 & up.    —GA

 

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Frank and Lucky Get Schooled Cover Image
$8.99
ISBN: 9780062373458
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Greenwillow Books - June 14th, 2016

 

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