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January 2019 Picture Book Recap

February 11, 2019

Oh my word! What a start to the year!

 

Here's what stuck out to me from the JANUARY 2019 picture book releases that crossed my desk.

I wonder if you read and loved any of these? And I wonder which books weren't included on my list for one reason or another that definitely made it onto yours. (Be sure to share in the comments below!)

 

 

JANUARY 2019 Recap (selected picture books):

 

Bear Needs Help

by Sarah S. Brannen (Philomel Books)

 

With one of his shoes untied, and all of the animals too scared to help, what's Bear going to do? The surprisingly clever answer will make kids -- and parents -- laugh. A perfect read-aloud.

 

A lumbering little polar bear has one shoe untied, and he needs some help! Sadly for him, though, the other animals are all too scared of him: the lemmings, rabbits, and seals all run away as he approaches them for assistance. What's Bear going to do? Luckily, two plucky birds are more than happy to help out and offer advice -- though probably not quite in the way that readers anticipate.

 

In this sweet and funny book about asking for help (and receiving it), expectations are flipped in a simple but clever way.

 

 

The Bell Rang

by James E. Ransome (Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books)

 

 

A young slave girl witnesses the heartbreak and hopefulness of her family and their plantation community when her brother escapes for freedom in this brilliantly conceived picture book by Coretta Scott King Award winner James E. Ransome.

Every single morning, the overseer of the plantation rings the bell. Daddy gathers wood. Mama cooks. Ben and the other slaves go out to work. Each day is the same. Full of grueling work and sweltering heat. Every day, except one, when the bell rin
gs and Ben is nowhere to be found. Because Ben ran. Yet, despite their fear and sadness, his family remains hopeful that maybe, just maybe, he made it North. That he is free.

An ode to hope and a powerful tribute to the courage of those who ran for freedom, The Bell Rang is a stunning reminder that our past can never be forgotten.

 

 

Brave Ballerina: The Story of Janet Collins
by Michelle Meadows and Ebony Glenn (Henry Holt and Co.)
 
 

A lyrical picture book biography of Janet Collins, the first African American principal dancer at the Metropolitan Opera House.

 

Janet Collins wanted to be a ballerina in the 1930s and 40s, a time when racial segregation was widespread in the United States. Janet pursued dance with a passion, despite being rejected from discriminatory dance schools. When she was accepted into the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo as a teenager on the condition that she paint her skin white for performances, Janet refused. She continued to go after her dreams, never compromising her values along the way. From her early childhood lessons to the height of her success as the first African American prima ballerina in the Metropolitan Opera, Brave Ballerina is the story of a remarkable pioneer as told by Michelle Meadows, with fantastic illustrations from Ebony Glenn.

 

 

Dragon Night

by J. R. Krause (G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers)

 

A boy and his dragon embark on a dazzling nighttime journey in this heartwarming friendship story about facing fears and helping others.

 

Georgie is afraid of the night. It's too dark with the lights off. Too quiet with everyone asleep. And being alone makes everything worse. The dragon is afraid of the knight. After all, the knight carries a heavy sword, and he always wants to fight. The dragon knows just what to do to help Georgie overcome his fear, and the two set off on a unforgettable magical adventure. But when the morning comes, the dragon is still afraid of the knight. How can Georgie help his friend? With kindness and empathy--and a little creativity--maybe Georgie can work some magic of his own.

 

J. R. Krause, an award-winning animator of The Simpsons and Futurama, has created a visually stunning story with incredible emotional depth, which addresses the needs of children to express their feelings and be received with kindness and empathy. 

 

 

Fearless Mary: The True Adventures of Mary Fields, American Stagecoach Driver

by Tami Charles and Claire Almon (Albert Whitman & Company)

 

A little-known but fascinating and larger-than-life character, Mary Fields is one of the unsung, trailblazing African American women who helped settle the American West. A former slave, Fields became the first African American woman stagecoach driver in 1895, when, in her 60s, she beat out all the cowboys applying for the job by being the fastest to hitch a team of six horses. She won the dangerous and challenging job, and for many years traveled the badlands with her pet eagle, protecting the mail from outlaws and wild animals, never losing a single horse or package. Fields helped pave the way for other women and people of color to become stagecoach drivers and postal workers.

 

 

Hands Up!

by Breanna J. McDaniel and Shane W. Evans (Dial Books)

 

This triumphant picture book recasts a charged phrase as part of a black girl's everyday life--hands up for a hug, hands up in class, hands up for a high five--before culminating in a moment of resistance at a protest march.

 

A young black girl lifts her baby hands up to greet the sun, reaches her hands up for a book on a high shelf, and raises her hands up in praise at a church service. She stretches her hands up high like a plane's wings and whizzes down a hill so fast on her bike with her hands way up. As she grows, she lives through everyday moments of joy, love, and sadness. And when she gets a little older, she joins together with her family and her community in a protest march, where they lift their hands up together in resistance and strength.

 

 

Honeysmoke: A Story of Finding Your Color

by Monique Fields and Yesenia Moises (Imprint)

 

A young biracial girl looks around her world for her color. She finally chooses her own, and creates a new word for herself—honeysmoke.

 

Simone wants a color.

 

She asks Mama, “Am I black or white?”

 

“Boo,” Mama says, just like mamas do, “a color is just a word.”

 

She asks Daddy, “Am I black or white?”

 

“Well,” Daddy says, just like daddies do, “you’re a little bit of both.”

 

For multiracial children, and all children everywhere, this picture book offers a universal message that empowers young people to create their own self-identity.

 

Simone knows her color—she is honeysmoke.

 

 

Just Right: Searching for the Goldilocks Planet

by Curtis Manley and Jessica Lanan (Roaring Brook Press)

 

Do you wonder if humans are the only beings who wonder if they are alone in the universe?

 

Our sun is a star. In the night sky are all kinds of stars, and orbiting those stars are planets like the ones in our own solar system.

 

Could those planets have life like we do on Earth? Planet Earth is not too big, not too small, not too hot, and not too cold. It’s just right. Our very own Goldilocks planet . . .

 

Follow a young girl as she explores these questions in this gorgeous book about the wondrous search for another Goldilocks planet. 

 

 

Meet Miss Fancy

by Irene Latham and John Holyfield (G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers)

 

A charming and significant story set prior to the Civil Rights Movement about a boy who finds a way to challenge segregation laws.

 

Frank has always been obsessed with elephants. He loves their hosepipe trunks, tree stump feet, and swish-swish tails. So when Miss Fancy, the elephant, retires from the circus and moves two blocks from his house to Avondale Park, he's over the moon! Frank really wants to pet her. But Avondale Park is just for white people, so Frank is not allowed to see Miss Fancy. Frank is heartbroken but he doesn't give up: instead he makes a plan!

 

Frank writes to the City Council so his church can host a picnic in the park, and he can finally meet Miss Fancy. All of his neighbors sign the letter, but when some protest, the picnic is cancelled and Frank is heartbroken all over again. Then Miss Fancy escapes the zoo, and it's up to Frank to find her before she gets hurt.

 

 

Misunderstood Shark: Friends Don't Eat Friends

by Ame Dyckman and Scott Magoon (Orchard Books)

 

In this new Misunderstood Shark story from New York Timesbestselling duo Ame Dyckman and Scott Magoon, Shark dares to ask the question: Can friends eat friends (and get away with it)?

 

Last time on Underwater World with Bob Jellyfish..."SHARK ATE ME! Now get me OUT, Shark!""That's strange! I can hear Bob, but I can't see Bob!"

 

This hilarious follow-up to Misunderstood Shark by New York Timesbestselling duo Ame Dyckman and Scott Magoon tackles what it really means to be a good friend. Bob is already irate that Shark has eaten him, but when Shark doesn't admit to eating him, Bob is so mad he declares that the ocean isn't big enough for both of them! Friends Don't Eat Friends is exploding with over-the-top humor and awesome marine facts! For example, when Shark overdoses on Finilla Ice Cream after fighting with Bob, we learn that shark teeth are coated with fluoride. Lucky for Shark, he can't get cavities! Join Shark and the gang for another story and find out if Shark learns his lesson about friendship, or if he really is just misunderstood -- again!

 

 

My Heart

by Corinna Luyken (Dial Books)

 

From the author-illustrator of The Book of Mistakes comes a gorgeous picture book about caring for your own heart and living with kindness and empathy.

 

My heart is a window. My heart is a slide. My heart can be closed...or opened up wide.

 

Some days your heart is a puddle or a fence to keep the world out. But some days it is wide open to the love that surrounds you.

 

With lyrical text and breathtaking art, My Heart empowers all readers to listen to the guide within in this ode to love and self-acceptance.

 

 

Perfect

by Max Amato (Scholastic Press)

 

A fussy eraser and a mischievous pencil spar in this picture book adventure.

 

In this funny and light-hearted picture book, a fussy eraser tries to keep the pages clean by erasing the scribbles of a mischievous pencil. But before long, the eraser discovers what can happen when two opposing forces come together to have fun. With humor and a keen eye for play, Max Amato crafts a delightful story that reveals the joys of collaborative imagination.

 

 

The Piñata That the Farm Maiden Hung

by Samantha R. Vamos and Sebastia Serra (Charlesbridge)

 

This is the bilingual story of the farm maiden and her cadre of animals, who crafted a festive piñata for a surprise birthday party. A beautiful and lively companion to the award-winning The Cazuela That the Farm Maiden Stirred.

 

A young girl sets out on errands for the day, and while she's gone, the farm maiden prepares a piñata from scratch with help from a boy, horse, goose, cat, sheep, and farmer. After they all fall asleep in the afternoon sun, they must scramble to finish preparations in time--just as the girl arrives back to her surprise party. Key English words change to Spanish as the cumulative verse builds to the celebratory ending. With the familiarity of "The House That Jack Built," the tale cleverly incorporates Spanish words, adding a new one in place of the English word from the previous page. This book makes learning the language easy and fun. Back matter includes a glossary, definitions, and directions for making a piñata at home.

 

 

The Real Boat

by Marina Aromshtam and Victoria Semykina (Templar)

 

Lyrical text and magical illustrations combine to create a modern fable with an important message about striving for what you want and escaping your comfort zone.

 

When a paper boat learns about the ocean, he is determined to go there so he can be a real boat. On his journey he meets all sorts of friends, from the strong little tugboat to the glittering ocean liner. But he also learns that the real ocean is huge and deep and full of dangers. A lyrical text and magical illustrations combine to create a modern fable with an important message about striving for what you want and escaping your comfort zone.

 

 

Squirrel's Family Tree

by Beth Ferry and A.N. Kang (Orchard Books)

 

New York Times bestselling author Beth Ferry and illustrator A. N. Kang explore the secret lives of squirrels and oak trees in a charming and unforgettable read-aloud story.

 

Squirrel gathers acorn seeds, sturdy little oak nut seeds. Anticipating future needs, she gathers acorn seeds.

 

What makes an oak tree an oak tree and what makes a squirrel a squirrel? In Squirrel's Family Tree, things aren't always what they seem. As squirrel searches for, finds, and hides her acorn treasures beneath the shadows of the great oak trees in the forest, little does she know the role she plays in creating the very environment she forages in.

 

With masterful illustrations by Papillon illustrator A. N. Kang and delightful, sweet rhymes by New York Times bestseller Beth Ferry, this read-aloud masterpiece about the beauty of nature and the intricate relationships that make it flourish is sure to become an instant classic.

 

 

Tomorrow Is Waiting

by Kiley Frank and Aaron Meshon (Dial Books)

 

A touching, timeless book about a parent's everlasting love for their child--and all of the potential their child has within.

 

Tonight as you sleep

A new day stirs

Each kiss goodnight

Is a wish for tomorrow...

 

As a child dreams, their parent imagines everything they will someday be: independent and imaginative, kind and courageous, a listener and a leader. And each hopeful, heartfelt wish is paired with a a promise of love.

 

Tender and moving, Tomorrow Is Waiting is a modern celebration of the dreams we have for our children for finding their place in the world, and for how they will make it a better world. A perfect gift for baby showers, birthdays, and graduation, it's a book that will be treasured, passed down, read and loved--again, and again, and again.

*This post contains affiliate links. Any purchases made through these links will support the costs of maintaining the podcast, webcomic, and other materials associated with this site. 

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