Bruchac, Joseph. (2018). Chester Nez and the Unbreakable Code: A Navajo Code Talker's Story. Illustrated by Liz Amini-Holmes. Morton Grove, IL: Albert Whitman & Company. (Starred Kirkus review).
History is often hard to address largely because it is not one tone. Joseph Bruchac knows this. In his newest picture book biography, Bruchac tells a full story of how a Navajo boy forced to attend a boarding school learns that the language of home was not to be tolerated. He goes on to become an American hero who uses that first language during World War II to code classified messages and how his wartime experiences haunted him. The illustrations are by Liz Amini-Holmes, an artist whose works I admire greatly. You can see more of her work here.
Buitrago, Jairo. (2018). On the Other Side of the Garden. Illustrated by Rafael Yockteng. Translated from Spanish by Elisa Amado.Toronto, ON: Groundwood Books.
Not your usual picture book. But then if you have read any of Jairo Buitrago's other books your know that already. I love how Isabel, the teller of this story, is able to let go of sorrow as she answers the call of an owl, a frog, and a mouse. Isabel reminds me that it isn't simply time that heals the heart. It's also curiosity. Rafael Yockteng's digital illustrations offer only a small bit of color set against the largely cadet blue tone. But those bits of color pop.
|illustration by Rafael Yockteng from On the Other Side of the Garden.|
Díaz, Junot. (2018). Islandborn. Illustrated by Leo Espinosa. New York: Dial Books.
I loved Junot Díaz's books and short stories and couldn't wait until his debut picture book was published. It is a grand story. Like Lola, I came to America as an infant leaving my island (Ireland) behind before I could store memories. Leo Espinosa's paintings are artful. I love how the illustrations suggest, rather than tell. This book is a jewel: story and images. Read it.
|from Lola: Edición en español de ISLANDBORN.|
|from The Street Beneath My Feet|
Guillain, Charlotte. (2017). The Street Beneath My Feet. Illustrated by Yuval Zommer. Lake Forest, CA: words & pictures.
I poured over this book when I received it enjoying the journey to the center of the earth and back. A visual treat and a fascinating look at what is beneath our feet.
I was a child when my grandmother died, not too young to not understand and yet still excited to see cousins and family. This story reminded me so much of the mixed feelings I had at that time.
|from The Funeral|
Light, Steve. (2018). Black Bird Yellow Sun. Somerville, MA: Candlewick.
The entire time I read this I was thinking of Wallace Stevens and how he would have loved this board book. Bold. Bold. Bold.
|from The Word Collector|
Reynolds, Peter H. (2018). The Word Collector. New York: Orchard Books.
Like Jerome, I have been collecting words most of my life, "stringing words together. Words" I had "not imagined being, side by side." If you love words and the many novel ways we join and unjoin words, this will be a treat.
Stein, David Ezra. (2018). Honey. New York: Penguin/Nancy Paulsen Books. (Starred Reviews by School Library Journal)
This is such a sweet story and I loved the jubilance that Bear has for honey. The illustrations give definition to the word, joy. Makes me wish that my 19-year-old son was 5 again.
|from They Say Blue|
Tamaki, Jillian. (2018). They Say Blue. Toronto, ON: Groundwood Books. (Starred Reviews by Booklist, School Library Journal & Publisher's Weekly)
Like the girl in this story, I too weigh what I have been told against what I observe. This picturebook is a celebration of color and the surreal. Any book that begins and ends with crows is a book for me. Loved it.
|from Thunder Underground|
Yolen, Jane. (2018). Thunder Underground. Illustrated by Josée Masse. Honesdale, PA: Wordsong. (Starred Reviews by Kirkus & Publisher's Weekly)
21 poems about things that are under (I'd pair this with The Street Beneath My Feet). The poems (especially first and last) made me think well beyond the page. My favorite poem was "Seeds." I love the brevity of it and how it connects writing and the shift from winter to spring. Just lovely. The mixed media illustrations work well against the poems.