Celebrate Picture Book Month with Lerner Publishing

 

What Is Possible in a Picture Book?

By Millbrook Press and Carolrhoda Books Editorial Director Carol Hinz

We all know what a picture book is.

But what is a picture book meant to do?

One answer to that question is that it should catch children’s interest and entertain them. While I don’t disagree with this statement, neither do I believe it is the whole truth. Picture books inform, they delight, and they offer us endless opportunities to look at our world from fresh perspectives.

I’m a believer that while a picture book must speak to a child, a child needn’t be the book’s only audience—reading a picture book can be a powerful experience for a person of any age. As an editor, my time spent working on picture books has made me increasingly curious about what can be accomplished within the confines of this format . . . and to look for possibilities to break the format’s “rules” every once in a while.

I’d like to spotlight a few forthcoming picture books from Carolrhoda Books and Millbrook Press to explore the question of what’s possible with a picture book.

I Got a Chicken for My Birthday
by Laura Gehl, illustrated by Sarah Horne

Ana wants tickets to the amusement park for her birthday . . . and instead her abuela gives her a chicken. It turns out that this is no ordinary chicken! It doesn’t like chicken feed, it’s too busy to lay eggs, and it’s building SOMETHING in Ana’s backyard.

In this picture book, a chicken is also a construction whiz, and a gift that isn’t what our main character wanted turns out to be even better than she could have imagined. The illustrations include lots of fun details that encourage repeat readings.

Meet My Family! Animal Babies and Their Families
by Laura Purdie Salas, illustrated by Stephanie Fizer Coleman

What kind of families do animal babies have? All different kinds! Main text written in rhyming verse brings together a wide range of animal babies, from the sweet to the fierce. Meet a wolf pup cared for by the pack, a young orangutan snuggling with its mother high in a tree, a poison dart frog riding piggyback on its dad, a shark pup going solo, and much more.

This book offers a look at the many kinds of families found in the animal kingdom, and it gives us a chance to look at adorable animal babies in a fresh way!

Fossil by Fossil: Comparing Dinosaur Bones
by Sara Levine, illustrated by T.S Spookytooth

What dinosaur would you be if you had a bony ridge rising from the back of your skull and three horns poking up from the front? A triceratops!

This book makes the most of a Q&A format to show readers just how much our own skeletons have in common with those of some of the best-known dinosaurs. And it ends by highlighting the scientific connection between dinosaurs and birds. (Yes, birds!)

This book may just change how you see dinosaurs . . . and modern-day birds!

Can I Touch Your Hair? Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship
by Irene Latham and Charles Waters, illustrated by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko

A picture book can make us laugh, it can teach us something new, and sometimes it can help us join a conversation.

How often do you talk to the kids in your life about race? A little? A lot? In this book, Irene Latham, who is white, and Charles Waters, who is black, have a conversation that all of us are welcome to join. They imagine themselves as fifth-grade classmates who are stuck together working on a poetry project. In the course of 33 poems, they reflect on their own experiences of race while exploring relatable topics such as hair, recess, family dinners, and much more. Artwork by acclaimed illustrators Sean Qualls and Selina Alko beautifully shows how two people who begin the book as near-strangers can end it as friends.

For more thoughts on picture books, check out these blog posts:

Greetings from PictureBookLand

How Picture Book Pagination Keeps Readers Turning the Pages

The Element of Surprise in Nonfiction Picture Books

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NetGalley Author Interview: Jonathan Stroud

Born in Bedford, England, Jonathan Stroud self-published his first work at age eight. After several years of working as an editor in London, Stroud “finally took the plunge,” and ventured into the world of publishing as a writer in his own right.

Watch as Jonathan Stroud talks with us about the final installment of his Lockwood & Co. series, The Empty Grave, his approach to the craft of writing and what’s next.

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Reader Spotlight

Blog name: The Indigo Quill
Blog URL: http://www.theindigoquill.com
Your name: Lis Ann Morehart

A nice place to start is with your library origin story – when did you decide to become a Youth Services Librarian? Can you briefly explain your role and your favorite aspect of your job?

That’s a great question! I have always loved books, education, and the power of imagination. When I was a kid, I’d ask my parents to drop me off at school 30 minutes early so I could roam the library and pick out my next read. My friends and I started our own book club, which became a sort of competition. From Elementary through High School, my librarians knew my name.

When I began college, I was torn between majoring in Music and English.  At first I chose music, but then I got to Music Theory III and decided it was time to switch gears (think of “Chemistry” class being the point where Biology majors drop out…that’s Music Theory III for Music majors!). I have so many hobbies, it took me a while to decide what I really wanted to do. In 2013, I started The Indigo Quill, and that is when I decided to become a librarian. The more I researched what a Youth Services Librarian did, I realized all of my hobbies and passions fit into this one vocation.

My job, in my opinion, is the best job in the world. I oversee ages 0 to early 20s and work with kids and teens through every phase of their lives. As someone who doesn’t sit still well, my job is always changing, and I love that. I keep up with the best practices for providing not just literacy, but also life skills and development for my patrons. I am in charge of collection development, program planning and execution, bookmobile services, volunteers, outreach, and anything else pertaining to children and teens. I am also the caregiver for our three library guinea pigs, Dobby, Dougal, and Nimbus. That’s just an added bonus. 🙂

Can you speak a little bit about your journey to becoming a book blogger? Do you find that reviewing books helps you better recommend them to students?

I have been a blogger since I was in the junior high, but I wanted to book blog for years before I finally did it. It wasn’t until I had read the end of a series I had followed for nearly a decade that I decided to start my blog. I waited almost ten years for this couple to get together, and then they ended up marrying other people! I won’t name any names, but I was so upset I had to find others who felt the same way. Thus, The Indigo Quill was born. Once I started, I was suddenly connected to several authors and publishers and the entire experience became much more than I ever anticipated. Here I was starting a blog so I had an outlet to complain expecting nothing to come of it, and aside from helping me become a better reader, writer, and editor, it assisted me in landing my last two jobs.

Reviewing has absolutely helped me better recommend books to people. It provides me navigation for picking the right ones to order for the library, and aids me in choosing books for storytime, Tween Book Club, and Teen Book Talk.

What are your favorite genres to read and review? Are there any upcoming book(s) on NetGalley that you’re excited about recommending?

I love Juvenile Fantasy, because you will find the greatest depths of imagination there. It keeps me young and aware of life’s possibilities. But I also enjoy balancing that out with Non-Fiction. I grew up with a fascination for learning things, so whether it’s a biography, cookbook, cultural, or health, I almost always emerge from the pages enlightened.

It actually released earlier this month, but I recommend the book, Women Who Dared by Linda Skeers. If you love books that empower women in history, this title is distinguished and comprehensive. Although it doesn’t provide extensive details (especially the less glamorous ones) for each gal, it introduces women from all over the world in a way that doesn’t intimidate young readers.

Do you have a favorite moment when you provided someone with a book?

At the beginning of Summer Reading, I had a parent who told me her son, who is about 10 years old, hates reading. Every time a parent tells me that, I get a little overly excited. Challenge accepted! 9 times out of 10, the child just needs to be introduced to the right book. They just need to discover something in their “language.” Sometimes that’s My Little Pony, other times it’s Minecraft. This particular child I directed to our graphic novels. He was so excited to find Pokemon books! He had the entire series read by the end of the Summer, and has now moved on to our Juvenile Fiction. He was one of my top readers for the Summer Reading Program this Summer, and I couldn’t be more proud. Sometimes you just need to find the right key.

What is the most requested title in your library?

Anything by James Patterson. We have pages of waiting lists for his books, and they won’t see the shelves for at least 6 months after we receive them.

Lightning Round!

Your blog in two sentences:

First impressions and occasional adventures by a Youth Services Librarian. The days of suffering alone at the hands of a good, or horrible, story are over!

Your all-time favorite Middle Grade book:

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Your favorite character in a book or series:

Hermione Granger is without a doubt my literary parallel.

And to finish off our interview, if you could have coffee (…or something stiffer) with any author, dead or alive, who would it be, and why?

Neil Gaiman. He is absolutely brilliant on and off the pages.

Thanks so much, Lis Ann, for spending time with us and answering our questions! 

Please make sure to check out The Indigo Quill blog plus more Middle Grade and Children’s Fiction on NetGalley!

Would you like to nominate someone to be featured in our Reader Spotlight series? Fill out this form!

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