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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