Julián Is a Mermaid

Posted: May 28, 2018 in Picture storybooks

 

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Julián Is a Mermaid, written and illustrated by Jessica Love. Candlewick, 2018

Julián sees mermaids, and he is mesmerized. He enters a fishy, fantasy world, and transforms to a mermaid. Julián’s abuela recognizes how Julián sees himself, and takes him to where there are others who are — mermaids.
Begin this standout journey with Julián on the endpapers, where he is in a pool with his abuela and women who may be of a similar age. The careful observer will notice a fish tail on the page of the open book Julián is reading in the subway on the way home, which leads to the aquatic fantasy. His abuela’s face seems to not change throughout the story– is she tired? stern? disapproving? thoughtful? Or, accepting and supportive. Motifs throughout the book add to the watery settings — fish with tropical colorations and patterns, a splashing fire hydrant, a seagull outside of Julián’s window, and finally, the beach.
The back jacket flap states the author-illustrator, Jessica Love, is an actor and an illustrator, and the understated drama in the softly saturated illustrations work in tandem in this generational and unquestioning story.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher.

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The Middle Passage: White Ships / Black Cargo, Tom Feelings. Dial, 2017, c1995.

You may know Tom Feelings’ The Middle Passage: White Ships / Black Cargo, as it was originally published in 1995. Now there is a newly published edition (released January, 2018), with introductions by Kadir Nelson and Kamili Feelings, and historical note by Dr. Sylviane A. Diouf. The introduction by Tom Feelings from the original 1995 edition remains, where he explains the inspiration and process– more than the art– of creating this wordless book that defies assigning an age level, although it is often recommended for teens. The verso of the title page states the “artwork was rendered using pen and ink and tempra on rice paper,” and “It was printed in tritone using 2 black and one gray, plus a neutral press varnish.” Feelings received the 1996 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award for this stunning and powerful series of illustrations. Find a video of this book online, created by Luke Dupuis using cinematic techniques to create a sense of movement, with music (Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings, performed by the New York Philharmonic conducted by Leonard Bernstein) at The Middle Passage.

 

 

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My Two Blankets, by Irena Kobald, illustrated by Freya Blackwood. HMH, 2015.

Originally published in Australia, this picture storybook is for all ages. A young person is introduced as happy in her country, a place pictured in warm tones of yellows, oranges, and soft browns. But she and her Auntie move to a new country in order to be safe. This country is shown in cool tones of blues, browns, grays, and greens. Everything is different and strange in the new country, including the language. “When I was at home,” she says, “I wrapped myself in a blanket of my own words and sounds.” She creates a metaphor for her original language–her old blanket, which is warm, soft, and comfortable– and the new language, which she calls a “cold waterfall.”  Yet she meets a friend, and begins to learn to the new language, “weaving a new blanket.”  She adds new words, so the new language is comfortable, too. “And now,” she states, “no matter which blanket I use, I will always be me.”

Use this book with anyone who is learning or teaching a new language.

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The Beginner’s Guide to Running Away from Home, by Jennifer Huget; illustrated by Red Nose Studio. Schwartz & Wade, 2013.

The creative genius who is “Red Nose Studio” is illustrator Chris Sickels. Do I love Red Nose Studio because of the fabulous handmade 3-D illustrations, or because Chris rides a 1965 Harley Pacer?  Well, maybe both.

Chris has illustrated books for children, and a personal fav is The Beginner’s Guide to Running Away from Home, written by Jennifer Huget (Schwartz & Wade, 2013).

Chris uses all manner of widgets, cloth, wire, sprockets, you-name-it to create his art.  Check out this Vimeo to see Chris, his Pacer, and a tour of his Greenfield, Indiana, studio.

Also check out the Red Nose Studio website here.  Be sure to open the Creosote tab! What is creosote?  Chris will school you. Creosote is also the title of his short award-winning film that you can view on the site (age level?– you decide). Added bonus! There are FREE high-res images from the film that you can print, cut out, assemble, and use for your own scenes.

 

The Beatles

Posted: February 15, 2014 in All ages, Biography, Graphic novels
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The Beatles, by Mick Manning and Brita Granström              (Frances Lincoln, 2014)

The Beatles, by Mick Manning and Brita Granström
(Frances Lincoln, 2014)

The Beatles are receiving much attention recently as the “Fab Four” just received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and the group is being highlighted in children’s literature as well. Mick Manning and Brita Grandström have created a FABulous informational picture book using elements of the graphic novel format. Chronicling the history of The Beatles from John’s birth in 1940, to 1970 when John, Paul, George, and Ringo went their own ways in the music world, each page turn is a new dated “chapter” with a short description of the band’s events in that year/years and additional fascinating anecdotes. Who knew that John received his first harmonica as a kid when a bus driver gave him a professional harmonica because John had been playing a harmonica on the bus constantly from Liverpool to Edinburgh? The book explains this was the same harmonica used in Love Me Do.

Mick Manning & Brita Grandström at the Frances Lincoln tea in Philadelphia, January 2014

Mick Manning & Brita Grandström at the Frances Lincoln tea in Philadelphia, January 2014

I caught up with Mick and Brita at a Frances Lincoln tea in Philadelphia (they live in England; Mick’s from Yorkshire, and Brita is from Sweden). They have been writing and illustrating for 20 years, and during this time they have received numerous awards for their information books, and are currently shortlisted for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award — a major international award established by the Swedish government in 2002 and bestowed by the Swedish Arts Council. Watch for the announcement of the 2014 winner on March 25, and keep rooting for Mick and Brita!

1962-1963 "Goodbye Pete, Hello Ringo" from The Beatles

1962-63 “Goodbye Pete, Hello Ringo” from The Beatles

The Bathing Costume: Or the Worst Vacation of My Life, by Charlotte Moundlic and illustrated by Olivier Tallec

The Bathing Costume: Or the Worst Vacation of My Life, by Charlotte Moundlic and illustrated by Olivier Tallec

OMG, to be in a place where it is warm enough to go swimming. **sigh** But we can read about almost-eight-year-old Ronnie’s first vacation away from his Mama, at the home of his grandparents in the country. And then he learns his cousins will be there . . . the cousins who make Ronnie the butt of their jokes! And the tradition is when you are eight, you jump off the 10-foot high diving board!! To make a bad situation even worse, Ronnie has to borrow a swimsuit that is too big!!! How to hold on to the swimsuit and jump off a terrifying diving board? Well, maybe there in a fail somewhere in that mix, but maybe there is a triumph also.

Set in France, this book is originally from France and is translated from the French. Written in journal format, this will be appealing to independent readers around 3rd grade or so who want a short “chapter” book. This book was selected as a 2014 Outstanding International Book by the United States Board on Books for Young People (USBBY).

2014 Newbery Medal:  Flora & Uysses, by Kate DiCamillo and illustrated by K. G. Campbell

2014 Newbery Medal: Flora & Uysses, by Kate DiCamillo and illustrated by K. G. Campbell

2014 Caldecott Medal:  Locomotive, written and illustrated by Brian Floca

2014 Caldecott Medal: Locomotive, written and illustrated by Brian Floca

The day has finally arrived for the announcement of the 2014 Youth Media Awards. These are the highest honors for authors and illustrators of children’s and young adult literature, and are given each year by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association.

I am in the room as the awards are being announced, and here are the two top Medal winners:
2014 Caldecott Award: Locomotive, written and illustrated by Brian Floca.
2014 John Newbery Medal: Flora & Ulysses, written by Kate DiCamillo, and illustrated by K. G. Campbell.

Find additional 2014 award winners at the American Library Association Youth Media Awards website.