Ellen Myrick Publisher Preview – Spring 2023 (Part Three)
I wasn’t kidding about more preview schtoof. If you’re interested in parts one and two then be sure to check them out as well. Today we plow forward with our third part. Lots more books for you to look at, folks!
Finn’s Fun Trucks: The Train Team by Finn Coyle, ill. Srimalie Bassani
This isn’t the first Finn book I’ve ever encountered but I don’t know that I knew much about their author the first time they made their debut. For those folks looking for books from neurodiverse perspectives, Finn Coyle is on the spectrum. For this series he’s a consultant and helps to write them as well. In this latest title, the focus is squarely on those kids who want anything vehicle oriented. There was a time not too too long ago when my own children were wild for anything of a vehicular nature, so I feel this book series would have done them a spot of good. And, of course, the more technical terms you work in there, the happier the (young) readership.
Kind Crocodile by Leo Timmers
I wonder… could be at all possible that there are a few of you still out there unaware of the great golden glory that is Leo Timmers? This Belgian creator has such a distinctive tone and style that I actually wait through these previews of Ellen’s with the hope that maybe I’ll be able to catch a glimpse of a new Timmers title on the horizon. Today, that patience is well rewarded. First off, look at that sweet little punim. Who could fear a face like that? And yet, as the book is quick to show, that’s precisely what happens with our boy. That is, until he helps scare off an even scarier predator. Now this is the very first Leo Timmers original board book, so I’m rather thrilled on that account as well.
Friend by Gavin Bishop
Maori creator and New Zealand native Gavin Bishop may be better known to some for his previous book Pops. Now its companion book is coming out and at its heart it’s really just a story about a kid and his dog. What keen about this book, though, is that it fills a need we constantly have but are often unable to find. Adult selectors (particularly those that serve on committees) like books with complex texts. Yet it’s the simplest books that are often in the highest demand. With simple one or two word sentences, Friend slots neatly into that very category. Doesn’t hurt matters any that the art is rather lovely as well.
Perfect Presents by Anke Kuhl
Okay. You’re gonna have to go with me on this one. Before I show you some of the inside spreads, you have to understand that I grew up with a great fondness for Muppet chaos. As such, the idea of animals eating animals for laffs is lodged firmly in the second lobe of my cerebellum. Here then is a brief glimpse of this German import’s very particular humor:
Okay. So there are a LOT more sequences of the lizard creature handing the owl guy presents only to see them devoured. But you get the picture from this, yes?
The Moon Is a Ball by Ed Franck & The Tjong-Khing
Oh, like I’d leave you with only one Belgian today. Now if there’s anything I’ve learned over the years, it’s that the Europeans do one thing in their children’s books far better than we Americans: Bedtime stories. We’re okay. Publishers like Candlewick do what they can to produce them on occasion (though 50% of the time those titles are from England anyway). But overseas they understand that longer texts can be delightful when it comes to bedtime reading. And nowhere is this clearer than in this sweet little illustrated story collection about two friends. It’s just built to be shared aloud.
Astonishing and Extinct Professions by Markus Rottmann and Michael Meister
If the Europeans do bedtime books better than Yanks then where do we excel? That’s an easy one. Nonfiction and informational books, obviously! Generally speaking, other countries have an aversion to sourcing their facts, and including timelines, bibliographies, recommended sources, and just backmatter in general. They do, however, come up with some pretty cool ideas, and here’s a great example of that. First and foremost, can you think of a better title? I was particularly pleased to see that the Fartiste (last seen in the book Fartiste by Kathleen Krull and Paul Brewer, ill. Boris Kulikov) got his own place on the page. Beautiful.
Big Bangs and Black Holes: A Guide to the Universe by Herji and J. Francfort, with Nobel laureate Michel-Mayor, translated by Jeffrey K. Butt
During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic when the schools closed and a whole host of parents found themselves in the unexpected position of homeschooling, my husband took it upon himself to give our kids a rough approximation of history via comics. He had lots of avenues to choose from, Larry Gonick’s Cartoon History series was key. Of course, Larry’s done all kinds of topics, including science and math. It is in this vein, then, that I was so happy to see this import coming to us via the winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics. If you’ve been looking for a graphic novel title that covers gravitational waves, the theory of relativity, black holes, and more, I think you’ve found your winner.
Benny the Bananasaurus Rex by Sarabeth Holden, ill. Emma Pedersen
The banana, for all its flaws (as a wise woman once told me, they are “God’s failed attempt at soap”) is an inherently funny fruit. Perhaps it is its size. Its construction. Its very name. Whatever the case may be, bananas are friggin’ hilarious. Now for a long time I’ve been advocating for not simply We Need Diverse Books but We Need Funny Diverse Books. And this little number, with its Inuit/Arctic characters and setting fits the bill. The story’s simple: A kid loves bananas so much that he turns into a banana dinosaur. Do you even really need more than that? Nuh-uh. Nope. You don’t.
I Remember: A Recognition of Muslim Loyalty and Sacrifice in WWI by Maidah Ahmad, ill. Kristina Swarner
You know, sometimes when I make the statement that we’re currently living in a golden age of children’s literature, I can experience doubt. Is that just an example of my own hyperbole? Do I honestly believe what it is that I’m saying? Then I get to see books like this one and my statements are more than justified. Yes, dammit, this IS a great time to be gauging, judging, admiring, and generally engaging with books written for youth. How could I even doubt that? Can you begin to imagine a book about the Muslim experience in WWI coming out even ten years ago? In this particular book a young girl thinks about her great-great-grandfather and speculates about what he experienced when he was a soldier. How did he pray? Sleep? Learn another language? And you know me. If there’s lots of great backmatter at the end then I am a happy pooky. Talk about raising the bar a bit.
Watch Me Bloom: A Bouquet of Haiku Poems for Budding Naturalists by Krina Patel-Sage
Okay. I’m including this one in here because it’s doing something I’ve never seen before in a picture book. Not the haiku poems, though we always need a lot more new poetry books in a given year. And not the mixed media art, though it’s quite pretty. Not even the mix of STEM and art. No, I’m fascinating because a conscious effort was made to make sure that the flowers featured in this book were non-invasive species. I don’t really remember any other book making a strong point on the matter, but here every flower featured fits into the place that it is portrayed.
My Mommies Built a Treehouse by Gareth Peter, ill. Izzy Evans
Perhaps about this time you’re thinking, “This is all well and good, Betsy, but where the heck is the LGBTQIA+ representation on any of these lists?” Noted and agreed. So if the name “Gareth Peter” sounds at all familiar, you may be associating it with the picture book Adventures With My Daddies. Funny thing is, that book didn’t come out with Lantana but with from a different publisher: Peachtree. Now he’s paired with Izzy Evans for a new book. In this tale, a kid wants a treehouse, but there are lots of steps involved. For example, you have to look for the right tree to build in. One mommy is good at designing and one is good at decorating, so together they’re able to create not just any treehouse but a dream treehouse. Just watch out. This may suffer from the Bluey problem and raise expectations about parental abilities.
My Mommy Marches by Samantha Hawkins, ill. Cory Reid
And just for kicks, let’s end today on a high note. And what could be higher than a social justice activist book? The plot’s pretty simple: A child thinks about her mom and why she marches. It’s not linked to a single or specific issue which means, logically, that it will never age. After all, inalienable rights have an amazing amount of longevity.
Filed under: Publisher Previews
About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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