Ellen Myrick Publisher Preview: Fall 2023/Winter 2024 (Part Three – Sleeping Bear Press, Soaring Kite Books, Tapioca Stories, Tiger Tales, & Tilbury House)
Part Three! As a reminder, this is the post where I round up a bunch of smaller publishers’ publications coming out in Fall 2023 and Winter 2024. We’ve a lot to get through, so let’s just dive on in and see if there’s anything in here that appeals to you particularly.
A Song So Black, So Proud by R.J. Owens, ill. Keisha Okafor
Publication Date: August 15, 2023
Not the first picture book based on a song you’ve ever seen and it certainly won’t be the last. It is, however, the first James Brown song-turned-picture-book I’ve seen, and it’s based on Say It Loud – I’m Black and Proud and its lyrics. Inside you’ve got some seriously jubilant illustrations, like this one:
And in a cute twist, instead of an Author’s Note at the end, you get the history of this song from the p.o.v. of the song itself. This allows for a bit of personality (“I was on my way to My Bad Self”), and it gives you fun tidbits of information, like the fact that James Brown once took out full page ads in newspapers telling people not to listen to radio unless he was on.
I didn’t actually know this song so I looked it up and you know what? It’s a banger.
A Family Like Ours by Frank Murphy and Alice Lee, ill. Kayla Harren
Publication Date: August 15, 2023
Bit of a stunner of a cover on this one here. I think the tree gives away the game. As you can probably guess, it’s all about different kinds of families, the ones you build for yourselves as well as the ones you’re born into.
Wishes of the World by Melissa Stiveson, ill. Khoa Le
Publication Date: July 15, 2023
Yay, Khoa Le! Any time there’s a new picture book featuring her art, it is a cause for celebration. Now you’ve probably encountered picture books where they talk about different ways of, say, getting rid of baby teeth or praying or any number of regionalisms around the world. This is the first time I’ve seen a book tackle how a kid can make a wish. The book begins with a girl blowing dandelion seeds and it just takes off from there. Check these out:
If the Rivers Run Free by Andrea Debbink, ill. Nicole Wong
Publication Date: August 14, 2023
Okay, I’m going to confess that initially I wasn’t necessarily going to tell you about this book. Not because it doesn’t sound interesting. I mean, it’s about underground rivers and the different ways in which they’ve been imprisoned under the streets over the years. The book covers their coverings, then tells you about the current movement to let them be seen and let the more natural forces back into play. And see, I know all about this because back in my hometown of Kalamazoo we did that very thing. An underground river or stream or creek was covered and then as part of a downtown revitalization project, it was uncovered again.
But I wasn’t going to necessarily mention any of that today. I mean, we have a lot of books to go through and I have to be picky about what I include.
Then I saw this passage.
Clever clever clever, working on my emotions like that.
My Teacher Has Tattoos / Mi Maestro Tiene Tatuajes by Darren Lopez, ill. Bhaghya Mandrasinghe
Publication Date: August 15, 2023
ISBN: 9781534111967 & 9781958372005
Always nice when a teacher gets to write a picture book based on a teaching moment. In this particular tale, a classroom of kids has a teacher with some of his tattoos visible beneath his shirt sleeves. This causes some pretty wild speculations. Was he in a gang or in prison? Why else would he have them? Then they ask, and he tells them about the cultural implications of those tattoos. It’s in the course of this conversation that the kids (and the child readers) come to understand that tattoos aren’t bad or violent. Rather, they can be something beautiful about a person’s identity. And, in true teacherly fashion, there are additional discussion questions at the back and a note from the author about what inspired the book. Extra points for the fun tattoo endpapers and the fact that they’re simultaneously releasing the book in English and Spanish.
The Collector of Heads by Ana Matsusaki, translated by Bruna Dantas Lobato
Publication Date: September 12, 2023
Oooo! You just know you’re in good hands when you see a title like that! Meet Ana Matsusaki, a debut author illustrator from Brazil. Now what is the premise of this book? I’ll show rather than tell:
A little morbid? Maybe. But awfully Wednesday Addams, wouldn’t you agree?
The cool trick to this book is that you can see what’s inside of each head.
Some of the contents are evident. Some, a little more esoteric (like “a chord without a color” for musicians). And at the end of the book it asks you what’s in your head.
And don’t worry. Ana Matsusaki is also willing to put her own head on the line.
Heavy Metal Badger by Duncan Beedie
Publication Date: October 10, 2023
It’s a hero’s journey. That is, if the hero in question were an incredibly loud badger with a penchant for music that can stir his soul. Due to the sheer decibel level of his crooning, this badger sets off to find the tunes that fit his style. Alas, none quite fit. No spoilers but I think you may be able to guess what it is that he eventually lands on.
No. It’s not choir.
The Thing to Remember About Stargazing by Matt Forrest Esenwine, ill. Sonia Possentine
Publication Date: October 3, 2023
Okay, the first thing I need to say about this title is well-done on the title itself. “The Thing to Remember About Stargazing”? Ten outta ten. Would recommend. Beautiful. The second thing I need to say about this is that the illustrator, Sonia Possentine, is the same person who did Lion Lights last year, and if you missed Lion Lights you might get a glimpse of it on the newly released 2023 list of Children’s Africana Book Awards (CABA). In this book, author Esenwine links an exploration of the night sky to mindfulness. It’s a combination of giving pertinent and accurate information while also teaching you to be in the moment.
That’s all for today! More soon!
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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