Ellen Myrick Publisher Preview: Fall 2023/Winter 2024 (Part Five – Berbay, Cicada & Creston Books)
By this point you probably know the deal. I run through a slew of smaller publishers, highlighting some of the books they have coming out that have caught my eye. And just for kicks (in case you’re curious) here are links to the posts I’ve done before (Part One, Part Two, Part Three, and Part Four)
Mine! A Story of Not Sharing by Klara Persson, ill. Charlotte Ramel, translated by Nichola Smalley
Pub Date: October 3, 2023
Doggone it. Okay, here’s the deal. Do you know how many books I’m shown in these massive previews? So! Many! A woman can only keep her sanity intact if she separates the wheat from the chaff, amiright? Trouble is, there’s too much darn wheat around here. Take this little Swedish (or so I’ve determined from the author’s origins) picture book. As a mom, this one hit hard. A kid has a friend coming over and her mom tells her that if she doesn’t want to share something she should just put it in the closet beforehand. You can see where this is going. Sally, our heroine, then proceeds to put everything, including her mom, into that closet. And you know what? I feel what Sally’s feeling here. Share my mom? Are you kidding me? Of course it quickly becomes clear that sharing toys and stuff is actually a lot of fun when done correctly. Still not gonna share that mom though.
Great art to boot. Check out that determined little face!
La Sopa Mas Rica y Otros Cuentos / The Most Delicious Soup and Other Stories by Maria Ruiz Johnson
Pub Date: February 6, 2024
Could it be? It is! Our very first 2024 inclusion! And straight from Spain, no less.
If the art here looks familiar you can probably credit Maria Ruiz Johnson’s previous imports to American shores, Run, Little Chaski and Ways to Make Friends (amongst others). She returns to us here with her inimitable style with a collection of stories (five in total) about creating a beautiful soup and community. Think Stone Soup, but bigger, man. Bigger.
All About the Heart by Dr. Remi Kowalski, ill. Tonia Composto
Pub Date: September 12, 2023
Yus!! Show me those ventricles!
So this is cool. It’s a new series (Australian, if I don’t miss my guess) written by pediatric specialists from all over the world. In this first book you get solid information about hearts but told in a cool graphic way. The books themselves will be nonfiction as well. First up? Heart. Second up? Brain. And just take a gander at these gorgeous illustrations. I couldn’t pick just one:
Gory Rory Fangface Needs a Kiss by Ziggy Hanaor, ill. Ollie Silvester
Pub Date: November 14, 2023
A British import, this book, which makes a certain amount of sense. The Europeans have always had a great affection for Tomi Ungerer and I’m getting some serious No Kiss for Mother vibes from this particular outing. Though perhaps Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day might be a more approximate association. In this story Gory wakes up and nothing is going right. Mom keeps offering a kiss to make things better and Gory keeps refusing. The day only gets worse at school and I’d like to be sympathetic, but a tiny wolf saying, “This is rubbish”, is just too adorable to my American eyes. Finally Rory gives in to his mother’s insisting and you know what? Things do start to feel a little better. This is a tale of big hard feelings and how exhausting they can be.
The Grand Hotel of Feelings by Lidia Brankovic
Pub Date: September 5, 2023
Wes Anderson vibes with a Pixar twist. Creator Lidia Brankovic is entirely German, as far as I can ascertain, but since her website is nothing but English I’ll have to assume that she wrote this in the same language herself. And if it’s reminding you a bit of the Grand Budapest Hotel, you’re not alone. In this story you will find that this hotel is where all the feelings come to stay. Anger, Sadness, Anxiety, Peace, you name it. All feelings are welcome. As for Brankovic herself, I was pleased to discover that she was a student of Sven Volker. I’ve been cultivating a little list of my favorite German author/illustrators and he, of course, is right up there. A charming idea and product.
The Mellons Build an Eco House by Robin Jacobs, ill. Nik Neves
Pub Date: October 3, 2023
And speaking of architecture . . .
I’m mostly including this next book because I desperately want to move into the house the Mellons construct. In this tale a family by the name of Mellon (no relation to the Carnegie Mellons, obviously) have outgrown their home but when looking for a new one, nothing they see is right. Enter Marsha. She’s here to help the Mellons construct their dream house and she’s going to make sure that it’s eco-friendly all throughout. Reading this book, you get to see the entire process from design to meeting with contractors to pouring the cement. It’s very eco-conscious, including everything from a rooftop garden to reserving rainwater to solar panels, and more. You even get to see how blueprints work! It occurs to me that this would be a good companion to that Jonathan Bean picture book Building Our House from a couple years ago. Similar vibe. Cooler architects and contractors:
Forwards Always: Poems to Be Read Aloud by Matthew Hodson
Pub Date: September 12, 2023
Poetry. It’s a hard sell. If you can find even five strong collections of poetry for kids in a single year then you’re doing better than most. Add to your own Top Five of 2023 this sweet collection of poems by Matthew Hodson. The idea is that the reader should play with this book. It’s meant to be performed, so hand it over to your more theatrical kids. As for the creator himself, the bio with this book reads that he, “is a graphic artist and poet, who likes other people, the woods and boiled eggs.” Who doesn’t?
Mama Mammals: Reproduction and Birth in Mammals by Cathy Evans, ill. Bia Melo
Pub Date: November 7, 2023
Look, when the subtitle of the book includes the word “reproduction” then that’s a pretty big red flag that the information inside is probably going to include some kind of bodily functions. Even so, it’s almost a given that this particular book will definitely get banned a few places here in the States. We Americans just cringe when it comes to the basics in terms of necessary information about stuff like where babies come from. So consider this title a helpful way to start talking with kids about where we come from and how we’re made. Basically, this is the whole mammal world and how we’re just a part of it. Birth canals and all.
Olive by Jed Alexander
Pub Date: October 3, 2023
If you know Jed Alexander then you know that his is a very specific brand of wordless fractured fairytaling. I liked his Red and I absolutely loved his Gold. Jed now tackles the old “Jack and the Beanstalk” story with the lovely and caring Olive. In this version a small girl climbs to the top of a beanstalk and makes friends with the big female giant at the top. The giant, for the record, is just a delight. Utterly comfortable in her own well-muscled body. Best of all, when the girl comes back home, she realizes that she’s a giant too, to the creatures smaller than herself. Everyone’s a giant to someone. A marvelous new entry into Jed Alexander’s larger oeuvre.
And that’s all we have for you today! I’ve still eleven publishers to go at this point, and wholly intend to get through the lot. Expect more next week. Thanks to Ellen Myrick for presenting these books to me, and thanks so much for reading!
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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