Ellen Myrick Publisher Preview: Spring 2024 – Gecko and Helvetiq (Part Two)
Part two of our useful preview of small publishers during the Spring 2024 season. It only comes but several times a year, after all! Part One already debuted here. Onward to Part Two!
Lionel Is Just Like Dad by Éric Veillé
Surely SURELY you can’t have forgotten about Lionel already? The star of the previous board books Lionel Eats All By Himself and the very European Lionel Poops is back for more and this time author illustrator Veillé is sweetening the deal. Literally. This book is just too friggin’ sweet. In his latest outing Lionel just wants to do what dad does in every possible way. And while I know it’s not scientifically accurate to have a little lion wearing a mane just like his daddy, who am I to resist these board books’ charms?
A Better Best Friend by Olivier Tallec
And THAT, my dears, is how you do a cover of a picture book.
So mushrooms are having a bit of a moment these days, aren’t that? I credit the discover of the wood wide web. Suddenly they’ve gone from being slightly rubbery on pizza to being the sustaining bonds that keep an old growth forest alive. Fascinating. This is a title best described by its publisher as, “Warm and funny story perfect for readers who lend themselves to overthinking.” In it a squirrel is attempting to make a friend. Things go well until a second friend shows up. Now the squirrel, who is entirely locked into the whole one-best-friend mindset, is having some problems. In an era where people are trying to find picture books to help kids navigate the complexity of friendship, this title fits the bill.
It may also help that Olivier Tallec can do no wrong.
My Baby Sister is a Diplodocus by Aurore Petite
Sometimes getting through to a kid about their new sibling means speaking their language. From the creator of the book My Mother Is a House comes a book with a VERY pink cover about a boy who has a new baby sister. At first he tries to play with her, but is a tiny bit too rough. When it becomes clear that the new baby is NOT useful when it comes to playing, he goes into his room and pulls a full-on Max from Where the Wild Things Are. Realizing that they need to give him the words to understand, his parents explain in dino terms that his sister is a diplodocus. Commendable for its positive portrayals of breastfeeding, I’m fond of this. It’s a nice example of meeting a child where he is.
The Pinchers and the Diamond Heist by Anders Sparring and Per Gustavsson
It’s funny, but I was just listening the other day to the podcast Articles of Interest about the history and contemporary state of prison uniforms in America. One element of the show that really caught my ear was when they discussed striped uniforms. They did exist, albeit for a very brief period of time. And why were they striped? To look ridiculous, actually. To rob the inmates of dignity. They were since appropriated by movies and other forms of entertainment, which takes us to this new illustrated early chapter books (the kind of books we rely upon Gecko to provide each year). This is the story of a crime family and right from the start you get to see a rap sheet for each and every last one of them. In this particular story, they’re planning a heist but things go wrong and it’s up to the kids to save the day. Note the shot of the creators of the book. Note the fun Quizzes at the end of the book (Find Your Criminal Name!). And especially note that this is the VERY rare import to garner a quote from the king of funny himself, Jon Scieszka!! Never seen THAT before!
Sounds Good: Discover 50 Instruments by Ole Könnecke, music by Hans Könnecke
Holy moly it’s Ole Könnecke! And son!! You know, whenever anyone starts in with that old trope that the Germans aren’t funny, I think of Ole Könnecke and how untrue that is. This particular book takes you on a tour of 52 musical instruments (the extra two are a bonus). Every page has a different instrument with a QR code, so that you can hear the instrument they discuss. You might ask, why is Ole’s son Hans credited with “music by”? Well, apparently Hans actually plays most of the instruments in this book. And hey! I bet you didn’t think you’d see a kangaroo playing the theremin today, did you? Guess this just happened to be your lucky day, huh? Learn about everything, including a Lur. What’s a Lur, you ask? Find out!
The Observologist by Giselle Clarkson
This is a book that’s entirely about mounting an exhibition and if Ellen Myrick (who presented this book to me) wants anything it’s that a Table of Contents Awards (A) exist and (B) go to this book. Shows how you need to pay attention to the tiny world beneath your feet or in the water or wherever. But what’s inside this book? Pages that shows that puddles are rife with life. Information on how to start a collection that doesn’t involve killing the critter you collect. Aural observology on what you hear (dragonfly vs. mosquito vs. bee). And near the end, my pet personal section consisting of a very good explanation on how to relocate a spider and how to save a moth from drowning (I didn’t know this one at all!).
Extraordinary Eyeglasses by Caroline Stevan, ill. Francois Vigneault
What’s going to be hot in the works of children’s literature in 2024? Would you believe… spectacles? Apparently eyeglasses are gonna be very in next year, and this book is a great way to kick all of that off. It’s a nonfiction title that’s just chock full of info and overflowing with facts. It is a little odd that considering how many people wear glasses, we’ve had approximately zero children’s books centered on that. Welp, expect that to change and soon.
Squirrels! This Is Not a Book About Dinosaurs by Melina Schoenborn and Felipe Arriagada-Nunez, translated by Jeffrey K. Butt
Why the confusion with the title? Well, I think we all know that dinos are in a LOT of picture books for kids. In this story, a squirrel is dead set on having a book of its own, but a pesky dinosaur keeps butting in, trying to steal the story. Fortunately the squirrel will not stand for any of that nonsense. I like this note I heard about this book: “Sometimes you have to be persistent to get your story heard!” Yep!
And that’s all she wrote for today, folks. Stay tuned for next week when I do a deep dive into more publishers with more books coming out next year!
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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