Ellen Myrick Publisher Preview: Spring 2024 – Inhabit Media, Kube Publishing, and Lantana (Part Three)
Time is ticking away until I start doing my 31 Days, 31 Lists for 2023. Until then, I’ll try to squeeze in at least one more of these small publisher previews. Part One already debuted here and Part Two was here. On to Part Three!
The Raven Boy by Rosemarie Avrana Meyok and Marcus Cutler
Okay! Let’s kick things off with a little authenticity. Now our first book today comes to us via the Inuit storytelling tradition. And friends, let me tell you, one of the things I like most about the publisher Inhabit Media is its disinclination to tidy up authentic tales. These stories go darkest when they’re being authentic, after all. You’re familiar with stories where elderly people long for a child, right? Well, in this book an elderly woman longs for precisely that when, lo and behold, the raven doll next to her comes to life. He’s helpful at first and then he goes off the rails a little bit. He leaves, and in his subsequent travels he encounters another part bird boy, but that kid is part owl. Whom he kills. Then something unexpected happens, the Raven Boy ages too quickly, he dies, falls into the ocean, and becomes a big rock. Look, folks, if you want real stories then you have to get away from your tidy little tales. This stuff? It’s the real deal. A cautionary tale of vanity, arrogance, and consequences hailing from the western Arctic.
Mythical Monsters of Greenland: A Survival Guide by Maria Bach Kreutzmann
Now I don’t usually do the more YA stuff that I see in these previews, but the concept behind this book is so much fun that I just had to include it here today. This title delves deep into the legendary monsters from Greenlandic mythology and folklore. Its focus? What it would be like if you encountered these monsters in the real world? What should you do if you find yourself in the presence of a tupilak (answer: nothing unless you’re more powerful than the person who sent it to you)? What do walrus skulls have to do with the Northern Lights? With fantastic art these Greenlandic creators give the habitat and the encounters you can expect from mythical creatures that, I guarantee, you’ve never encountered in other books before. Why’s it in the YA section? Well, let’s just say that it can get a little graphic. Consider this for your middle schoolers then.
The Monkey, the Cow and the Wolf: The Song Book by Zain Bhikha
The way it was explained to me is that essentially Zain Bhikha is the Raffi of the Muslim world. I suspect that that’s a comparison that will be understandable only to folks of a certain age range. But what makes this book is interesting to me is that Bhikha takes the three most famous sayings of the Prophet Mohammad and turns them into a song. Essentially, this book then tells the three stories in a very simple format and works in music along the way as well. I am curious about these stories, and I’ll tell you something else too when I say that I cannot think of almost any other books for kids currently available on the American market that do anything quite like this. Worth checking out, I’d say.
The Great Henna Party by Humera Malik, ill. Sonali Zohra
Now I know I’ve seen henna mentioned casually in children’s picture books before, but wrack my brain though I might I cannot think of a single instance of a henna party-themed picture book out there. In this particular story, a girl’s big sister is getting married and so the book is entirely via the little sib’s perspective on the event. Always nice when we see something new on the picture book page.
My Momo-la Is a Museum by Mamta Nainv, ill. Violet Kim
The proliferation of picture books about grandparents was pooh-poohed recently in a well-shared article a couple months ago. Essentially, the argument rang that the only reason we have so many of these stories is because they’re essentially easy cash grabs for the pocketbooks of grandparents searching for books for their grandchildren. And while that is certainly true for some books, I see enough interesting, eclectic, and downright original picture books in a given year about grandparents to keep myself from indulging too heartily in those grand sweeping statements. Take this book, for example. In this story a girl’s grandmother (or momo-la) is from Tibet but she currently lives with her family in New Delhi. The girl’s momo-la has a plethora of stories and as they walk through a museum she’s able to tell even more. Essentially, the book offers a cool way to think about your grandparents: as a museum of stories themselves. Or, as the author puts it in her Author’s Note at the back, “This is a story about the power of these stories that we keep close and hold on to. I hope it encourages you to think about your family histories, share your stories, and be your own museum!”
The Invisible Story by Jaime Gamboa, ill. Wen Hsu Chen
At the start, this is about a book that worries that it will never be read. When I first heard that description I was immediately reminded of this year’s publication of The Book That No One Wanted to Read by Richard Ayoade. Happily, this story is a bit different. You see, one day someone picks it up, touches it, and we discover that it’s a Braille book. Now since this book is coming out from a standard publisher, there isn’t any actual Braille inside (which is to day, it doesn’t have any raised dots) but the storyline does convey what it looks like and what it could feel like. Plus, it has great backmatter about Braille and the cut paper art is JUST gorgeous.
One Extra Sparkle: Ellie and the Marriage List by Tricia Seabolt, ill. Lucy Rogers
When I was a child the first place that I saw kids with Down syndrome was on Sesame Street. It wasn’t something that came up much in the wider culture, however, and though I’ve seen children with Down syndrome appear in picture books since then, it doesn’t go much further than that. With this series, we’re seen an early chapter book series starring a girl with the syndrome for the very first time. Author Tricia Seabolt is an occupational therapist for kids. This is one book I’ll be very interested to see when it’s released.
And that’s all I have for you today! Stayed tuned for my next installment, coming 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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