The year isn't over but ROCKET SAYS LOOK UP! might be my favorite picture book release of 2019. Such a vibrant protagonist whose enthusiasm to share her love for space with her whole community takes hold of you from page 1 and stays with you until the very end. Additionally, I LOVE that Rocket's story doesn't perpetuate a "magical exceptionalism" narrative. Her curiosity and initiative JUMP off each page and speak for itself in a way that makes her story extraordinarily ordinary!
THE UNDEFEATED by Kwame Alexander champions the traumatic and the triumphant, making visible what most would rather we forget. A powerful and necessary addition to any classroom library that brings to life what so many work tirelessly to erase.
Books that have such limited, but gorgeous, prose, coupled with illustrations that leave an indelible mark on your heart—these are my absolute favorites. JULIAN IS A MERMAID is a book about love at its purest, at its finest, at its very best.
Every now and again, you'll come across a picture book that will give you pause, that'll cause you to carefully turn the pages in awe, to sit and consider all of the young people you've had the honor of teaching who will see themselves in these pages and rejoice. That was my reality encountering CROWN: AN ODE TO THE FRESH CUT for the first time and being so incredibly thankful to come across a book I've always known needed existing.
Can we talk about this fantastic picture book by Sharee Miller? In DON'T TOUCH MY HAIR, Aria attempts to maneuver her day-to-day without complete strangers trying to pick and probe at her hair. I believe the best picture books are ones that resonate with adults too (and especially the ones who are still in the bedtime routine phase of parenting) and this one definitely qualifies as a book that I enjoy each time I pick it up. The humor is spot on, teaching children and adults alike the importance of setting boundaries for ourselves, in addition to respecting the boundaries of others.
My absolute favorite way to spend an afternoon with my family, perusing bookstores and checking out new additions. I'm always curious about the choices bookstores make, about what titles they promote, about placement, about theme. I'm certain there's always the market to consider but I always wonder about the hearts and minds of the booksellers themselves, of what they are passionate about, of what they champion and want to promote, all of which shines through in the weekly rotation, in what stays and what goes.
This is one of my son's favorite picture books, one that he requests night after night because it reminds him of his grandmother and, of course, of himself. I love that we are seeing more and more picture books that not reflect Black and Brown children, but also that we are seeing more and more picture books that focus on the beautiful and not-so-beautiful that surrounds us and talking about it in ways that children can understand. I am such a fan of de la Pena's prose—sheer poetry, really—but also of Robinson's incredible body of work. I'd love to see these two continue to collaborate in the future because the magic they created with LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET deserves to be re-visited.
What a gorgeous book documenting the incredible literary journey of Mary Shelley, author of FRANKENSTEIN. I was so very impressed by the beautiful writing and the ways in which author Linda Bailey was able capture the complex darkness and simultaneous beauty that surrounded Shelley's life and story-writing process. Much needed kudos for Julia Sarda, whose illustrations brought this text to life in a way that made me want to re-read it again and again!
"If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it." - Toni Morrison