Well dear readers, what a year this has been!
Besides traveling to three great writing conferences, I've been privileged to "meet" and interview some amazing authors and illustrators - Patricia Toht, Curtis Manley, Jessica Lanan, Pat Zietlow Miller, Varsha Bajaj, Carolina Rabei, Laura Roettiger, Sophie Gilmore, Vivian Kirkfield, Mirka Hokkanen, Danielle Dufayet, Cathy Ballou Mealey, Marsha Diane Arnold, Carter Higgins, BJ Lee, Sara Aronson, Bea Birdsong, Simona Ceccarelli, Barbara Lowell, Kristin L. Gray, John Hare, Nancy Churnin, Adah Nuchi, & Leslie Kimmelman, Liam Francis Walsh, Tara Lazar, The Notable 19's, Gayle Krause, Deborah Abela, Ioana Hobai, and Vanessa Brantley-Newton. (An unbelievable 43 just by mid-year!)
I finished off the year, by interviewing another 28 authors and illustrators - Cori Doerrfeld, Ashley Franklin, Katy Hudson, Susanne Gervay, Christina Geist, Susanna Leonard Hill, Dimitry Powell, BCR Fegan, Giuseppe Poli, Adam Wallace, Vicki Conrad, Jonathan Voss, Erin Gunti, Brendan Wenzel, AnneMarie Riley Guertin, Michelle Shaub, Christine Evans, Susan Edwards Richmond, Teresa Robeson, Leanne Shirtliffe, Lisa Robinson, Deborah Underwood, Mike Boldt, Beth Ferry, Heather Gale & Mika Song, Caroline McAlister, and Lisa Mantchev. I've linked the interviews; in case you missed a friend or a favorite (or both). It's been such an honor and a privilege to discover the processes, challenges, and successes of so many creatives who were, or have become, my friends.
I also had fun reviewing each of their books. I want to give one more shout-out to some truly amazing books released in 2019:
Just look at these great picture books. As well as a Chapter Book (The Bookshop Girl) and a Middle Grade (The Most Marvelous International Spelling Bee) and two 2018 books I discovered at the Australian SCBWI Conference - the Crystal Kite Award Winner, At The End of Holyrood Lane by Dimity Powell and Invisible Jerry by Adam Wallace, illustrated by Giuseppe Poli.
Perhaps the best way to highlight them would be by category:
Gorgeous books on SPACE:
Just Right: Searching for the Goldilocks Planet by Curtis Manley, illustrated by Jessica Lanan ;
Alaina Reaches for the Moon by Laura Roettiger, illustrated by Ariel Boroff;
Music for Mr. Moon by Philip C. Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead;
If You Had Your Birthday Party on the Moon by Joyce Lapin, illustrated by Simona Ceccarelli;
Field Trip to the Moon by John Hare; and
Moon's First Friends by Susanna Leonard Hill, illustrated by Elisa Paganelli; and
[Plus - Review of 12 books celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Moon Landing] .
Touching and empowering books on SELF-ESTEEM:
Dress Like A Girl by Patricia Toht, illustrated by Lorian Tu-Dean;
Pat Zietlow Miller's books - Remarkably You illustrated by Patrice Barton & When You Are Brave illustrated by Eliza Wheeler;
You Are Your Strong by Danielle Dufayet, illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin;
I Will Be Fierce by Bea Birdsong, illustrated by Nidhi Chanani;
Butterflies on the First Day of School by Annie Silvestro, illustrated by Dream Chen;
Lena's Slippers by Ioana Hobai;
The King of Kindergarten by Derrick Barnes, Illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton (+ school);
The Boy in the Big Blue Glasses by Susanne Gervay, illustrated by Marjorie Crosby-Fairall;
Not Quite Snow White by Ashley Franklin, illustrated by Ebony Glen;
Hoʻonani: Hula Warrior by Heather Gale, illustrated by Mika Song; and
Odd Dog Out by Rob Biddulph.
Inspiring books on FRIENDSHIP, KINDNESS, & EMPATHY:
Star in the Jar by Sam Hay, illustrated by Sarah Massini;
The Book Without a Story by Carolina Rabei;
Little Doctor and the Fearless Beast by Sophie Gilmore;
Bikes for Sale by Carter Higgins, illustrated by Zachariah OHora;
Mine. Yours. by Marsha Diane Arnold, illustrated by Qin Leng;
Make A Wish, Henry Bear by Liam Francis Walsh;
Goodbye, Friend! Hello, Friend! by Cori Doerrfeld;
The Golden Acorn by Katy Hudson;
A Place to Stay: A Shelter Story by Erin Gunti, illustrated by Esteli Meza;
Caveboy Crush by Beth Ferry, illustrated by Joseph Kuefler; and
Remarkables by Lisa Mantchev, illustrated by David Litchfield.
I Am Farmer by Baptise & Miranda Paul, illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon;
Just Like Rube Goldberg by Sara Anderson, illustrated by Robert Neubecker;
Sparky & Spike: Charles Schulz and the Wildest, Smartest Dog Ever by Barbara Lowell, illustrated by Dan Andreason;
Just Like Beverly: A Biography of Beverly Cleary by Vicki Conrad, illustrated by David Hohn;
Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist: The True Story of a World-Travelling Bug Hunter by Christine Evans, illustrated by Yasmin Imamura;
Queen of Physics: How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom by Teresa Robeson, illustrated by Rebecce Huang; and
Finding Narnia: The Story of C.S. Lewis and His Brother by Caroline McAlister, illustrated by Jessica Lanan.
Entertaining ANIMAL/NATURE books:
There Are No Bears in This Bakery by Julia Sarcone-Roach;
Home Builders by Varsha Bajaj, illustrated by Simona Mulazzani;
Four Otters Toboggan by Vivian Kirkfield, illustrated by Mirka Hokkanen;
When a Tree Grows by Cathy Ballou Mealey, illustrated by Kasia Nowowiejska;
There Was an Old Gator Who Swallowed a Moth by B.J. Lee, illustrated by David Opie;
Koala is NOT a Bear by Kristin L. Gray, illustrated by Rachel McAlister;
Why Evergreens Keep Their Leaves by Annemarie Riley Guertin, illustrated by Helena Pérez García;
A Stone Sat Still by Brian Wenzel (+ perspectives);
Bird Count by Susan Edwards Richmond, illustrated by Stephanie Fizer Coleman; and
Bad Dog by Mike Boldt.
Once Upon a Twisted Tale by Gale Krause, illustrated by Caroline O'Neal;
Don't Drink the Pink by BCR Fegan, illustrated by Lenny Wen;
Finding Treasure: A Collection of Collections by Michelle Schaub, illustrated by Carmen Saldaña;
Ghost Cat by Kevan Atteberry;
Pippa's Night Parade by Lisa Robinson, illustrated by Lucy Fleming;
The Night Library by David Zeltser, illustrated by Raul Colón;
Imagine That by Jonathan Voss;
And BACK TO SCHOOL books:
Your First Day of Circus School by Tara Lazar, illustrated by Melissa Crowton;
Sorry, Grownups, You Can't Go to School by Christina Geist, illustrated by Tim Bowers;
Sloth to the Rescue by Leanne Shirtliffe, illustrated by Rob McClurkan;
[Plus - Review of 10 "Back to School" 2019 books].
These are only a small number of the many amazing books released this year. Unfortunately, I ran out of energy and time or I would have included reviews for these books as well:
by Cathy Breisacher, illustrated by Joshua Heinsz
A very punny book with a humorous look at friendship, competition, and all manner of spuds.
by Kobi Yamada, illustrated by Gabriella Barouch
An inspiring, lyrical look at the uniqueness and limitless, magical potential that exists in each of us.
An amazing wordless story of a stray and a determined, kind woman "that celebrates patience, friendship, and finding a forever home."
by Olympic Medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad & S. K. Ali, illustrated by Hatem Aly
A celebration of culture, hijabs, and the bond between siblings. An encouraging story of fostering ones' self-esteem.