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The Picture Book Buzz

The Picture Book Buzz - Awesome April and May Books

There was NO way I could highlight all the wonderful authors and illustrators and their amazing books which released in April and are releasing in May. So I decided to do a quick shout out for a few of the books I wish I had space for. Each of these six books are stunning and absolutely worth a read.

Listen: How Evelyn Glennie, a Deaf Girl, Changed Percussion by Shannon Stocker, illustrated by Devon Holzwarth (Penguin Young Readers Group 4/12/2022) - a feast for the soul. This lyrical and stunningly beautiful biography of woman determined not to let her degenerative hear loss prevent her from playing music. Digitally enhanced watercolor, gouache, and colored pencil illustrations move across the pages drawing the reader along as Evelyn learns to use her entire body to experience hear. Her determination and persistence made such an impact on British music schools and society, she earned two Grammy Awards and a damehood.

Synopsis: A gorgeous and empowering picture book biography about Evelyn Glennie, a deaf woman, who became the first full-time solo percussionist in the world.

"No. You can't," people said.

But Evelyn knew she could. She had found her own way to listen.

From the moment Evelyn Glennie heard her first note, music held her heart. She played the piano by ear at age eight, and the clarinet by age ten. But soon, the nerves in her ears began to deteriorate, and Evelyn was told that, as a deaf girl, she could never be a musician. What sounds Evelyn couldn’t hear with her ears, though, she could feel resonate through her body as if she, herself, were a drum. And the music she created was extraordinary. Evelyn Glennie had learned how to listen in a new way. And soon, the world was listening too.

Blast Off!: How Mary Sherman Morgan Fueled America into Space by Suzanne Slade, illustrated by Sally W. Comport (Calkins Creel/Astra Publishing House 4/12/2022) - Before the female computers at NASA helped launch men to the moon (and bring them back safely), Mary Sherman's love of chemistry, intelligence, and determination enabled her to create the special fuel needed to launch rockets into space. Awesome collage style illustrations abound with calculations, chemical formulas, slide rules, and old reams of computer paper. It's a wonderfully inspiring biography.

Synopsis: The inspirational story of Mary Sherman, the world's first female rocket scientist, who overcame gender barriers and many failures to succeed.

Growing up in the 1920s on a dirt-poor farm in North Dakota, Mary Sherman's life was filled with chores—until she finally began school and discovered she loved to learn.

Mary excelled at science, especially chemistry, and leaped at the chance to work in a laboratory during World War II designing rocket fuels. And when the US decided to enter the space race, Mary was chosen over her male colleagues to create the fuel to launch a rocket carrying America's first satellite.

With courage and perseverance, Mary's hard work and calculations paid off, opening up a brand-new frontier for exploration. This STEM biography of an unsung and courageous woman in science will inspire and motivate young readers.

Alicia and the Hurricane / Alicia y el huracan: A Story of Puerto Rico / Un cuento de Puerto Rico by Lesléa Newman, illustrated by Elizabeth Erazo Baez, translated by Georgina Lázaro León (Lee & Low Books 4/19/2022) - Stunning acrylic and charcoal illustrations portray both the beauty of Puerto Rico and the devastation of a hurricane. A sweet refrain showcases a family's love and the island's adoration of the little coquíes (tree frogs), which despite the natural disaster, both continue to provide hope. It's a tender, bilingual, uplifting book to help children experiencing disasters, to show both the resiliency of a community and nature. And a poignant window into this harrowing experience.

Synopsis: Bestselling author Lesléa Newman offers a tender and timely story of a Puerto Rican child facing a hurricane and her concern for the beloved coquíes of her home island.

La autora de bestsellers Lesléa Newman ofrece un tierno y oportuno cuento de una niña puertorriqueña que enfrenta un huracán y su preocupación por los amados coquíes de su isla natal.

After snuggling into bed each night, Alicia listens for the big voices of the tiny coquíes that live all around Puerto Rico and sing her to sleep. Ko-kee, ko-kee, the little frogs call. Ko-kee, ko-kee.

One day a terrible hurricane comes to Puerto Rico, and Alicia and her family take refuge in a shelter. At bedtime Alicia hears grown-ups snoring and babies crying, wind howling and rain pounding. But even though she listens hard, she cannot hear the song of the coquíes. Are the little tree frogs safe? And what will Alicia and her family find at home when the storm is over?

Alicia and the Hurricane is a tender look at the resilience of people, and native creatures, whose lives have been disrupted by a natural disaster. With love and support, family and friends come together to share, rebuild, and fill Alicia's heart with hope. Ko-kee, ko-kee!

Después de acurrucarse en la cama cada noche, Alicia escucha las formidables voces de los diminutos coquíes que viven en todo Puerto Rico y le cantan para que se duerma. Co-quí, co-quí cantan las ranitas. Co-quí, coquí.

Un día un terrible huracán viene a Puerto Rico y Alicia y su familia se cobijan en un refugio. A la hora de dormir, Alicia oye los ronquidos de los adultos y el llanto de los bebés, el aullido del viento y el golpetear de la lluvia. Pero a pesar de que escucha con atención, no puede oír el canto de los coquíes. ¿Estarán a salvo las ranitas? ¿Con qué se encontrarán Alicia y su familia cuando la tormenta haya terminado?

Alicia y el huracán es una mirada sensible a la tenacidad de la gente y otras criaturas de la naturaleza cuyas vidas son afectadas por un desastre natural. Con amor y apoyo, las familias y los amigos se reúnen para compartir, reconstruir y llenar el corazón de Alicia de esperanza. ¡Co-quí, coquí!

Just To See by Morgane de Cadier, illustrated by Florian Pigé (Blue Dot Kids Press 5/3/2022) - A whimsical look at what a girl discovers when she climbs up and through a deer's antlers - which have grown taller than the forest. Told almost entirely in speech bubbles, with muted colored-pencil illustrations, and a wry sense of comedic humor, it's a celebration of remaining curious, imaginative, and brave. About the amazing things we can find if we head somewhere (new or familiar)...just to see.

Synopsis: Fans of Peter Brown and Jon Klassen will cherish this inspiring story about exploration, curiosity and an unexpected discovery.

There are wonders all around us ... Why not go see what you can find?

Every day, perched high up in her tree house, a girl surveys the distant forest through her binoculars. She knows every plant and animal.

But look! A strange new tree appears, towering above all the others. Where did it come from? Is it really a tree?

Intrigued, the girl sets off to take a closer look. Just to see…

Whimsical illustrations bring humor to an inspirational story about staying curious, finding wonder in nature, and seeing the familiar in new and unexpected ways.

Growing an Artist: The Story of a Landscaper and His Son by John Parra (Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books 5/10/2022) - In this stunning autobiographical picture book, John Parra explores both good and bad discoveries he made the first time he helped his father, a landscape contractor, at work. In addition to having a masterful touch with plants, his father's encouragement of his sketches and letting him help create a landscape design grew an artist determined to "tell the stories of hardworking, passionate people who make the world more beautiful." It's a beautiful and poignant book.

Synopsis: From award-winning artist John Parra comes a touching and deceptively simple picture book based on his childhood experience about the bond between a father and son, hard work, and the links between nature, art, and creativity.

Today is a big day—the first time Juanito gets to help his papi on the job as a landscape architect! Throughout the day, Juanito sketches anything that catches his eye: a nest full of baby birds, a nursery with row upon row of plants and flowers, and more. Father and son travel from house to house, pruning, weeding, mowing, and turning overgrown and chaotic yards into beautiful spaces.

A few of the clients don’t appreciate Papi’s hard work, like Juanito’s classmate who pretends not to see him. But Papi always feels pride in owning his own business and in a job well done. And at the end of the day, Juanito may get the chance to turn his artistic eye toward landscape design—just like his papi.

A Mouthful of Minnows by John Hare (Harper Collins 5/10/2022) - Who knew alligator snapping turtles have a tongue resembling a worm? This delightfully illustrated informational fiction introduces the adorable, snapping turtle Alphonso. While he has the patience of any true angler, Alphonso's enthusiasm grows as one minnow exponentially multiples as it returns with an increasing number of friends. Until he's forced to choose between his best mouthful ever or someone's best birthday ever. Stunning underwater scenes, the cutest blue lobster 'sidekick', and the exciting, surprise ending make this a fishing tale to tell again and again. There's also a great final spread with information on alligator snapping turtles.

Synopsis: A fishing story like no other!

Alphonso the alligator snapping turtle can’t wait for breakfast. But what if his breakfast is too likable and friendly to eat? A Mouthful of Minnows is a humorous picture book about patience, generosity, friendship, and empathy (as well as the awesome mysteries of nature!) that will lure in fans of Ryan T. Higgins’s We Don’t Eat Our Classmates and Peter Brown’s You Will Be My Friend!

At the bottom of the pond, Alphonso the snapping turtle opens his mouth wide, wiggles his worm-like tongue, and waits patiently for breakfast. He barely notices a measly minnow, but he’s thrilled when the entire school shows up. Alphonso’s perseverance has paid off! But when a whole family of minnows arrives to celebrate together, Alphonso’s true character emerges, and he has second thoughts about the breakfast he’s been waiting for.

Acclaimed author-artist John Hare’s artwork is textured, playful, educational, and energetic, bringing the depths of the underwater setting to life. A Mouthful of Minnows is a surprising and heartwarming picture book that is a great choice for story time and bedtime.


Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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