My love affair with picture books began when I was four. A family friend had enrolled me in a program where I got a new Little Golden Book every month. I was so excited for those deliveries. As an only child living in a remote, rural area, those picture books began to expand my world and experience tremendously. I saw much more of the wider world that way than from television. So, for this piece, I wanted to salute some recent favorite picture books that in various ways, open new perspectives for our youngest readers.
Shannon Hitchcock’s SAVING GRANDADDY’S STORIES (Reycraft 2020) is the biography of Ray Hicks, an Appalachian storyteller who perpetuated the culture of oral history, and adapted traditional Irish stories to American Mountain culture. Sophie Page’s scrapbook-like illustrations add to the antique feel.
V IS FOR VOTING, written by Kate Farrell and illustrated by Caitlin Kuhwald (Holt 2020) is a charming, rhyming alphabet book which offers inspiring, fun ways to practice citizenship at any age. It provides a great sense that anyone, at any age, can begin to participate in our democracy and make a difference.
SELENA, QUEEN OF TEJANO MUSIC by Sylvia Lopez, illustrated by Paola Escobar (Little Bee 2020) puts a Tex-Mex spin on biographies of performers. Selena Quintanilla’s rise from child performer in a family band to sparkly superstar strikes a great balance between showing the hard work and sacrifice but also saying a true star knows herself and must stand up for her vision.
LILLYBELLE A DAMSEL NOT IN DISTRESS, written by Joana Pastro and illustrated by Jhon Ortiz (Boyds Mills Press 2020) presents us with LillyBelle, a damsel in training who struggles with rules that just don’t fit who she is. A simple but powerful message of politely refusing to let others define us.
COUNTING THE DAYS, written and illustrated by Janeen Mason (Florida Department of Cultural Affairs, 2019) is the touching story of a father-daughter team waiting for Mom to return from military service. Lots of great techniques for surviving hard times are offered, but there is also space made for just feeling the feelings and knowing they are okay. The happy ending reminds us also that bad times are not forever and there is always hope.
Joyce is giving away one copy of Plotting Your Novel with the Plot Clock by Joyce Sweeney, Jamie Morris, and Tia Levings to one lucky winner! To be eligible for prizes throughout the challenge, you must be registered by March 1, comment on each post, consistently read mentor texts, and enter the Rafflecopter drawing at the conclusion of ReFoReMo.
Joyce Sweeney has worn a lot of hats. She is the author of fourteen novels for young adults, and two chapbooks of poetry. She created and managed a local theater company in South Florida for ten years, mentoring local playwrights, producing and directing their plays. For the past twenty-five years, she has taught creative writing, both in person and online, and has mentored over sixty of her students to traditional publishing contracts. She has edited countless manuscripts and will be the quintessential ‘editorial agent’. Most of all, she is a champion for writers and her newest role as an agent at The Seymour Agency is a great chance to take that to a higher level. You can read more about Joyce’s wish list at http://www.theseymouragency.com and her novels at http://www.joycesweeney.com.