A rundown of some standout picture books I’ve had the great pleasure of recently reading!
Let’s start with author, illustrator and puppeteer Cindy Derby‘s notable debut, How to Walk an Ant, a step-by-step-with-detours-guide for, you guessed it, walking ants! Through this detailed instructional guide, readers learn that walking ants is…a messy, sometimes frustrating, sometimes…um, fatal (for the ants) undertaking. But it is an undertaking that may lead you, the walker of ants, to something even more surprising and welcome. With its all-out peculiarity and scribble/sketched art style- along the lines of Quentin Blake, Matthew Cordell- mixed in with the punchy humour of Judith Viorst or Jory John- this is a delightfully weird treat. Bonus: With the caveat that I have not seen the final printed edition, there are also Appendices (an important one regarding ant funerals and ant anatomy) as well as a Glossary.
Bunny rabbit Charlotte, who readers first met in the terrific tale Charlotte the Scientist is Squished, returns in author Camille Andros and illustrator Brianne Farley‘s delightful and bright Charlotte the Scientist Finds a Cure. When an icky illness spreads and makes almost everyone in the forest sick, Charlotte is determined to find the cause and cure. Even as grownups erroneously belittle Charlotte’s scientific work, she takes stock (as well as inspiration from her beloved Grandpa) and keeps working away until a second hypothesis looks to be the answer! Classes or storytimes with a STEM focus and/or looking for a fun, approachable and educational science-leaning story might especially want to investigate the Charlotte the Scientist books!
Dave Eggers, in collaboration with 826 National, and illustrator Lane Smith team up for the irrepressible, jovial and sweetly affecting rhyming story Tomorrow Most Likely, which takes readers on a look at the downright wonderful, unanticipated, and cool things that a tomorrow– and the world- may bring to you. You may, for example, smell the smell of a peculiar, unknown-to-you flower, compose the lyrics to a new song, or take a bite out of a cloud! (There is also, I would like to note, an earnest bug you may meet who is looking for someone named Stu). Readers familiar with Lane Smith’s artwork for iconic children’s books like The Stinky Cheese Man (written by Jon Scieszka) may especially relish some of the more out-there jaunts and dives that Tomorrow Most Likely takes!
Maria Dek, author-illustrator behind A Walk in the Forest, returns with When I Am Big, a wonderfully imaginative counting journey. From one to twenty-five, readers are taken on a marvelous counting journey (with an illustration corresponding to each number): from putting “6 spoonfuls of sugar in my coffee”, living “in a tree house with 13 windows that look out on a volcano, the North Pole, and the Moon”, to having “18 pet spiders”(!). When I Am Big is beautifully illustrated and unexpected read- one that may inspire readers to detail similar ideas of their own! Readers who like their picture books- and counting books!- on the side on whimsical and grand, or who enjoy authors and illustrators such as Sara O’Leary, Julie Morstad or Carson Ellis may especially adore this refreshing and unusual tale.
I received copies of these titles courtesy of Raincoast Books in exchange for honest reviews. All opinions and comments are my own. All titles have been published and are currently available.