Picture Book

2020 Indiana Early Literacy Firefly Award Videos and Voting

Just before the Library closed to help contain the spread of the coronavirus, librarian Amy Caswell prepared a display of this year's nominees for the Indiana Early Literacy Firefly Award. This state award encourages parents, caregivers, and young children to interact together with exceptional picture books––which serve an important role in the first years of a child's life.

Due to the crisis, the Indiana Center for the Book is opening up remote voting for this award. Children ages 0–5 who live in Indiana can experience the five nominated titles through the videos below, then parents can assist them in voting for their favorite!

Staff Picks: What Do You Do with a Voice Like That? by Chris Barton

Reviewed by Alejandria G. 

It’s impossible not to feel inspired while reading this gorgeous, well-written nonfiction picture book about the life of Texas congresswoman Barbara Jordan.

From a young age, Barbara Jordan had a remarkable voice. Her voice demanded attention and projected confidence beyond her years. As the author ponders, “What do you do with a voice like that?”. And so began the journey of Barbara Jordan from child to college student. From lawyer to Congresswoman. Jordan spent her career speaking up for those who had less power and protected the rights of those who were discriminated against. Chris Barton’s wonderful words remind us to honor Jordan’s legacy by making our own voices heard.

Ekua Holmes honors Barbara’s life with gorgeous mixed media illustrations. Bold colors and patterns fill the pages and add dimension to the story.

Staff Picks: Waiting for Winter

Reviewed by Aubrey D. 

What is wet, white, cold, and soft? Snow of course! For squirrel and his friends snow is a new adventure that they can't wait to experience. Meschenmoser's sketchy illustrations are charming and his characters are endearing, a great book for sharing one on one!

Find it in the Children's Picture Book Collection!

Home At Last

Reviewed by Lisa C.

November is Picture Book Month and National Adoption Awareness Month, with a special focus on the adoption of children currently in foster care.

Home At Last, a collaborative effort of notable authors and illustrators Vera B. Williams and Chris Raschka, portrays the nervousness of Lester, a young boy adjusting to his new home with Daddy Albert and Daddy Rich.

Picture Books: Extraordinary Art, Conveniently Portable

Picture books are often children's first exposure to art. As galleries of artists' work—all within the pages of books—they reflect the vast variety of art mediums we find in museums. Some artists create with real-world materials like paint and pencils; others make collage or etchings. Some even work in virtual media like computer graphics, and, of course, some use a combination of tools and methods.

When my children were younger, I would check out piles of picture books to read with them—and for the pleasure of viewing the artwork. And even though my children have moved beyond picture books, I still enjoy opening these miniature exhibitions, browsing through old favorites or finding new artists.

In honor of National Picture Book Month this November, I recommend these resources:

Who Run the World? Girls: Picture Book Biographies on Noteworthy Women

Nobody Likes a Goblin by Ben Hatke

Nobody Likes a Goblin by Ben Hatke is a funny fantasy story that flips the classic hero dynamic on its head. Hatke tells the story of a goblin in a dungeon who enjoys a pleasant life counting treasure and spending time with the Skeleton King, when a band of ‘heroes’ barge into the dungeon, pillage his treasure and take his friend. This event sparks the goblin’s odyssey as he leaves the comfort of his dungeon to search for his friend, braving danger and fleeing pitchfork wielding farmers at every step. Eventually, the goblin ends up in a cave far from home, where he finds out that there are in fact, people who like goblins and want to help him on his quest.

The Big Bad Bubble by Adam Rubin

Everyone knows that monsters are scary, but what scares a monster? Bubbles that’s what! Rubin’s picture book humorously depicts monsters dealing with their own problems when the bubbles invade. One monster, after a bad bubble experience, is convinced all bubbles are scary and out to get all monsters. This monster creates a panic in the monster world, which will be unendingly funny to young readers, as these big monsters run, hide, cower, and otherwise embarrass themselves trying to flee the bubbles. Eventually, the monsters are able to gather their courage and learn that the bubbles are not as scary as they once thought, and in fact, can be fun.

The Journey by Francesca Sanna

The Journey by Francesca Sanna is the culmination of interviews the author collected at a refugee camp and is their combined story. This beautifully illustrated book tells the tale of one family as they are forced to flee their home and travel through forests, wade rivers, clamber over walls, and sail across the sea to find a safe place to live. The illustrations are surreal and mysterious, balancing the reader between both the real and the fantastic. While the illustrations are breathtakingly beautiful, the content is scary, inspiring, heartbreaking, and remains precipitously balanced between hope and fear. Pairing the two in this manner allows Sanna to delve into a difficult topic, without becoming too dark for the young readers it is meant to reach. Overall, Sanna offers no answers, she has merely opened a door, and leaves the floor open for conversation and imagination.

Ask Me: Bonding with Books and Stories

"Truly listening to someone reminds them that their lives matter; and reminds us all of what matters most."

The statement above is included in a short video produced by StoryCorps and Google encouraging people to take part in StoryCorps' "Great Thanksgiving Listen." The StoryCorps organization aims "to provide people of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share and preserve the stories of our lives." This Thanksgiving, Storycorps encourages high school students, especially, to interview grandparents, or another older friend or relative, and use the StoryCorps app to record and share the interview. But you don't have to be in high school to take part. And taking time to talk with and truly listen to the stories our friends and relatives have to tell is a gift we can give each other at any time.

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