Grief isn’t an easy thing, nor is it something that provides easy answers. Stian Hole’s Anna’s Heaven, an introspective picture book aimed at older children and originally published in Norway, isn’t afraid to ask the big questions.
Size matters. Or does it? And aren’t things like “big” and “small” relative concepts anyway? You bet they are, as husband-and-wife author-illustrator team Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant make clear in their debut children’s book, the spare and thought-provoking You Are (Not) Small.
There are lots of picture books about children who worry, ones that try in various ways to reassure children that everything, in the end, will be OK. But I can promise you that you haven’t seen one quite like Anthony Browne’s What If . . . ?
“Once there was a library that opened only at night.” Thus begins Kazuno Kohara’s endearing story of one devoted librarian who gets the job done—and gets it done right.
Don’t get too attached to the protagonist in Pardon Me! He pays the ultimate price for his bad behavior in this be-good-or-else cautionary tale from Daniel Miyares, his debut picture book as both author and illustrator.
I feel confident that many of us will look back on 2014, once it’s all said and done, and acknowledge that Peter Sís plus Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was one of the best possible pairings. In The Pilot and the Little Prince, Sís explores the writer and aviator’s life, from childhood to death, with engaging reverence and intricate, detailed illustrations for which he’s won multiple awards.
The co-creator of the best-selling Ladybug Girl series brings readers an entertaining tale of sibling camaraderie, starring three bears who live by the sea. Their story, a classic hero’s journey (home, adventure and home again), is one of excitement, danger, a little bit of mischief and lots of understated humor.
BookPage Children's Top Pick, May 2014
I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that Shaun Tan’s books are breathtaking—just consider his wordless graphic novel, The Arrival. But the effect is even more astounding when he puts words and images together, as he’s done in Rules of Summer. There is an underlying beauty to his work that transcends our everyday lives. His design sense is striking, and he pushes the boundaries of picture books in delightful ways.
Let’s hear it for the where-do-babies-come-from picture book of the 21st century, Sophie Blackall’s The Baby Tree! If any author-illustrator working today is going to address this topic—the one that makes parents squirm the most—I’m glad it’s Blackall. She does so with wit and honesty, never once talking down to children. And she executes it with her distinctive Chinese-ink and watercolor illustrations—and with good humor to boot.
In a book that manages to be both cosmic and grounded at the same time, author-illustrator Claire A. Nivola explores no less than the notion of one’s very soul. This isn’t a picture book that addresses merely birth and death. It’s a story that suggests that we are beings who originate from stars; we enter a “river of time” on Earth; and we return to the “elders” at the star homes from which we came.