Every book has a story to tell, but there’s also a story behind every book—one that reveals how it came to be published. In the case of Richard Blanco’s One Today, the journey from inaugural poem to children’s picture book includes an attentive aunt, an editor with a long memory and a best-selling author-illustrator with a softer side.
There’s no topping the sense of excitement that comes with the countdown to Christmas. And there’s no better way to celebrate the season than snuggling up with a holiday story. Surprise the little reader in your life with one of the delightful books featured below, and let the countdown begin!
Take a fresh look at some age-old classics, or stash away some ideas for family fun. It’s a bumper year for children’s gift books, and the stars of this year’s crop include something new for Harry Potter fans, a Star Wars extravaganza and an ingenious offering from David Macaulay for budding engineers.
In the opening author’s note of The Only Child, Guojing briefly discusses how her experiences as a child growing up under China's one-child policy in the 1980s formed her story. As a young girl and only child, she was often left alone when her parents had to work. At the age of 6, her father put her on a bus to her grandmother’s, but she fell asleep and woke to unfamiliar surroundings. From that memory grew this story, a hybrid graphic-novel/picture book tale more than 100 pages long.
Some years I approach the new crop of Hanukkah picture books with trepidation: What new stories could possibly be told about the Jewish Festival of Lights, an ancient holiday that’s become a staple of December festivities? Happily, though, this year’s Hanukkah books include three titles that reimagine the genre in ways that are rich, fresh and delicious.
James Proimos, author-illustrator of Waddle! Waddle!, takes us into a day in the life of a jaunty little penguin, who only yesterday made a new best friend who happened to be a spectacular dancer. But as bad luck would have it, our little penguin quickly lost his friend and has shed a number of tears.
Bruce the bear leads a quiet, orderly life. He is particular about his food (organic), his friends (none), and is a determined grouch. That is, until his dinner plans go way off quack—I mean, track. After a slight cooking mishap, Bruce’s dinner eggs become noisy goslings. Bruce tries to return the goslings to their nest, but his unfortunate dinner episode follows him home. There is little that Bruce can do to reclaim his comfortable existence. Like a goose to open water, Bruce’s new babies are sticking around.
“All begins cheerily” for some busy children whose daily experiences continually loop back to those three letters at the beginning of the alphabet. Awake Beautiful Child’s longest sentences are a mere three words, yet the book offers plenty to consider and enjoy.