Tag Archives: Arts

Hans Christian Andersen: The Journey Of His Life

Through a magical conversation with a young girl in a horse-drawn carriage, Hans Christian Andersen tells his life story. “The most wonderful fairytale is life itself.” He was a cobbler’s son who left his town in Denmark, with thirteen coins in his pocket, to go to Copenhagen to seek his fortune. He wanted to be an actor or a dancer, but things did not work out for him. What he really enjoyed was writing. A sheet of paper became his stage. He wrote poems, stories, fairytales, and plays. He traveled around the country meeting people who loved the theatre – people like himself. Hans goes on to tell the girl some of his stories, such as The Flying Trunk, Thumbelina, The Princess and the Pea, The Ugly Duckling, Clumsy Hans, The Emperor’s New Clothes, and The Snow Queen. The sumptuous illustrations use graphic novel elements to tell the story. In the illustrations, there are references to well-known authors of children’s books and some famous children’s book characters, like The Little Prince, Pinocchio, and more. An author’s note tells more about Hans Christian Andersen’s life. mjw
Title: Hans Christian Andersen: The Journey Of His Life
Author: Heinz Janisch
Illustrator
: Maja Kastelic
Publisher
: NorthSouth Books, Inc., New York
Copyright
: 2020
Original Language
: German
Translator
: David Henry Wilson
Original Title
: Hans Christian Andersen: Die Reise seines Lebens
Original Publisher
: NordSud Verlag AG> Zurich, Switzerland
Original Copyright
: 2020
ISBN
: 978-0-7358-4388-2
Hardcover pages
: 56
Age range
: 4-8
Genre
: Picture Book Biography
Book setting
: Denmark
Author’s ethnicity
: Austrian
Author’s residence
: Vienna
Illustrator’s ethnicity
: Born in Slovenia
Awards
: White Ravens Award – Illustrator
Subjects
: Biography, Denmark, European history, Fairytales, Literary biography

The Pencil

Based on the author’s childhood memories of growing up in an iglu, this story is about being responsible for belongings and community.  Susan, her sister Rebecca, and brother Peter are home with their father in their iglu. Mother has gone to help a neighbor.  The children get tired of playing games. Father brings out a pencil from the box where they keep special things. All of the children begin drawing and drawing until they start to worry about what Mother will say when she gets home. They are supposed to use things wisely. Mother just reminds them that they shouldn’t waste things because they are hard to get. They only have one pencil. But she is glad that drawing brought them such joy. The illustrations have a sketch-like quality and are done in pencil. mjw
Title: The Pencil
Author: Susan Avingaq and Maren Vsetula
Illustrator
: Charlene Chua
Publisher
: Inhabit Media Inc. Iqaluit, Nunavut
Copyright
: 2018
Original Language
: English
ISBN
: 978-1-77227-216-1
Hardcover pages
: 36
Age range
: 5-7
Genre
: Picture Book
Book setting
: Nunavut, Canada
Author’s ethnicity
: Avinngaq born in Nunavut
Author’s residence
: Both authors – Nunavut
Illustrator’s ethnicity
: Canadian
Illustrator’s residence
: Hamilton, Ontario
Subjects
: Canada, Community, Drawing, Iglu, Inaktitut, Polar regions, Thrift, Writing

P Is For Poppadoms: An Indian Alphabet Book

This simple alphabet book introduces some Hindi words in an engaging manner.  Young readers will learn about the rich culture, delicious foods, and interesting animals of India.  The book begins with A is for Aam – mango and ends with Z is for Zaban – language.  More familiar words are also included.   C is for chai and Y is for yoga.  Whimsical digitally rendered illustrations enrich the text.  An author’s note provides background on the Hindi language. There is also a page showing how to write the Hindi words. mjw
Title: P Is For Poppadoms: An Indian Alphabet Book
Author: Kabir Sehgal and Surishtha Sehgal
Illustrator
: Hazel Ito
Publisher
: Beach Lane Books.  New York
Copyright
: 2019
Original Language
: English
ISBN
: 978-1-534421721
Hardcover pages
: 32
Age range
: 3-8
Genre
: Picture Book
Book setting
: India
Author’s ethnicity
: Indian
Author’s residence
: Kabir – New York,  Surishthna -Atlanta
Illustrator’s ethnicity
: Scottish born
Illustrator’s residence
: Hawaii
Subjects
: Alphabet, India, Poetry

My Long List Of Impossible Things

Sixteen-year-old Katja, her eighteen-year-old sister Hilde, and their mother are forced out of their house in Germany when Soviet troops take over their village after WW II. German society has collapsed and there is much hardship and violence.  Their mother is killed and the two girls make a long and dangerous journey to another town on their own.  The story is told from the point of view of Katja and the German teenage post war perspective and is rarely examined in young adult fiction.  Katja questions so much about her country, but manages to make a new life for herself.  One thing that saves Katja is her love of the piano.  Interesting facts about famous composers are sprinkled throughout this brilliant novel. mjw
Title: My Long List Of Impossible Things
Author: Michelle Barker
Publisher
: Annick Press. Toronto
Copyright
: 2020
Original Language
: English
ISBN
: 978-77321-364-4
Paperback pages
: 360
Age range
: 9 up
Genre
: Historical Fiction
Book setting
: Germany
Author’s ethnicity
: Canadian
Author’s residence
: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Subjects
: Music, Musicians, Nazism, Piano, Soviet occupation, Violence, World War II

Brave With Beauty: A Story Of Afghanistan

This beautiful book is the extraordinary story of Queen Goharshad, a 15thcentury monarch. She was an Afghani woman who was the wife of Sha Rikh.  Together they ruled over the empire of Khorasan that stretched from Turkey to China. Goharshad loved all things of beauty, including art, poetry, music, architecture, calligraphy, and the sciences. She “didn’t care a fig for war.” She was a strong woman whose mission was to bring beauty into the world. Goharshad was instrumental in the construction of a mosque, a university, and a library.  The book is filled with elaborate period illustrations and poems.  There is a guide with pronunciations of some of the words used in the story, an author’s note, and a guide for parents and educators.  A downloadable Activity Guide is included on the Yali Books website. mjw
Title: Brave With Beauty: A Story Of Afghanistan
Author: Maxine Rose Schur
Illustrator
: Patricia Grush, Robin Dewitt, Golsa Yaghoobi
Publisher
: Yali Books. New York
Copyright
: 2019
Original Language
: English
ISBN
: 978-1-949528-97-8
Hardcover pages
: 42
Age range
: 7-9
Genre
: Picture Book, Historical Fiction, Biography
Book setting
: Afghanistan
Author’s ethnicity
: U.S.
Author’s residence
: U.S.
Illustrator’s ethnicity
: U.S.
Illustrator’s residence
: U.S.
Subjects
: Architecture, Beauty, Biographies, History, Queens, Royalty

Patience, Miyuki

A young Japanese girl Miyuki anxiously awaits spring with her grandfather.  One sleepy flower doesn’t bloom and Miyuki goes in search of the finest water to awaken the precious and delicate flower.  Her grandfather suggests that she just sit in the sunshine with him and watch and wait.  The magical illustrations with bold origami floral patterns are rendered in watercolor and colored pencils.  They invite children to pay attention to the natural world. mjw
Title: Patience, Miyuki
Author: Roxane Marie Galliez
Illustrator
: Seng Sound Ratanavanh
Publisher
: Princeton Architectural Press. New York
Copyright
: 2019
Original Language
: French
Original Title
: Attends Miyuki
Original Publisher
: De La Martiniere Jeunesse. Paris
Original Copyright
: 2016
ISBN
: 978-1-61689-843-4
Hardcover pages
: 28
Age range
: 5-8
Genre
: Picture Book
Book setting
: Japan
Author’s ethnicity
: French
Author’s residence
: Saint-Etienne, France
Illustrator’s ethnicity
: French
Illustrator’s residence
: Paris, France
Subjects
: Flowers, Gardens, Grandfathers, Kindness, Patience, Spring, Water

Captain Rosalie

Five-year-old Rosalie lives with her mother in a French village during World War I.  Her father is away at the front.  She keeps a secret notebook and is on a mission. She is Captain Rosalie, spying on the enemy.  Her mother reads aloud Father’s letters and they all look forward to the war’s end and Father’s return home.  One day, a letter arrives that Rosalie’s mother does not read.  Watercolor, pen, and ink illustrations in muted grays with soft spots of orange, pink, and blue contribute to this quiet, emotional story of hope and courage. mjw
Title: Captain Rosalie
Author: Timothee De Fombelle
Illustrator
: Isabelle Arsenault
Publisher
: Candlewick Press
Copyright
: 2019
Original Language
: French
Translator
: Sam Gordon
Original Publisher
: Walker Books Ltd.
Original Copyright
: 2014
ISBN
: 978-1-5362-0520-6
Hardcover pages
: 64 
Age range
: 8-12
Genre
: Historical Fiction, Novella
Book setting
: France
Author’s ethnicity
: French
Author’s residence
: Paris, France
Illustrator’s ethnicity
: Canadian
Illustrator’s residence
: Quebec
Subjects
: Fathers and daughters, Letters, Loss, Military fiction, Reading, School issues, World War I

The Good Son: A Story From The First World War Told In Miniature

It’s Christmas time 1914, and a French soldier named Pierre leaves his regiment to visit his family. When he returns, he is imprisoned and faces execution for desertion.  Did he leave without permission?  Did he return late?  Part of the story is told in a letter he writes to his mother.  This is a heartbreaking and sad story of a terrible war. It is based on true events and is played out in photographs of miniature scenes.  A map of the Western front and an author’s note are included.  The author explains his connection to the story and his interest in “little soldiers” and photography.  The illustrators’ process is similar to that used in filmmaking, but in miniature.  Fascinating pictures illustrate the process.  This book is a piece of art. mjw
Title: The Good Son: A Story From the First World War Told In Miniature
Author: Pierre-Jacques Ober
Illustrator
: Jules Ober and Felicity Coonan
Publisher
: Candlewick Studio
Copyright
: 2019
Original Language
: English
ISBN
: 978-1-5362-0482-7
Hardcover pages
: 104
Age range
: 14 up
Genre
: Picture Book, Nonfiction, Information Book
Book setting
: France
Author’s ethnicity
: French
Author’s residence
: Australia
Illustrator’s ethnicity
: Australian
Illustrator’s residence
: Australia
Subjects
: Campaigns, Desertions, France, Military, Miniatures, Soldiers, Storytelling, Violence, Western front

Pokko And The Drum

The biggest mistake Pokko’s parents ever made was giving her a drum.  They suggest that she take it out into the forest because it is too loud for a frog family that lives in a mushroom and doesn’t like drawing attention to themselves.  Pokko agrees. As she plays her drum, a raccoon playing a banjo starts following her.  And then a rabbit playing a trumpet starts following them.  A wolf joins in and soon there is a crowd of animals playing instruments.  Pokko’s father calls her to dinner, but she can’t hear him.  The band even takes Pokko’s family into the woods.  The amusing, lush illustrations were rendered in watercolor, gouache, and colored pencil. mjw
Title: Pokko And The Drum
Author: Matthew Forsythe
Illustrator
: Matthew Forsythe
Publisher
: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
Copyright
: 2019
Original Language
: English 
ISBN
: 978-1481-48039-0
Hardcover pages
: 64
Age range
: 4-8
Genre
: Picture Book
Author’s ethnicity
: Canadian
Author’s residence
: Montreal, Quebec. Canada
Illustrator’s ethnicity
: Canadian
Illustrator’s residence
: Montreal, Quebec. Canada
Subjects
: Community, Drums, Forest animals, Individuality, Musicians, Performing arts, Persistence

Planting Stories: The Life Of Librarian And Storyteller Pura Belpre

Pura Belpre came to America from Puerto Rico in 1921.  She carried her cuentos folkloricos with her and became the first Puerto Rican to work at the New York Public Library. She hosted storytelling and puppetry sessions and shared her native folklore with children.  She also published many of her stories.  The Pura Belpre Award, which is given by the American Library Association, and which recognizes outstanding children’s books depicting the Latino cultural experience in the United States, is named in her honor.  An author’s note, a selected bibliography, a list of articles and films, and stories by Pura Belpre mentioned in the book are included as back matter.  The delightful digitally produced illustrations complement the fascinating story of this extraordinary woman who championed bilingual literature. mjw
Title: Planting Stories: The Life Of Librarian And Storyteller Pura Belpre
Author: Anika Aldamuy Denise
Illustrator
: Paola Escobar
Publisher
: Harper Collins Children’s Books
Copyright
: 2019
Original Language
: English
ISBN
: 978-0-06-274868-3
Hardcover pages
: 40
Age range
: 4-8
Genre
: Picture Book Biography
Book setting
: New York City
Author’s ethnicity
: Puerto Rican-Italian
Author’s residence
: Rhode Island, U.S.
Illustrator’s ethnicity
: Colombian
Illustrator’s residence
: Bogota, Colombia
Awards: 2020 ALA Pura Belpre Author Honor Book
Subjects
: Biographies, Folktales, Hispanic and Latino books, Libraries, Multicultural, Puppets, Stories

Leila In Saffron

Leila is a Pakistani-American girl visiting her naani (her maternal grandmother) for dinner.  She has low self-esteem until her naani tells her that the saffron color of her scarf suits her. Leila describes her evening using all of her senses and sees herself as a beautiful girl with a unique identity.  Detailed, colorful gouache illustrations show the colors of lentils, pomegranates, cucumbers, and saffron.  A glossary of Arabic and Hindi words is included. mjw
Title: Leila In Saffron
Author: Rukhsanna Guidroz
Illustrator
: Dinara Mirtalipova
Publisher
: Salaam Reads, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division
Copyright
: 2019
Original Language
: English
ISBN
: 978-1-534425644
Hardcover pages
: 32
Age range
: 4-8
Genre
: Picture Book
Author’s ethnicity
: Persian-Indian and Chinese
Author’s residence
: Hawaii, U.S.
Illustrator’s ethnicity
: Born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan
Illustrator’s residence
: Ohio, U.S.
Subjects
: Family origins, Identity, Multigenerational, Muslim fiction, Pakistani-Americans, Self acceptance, Self-discovery

The Piano Recital

It’s Momo’s first piano recital and she is terribly nervous.  She keeps telling herself, “I’ll be okay…” She hears a small voice saying, “I’ll be okay…” She looks down and sees a mouseling who is nervous about her first performance. Momo follows the mouseling backstage to discover a fantastic mouse circus and a mouse audience. Momo agrees to accompany the mouseling on the piano, but when she takes her bow, she realizes it isn’t a mouse audience after all.  This wonderful story about childhood anxiety and challenges is illustrated with beautifully detailed pencil, charcoal, and gouache artwork.  A Spanish edition is also available. mjw
Title: The Piano Recital
Author: Akiko Miyakoshi
Illustrator
: Akiko Miyakoshi
Publisher
: Kids Can Press, Toronto, Canada
Copyright
: 2019
Original Language
: Japanese:
Original Title
: Piano Happyoukai
Original Publisher
: Bronze Publishing, Inc Tokyo
Original Copyright
: 2012
ISBN
: 978-1-5253-0257-2
Hardcover pages
: 32
Age range
: 3-7
Genre
: Picture Book
Author’s ethnicity
: Japanese
Author’s residence
: Japan
Illustrator’s ethnicity
: Japanese
Illustrator’s residence
: Japan
Awards
: New York Public Library best illustrated Children’s Book Award and the Nissan Children’s Storybook and Picture Book Grand Prix
Subjects
: Anxiety, Challenges, Character education. Courage, Imagination, Mice, Performing arts, Piano recital