Updated: Aug 24, 2021
Ghosts are supposed to be sheets, light as air and able to whirl and twirl and float and soar. But the little ghost who is a quilt can't whirl or twirl at all, and he feels sad and left out when he can't keep up with his friends. But then one day, everything changes...
The Little Ghost Who Was a Quilt
Written by Riel Nason
Illustrated by Byron Eggenschwiler
Publisher: Tundra Books (September 1, 2020)
The Little Ghost Who Was a Quilt handles identity and self-discovery so well. Can you recommend any other books that explore a similar theme?
RN: "I'd recommend Where Oliver Fits by Cale Atkinson and the first Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt. Oliver is a puzzle piece and Atkinson thinks of absolutely every angle as far as Oliver figuring out where he should fit. (It goes well beyond just assessing his basic shape. It is all so well done, and I kept thinking, yes, perfect, that is so clever!) As far as Scaredy Squirrel, sure, maybe I lean towards loving picture books with squirrels, but there is a page flip in the book when Scaredy FINALLY does something and has a wonderful discovery about himself. It is so cute and fun and the whole book is hilarious too."
What was your favorite book as a child? "Miss Suzy by Miriam Young and illustrated by Arnold Lobel. It's about a squirrel who gets chased from her tree-top home, finds safety in an old dollhouse in an attic (where she meets some brave toy soldiers) and then more or less, the power of kindness leads to a happy ending. I loved it. The only thing I loved more than the story was of course the illustrations and imagining actually being Miss Suzy in her tiny oak tree home or the dollhouse."
Do you have a favorite bedtime story? "My children are teenagers now so there are no more bedtime stories at my house, but I do have a book choice to mention as a favorite bedtime read: The Circus Ship by Chris Van Dusen. It's a book that I've read countless times, too, for storytime when I volunteered at the elementary school library. The illustrations are stellar and there is a double-page spread in the book with animals hiding throughout the town that is amazing. It's a sweet rhyming story that can be read again and again."
Updated: Aug 24, 2021
A greyhound swears there's a turtle in the tree. A bulldog says it's a squirrel. Their argument leads to a most surprising discovery....
Max's Boat Pick: Turtle in a Tree
Written and illustrated by Neesha Hudson
Publisher: Dial Books (June 8, 2021)
What inspired you to write Turtle in a Tree? NH: "The idea for Turtle in a Tree came from my son who was about two and a half at the time. We were waiting in the car and he suddenly exclaimed, “There’s a turtle in that tree!” To which I responded, “A turtle in a tree?” He then said, “I’m sure.” The conversation, and his insistence, stuck with me and it grew into the idea of two dogs arguing over what they see in a tree. The first few pages of the book are that conversation almost word for word."
You handle perception so well in Turtle in a Tree. Are there other picture books you would recommend for how they handle perception or differing viewpoints? "The one that immediately jumps to mind may be a bit obvious: They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel. Each page turn shows what different humans and animals see when looking at a cat 'walking through the world.' The style and color palette are visually stunning and add a lot of depth to the repetitive phrase 'saw a cat.' I love when text and pictures work so strongly together.
I also thought of This Moose Belongs to Me by Oliver Jeffers. I like the character arc that takes place in this relatively short story. Wilfred thinks this moose belongs to him, only to be horrified to realize other people think the same thing! After an emotional fall (both literally and figuratively) he realizes that maybe the moose doesn’t actually BELONG to anyone. After this realization his relationship with the moose is all the stronger."
There was a certain point (I won't give it away!) when I literally laughed out loud while reading your book. What are some of your favorite laugh-out-loud picture books?
"My first favorites were The True Story of the Three Little Pigs and The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith. Most of Oliver Jeffers's and Jon Klassen’s books make me laugh out loud, too. I Want My Hat Back is one of the most memorable. I still remember my first time reading it and exploding into laughter at the end. Snappsy the Alligator by Julie Falatko and Tim Miller is hilarious and I love the narrator perspective as well! Emma Yarlett creates really fun, bright, high quality books with plenty of silly humor. Bob Shea’s books, and Mike Boldt’s and Dev Petty’s and Ame Dyckman’s, too."
What's the picture book that inspired you to get into picture books? "I fell in love with picture books in college. Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers really helped inspire me to get on the path to getting my own book published. The illustration style was very new and different to me at the time. Coupled with a heartfelt story and a little humor… I was hooked. His books are still among my most influential."
What's the one picture book that gets the most love in your house? "A long lasting favorite is The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak. It hurts me a little as an illustrator that a book with no pictures is one of my kid’s favorite books but I can understand why. It always results in a theatrical read and a lot of giggles."
What's your all-time favorite classic picture book?
"Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak is an all-time favorite and one I go back to many times to study pacing and page layout."
Updated: Aug 24, 2021
The biggest mistake Pokko's parents ever made was giving her a drum. When Pokko takes her music to the quiet emerald forest, she's joined by a band of animals—first the raccoon, then the rabbit, then the wolf. Will Pokko hear her father’s voice when he calls her home?
Pokko and the Drum
Written and illustrated by Matthew Forsythe
Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books (October 1, 2019)
What inspired you to write Pokko and the Drum?
"The story is inspired by a few things: Alice Miller's psychological text, The Drama of the Gifted Child, and also of course my own experiences working as an artist. For me, I felt like working in a creative field is about going deep into your own experience and the world happening around you. Sometimes, they're good experiences, and other times, they're challenging."
What do you think the best picture books do? "I'm not sure but I do think my favorite books capture an ineffable feeling or moment, like in The Snowy Day by Ezra Keats or The Way Home in the Night by Akiko Miyakoshi. You are transported to a real and universal feeling that can only be shared through literature. I can't say my book ever does this but one can hope."
What would be on your list of 100 best picture books of all time?
"Le lion et l'oiseau by Marianne Dubuc - Friendship and the moments that build connections between us.
The Snowman by Raymond Briggs - Friendship and impermanence.
A Lion in Paris by Beatrice Allemagna - The exotic feeling of being in any new place."