The Cover Wars

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A girl grieves the loss of her dog in an achingly beautiful wordless epic from the Caldecott Honor–winning creator of Journey.

This year’s summer vacation will be very different for a young girl and her family without Sascha, the beloved family dog, along for the ride. But a wistful walk along the beach to gather cool, polished stones becomes a brilliant turning point in the girl’s grief. There, at the edge of a vast ocean beneath an infinite sky, she uncovers, alongside the reader, a profound and joyous truth. In his first picture book following the conclusion of his best-selling Journey trilogy, Aaron Becker achieves a tremendous feat, connecting the private, personal loss of one child to a cycle spanning millennia — and delivering a stunningly layered tale that demands to be pored over again and again.

Jane: I LOVE wordless picture books, and I love Aaron Becker, so I’m really excited about this one, even though the subject matter just sounds so heartbreaking. This really sounds like a picture book that could appeal to teens and adults as well, if not more so, than kids.

Yash: Yes! A wordless picture book about loss! Erm, I mean, sad, BUT SUPER USEFUL! And, as Jane said, useful for a variety of readers. Also, hang on, I just registered that this is by the artist who made the Journey trilogy. Yep, the art’s gonna be amazing. I want to read this ASAP, even if it makes me cry.

Janet: The cover is beautiful! The back copy sounds more like what would go in a trade magazine, but then, the children who would read this book (or who would have this book read to them) won’t exactly be looking at the blurb. I’d read this, definitely.

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A mom goes to great lengths to rescue her son’s favorite doll in this delightful tribute to treasured toys—and mothers.

Teddy has a lot of cool toys. But his very favorite doll has the best manners, the sickest fighting skills, and a fierce sense of style.

Then one morning, something truly awful happens. And there’s only one woman fierce enough to save the day. Can Teddy’s mom reunite Teddy with his favorite toy?

Jane: This cover is just so sweet! I love how proud Teddy is of his favourite toy. I also really like the fact that the main drama of the story seems to be his mother’s efforts to get the doll back, and the fact that Teddy’s favourite toy is a doll seems to be a non-issue.

Yash: Aw, Teddy! And his mother is the best kind of parent. I’m not sure how interested kids are going to be about this one, but I would like all parents to read this. I would like me to read this too, even if I don’t ever want kids. Plus, the cover illustration is just so charming.

Janet: Ah ha ha, that description of the toy is fabulous. I like the illustration style, particularly Teddy’s expression, and the back is endearing. Jane, was your purpose in this Cover Wars to add more picturebooks to our tbr lists? Because it’s working.

They Say Blue

Caldecott and Printz Honor-winning illustrator Jillian Tamaki brings us a poetic exploration of colour and nature from a young child’s point of view. They Say Blue follows a young girl as she contemplates colours in the known and the unknown, in the immediate world and the world beyond what she can see. The sea looks blue, yet water cupped in her hands is as clear as glass. Is a blue whale blue? She doesn’t know — she hasn’t seen one.

Stunningly beautiful illustrations flow from one spread to the next, as time passes and the imagination takes hold. The world is full of colour, and mystery too, in this first picture book from a highly acclaimed artist.

Yash: I’ve already read and loved this gem from Jillian Tamaki. Highly recommended.

Janet: The cover art is sweeping, flowing; the back copy matches it with a clear, curious voice. Looking forward to reading this one.

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Back in the days of long skirts and afternoon teas, young Joan Procter entertained the most unusual party guests: slithery and scaly ones, who turned over teacups and crawled past the crumpets…. While other girls played with dolls, Joan preferred the company of reptiles. She carried her favorite lizard with her everywhere–she even brought a crocodile to school!

When Joan grew older, she became the Curator of Reptiles at the British Museum. She went on to design the Reptile House at the London Zoo, including a home for the rumored-to-be-vicious komodo dragons. There, just like when she was a little girl, Joan hosted children’s tea parties–with her komodo dragon as the guest of honor.

With a lively text and vibrant illustrations, scientist and writer Patricia Valdez and illustrator Felicita Sala bring to life Joan Procter’s inspiring story of passion and determination.

Jane: Dragon doctor! Oh my goodness, what kid wouldn’t want to grow up to be a dragon doctor?! Joan sounds like such a fascinating person, a real role model, and just an all-around cool lady!

Yash: I am terrified and intrigued and so utterly charmed because just look at that title and cover art and composition. This is a picturebook I know was made with kids in mind first and then the parents–which is how it should be.

Janet: Based on the title alone, I would read this. The cover art, back copy, and fact that this is based on a real woman are icing (extremely delicious icing) on the brownie. If this book is even half as good as it looks, I hope for more from this team.

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I couldn’t play on the same playground as the white kids. 
I couldn’t go to their schools.  
I couldn’t drink from their water fountains.  
There were so many things I couldn’t do.

In 1963 Birmingham, Alabama, thousands of African American children volunteered to march for their civil rights after hearing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speak. They protested the laws that kept black people separate from white people. Facing fear, hate, and danger, these children used their voices to change the world.

Jane: There are a lot of books about civil rights leaders or advocates for justice, but most of them feature adults. This book is so exciting because it’s all about children stepping up and making a difference. It’s a great reminder that no one is too young or too small to do something to make a change, even in a small way. ALSO this is by the illustrator of I Got the Rhythm, and I really love that picture book – oh, and Little Melba and Her Big Trombone! So,

Yash: My measure for how good the illustrations are when there’s more than one brown kid on the cover–a rarity in itself–can you tell undertones? If yes, the illustrations are perfection. This here is perfection. A true mirror. Even if I didn’t read the title and have an inkling of how important the book is, I’d pick it up, read it, and gift it.

Janet: Yash and Jane have said it all. This looks fabulous, and I’m so glad it exists.