Knock Knock


Recipient of the 2014 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award, Knock Knock: My Dad’s Dream for Me delivers both a visual and emotional punch. It begins with a simple game played between an adoring son and his father, but just a few pages in the boy experiences a great loss. His father disappears, but not in the magical way that parents frequently go absent in children’s literature thus allowing children the narrative freedom to go on great adventures. The father of the boy in this story is simply gone.

“Papa, come home, ’cause I miss you, miss you waking me in the mornings and telling me you love me. Papa, come come ’cause there are things I don’t know, and when I get older I thought you could teach me.”

The story is a sad one, but not uncommon. Knock Knock: My Dad’s Dream For Me is based on the author, who at three years old experienced his father being incarcerated. As an adult, Beaty an award-winning actor, singer, writer, and composer produced this version to “…tell the story of loss from a child’s perspective and also to offer hope that every fatherless child can still create the most beautiful life possible”.

Definitely check out the author performing the monologue that inspired the picture book.


The Jet Set (In my dreams)

So the dust is settling after the past two months spent packing, moving, and unpacking my house all the while juggling a three year old solo. Things are slowly moving back to normal although I admit there are a few boxes that may never get reopened. I’m pretty sure those are the things you are supposed to get rid of before you move, but hey earthly attachments what can you do?

Buying a house is a major drain on expenses I am learning but because it’s summer I’ve been doing a lot of fantasizing about taking my little one on a nice long vacation but realistically neither are going to happen this year. Seeing everyone’s beach shots on Instagram isn’t helping matters but it doesn’t mean we can’t explore new places in books.

Here are a few recommendations for vicarious picture book traveling.

Dodsworth in Tokyo by Tim Egan

“Dodsworth was a little nervous. Japan is a land of customs and manners and order. The duck wasn’t very good at those things.”

A mild mannered mole travels with his duck companion to Japan for sightseeing. To the surprise of Dodsworth, the duck manages to control himself (most of the time) but occasionally slips up in full public view. This beginning reader book is peppered with Japanese language and culture with characters that both parents and children can identify.



Flight 1-2-3 by Maria van Lieshout

Many first time air travelers are naturally a bit nervous about flying. Prepare for takeoff with this boldly graphic counting book that asks, “When taking a flight, what do you see?”


Kiki and Coco in Paris by Nina Gruener

A lucky girl and her doll go on a journey documented in large photographic illustrations to the City of Light. They visit palaces, museums, a Parisian salon, and chic cafés. It will make you dream of visiting there yourself.


india in picture books

Yesterday was the start of Diwali, so I went in search of some books set in India or by Indian authors to share at storytime and this is what I found.  I’ve become a big fan of Anushka Ravishankar’s books, mostly due to the detailed and colorful folk illustrations. The text although imaginative, is pretty flat (possibly something is lost through translation), but they are wonderous to look at.

One, Two, Tree


Excuse me, is this India?


What can you hide in, blow your nose on, make a hammock out of, and still look beautiful in? A Sari, as demonstrated by Sandhya Rao in My Mother’s Sari. And lastly, a Benjali trickster tale, The Ghost Catcher by Martha Hamilton. An altruistic barber encounters a couple of ghosts after his wife gives him an ultimatum.

wild thing, i think i love you

Maurice Sendak’s Seven Little Monsters came out in 1975, more than a decade after Where the Wild Things Are but I think the illustrations of the monsters have some of the same flavor. The span of time definitely allowed for his weird factor to get turned way up.

7 monsters7monsters2Ever just want to screw off your head?

Perhaps she’ll die

Just in time for Halloween! A fantastic new version of the ever maudlin, I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly is out and I need to get my fingers on it.


This one comes from Jeremy Holmes at Mutt Ink and appears to be one well designed and beautifully illustrated picture book.

Lots of kittens but not quite Koko

Times are hard, so has been finding cute new picture books. The library’s budget for ordering isn’t what it used to be, so we’ve been receiving fewer and fewer new titles. Not to fear! Regardless of the sinking economy, I have managed to track down a couple of books to make you say, “Awwww!”

First up is for the cat people. Written by Linda Newbery and illustrated by Catherine Rayner, Posy documents the deeds of a playful kitten. It’s short on plot but heavy on the illustrations. Will definitely make you squeal with delight,  “KITTENS!” Much like the little girl who stars in the video, “Kittens, Inspired by Kittens” which is totally off the subject but really funny. posy

Next up is a picture book that reeks of the amazing, Koko’s Kitten by Dr. Penny Patterson. If you’ve never read this to yourself, make it a priority to pick it up on your next trip to the library. If interspecies love gets your flies a flutterin, then you will go gaga over the TRUE story of a sign-language using gorilla who really, really, really wants a kitten. And when Koko finally coerces her handler to get one, it’s a sweet little tailless thing. I won’t tell you anymore about this emotional rollercoaster of a picture book so you can experience it with unopened eyes.

Now on to the book that shamelessly rips off Koko’s story, but that’s so endearing and well illustrated that I’m willing to overlook it. Anthony Browne starts his story, Little Beauty out much like Dr. Patterson’s telling, but gives it a silly little twist at the end.