Hello! I’m thrilled to be a new contributor here on Picture Book Builders, a blog I’ve admired for a long time. A little about me: I write both fiction and nonfiction picture books, as well as middle grade novels. I’m a science geek who used to be an environmental consultant, helping to clean up hazardous waste sites. Now I write full-time, mostly about culture, identity, and food. Especially food. My most recent PB, WATERCRESS, came out in March 2021 and is a semi-autobiographical story about a Chinese American girl whose immigrant parents make her pick watercress by the side of the road.
To celebrate Pride Month, I’m excited to feature WERE I NOT A GIRL: THE INSPIRING AND TRUE STORY OF DR. JAMES BARRY, written by Lisa Robinson and illustrated by Lauren Simkin Berke.
Anne Schwartz, v-p and publisher, Anne Schwartz Books
Madame Saqui: Revolutionary Rope Dancer by Lisa Robinson, illustrated by Rebecca Green, is a glorious picture book about an exceptional woman who lived during the French Revolution, performing feats on a highwire for an audience that often included Napoleon. It is nonfiction at its best—a fascinating subject, dramatic setting, kid-friendly text, and exquisite illustrations. A perfect handsell for independent bookstores, as well as for classrooms, but it couldn’t reach its audience, alas. Poor Lisa Robinson was doubly unlucky; her second nonfiction picture book—Were I Not a Girl: The Inspiring and True Story of Dr. James Barry—was also published during Covid.
This video includes a brief read-aloud and a wirewalking demonstration.
MADAME SAQUI: REVOLUTIONARY ROPEDANCER tells the true tale of a woman during revolutionary era France who wirewalked over the Seine and between the towers of Notre Dame. As a result of her daring feats on the wire, she became a darling of Paris and of Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. She walked on the wire into her seventies . . . and she never fell.
Kirsten Cappy of Curious City has designed a wonderful event kit for those who’d like to host a book reading. Make a pirate spyglass that transforms into a space pirate rocket ship! She’ll be giving away 22 books to librarians and educator who enter the giveaway.
Where: Newtonville Books, 10 Langley Road, Newton MA
Story time read-aloud of PIRATES DON’T GO TO KINDERGARTEN and launch celebration. Book reading and a brief discussion of the book’s inspiration and journey. Kids can make a pirate flag and spyglass! Cookies for all.
Pippa conquers a fear of the creatures that emerge from her storybooks at night.
Pippa’s “wonderfully wild imagination” can sometimes run “a little TOO wild.” During the day, she wears her “armor” and is a force to be reckoned with. But in bed at night, Pippa worries about “villains and monsters and beasts.” Sharp-toothed and -taloned shadows, dragons, and pirates emerge from her storybooks like genies from a bottle, just to scare her. Pippa flees to her parents’ room only to be brought back time and again. Finally, Pippa decides that she “needs a plan” to “get rid of them once and for all.” She decides to slip a written invitation into every book, and that night, they all come out. She tries subduing them with a lasso, an eye patch, and a sombrero, but she is defeated. Next, she tries “sashes and sequins and bows,” throwing the fashion pieces on the monsters, who…“begin to pose and primp and preen.” After that success, their fashion show becomes a nightly ritual. Clever Pippa’s transformation from scared victim of her own imagination to leader of the monster pack feels fairly sudden, but it’s satisfying nonetheless. The cartoony illustrations effectively use dynamic strokes, shadow, and light to capture action on the page and the feeling of Pippa’s fears taking over her real space. Pippa and her parents are brown-skinned with curls of various textures.
A delicious triumph over fear of night creatures. (Picture book. 4-7)