Tag: kid lit

Picturebook Trio: A Night Gardener, a Gryphon, and a Whisper

Genres: Picturebooks

There are picturebooks…and then there are Picturebooks. I bring Three special titles to you today.

THE NIGHT GARDENER

This picturebook might be my favorite picturebook of 2016. THE NIGHT GARDENER is absolutely gorgeous in its design, word/image interaction, and limited but rich textual narrative. It is a gift waiting for the reader to open, and I would not be surprised to hear that others have had profound experiences with this story.

First, I noticed that the way the book opened was unique. Whereas in other stories there might be a buildup to a grand event, this narrative stepped into its beginning rather quickly—in fact, on the second page. At the same time, the build up begins with the extra-textual materials of the book, which I loved. The copyright page itself features an important double page spread.

In other words, the book designers don’t waste any space in advancing and illuminating the meaning of the narrative.

And there are multiple meanings one might take away from this gem of a book by the Fan Brothers.

For example, the Night Gardener is bringing a kind of reformation and revival of beauty to the small town in the book. But two characters are affected in the story—our protagonist, William, and then the town as a whole. First, William is awed by the work of the Night Gardener and eventually pursues and finds him, deciding to help him in his work. Then, William plays a role in continuing the important work of the Night Gardener within the town. The magic and beauty and wonder that the Night Gardener brings through his “transformations” and “works of art” begin to change everyone—in a lasting way. There is a lot more to say about this simple and yet profound story, but I’ll stop there.

IF I HAD A GRYPHON

This book is actually written by a friend of mine, Vikki Vansickle, whom I met in Toronto when she was a bookseller! What we both shared in common is that we had both completed an MA in Children’s Literature and we always had wonderful bookish chats when we met. I’m absolutely thrilled to say that If I Had a Gryphon is lovely, charming, and whimsically wonderful!

The rhyme and rhythm of the narrative pairs perfectly with the pictures, and there is much to see in these illustrations! Whimsical, bright, and vivid—these illustrations pop off the page and pull you into the dreamlife of our protagonist. The fact that the story is told in verse adds another enjoyable aspect to the book.

Read the words out loud and you’ll be captivated by their rhythm, humor, and ability to bring these mythical creatures to life on the page. Poetry for young people can sometimes be daunting and hard to understand, but the rhymes of this book remove any stress related to poetry and provide a fantastic experience with verse. Sometimes a poetry book might have stellar illustrations but mediocre text, or wonderful text, but pictures that are not as strong as they might be. If I Had a Gryphon receives gold stars on both fronts!

THE WHISPER

The Whisper is a new addition to my school library and it is gorgeous! Whimsical, imaginative, and full of wonder, this gem of a picturebook tells a story that invites endless interpretations and curiosity. Its cover boasts a girl in a red hood, holding an open book with a crown on its cover, a crown floating above the girl’s head and also a fox at her side. A bunch of grapes hover over the fox’s head, slipping in an intertextual reference to Aesop’s fables (a preview of something that will happen later in the story).

Everything about the book promises a luxurious experience—pictures filled with detail that will keep you reading for a long while, and if you are looking for an opportunity to create your own stories, you will look no further. The endpapers alone kick off the story and provide a puzzle for the reader to unlock. My favorite part in the story is the double page spread at the beginning when the girl is rushing home with the special book on loan to her from her teacher. The fox balances on a wheel as he “scoops” up the words of the story in his net.

Each picture in the book invites its own narrative…or all the stories connected? No matter—your imagination is the key to unlock it all, and it becomes a marvelous experience the more you read.

Why is it called The Whisper? Well, you’ll just have to find out.

Have you read any of these picturebooks from 2016? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please tell me what you thought of these beautiful titles!

What Katie Read

#TopTenTuesday: Favorite 2016 Releases So Far This Year

You might have noticed that 2016 has already seen a huge number of excellent, intriguing, and unique books published, especially in the Middle Grade and YA genres. This week the goal is to share our Top Ten Favorite 2016 releases, and I can say this is definitely a fantastic way to start off the summer on the blog. Now that school is out, I anticipate finally being able to spend some substantial time on blog. Thank goodness!

leo gatsby

This weekly meme is hosted by The Broke and Bookish—check out their blog and join in any week you like.

Here’s what they have to say about Top Ten Tuesday: “Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly link-up in the community where we provide a prompt and other lovers of listmaking join in on it with their own top ten list. Feel free to have less than 10 or more if you need to at times and put a spin on the topic if you need to! Just please link back to us if you are participating :).”

PICTUREBOOKS:

the-night-gardener-9781481439787_hr

THE NIGHT GARDENER

Stay tuned for my mini picturebook review of this one and another fantastic 2016 release. If you haven’t read or purchased THE NIGHT GARDENER, then I would highly recommend you do just that. If there is only one picturebook you purchase this year, make it this one. This is definitely a Caldecott contender!

MIDDLE GRADE:

raymie

RAYMIE NIGHTINGALE

You can hear more of my thoughts about this new book of Kate’s here. This is one of my choices for the Newbery!

WolfHollow

WOLF HOLLOW

This is another one of my top Middle Grade reads for 2016. I describe this as a young reader’s TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, but it’s this and so much more. This is another contender for the Newbery. Themes of social justice, friendship, and sacrifice are threaded throughout this beautiful narrative.

perry

ALL RISE FOR THE HONORABLE PERRY T. COOK

Perry T. Cook is an unforgettable protagonist!

key natalie lloyd

THE KEY TO EXTRAORDINARY

You probably already know how I feel about Natalie Lloyd and her books.

pax

PAX

PAX is another unforgettable animal Middle Grade that I was thinking about for many days after I finished the last page.

YOUNG ADULT:

the reader

THE READER

This one isn’t out until September, so my review will have to wait a bit, but I can safely say this is an amazing and fast-paced start to a series that I will be eagerly following!

salt to the sea

SALT TO THE SEA

I actually read this book last summer, after I picked up an ARC at ALA Annual in San Francisco, but it didn’t release until February 2016. If I have to pick one top book for the entire year, this one would probably be it. It’s that good. And it’s an important story.

MirrorKing-HC

THE MIRROR KING

This is the second and final installment in Jodi Meadows’ Orphan Queen duology, and it was wonderful!

ADULT:

black rabbit hall

BLACK RABBIT HALL

You know I’m a big fan of books by Kate Morton, so when I heard that this was a Kate Morton-esque story, set in England, and that, like Kate Morton’s books, it shifted between time periods, I was set. BLACK RABBIT HALL is an intriguing historical mystery. If you enjoy books by Kate Morton, then by all means, make sure you grab this one.

And there are still so many more 2016 releases to look forward to! Are any of these on your list? Which 2016 titles do you think I must absolutely read next?

What Katie Read
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