Because the BEA pile is rather overwhelming, I thought I’d begin with picture books. Easy entry point, right?
Summer Jackson is seven going on thirty-seven. She wants to be a grown-up, wearing high heels and offering consultations during recess. She has wonderful, loving parents who play along, letting her be the grown-up she wants to be while showing her the joys of being the kid she is. The text and illustration combine to show a sassy, strong, and independent little girl with understanding and supportive parents. I like the book on its own, but I think it’s worth highlighting that this could’ve been about a little girl of any race, which is such a great step in “multicultural” books. It’s a picture book any precocious kid can relate to, and the main character happens to be black. Summer Jackson: Grown Up came out earlier this month.
Stars is about the stars in the sky but also ones encountered every day, like a star you can cut out and carry in your pocket or place on the end of a stick to turn it into a wand. It’s whimsical and connects every day, small moments, to the celestial, and Frazee’s art is simply stunning. Frazee mixes up her illustrations across gender and race, adding to the universality of the theme. All in all, lovely. Stars will be released in October.
How much do I love Kevin Henkes? Let me count the ways… Little White Rabbit is a spare picture book about a little white rabbit with a big imagination. The illustrations match the hopping motion of the little rabbit as it imagines what it might like to be as tall as a tree or as still as a rock. The book is simple and full of wonder and gentle humor — and at the end of the journey, Little White Rabbit returns to a loving home. This book is also out, and it’s practically perfect in every way. <3 <3 <3 Kevin Henkes!