If your young reader wants to experience the wonder of a first snow, explore lands beyond oceans, meet other avid readers, see “The Little Mermaid” anew, or simply tuck their favorite animals into bed, look no farther. This season, you can choose from these recent picture book releases.
For early readers, one of my new favorite picture books is First Snow, by debut author/illustrator Bomi Park: a delight from beginning to end. It’s reminiscent of Ezra Jack Keats’s classic book The Snowy Day, but with a tri-color design (black and white charcoal drawings with red accents) that allows the reader’s wonder to unfurl slowly as they follow a cherubic young Asian girl’s first experience with snow.
Over the Ocean by Taro Gomi was originally published in 1979 in Japanese, but Chronicle Books has just published a 2016 English translation. It’s a beautiful tribute to a child’s inquiring and adventurous spirit. Gomi’s signature use of vibrant watercolors lends itself especially to this celebration of exploration and wonder.
Though my eight-year-old daughter is probably a little old for this book, she loved the translated Everyone Says Goodnight, by Japanese author and illustrator Hiroyuki Arai. Originally published in 2014 in Japanese as “Oyasumi Nasai,” this is a simple get ready for bedtime book: a cut-page layout allows children to “tuck in” their favorite teddy bear, little bunny, little kitty, and so on. A small plot twist near the end might even create some bedtime giggles.
As a lifelong grownup-avid reader, I sympathized with the little boy in The Good Little Book by Kyo Maclear. It’s partly about what happens when a little boy loses a “good little book” that feels especially written for him. Marion Arbona’s bold surreal illustrations might appeal especially to reluctant readers who are boys—the Good Little Book competes with other books like “redolent of stinky socks” for attention. Maclear, a British/Japanese Canadian author, seems to have written this one for those of us who are readers for life. On Maclear’s website (kyomaclearkids.com), she writes, “I think, if asked, most devoted readers would be able to pinpoint the ‘spark book’ that ignited their love of reading. I wanted to write a book about that spark, that electric first love.” And Maclear’s text captures that moment beautifully, as the boy finds his Good Little Book and “[the] silence of reading slowly [fills] the room.”
Finally, for older readers, art lovers, and the young-at-heart, I’m still reveling in a new publication of The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen and the Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. The Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark has published an art-book-worthy version of Hans Christian Andersen’s classic tale, in an uncanny collaboration across countries and time. Graphic designer Marie D’Origny Lübecker has paired Kusama’s psychedelic pen and acrylic illustrations (from Kusama’s series “Love Forever”) with Jean Herscholt’s 1949 translation of Andersen’s original text. The result is stunning, a vision that takes us under a black-and-white sea, filled with disembodied eyes, hypnotic faces, and strings of pearls.