Grandad’s Island

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by Benji Davies (first published in the US by Candlewick, 2016)

This is a book about a boy named Syd. And if you go through the backyard and past the knotty tree, this is a book about Syd’s Grandad.

He’s a Grandad who has a big metal door in the corner of his attic. A metal door that leads to the deck of a very tall ship. A ship that steers on choppy seas to an island. An island where Grandad leaves his walking stick behind.

That’s the thing with this book. We see the heartache coming. We feel the loss inevitable. And yet, even if you experience this story fresh in life, far from loss—it’s still a lovely sentiment about the way we carry people in our hearts.

It’s beautiful.

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These two—white hair under a smile, red hair curled on top—read like the bookends of a life well lived and well loved. I love this small but might design detail in these characters. Very subtly but with a sophisticated sleight of hand, Benji Davies gives us a life cycle.

A legacy.

A now and then and now again.

It’s sweeping in scope, and something Benji Davies does so well is frame his pictures to match. Full bleed illustrations are few and far between, but the scenes he chooses to extend to the pages’ edges are the ones that need the most room to hold their riches.

It’s their home, their shared backyard.

It’s the ship, docked and hopeful.

It’s the island, ready and waiting.

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It’s the wonders of it all.

It’s the goodbye.

It’s a hello.

Check it out. You’ll see what I mean.

And like any Candlewick book, it’s printed on gloriously heavy paper and pages that smell like the best kind of story. Always.

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GRANDAD’S ISLAND. Copyright (c) 2015 by Benji Davies. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

Home by Carson Ellis

Home by Carson Ellis

by Carson Ellis (Candlewick, 2015)

It’s a great honor to give you this first look at Carson’s own farmhouse in Oregon where she lives and creates, and some of the art and inspiration inside. Home is in stores today, so bring it to yours and enjoy.

There’s plenty more to ponder in this volume of homes, and I can’t wait to talk more about it. For now, settle in and enjoy this treat.

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Thanks to the fine folks at Candlewick for sharing this with us first!

The Promise

The Promise

by Nicola Davies and Laura Carlin (Candlewick, 2014)

The Promise is on this year’s New York Times Best Illustrated Books list and I’m so glad it captured a spot. I imagine weeping and gnashing of teeth to pare down a year into a handful of notables, but they got this one so right.

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Here you have bleakness. Bare and raw. And a girl who doesn’t have much but the desolate things. The words themselves pierce the brightness.

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The people, too, dry and dusty.

And then.

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Some seeds and a promise and a reluctant okay.

 I pushed aside the mean and hard and ugly, and I planted, planted, planted.

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Everything works in this book. The text is exquisite. The pictures haunting and heartbreaking and hopeful. The paper is luxurious. The case cover differs from the jacket itself. Dig in. Look around. Don’t miss the endpapers that start as stone and end as spring.

There’s a little Frog Belly Rat Bone here, in this fragile world in need of color and life.

(Also, there’s a lot of great stuff about this beautiful book here, and this post is so, so lovely as well.)

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And PS! Add a comment by Wednesday, December 3rd to this post for a chance at winning all ten of those books from Chronicle. Don’t forget your pledge to #GiveBooks this year!

 

The Story of Frog Belly Rat Bone

The Story of Frog Belly Rat Bone

The Story of Frog Belly Rat Bone (Candlewick, 2003)

by Timothy Basil Ering

I have a feeling this is one of those books that you either adore to hyperbolic proportions or is completely off your radar. 

I’m in the hyperbolic proportions camp, but it’s still a book I forget about. And then when I remember, I wonder how I forgot?!

So this is an origin story, one that starts in Cementland and ends in gritty beauty.

CLICK TO READ MORE

We Believe in Picture Books

Have you seen Candlewick’s yearlong celebration, We Believe in Picture Books? Here’s my friend Julie Falatko, who has an eye and heart for fantastic picture books and writes ones that are ridiculously offbeat but perfectly in tune.

And her kids are four of my favorite strangers on the planet.

Right?

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And speaking of Candlewick, my Twitter friend Anne Moore Armstrong (@childbookart) sent me the FRENCH version of Jon Klassen’s I Want My Hat Back. I think you can imagine my reaction.  MonChapeau!

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One more thing. Remember Raymond McGrath and his AMAZING music video for his book, It’s Not a Monster, It’s Me!?

It’s a FINALIST in the New Zealand Children’s Music Video Awards!

How great is that? Excited for you, Raymond! Thanks for sharing your unreal talent with us.

And thanks to the rest of you, for going with the flow this summer. Things have been bananas in the best way possible. Did you catch my Twitter and Facebook screaming about signing with an agent?

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But in actual, physical, real books, my FAVORITE 2013 book is coming up soon, and I can’t wait to share it. Let’s talk design again!

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Robot Zombie Frankenstein!

by Annette Simon

I am kookoo crazy bonkers for this book. Like, we’re talking nuts.

When I opened this book at the Candlewick Booth at ALA this summer and saw THOSE ENDPAPERS, I did this move: slam the book shut, say ‘no.way.’ about a billion times, and make my eyeballs about five times their normal size. True story. {You can probably ask Dianne de Las Casas, although at the time I think she was ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the lovely Tammi Sauer‘s Princess In Training!}

Anyway.

I love this book. I love its unpredictability, its wacky pace, and its larger than life robots who have larger than life imaginations.

{And its author, Annette Simon — I love her, too!}

And I love, love, love the smorgasbord of shapes. Even the shape of the book itself is a big blocky square. Well, maybe it’s a slightly squished rectangle.

I’m not busting out the ruler on a holiday weekend!

You can’t tell me that his expression isn’t absolutely hysterical, can you?!

Remember those endpapers? They are a breakdown of all of the various robot parts. So brilliant. You could make this: (!!!!!!)

(image from this fun post!)

And I don’t want to give away the ending, but there’s a treat involved that makes this book an extra special read this tasty time of year. Read this book. Prepare for a zany adventure. Make that robot above, too!

P.S. — A huge heart shaped thank you to Candlewick for sending me this book. All thoughts are still my own. 

AND!

Speaking of robots — congratulations to LAURA S.! Did you win the Boy + Bot giveaway? AFFIRMATIVE! Email me your address, and these goodies will hit the road!