#IMWAYR: Picture Book Pandemonium, Part 6!

Well, I didn't get a book read this week, so I read three picture books on Saturday night so I could get a post together for you all! And hey—that's three books off my TBR list, which I'll count as a win.

By the way, I got through all the things I was panicking about last week—I visited my three Halloween parties (I even had a little bit of fun—imagine that), and I got my short story submitted for class! Huzzah—now I should have some time this week to start a graphic novel that showed up in the mail.

And since I'm throwing this post together on an enormous time crunch, my reviews will probably be pretty short—you can expect a longer post next week. But let's dive into these picture books!

Wishes

Written by Mượn Thị Văn and illustrated by Victo Ngai

Preview the illustrations on Amazon

        This book has been waiting on my bookshelves for months—but I finally got around to reading it after seeing it recommended by Linda Baie at TeacherDance, Sierra Dertinger at Books. Iced Lattes. Blessed, and Cheriee Weichel at Library Matters!

        When a young girl and her family are forced to leave their home country with nothing but what they can carry, their journey on a crowded boat to their new home is a difficult, painful one. But as the girl and her family traverse their path—a path narrated with the wishes of inanimate objects which want to make their journey easier—our protagonists carve out a place in this world for themselves in this ultimately-hopeful tale.

        Wow—this book is simply breathtaking. Mượn Thị Văn drew inspiration from her own story to create this book, as she discusses in the author's note, and she captures not just the hope and the pain, but the intensity of the refugee experience in this tale. The narration in each spread mirrors the audience's own feelings—both the objects and the reader want to make this family's journey better, but we can't (although the author's note features some valuable suggestions we can all take to heart to help real-world refugees, if not the ones in this story). And Victo Ngai's illustrations are some of the most gorgeous I have ever seen in a picture book—she fills the full-color two-page spreads with weary yet determined facial expressions, the dark colors of a home left behind, the bright colors and vivid textures of the blinding sun and raging ocean, and ultimately, the hopeful brightness of a new home. Wishes is a succinct and stunning exploration of the refugee experience, and I cannot recommend it enough.

P.S. Speaking of beautiful illustrations, make sure to take a look behind the dust jacket of Wishes, where you'll find this lovely work of art:

Seriously, why don't we check behind the dust
jacket of every book we read?


Kiyoshi's Walk

Written by Mark Karlins and illustrated by Nicole Wong

Preview the illustrations on Amazon

        Linda Baie at TeacherDance, Michele Knott at Mrs. Knott's Book Nook, and someone else who I unfortunately did not write down all recommended this lovely read!

        After watching his grandfather Eto write a haiku, Kiyoshi wonders aloud where poems come from. Is it what you see? What you think? Something else? To find out, Eto takes Kiyoshi for a walk in the city, and as they both keep an eye out for inspiration, they see the beauty of the city, write several lovely haiku, and of course spend time with one another.

        What a lovely story! I love this book's thoughtful exploration of how we decide what to write about—in poetry, certainly, but you can generalize to pretty much any kind of creative writing. It almost feels like a dialogue between illustrator and author—Nicole Wong draws absolutely beautiful spreads of the city, filled with shops and objects and hidden details galore, and Mark Karlins, through Kiyoshi and Eto, finds those details within the story and looks at them through the characters' lens. In a way, it's a story of mindfulness, of actually looking out at the world surrounding you instead of staying in your own head. And it's also a story of poetry—a story that, if I'm being honest, showed me the beauty of haiku in a way I had never really noticed before! So stop for a minute and look around, for things in the world that inspire you, for forms of poetry you didn't notice were this beautiful, or perhaps best of all, for your own copy of Kiyoshi's Walk to enjoy and be inspired by!

Your Mama

Written by NoNieqa Ramos and illustrated by Jacqueline Alcántara

Preview the illustrations on Amazon

        The connecting thread in all three of these books is Linda Baie at TeacherDance—when she recommended this book, I knew I wanted to read it, and now I have!

        We've all heard the insults starting with "Your mama..."—but this book flips the concept on its head with a set of wonderful compliments starting with "Your mama!" And it's not just empty sentiments—we watch the young girl and her mama on the cover make their way through anything, at each other's sides. Fun vacations? Childhood mischief? Social justice? Check, check, and check—and there's way more too. Mothers can do everything and then some, and this book is living proof of that!

        This book is a delightful read! Mothers always—always—need more appreciation, and the "Your mama..." sentiments written throughout this book (on the same dramatic ribbon-like designs you see on the cover) are ones every mother needs to hear way more often. The mother in this story is sometimes exhausted, and sometimes a little frustrated—but mostly, she loves her daughter, and her daughter loves her, and they have a blast together. NoNieqa Ramos's narration has a bouncy feel to it, with an irregular rhyme scheme that pulls you along through the pages. And I also appreciate the representation in this story, from skin tones to writing style to the bits of Spanish tucked within the pages. Jacqueline Alcántara's illustrations are detailed, brightly colored, and above all, bold and confident—they make Ramos's narrated message shine through loud and clear. If you're looking for a fun read that gives you some hope for the world, then grab a copy of Your Mama!

That's all for now—thanks so much for stopping by, and stay tuned for next week's review, which should be my usual giant rant about a single book. See you then!

Comments

  1. Children's books are so wonderful now, especially the illustrations.

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    1. They really are! I feel like there wasn't anything like this when I was actually a kid—it may be just that we didn't spend very much time looking for picture books, but the ones now are seriously impressive. Thanks so much for stopping by, Helen!

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  2. I love checking behind the dust jackets of books (when I can easily get to them - it's harder when it's a library book that has a taped-on jacket, though). Dusti Bowling has some wonderful covers in hiding in her middle grade books, as well.

    Wishes is on hold for me, right now. But I should be getting it in November. And I have Your Mama in my stack of reading for November. You've made me even more eager to read it. You've jumped some hurdles with parties and assignments, so I hope you can relax a little and enjoy a fantastic reading week. Thanks for a great post!

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    1. I'm always excited when publishers allow Amazon to place some page spreads on their site, so thank you for including the links for easy access. I'm especially grateful when they share several LARGE spreads (like on Your Mama, where you can really see all the beautiful details). I can technically only share one large page spread to keep within the 10% rule for sharing on a book review blog and it's often quite difficult to choose which one to showcase. The illustrations are at least half of the story - sometimes they're MORE. Again, thank you for sharing these titles!

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    2. I completely forgot that library books have taped-on jackets—I tend not to use my library super-frequently except for e-books, so that was kind of ignorant of me! That's really cool about Dusti Bowling's books.

      I'm glad you'll get a chance to read Wishes this month, and it's great that you already have Your Mama! And yes—I am looking forward to relaxing and reading this week, so thank you!

      And I'm glad the links are helpful! I didn't know there was a 10% rule, so I've always just avoided posting the spreads because I get super-nervous (when I first started this blog, I was so comically paranoid that I did a bunch of research on whether or not you could even re-post book covers). And also, it feels like it would be time-consuming to find all the spreads and upload them into the post—you must have a great workflow to get that done every week! But I do feel like you definitely need to see PB illustrations, so I do try to include those links. Thanks so much for stopping by, Shaye!

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  3. I read Wishes, but never looked behind the book jacket. I usually always look, too. Some book creators are really creative with their book covers.

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    1. They really are! Even though you didn't look behind the cover, it's still great that you got a chance to read Wishes. Thanks so much for stopping by, Lisa!

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  4. Wow, thanks for the shout-out. I'm sure everyone is grateful that you actually note from where you got the recommendation. I try to remember, but . . . I do know that you adored Last Night at the Telegraph Club, & I have it! You've reminded me by your lovely reviews how much I liked each of these, all gorgeous. Like Lisa, not sure I saw behind Wishes' cover, but it was a library book. And, glad you took a break & partied!

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    1. I definitely don't have the memory to remember who recommends what—I just write it down whenever I add things to my TBR list. But I really do appreciate you recommending all of these books to me (and I'm glad I could recommend Last Night at the Telegraph Club to you)! I'm glad you enjoyed all these—I did forget that you can't look behind the dust jacket on library books, though. Thanks so much for stopping by, Linda!

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  5. I'm so glad you enjoyed Wishes. Alas, I couldn't look behind the dust jacket, because my library makes it impossible (even if I had contemplated it) The rest of these picture books looks wonderful too. I agree that if Linda B recommends a book, we should read it!

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    1. I'm glad you got to read Wishes—I forgot you can't look behind the dust jackets on library books, but the rest of the book is definitely beautiful too! And yes, Linda always has wonderful recommendations—pretty much everyone on #IMWAYR does! Thanks so much for stopping by, Cheriee!

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  6. I have heard of Wishes but haven't had the chance to read it yet. Thanks for the reminder! Love our blogging community for all the great recommendations. Just wish I had more time to read!

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    1. No problem! I definitely wish I had more time to read too, and I hope you get a chance to try some of these (or at least to try some of the books you're most anxious to read!). Thanks so much for stopping by, Laura!

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  7. So glad you had a fun Halloween! And got your work done, too :)

    These all sounds great, and I have been hearing a lot of good things about Your Mama. But Wishes sounds especially unique and beautiful. I don't see many picture books these days, so I always appreciate and enjoy your reviews.

    Hope you are having a good week and enjoying your graphic novel. I just got a box of graphic novels in the mail, including ... Other Boys by Damian Alexander, based on your recommendation! Can't wait to get started.

    Sue
    Book By Book

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    1. Thank you! And I'm glad you appreciate these picture book reviews. It's funny—I've actually heard a lot more praise for Wishes than for Your Mama, although it sounds like it's been the other way around for you. And congrats on the graphic novels you got in the mail—I'm so glad I convinced you to try Other Boys! (And I'd love to hear what other graphic novels you got—my Christmas wishlist is almost entirely graphic novels this year.) Thanks so much for stopping by, Sue!

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