#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!
Written by Mượn Thị Văn and illustrated by Victo Ngai
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?
Written by Mark Karlins and illustrated by Nicole Wong
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
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!