#IMWAYR: Picture Book Pandemonium, Part 16—Super-Short Edition!

Hello everyone! I haven't had much time to read or blog the last few days, so I'll keep it short. Today I'm posting an accelerated set of reviews for four picture books, most that have been waiting on my shelves for a while!

What book is it? A Blue Kind of Day, written by Rachel Tomlinson and illustrated by Tori-Jay Mordey

Who recommended it? Cheriee Weichel at Library Matters, Kellee Moye and Ricki Ginsberg at Unleashing Readers, and others!

What does the publisher say? "Coen is having a sniffling, sighing, sobbing kind of day. 

His family thinks they know how to cheer him up. His dad wants to go outside and play, Mom tells her funniest joke, and his little sister shares her favorite teddy. Nothing helps. But one by one, they get quiet and begin to listen. After some time, space, and reassurance, Coen is able to show them what he needs.

With poignant text and stunning illustrations, A Blue Kind of Day explores how depression might feel in the body and shows us how to support the people we love with patience, care, and empathy."

What stood out to me? Written by psychologist Rachel Tomlinson, this book is a beautiful, thoughtful look at childhood depression that is clear without ever becoming pedantic. We see the gravity of Coen's sadness, his inability to describe it (something I never thought about happening in young kids with depression), and his family's progress from trying to fix his problems to simply being there for him (a message that pairs nicely with the picture book The Rabbit Listened). Tori-Jay Mordey's expressive artwork infuses the story with heart and diversity (and an adorable blue teddy bear whose expressions subtly change to reflect the story).

What book is it? War, written by Jose Jorge Letria and illustrated by AndrΓ© Letria

Who recommended it? Myra Garces-Bacsal at Gathering Books!

What does the publisher say? "A recipient of the prestigious Nami Concours prize, this remarkable book of striking, often surreal illustrations and sparse prose reveals the many sides of war: where it comes from, how it creeps up on us, and how it destroys everything in its wake.

This evocative and bold work is an excellent resource for educators in facilitating difficult yet necessary discussions about wars that continue to be fought around the world. 

As Deborah Ellis, author of the Breadwinner series, says: “If children are tough enough to be bombed and starved, they’re tough enough to read about it."

What stood out to me? This compact, poignant picture book tackles the unenviable challenge of explaining war to children—and it does it with aplomb. In short, perfectly crafted sentences and dull, beautiful, sometimes-abstract illustrations, this book reminds us how war is spurred not by reason but by our deepest, darkest emotions, and how the few always benefit while the many are destroyed in endless, varied ways. This story is not one to miss.

What book is it? Once Upon a Forest by Pam Fong

What does the publisher say? "After a fire leaves the forest smoldering, a determined marmot and her resourceful bird friend set off on a rescue mission in this beautifully illustrated, wordless story.

They clear away fallen branches and scorched bushes. They rake and dig and plant new seedlings in the earth. With determination and ingenuity, as the seasons pass, they care for the little trees by making sure they have enough water, protect their branches from the wind and snow, and keep away hungry creatures, until the trees can thrive on their own. 

With a little time, care, and hope we all can help the earth."

What stood out to me? This wordless tale of protecting one's home after a wildfire is shown from the perspective of a marmot and a bird, whose journey replanting trees is full of determination and small but meaningful details. The illustrations are stunning—against mostly white backgrounds, the textured monochrome of the forests and characters, and the small bursts of color as new plants grow, both stand out. And the ending is a bold choice—I think it will prompt readers to consider the scale both of the marmot's commitment and the problem itself. This is a surprising, beautiful story.

What book is it? Blue Sky White Stars, written by Sarvinder Naberhaus and illustrated by Kadir Nelson

What does the publisher say? "Wonderfully spare, deceptively simple verses pair with richly evocative paintings to celebrate the iconic imagery of our nation, beginning with the American flag. Each spread, sumptuously illustrated by award-winning artist Kadir Nelson, depicts a stirring tableau, from the view of the Statue of Library at Ellis Island to civil rights marchers shoulder to shoulder, to a spacecraft at Cape Canaveral blasting off.  This book is an ode to America then and now, from sea to shining sea."

What stood out to me? Like most of us, my feelings about America this July 4th were...complicated. But I had the chance to borrow this book on Libby that day, and it brought me hope. Beautiful illustrations and spare text find the parallels between the American flag itself and the people it stands for, a diverse group of people with their own beautiful lives and their own stunning achievements. America is more than its politicians—it is a community with more strength and companionship than is sometimes apparent, and this book reminds us of that.


That's all I've got for today—I hope you found a new book to take a look at!

My favorite book of the week: Once Upon a Forest


  1. I don't read picture books because I don't have a little kid to read them with. But these sound good, especially Blue Sky White Stars.

  2. Once Upon a Forest is a sad yet beautiful story. The artwork is just gorgeous! I keep hearing about A Blue Kind of Day but haven't read it yet. Thanks for the nudge.

  3. I love Blue Sky White Stars yet understand about the complicated emotions, wishing there was not so much division. I have A Blue Kind of Day on my list & thanks for the others, too, Max. They sound good!

  4. I hadn't made the connection, but you are right, A Blue Kind of Day pairs brilliantly with The Rabbit Listened. I am sorry that the Jose Jorge Letria book, or anything by him is not available at my local library. Once Upon a Forest sounds like an important book. The hills to the east of where we live were on fire most of last summer. This year they are abundant with morel mushrooms. There is always a silver lining I guess.

  5. A Blue Kind of Day is such an important book to help give us language for our mental health. I agree that it pairs beautifully with The Rabbit Listened. Both are books that are perfect for helping humans (not just kids) sit with difficult emotions that we usually prefer to suppress.

  6. I also enjoyed A Blue Kind of Day, and like Cheriee, I like the connection that you made. I am checking out the other PBs that you posted here, thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  7. I knew Blue Sky, but the rest are all new to me. I am eager to get my hands on all of them. Thanks!

  8. War has been on my list to check out, and now even more so!

  9. Once Upon a Forest is one I still need to read. I love wordless stories. Amazing how much can be said with pictures.


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