Every year is a great year, when it comes to award-winning books and their writers. Yes, everyone wants to win, but you know that isn’t going to happen. There are some great reads out there and some very talented illustrators that put their mark on children’s books, to help them make the grade of award winning material. Because after all, it is a team effort and without the illustrators, well…maybe the book might not have even got a mention.
Let’s take a look at some great books!
1. The first on our list is ‘Hello Lighthouse’ – a hardcover book, published on April 10, 2018. Written by Sophie Blackall, this two-time award-winning Caldecott Medal book, transports us back to the seaside occasions that many of us, grew up with. Yes, a stroll down memory lane for me, too. All those bundles of shells, I could never collect fast enough.
Anyhow, this little nautical picture book wonder, projects the changing of seasons and keeps alive the very lonely task of lighthouse keeping. We view vast, isolated beach scenes; drifting icebergs; rolling fog and surplus water abound. We watch the keeper and his family boil water for the consumption of tea; light the lamp’s wick and even view entries in a precious logbook that details the purpose and existence of the lighthouse. A lovely tale - complemented by clean, precise pen and ink, watercolour illustrations that all readers will just adore!
2. Our next beauty, is the hardcover 2019 Caldecott Honour Book – ‘Alma and How She Got Her Name’, published on April 10, 2018. Written by debuting author ~ illustrator Juana Martinez-Neal, the story explains to children the importance of receiving their name. Our main character is an unfortunate young girl who has received a total of six names – Alma Sofia Esperanza Jose’ Pura Candela. She - like many children, questions the hows and whys of receiving her name. This book makes light of the fact that sometimes, even though names might seem long, unnecessary, peculiar, weird and downright unfair – they were all chosen with love and are indeed perfectly suited to the beholder. In this case, Alma’s father explains that Sofia was her grandmother – a lover of books and flowers; Esperanza – her great grandmother who longed to travel; Jose’ – her grandfather who was an artist. By the end of the book, all names have been explained and Alma realises that possessing those names, sort of describes her personality - perfectly.
The tale touches on a very poignant, subject matter for children; the educational benefits are huge, with the illustration doing it fine justice. This is definitely one for the bookshelf.
3. Following is the 2019 Newbery Honor Book – ‘The Night Diary’, a hardcover book written by Veera Hiranandani, published on March 6, 2018. This book is not only a Newbery winner, but also
an ALA Notable Book; a Malka Penn Award Recipient; a New York Times Editor’s Choice Pick; a Junior Library Guild Selection book; named Best Book of the Year by Amazon; has received numerous great reviews from the likes of Kirkus, The New York Times, NPR, School Library Journal and even The Washington Post.
To put you in the picture of just how well regarded this book is, Kirkus Reviews stars this book and states it is “A gripping, nuanced story of the human cost of conflict appropriate for both children and adults.”
Set in India, in 1947 at the period of newly found independence, the country is in much turmoil. Now separated into two countries – Pakistan and India - Muslims and Hindus struggle to find peace and the borders are littered with hundreds of thousands of corpses – individuals killed for wanting to cross the border.
Our twelve year old protagonist – Nisha – half Muslim and half Hindu, no longer recognises her country or where she belongs, after the exit of British rule. When her father decides it is too dangerous for them to remain in what is now Pakistan, Nisha and her family embark on a long and arduous journey across the border. In essence, they become refugees, outcast from their own country – stateless. Without a true homeland and her mother whom she lost as a baby, Nisha struggles with her identity and sense of purpose. Hence, the story is told through the letters she writes to her mother in, ‘The Night Diary’ as goes in search of home, self and country.
4. From the pain and agony of human suffering through war, we now turn our attention to the hardback book - ‘The Rough Patch’ – written by Brian Lies, published on August 14, 2018. This Caldecott Honor and ALA Notable book deals is a personal story that works through the themes of friendship, love, loss, hope and renewal.
The protagonist – Evan and his dog are inseparable. They do everything together from eating ice-cream to caring for their prize-winning garden. One day the unthinkable happens – the dog dies. Understandably, Evan is inconsolable; he destroys the garden, which then becomes overgrown with weeds and prickles.
However over time, Evan is drawn to the garden’s unusual, but natural beauty. It reveals a special kind of magic – the ability to drawn one out of isolation by way of growing a huge pumpkin. Evan takes it to the county fair, where friendships new and old are kindled.
The healing power of nature is truly a magic to behold and so too are the breathtakingly, beautiful illustrations that accompany this book. Brian Lies is a magician extraordinaire and should be proud of such a memorable tale.
5. My last book selection is written by author-illustrator - Grace Lin – ‘A Big Mooncake for Little Star’, a hardcover picture book, published on August 28, 2018. This award winning Caldecott Honor book tells a wonderful tale of the cycles of the moon and the importance of mooncake.
Of course, I’m going to recommend this one big time - as my family have grown up eating such delights, that and all the other delicious foods we traditionally consume at Korean thanksgiving - Chuseok. Like many Asian countries, China included - the harvest moon festival holds particular importance to the preservation of culture, family and traditional bonding.
Little people just like the young character – Little Star - in this heart-warming story, enjoys nibbling on the baking, before all is said and done. It takes me be to when my son, could not wait to sample the cooking. Anyhow, there is a twist to this tale, what happens when you eat all the mooncake? Well, you will just have to read the book. 😊
‘A Big Mooncake for Little Star’ is a delightful book – tastefully illustrated in dark colours to highlight, both the enormity of the mooncake and the fact that it goes missing, during the night.
We hope you have enjoyed a stroll through some really interesting books, by some truly talented authors and illustrators; all contributing well to the world of great literature!