ÉMILE AND THE FIELD
Written by Kevin Young
Illustrated by Chioma Ebinama
This first picture book by Young (the poetry editor of The New Yorker and director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture) and Ebinama (a handsome Nigerian American artist who as a child never saw figures that resembled him “truly enjoying the outdoors”) is a thing of beauty. From its exquisite flyleaves, awash in wildflowers, and its sublime opening words that evoke lounging in the tall blue grasses, it captivates. Named in l Honored by Young’s great-grandfather and inspired by his own son, Emile is a boy who “fell in love” with a champ, and the champ (feeling cared for) loved him back .
40pp. Make me a world. $17.99. (4 to 8 years old)
JUST TO SEE
Written by Morgane de Cadier
Illustrated by Florian Pigé
Translated by Johanna McCalmont
Sometimes looking at a thing too carefully means you’re missing out on bigger, more incidental delights. At the start of this whimsical colored pencil dream, a girl says she knows the forest she studies with binoculars from her tree house every day “upside down”. Then suddenly, she notices a tree that wasn’t there before, growing high above the others, and leaps into the woods, “just to see”. When she finds a deer under its “branches”, she asks why it let its antlers get so big. “No reason, just to see…”, he says, and gives her carte blanche to climb them. By the time we reach the two wordless broadcasts near the end, where readers can unleash their own imaginations, she explores a whole new universe, from the outside in.
40 pages. Blue Dot Kids. $18.95. (3 to 7 years old)
LIZZY AND THE CLOUD
Written and illustrated by Terry Fan and Eric Fan
At the park, as most of the kids are rushing to the new carousel, Lizzy heads for the “cloud seller”. Instead of choosing a fluffy marshmallow cloud pre-shaped into an animal, she chooses an amorphous everyday one. The brilliant Fan Brothers show us the miraculous in the ordinary, but unlike the colorful marble in “It Fell From the Sky,” the wonder of this book is in the meh-est of the meh, in your gloriously average “cloudy” day.
56 pages. Simon & Schuster. $18.99. (4 to 8 years old)
STOP THE CLOCK!
Written by Pippa Goodhart
Illustrated by Maria Christania
When a harassed teacher (hastily sketched in charcoal) tells a boy (in color) that he has no time to finish his picture of what he saw on his way to school, the boy breaks down: “Stop the clock!” All but the boy freezes. Now they are in color and he is a shadow. After a “big slow breath,” he adds his little sister to the board. “Why is crying Is she?” he thinks and runs outside to retrace his steps. He notices that the sky is more than “just a bright blue”. There is “grey and white and…birds in it”. And he notices also what turned her sister blue.
32pp. Little owl. $16.99. (4 to 7 years old)
TISHA AND THE FLOWERS
Written by Wendy Meddour
Illustrated by Daniel Egnéus
Tisha catches a flower in her garden, listens to the sounds on her way to the bus stop, flips through a book on space, counts the spots of a ladybug when, one by one, her mother, the bus driver, the teacher and a friend say, “Hurry up.” At the end of school, she has tears in her eyes, so she asks her mother to slow down. They stroll on the beach, sit on a bench in the park, enjoy a picnic with her dad and, yes, catch flowers as they fall. Egnéus also collaborated with Meddour, using similar mixed media (crayon, watercolour, acrylic, pencil, ink, cut-out collage), on the famous “Lubna and Pebble”, about a refugee child.
32 pages. Candlewick. $17.99. (2 to 5 years)
THE DEPTH OF THE LAKE AND THE HEIGHT OF THE SKY
Written and illustrated by Kim Jihyun
Created to share the serenity that South Korean Kim experienced far from Seoul in “a lakeside town in another country, surrounded by a thick forest of trees”, this wordless debut album follows a boy of the city and his dog during their first immersive encounter with nature. Drawn and painted in writing ink, to show different qualities of light, it’s amazing to see.
48pp. Floris. $17.95. (4 to 7 years old)
Jennifer Krauss is the Children’s Books Editor at Book Review.