Whew, 2012 has arrived. I toasted it on midnight with my champagne flute and sparkling grape juice. (What? I like a good champagne, but that stuff is tasty.)
Not ready to dive into 2012 yet? Check out Seven Impossible Things' favorite picture books of 2011.
As I look ahead to what the year will bring in terms of picture books and anxiously await the Caldecott award announcements on Jan. 23, I’ve been spending quite a bit of time perusing the spring catalogs of many children’s book publishers. I thought it’d be fun to pick a handful of titles I look forward to seeing in 2012.
It’s inevitable that I’ll smack my forehead after this prints and wonder why I left out certain titles, but I’m still going to go for it and list several I’m anxious to see.
Being hopelessly in love with the art of picture books as I am (as many of my blog readers are), I’m probably most anxious to see Leonard S. Marcus’ Show Me a Story! Why Picture Books Matter from Candlewick in April. Readers will be treated to interviews with 21 celebrated authors and illustrators about their artistic process, with Marcus’s thoughts on the joys that picture books bring to children’s lives.
In the way of picture book biographies, there are three that catch my eye. One, released this month from Schwartz & Wade that has already been met with starred reviews, is Deborah Hopkinson’s account of Charles Dickens’ childhood, A Boy Called Dickens, illustrated by John Hendrix. When Hopkinson and Hendrix team up, as they did in 2008’s Abe Lincoln Crosses a Creek, good things happen. And, as I’ve said at my site before, Hendrix’s artwork is a force of nature. We’re most likely never going to see him do dainty, and that’s fine with me.
If I counted the ways in which I loved D.B. Johnson’s books and artwork, we’d be here the rest of the year. In April, Houghton Mifflin will bring us his tribute to surrealist artwork and the artwork of Rene Margritte in Margritte’s Marvelous Hat. Just after that in May, we’ll have the chance to get our hands on Susanna Reich’s Minette’s Feast (Abrams)—illustrated, no doubt, with warmth and grace by Amy Bates. This will be an introduction for young readers to famed American chef Julia Childs, through none other than the eyes of her cat, Minette, whom Childs adopted when she lived in Paris.
To say Jon Klassen made his mark in picture books this year with I Want My Hat Back would be an understatement. One could say the same for last year, illustrator Erin Stead, and her Caldecott-winning A Sick Day for Amos McGee. Both will release illustrated titles this year, Klassen actually on board to release two. He joins forces with author Mac Barnett in Extra Yarn (to be released in a couple weeks by Balzer + Bray), and March will bring us his illustrations for Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Ted Kooser’s House Held Up by Trees from Candlewick. I’ve seen an early copy of the former (wonderfully left-of-center, which I’ve come to expect from both Barnett and Klassen) and can’t wait to see the latter. I’ve also seen an advance copy of Julie Fogliano’s lyrical And Then It’s Spring, illustrated by Stead, coming our way from Roaring Brook in February. It’s already been described by reviewers as “understated,” “intimate” and “beautiful.” It really is something.
In April, Abrams will also release Walking on Earth and Touching the Sky: Poetry and Prose by Lakota Youth at Red Cloud Indian School, edited by Timothy P. McLaughlin and illustrated by S.D. Nelson. This 80-page poetry collection from fifth- to eighth-grade students at the school on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota looks promising. So does the chapter book Tua and the Elephant, written by R.P. Harris with cover and interior art by Taeeun Yoo. The cover alone makes me swoon a bit.
I primarily cover illustration at my site, and 90 percent of my posts are about picture books. This means I don’t cover YA titles and leave that to the other bloggers who are way more skilled at reviewing titles for teens, but I must quickly add that I look forward to seeing Vaunda Micheaux Nelson’s No Crystal Stair: A Documentary Novel of the Life and Work of Lewis Michaux, Harlem Bookseller, to be released next month from Carolrhoda Books. It includes artwork by R. Gregory Christie, and new artwork from Christie is always good news in my world.
Last but not least: I interview many illustrators at my site and often ask which of their colleagues they’d like to meet. Many of my favorite illustrators have named the award-winning, Florence-born illustrator Sara Fanelli, whose work I’m not terribly familiar with—but would now like to be. In March, Phaidon Press will release The Onion’s Great Escape. Now’s my chance.
And yours. Here’s hoping you enjoy any or all of these titles when you see them yourself. And here’s to 2012!
Julie Danielson (Jules) has, in her own words, conducted approximately eleventy billion interviews and features of authors and illustrators at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, a children's literature blog focused primarily on illustration and picture books.