Author Leah Henderson helps celebrate the Best Picture Books of 2023.
On this week’s Fully Booked podcast, Leah Henderson joins us to discuss The Courage of the Little Hummingbird: A Story Told Around the World, illustrated by Magaly Morales (Abrams, April 11), one of Kirkus’ Best Picture Books of 2023. This vibrantly illustrated tale shows how one small creature can make a big difference in a challenging world. “It’s a powerful message, made accessible and engaging through both Henderson’s writing and Morales’ vibrant, vividly textured illustrations,” Kirkus writes in a starred review of The Courage of the Little Hummingbird.
Here’s a bit more from our review: “’In villages, in towns, in cities, and classrooms. In whispers, in shouts, and in many different languages, the story of the little hummingbird of the Great Forest is told.’ This version of the story, told around the world and likely originating among the Quechua people, imagines a setting in which animals from all over the globe live together in a forest until they’re forced to flee a fire. While they rest and recover, the eponymous hummingbird asks for help fighting the blaze, but they all refuse. Undaunted, the brave bird begins bringing water droplets from the river to the forest.…The animals are shocked, thinking the bird’s actions foolhardy and futile. ‘What do you think you’re doing?’ asks the lion. ‘I’m doing all I can,’ is the succinct, inspirational reply. This call to action is for the animals and for anyone who fears the insignificance of their efforts.”
Henderson begins by giving thanks to illustrator Magaly Morales, for “bringing this hummingbird to life in ways that I couldn’t have even imagined,” which leads to a spirited exchange of compliments for Morales’ extraordinary work. Henderson and I then discuss the hummingbird story, which assures readers that any effort on behalf of the common good, no matter how small, is both beautiful and necessary. We discuss the abundant backmatter; cool hummingbird facts; how much Henderson knew about hummingbirds going into this project; how she chooses her projects; collective nouns; how she first heard the story of the little hummingbird; knowing when to defend your darlings in the editorial process; the questions she’s fielded from young readers; some of her favorite reads of 2023; and much more.
Then young readers’ editor Mahnaz Dar describes her approach to making the year’s Best Picture Books list.
When You Can Swim by Jack Wong (Orchard/Scholastic)
Do You Remember?by Sydney Smith (Neal Porter/Holiday House)
You and the Bowerbird by Maria Gianferrari, illus. by Maris Wicks (Roaring Brook Press)
The Tree and the River by Aaron Becker (Candlewick)
Papá’s Magical Water-Jug Clock by Jesús Trejo, illus. by Eliza Kinkz (Minerva)
Desert Queen by Jyoti Rajan Gopal, illus. by Svabhu Kohli (Levine Querido)
THANKS TO OUR SPONSORS:
Sometimes Cruel: Short Stories by Demetrius Koubourlis
Dragon Garage by James Turner
Fully Booked is produced by Cabel Adkins Audio and Megan Labrise.