More Jonathan Bean: Big Snow

A little bonus post to go with Caldecott Hopefuls: Building Our House. This is Jonathan Bean's Big Snow (FSG, 2013), and the forecast is warm and cozy (there's cookie baking, but also bathroom cleaning, which one doesn't see so often in picture books), with occasional flurries and the exciting possibility, real or imagined, of big snow.

I don't have as much to say about Big Snow (although it is a perfectly fine book, exemplary even) as I did about Building Our House, which is really the point of this post: only one of these books feels like a Caldecott contender to me. Would comparing them help to articulate why that is? Or maybe I'm wrong and Bean will pull off another Klassen!

Turtle in Paradise

We read, or rather listened to, Jennifer L. Holm's Turtle in Paradise (Random House, 2010) under the best possible circumstances--while driving to the Keys (that would be Paradise) during last year's summer vacation--so I have fond memories of it and was very happy (if also a little surprised) to see it get a Newbery Honor.  Turtle in Paradise is in some ways a typical Newbery pick, at least this year: it's historical fiction; it's about a girl (that would be Turtle); she's sent away to live with relatives in a new and unfamiliar place.  That describes three of the five Newbery books this year (including the winner).  Narrow the historical part down to the Great Depression and you still have two (including this one and the winner).

Which is not to say that Turtle isn't a worthy pick: I happen to know a carful of people who liked it lots!  I checked it out of the library and reread it as soon as we got home even, and my only complaint was that the ending felt a little rushed (I was afraid I might have drifted off and missed something, actually).  But it was always funny, sour and sweet like a Key West cut-up, a great summer read or read-aloud.

Like Penny from Heaven and Our Only May Amelia, Holm's other Newbery Honor books, Turtle in Paradise was inspired by family history; and the Author's Note includes family photographs (I love these) as well as a testimonial to the effectiveness of a certain diaper-rash formula--Holm uses it on her own babies' bungies.

[In other news for fans of Jennifer Holm, a sequel to Our Only May Amelia at last!  The Trouble with May Amelia (Atheneum) will be out in April.]

Bones by Steve Jenkins: Not just for Halloween!

Children's book author and illustrator Steve Jenkins sets the standard for cut paper collage illustration in every one of his books (What Do You Do With a Tail Like This?, made in collaboration with Robin Page, won a Caldecott Honor in 2004).  His newest nonfiction book is Bones: Skeletons and How They Work (Scholastic, 2010).  You might think that bones, being mostly white, would be less interesting visually than the range of fins, fur, and feathers rendered in the rest of Jenkins's books about the animal kingdom (I might have, anyway); on the contrary, Bones is Jenkins at his best.

The bones themselves, cut from a limited palette of mottled creams and grays, glow against the solid background colors, but the best part is the arrangement of bones on the page, to inviting, eye-opening, often humorous effect (the gatefolded human skeleton waving at you is just one example).  Jenkins's background in graphic design really shows here.  Witty headings and compact text plus a More About Bones section at the back round out the book.

Bonus:  Add up the number of bones in the human body as you read; you should end up with Jenkins's total (which would be...?).

[Nonfiction Monday is at Mother Reader today.  Thanks, Pam!]