The poem, The Negro Speaks of Rivers, was written by Hughes when he was just eighteen. It contains powerful imagery that links the African Diaspora with the flow, progress, and rhythms of rivers and river life. While the term, Negro, is itself a dated word and one that may cause awkwardness for some readers, it presents an opportunity to talk about the history of words and their influence. Lewis’ use of watercolor (appropriate and complimentary to the subject) is masterful. White space is used effectively to create light and shadow- suggesting the play of evening sunlight on the surface of the water; the droplets of moisture on dark skin; the shine of a belt buckle in the fading yellow sunset. He is able to transport us from the Nile, to the Amazon, to the Mississippi with earthy tones and an eye for perspective.
One of this year’s ALSC Notables, this vibrant, energetic, and joyful romp celebrates not only Children’s Book Day, but the power of imagination and the magic that happens between the pages, and in the mind’s eye, when a child engages with art and literature. Drawing on the Expressionistic style, Lopez’s use of color, texture, and light creates a sense of constant movement and action- a pretty awesome feat considering that most of the “action” is reading!
Did you know that the male hip-pocket frog is no bigger than your thumbnail? Yet despite his tiny stature, this intrepid little amphibian shoulders a huge responsibility- the care and protection of his children. After the female and male guard their eggs and await for the emergence of their tadpoles, the male frog patiently waits as his offspring wiggle up his hind legs and settle into the hidden pockets on his hips. There they will remain until they are ready to live on their own. Using a muted palette of watercolors in mossy greens and grays and jewel-like touches of orange and emerald, Marks invites the reader to explore this dangerous but beautiful forest floor.
With a style similar to Ashley Wolff (the illustrator of the Miss Bindergarten books), Trapani creates a warm, safe, and sweetly anthropomorphized world of puppies going about their schoolday activities. The rhymes are slightly re-worked classics (such as One, Two , Buckle my Shoe and Tom, Tom, the Piper’s Son). They retain their Mother Goose tradition and are extended with one or more verses that continue the rhythm and add some new twists.
Darienites, being shore-dwellers themselves, will appreciate Himmelman’s eye for the details of shore life. The perspective shifts back and forth from a hungry gull on the sand, to a curious horsefly observing the changes in tide, to the point of view of a child investigating a hermit crab’s home. Sparse text answers the title question simply and economically.