It was a picture book kind of week, which is always a good kind of week to have.
Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea: Marie Tharp Maps the Ocean Floor is a picture book biography of scientist Marie Tharps, who took data gathered by other scientists and used it to create a map of the ocean floor and to understand continental drift. Burleigh locates Tharp’s interest in maps in her childhood, when she and her family traveled the country with her father, who was a mapmaker. He explores the challenges of being a female scientist during a time when opportunities were not available to women. He also explores more broadly what it means to be a scientist: to ask questions, form hypotheses, conduct experiments, and revise thinking. As always, Burleigh writes so clearly, taking complex problems and presenting them in a way that even young readers will understand. Raul Colon’s illustrations are also lovely.
The artwork in Lita Judge’s Hoot and Peep is absolutely gorgeous. The story is sweet: an older owl gets frustrated when his young protege is unable to hoot in the proper way. Eventually he comes to appreciate Peep’s special sounds. A fine story about being yourself and accepting others for who they are and what they can offer.
The Whispering Town is an excellent addition to Holocaust literature for young readers. It tells the story of the people in a Danish fishing village who helped 1700 Jews escape from Denmark. The art is created using a palette we don’t often see in picture books, but it’s quite masterful: the dark, heavy colors suggest the fear and oppression of the storyline, while the cartoon quality of the drawing adds a lightness and hope.
Brendan Wenzel’s art for Some Bugs is so amazing: every spread has so much to see and marvel over. The bugs are all identified in back matter: they’re charming, whimsical, and scientifically accurate! Angela DiTerlizzi’s text is very simple, making this a good choice for the youngest readers (and bug lovers of all ages).
I finally got my hands on Snappsy the Alligator and it did not disappoint. There is something so funny about a character who resists his narrator. I was able to read this one aloud to my son, and he didn’t get it in a big way. I was giggling like mad, and he was looking at me like I was crazy. So I guess metafiction isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.
I also reread a few picture books from last year:
Kids will no doubt appreciate the litterbox and toileting scenes in Dog vs. Cat.
Coming Home is even more gorgeous and powerful on a second read, I think.
Book love plus Sergio Ruzzier’s delightful art. Also even better on a second read.