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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

The Best So Far: 2019 Picture Book Biographies Done Exceedingly Well

How have I not done this round-up yet?!? It’s baffling that I’ve waited this long, particularly when you take into account the sheer overwhelming number of picture book bios of exceeding beauty and charm we’ve been privy to in 2019. Here then, are some of the titles that have caught my eye (so far) this year.

Review of the Day: Magic Ramen by Andrea Wang, ill. Kana Urbanowicz

Magic Ramen: The Story of Momofuku Ando looks like a simple tale about the man who invented instant ramen, but look closer and you’ll see that what the book truly is is a paean to the necessity of failure, the beauty of persistence, and the pleasure that comes after messing up 99 times only to get it right on the 100th.

Review of the Day: Vasilisa the Wise and Other Tales of Brave Young Women retold by Kate Forsyth, ill. Lorena Carrington

Why not crank things up a notch and hand a kid a collection of fairy tales full of strong, clever, wily female characters that have to use their brains? If you’ve waited for such a collection, brimming over with strange stories and illustrated with even stranger art, this is the book you didn’t know you deserved until it arrived. Fairytale feminism, old school style.

Review of the Day: Queen of the Sea by Dylan Meconis

There are kids out there that like comics and like realism and have long been starved for illustrated stories of the past. Hand them this book, and then hand it to all the science fiction and fantasy enthusiasts too, because this is a book for everyone. Impossible to forget, undeniable in its delights.

Review of the Day: A Good Kind of Trouble by Lisa Moore Ramée

Lisa Moore Ramée has taken the complexity of the real world, with all its police shootings and racism and destructive tendencies and made it personal for young readers. I don’t care what kid you hand this book to. Every single one of them will understand what’s going on here and, maybe, what’s going on in the wider world. The new required reading.

Easy Readers and Early Chapter Books: Some of the Best of 2019

Meet the most necessary and least loved age range of children’s books.I have been carefully combing through every last easy book and early chapter book I could get my grubby little hands on and, with the help of my co-workers, I’ve come up with a good, if imperfect, list.

Review of the Day: My Papi Has a Motorcycle by Isabel Quintero, ill. Zeke Peña

Children are forever being picked up and taken to new locations without their input or consent. In today’s book review, you can see a kid taking the initiative. A father/daughter tale unlike any other out there today.

Review of the Day: Hey, Water! by Antoinette Portis

Appealing to older and younger readers alike, Portis has outdone herself with the book’s design and art. A book for everybody. After all, who doesn’t like water? Hey, Portis! You made a really good book.

Scary Stories for Young Foxes by Christian McKay Heidicker

oxes? How scary can that get? Answer: Hoo-boy. Hold onto your hats folks. Turns out, what terrifies a fox can terrify a child just as easily. For some readers the fact that everyone here sports red fur will make the horrors a little better. For others, much much worse.

Do We Expect Nonfiction to Be Serious?

Funny Nonfiction isn’t particularly common, but it most certainly exists. But how do you go about it? Let’s look at some of the funnier books of 2019 and see how they tackled the challenge.

Review of the Day: Going Down Home with Daddy by Kelly Starling Lyons and Daniel Minter

Maybe I’m a little envious of Kelly Starling Lyons. She knows how to write a killer book. Plus she got paired with the incomparable Daniel Minter, so right there. Right there. But really, I have no time to be envious of anyone. I’m using that time instead to be just so darn grateful this book exists at all. Family rendered in its most beautiful light. A treasure in hand indeed.

2019 Comics for Kids You Should Keep an Eye On

We’re almost halfway through the year, so why not take a gander at seventeen of the great graphic novels/comics for kids out so far (or about to come out)? I have read a LOT of 2019 comics so far. These are the ones that I’ve enjoyed the most. Let’s see if you agree (and if you can name any I haven’t seen yet that you absolutely adore).

Review of the Day: Climbing Shadows by Shannon Bramer, ill. Cindy Derby

Do you remember that scene in Orlando by Virginia Woolf where a bunch of witty people are in a room saying witty things and then Alexander Pope walks in and says three things so devastatingly witty that he just destroys everything? That’s what happens when Climbing Shadows gets paired alongside other collections of poetry. Smart. Honestly heartfelt. Utterly beautiful to look at. See the bar? Yeah. It just got raised.

Review of the Day: Maximillian Fly by Angie Sage

“I am Fly. Maximillian Fly. I am a good creature. I am not bad, as some will tell you.” Considering that Maximillian is a human/cockroach hybrid of sorts, this is not particularly surprising news. Meet the dystopian/Steampunk/action adventure novel that’s like nothing you’ve ever read before.

Review of the Day: Maybe Tomorrow? by Charlotte Agell, ill. Ana Ramírez González

Today I look at an infinitely gentle take on the feelings we lug around inside of ourselves and why we don’t have to always lug them on our own. Maybe Tomorrow? is, at its heart, about how to be a good friend. A seemingly simple lesson for a deeply complex world.