December 26


The 2018 Nerdies: Fiction Picture Books Announced by John Schu

I’m excited to kick off the eighth annual Nerdy Book Club Awards. First up is fiction picture books! A humongous thank-you to everyone who nominated titles. Congratulations to this year’s winners! Happy reading!



A Big Mooncake for Little Star by Grace Lin

“Each time Grace Lin tells a story, we tuck it away in our hearts to remember forever.” –Margie Myers-Culver 



All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold; illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman

“All Are Welcome was the first one where I almost knew what was on every page while making the first dummy except for the magical gatefold. That was all Martha Rago and her art director magic. It was the most organic book I have ever made.” –Suzanne Kaufman



Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal

“ALMA is a picture book about a little girl with a long name and a big story behind her name.  The story has autobiographical elements and is inspired by my own strong connection to my extended family. I believe we are all a little bit of those that came before us, and we carry a little of each of our ancestors with us. At the same time, we are uniquely ourselves.” –Juana Martinez-Neal




Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller; illustrated by Jen Hill

“I remembered being a shy, quiet, nervous kid who wanted to do the right thing but sometimes did nothing because I was scared it would be taken the wrong way. It took me a while to learn how to step in and speak up and – I hope – be as kind on the outside as I wanted to be on the inside.” –Pat Zietlow Miller 


Drawn Together by Minh Lê; illustrated by Dan Santat

“It’s not always easy to connect with people — even the people that are most important in your lives.” –Minh Lê  


Dreamers by Yuyi Morales

Yuyi Morales finished my sentences on August 21, 2018.
Dreamers/Soñadores tells the story of how one day my baby son, Kelly, and I arrived in the United States and became immigrants. It is the story of how difficult it was at first to come to a place where I didn’t understand the language and I could not be understood, thus made a number of mistakes. And how one day we found a marvelous place called the public library, a discovery that changed our lives forever! It is also a story of how immigrants bring incredible gifts when they come to a new country to live.
Click here to read the full interview.


Book Chat with Illustrator: Sophie Blackall from LB School on Vimeo.

Hello Lighthouse by Sophie Blackall
I Walk with Vanessa: A Story About a Simple Act of Kindness by Kerascoët
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Imagine by Juan Felipe Herrera; illustrated by Lauren Castillo

I interviewed Juan Felipe Herrera and Lauren Castillo on February 8, 2018.

Juan Felipe, what planted the seed for Imagine?

Juan Felipe: The first line, the feeling of what I was about to write, on a legal-size yellow paper pad,

I truly love how the poem flows and how much it says in a few lines

Lauren, what materials did you use to create the illustrations for Imagine?

Lauren: The art was created in pieces: The line was drawn with ballpoint pen, and the colored backgrounds are foam monoprints made with acrylic paint. I combined the two layers in Photoshop, line over color. I’ve slowly been integrating foam monoprinting into my work, but this is the first book where the technique was used for such a large portion of the art. It felt very freeing, not knowing exactly how a print would turn out, and then embracing the imperfections that monoprint inevitably offers.

Click here to read the full interview.



Julián Is a Mermaid by Jessica Love

“I think of art as not the object itself, but the thing that happens when a message travels from the artist to the audience.” –Jessica Love


Mommy’s Khimar by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow; illustrated by Ebony Glenn

“For language and pacing in Mommy’s Khimar, I looked to quiet books like Stars by Mary Lyn Ray, illustrated by Marla Frazee (Beach Lane, 2011).” –Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow


Potato Pants by Laurie Keller

“The writing process is always a ‘wild’ ride for me from the time I begin a story to the time I finally finish and Potato Pants! was no different. It all started when a conversation between a pickle wanting pants and a snooty boutique owner who was not being very helpful popped into my head. It made me laugh so I dropped everything to start jotting down their dialogue. The next day I ran it by my editor who said, ‘PICKLE PANTS? I don’t think so!'” –Laurie Keller 


Thank You, Omu! by Oge Mora

“I paint papers, I scan textures, Photoshop them, and print them out. I cut up old book jackets, sewing patterns, even old paintings — as far as I am concerned, everything is game collage-wise. I also like to use china markers and pastels. They give things a painterly feel, which is always the feeling I go for.” -Oge Mora


The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson; illustrated by Rafael López

“All of the poetic truth of Jacqueline Woodson’s words is depicted by the vivid, lively and heartwarming images of Rafael Lopez.” –Margie Myers-Culver


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The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld

“I have many hopes for anyone who reads The Rabbit Listened. First and foremost I hope the book becomes something people of any age can read, give, or turn to as a starting place when those moments in life come along when it seems like there is nothing you can say or do to help.” -Cori Doerrfeld



The Remember Balloons by Jessie Oliveros; illustrated by Dana Wulfekotte

“I was inspired to write this book after spending time with my own grandpa. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s a few years back. I wanted a way to explain the disease to my children but also show them that life can be hopeful in spite of trials, even impossible-seeming ones.” –Jessie Oliveros


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They Say Blue by Jillian Tamaki

Jillian Tamaki finished my sentences on October 2, 2017.

Picture books are poems!  This is my first picture book. I had a lot of respect for my picture book author friends, but it’s double now. It’s incredibly difficult and precise work. Making this book really did feel like what I imagine crafting poetry is like.

School libraries should be places that are fluid, safe, welcoming, nonjudgmental. I’ve always enjoyed working in libraries, as a student to the current day. I’d wager that every book I’ve made has been crafted in part in a library. Also, they should have a lot of power outlets.

Click here to read the full interview.




We Don’t Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins

“My son was getting ready to start kindergarten. He was nervous, and I remembered being nervous when I started school. Nobody goes to school and eats their classmates, of course, but the story is about making friends, and treating people the way you want to be treated.” –Ryan T. Higgins


What If by Samantha Berger; illustrated by Mike Curato

Samantha Berger finished my sentences on March 30, 2018.

Mike Curato’s illustrations…
-make me misty every time I see them.
-use mixed media and found objects, JUST like the project I was working on, when I first met Mike.
-are a perfect harmony with the text, much like what Mike and I strive for, when we sing karaoke together.
The ellipses in the title…
-make it a very challenging hashtag.
-lends itself to endless What If…joke sentence starters.
-accompanies the copy on the back cover: “What If…nothing could take away our imagination,” which is the essence of what this book is about.
Click here to read the full interview.