The Sealey Challenge: Night Garden: Poems from the World of Dreams

We’re in the midst of another storm, here, and in the midst of a storm of a week, and so I picked, today, a warm, magical little book of poetry awash with dreamy illustrations: Night Garden: Poems from the World of Dreams, a 2000 collaboration between poet Janet Wong and artist Julie Paschkis. (They also worked together in Knock On Wood, which I read for … Continue reading The Sealey Challenge: Night Garden: Poems from the World of Dreams

The Sealey Challenge: Knock on Wood: Poems About Superstitions

Janet Wong’s poetry is charming as hell, and Knock on Wood: Poems About Superstitions is another delightful entry—or perhaps I should say it’s a lovely book in her back catalog. Knock on Wood is built around superstitions: seventeen of them, in fact, each one with a delightful poem accompanied by a lush, warm, almost mythic illustration by Julie Paschkis. The illustrations feel pretty much perfect … Continue reading The Sealey Challenge: Knock on Wood: Poems About Superstitions

The Sealey Challenge: Drum Dream Girl

Today I needed poetry of triumph, of grit and determination rewarded, of strength seen and honored, and so I turned to Margarita Engle’s words and Rafael López’s illustrations in Drum Dream Girl, the Pura Belpré Award-winning poem about groundbreaking Cuban drummer Millo Castro Zaldarriaga. Engle is well-known, in kidlit, for her gorgeous work in verse: she’s written novels in verse for teens, novels in verse … Continue reading The Sealey Challenge: Drum Dream Girl

The Sealey Challenge: Eyes that Kiss in the Corners

Almost all my friends were Asian American, when I was little—but I almost never saw them reflected in popular culture. In their homes, sure. In museums, too, at least a little. But other than woodblock prints, or Korean pottery, or Chinese jades, I didn’t see my friends or their cultures reflected in the world outside our corner. It makes books like Joanna Ho’s Eyes that … Continue reading The Sealey Challenge: Eyes that Kiss in the Corners

The Sealey Challenge: The Shortest Day

Today was a difficult day set in a difficult week, and I turned to picture book poetry for solace: Susan Cooper’s The Shortest Day, lovingly illustrated by Carson Ellis. Cooper has written of rising darkness forced down with light for years: I first met her, and fell in love with her work, with her Dark Is Rising sequence, and I see the same play of … Continue reading The Sealey Challenge: The Shortest Day

The Sealey Challenge: I Am Loved

This is a long day in a long week, and so I picked something different: I Am Loved, a collection of Nikki Giovanni’s poetry coupled with Ashley Bryan’s lush art. Nikki Giovanni sings in her poetry, writing celebrations of love and life and family and friends in the midst of horror. (In Love Poems, that horror includes hate crimes—she doesn’t shy from reality.) The poems … Continue reading The Sealey Challenge: I Am Loved

Americana on the picture book page for this 2020 Fourth of July

I thought, this Independence Day, that I’d do something a little different: a booklist that celebrates some of the vast diversity that makes up this American tapestry. After all, if your plan is to celebrate like it’s 1776, and rise up against tyranny, and write a new declaration of antiracism and anti-fascism (because that really seems like the only thing that matters right now), then … Continue reading Americana on the picture book page for this 2020 Fourth of July

Asian American Voices: Picture Books and Easy Readers

Content Note I think it goes without saying that the works listed here are all #OwnVoices, either written or illustrated (or both) by members of the Asian American community. I’m going wide, in this community: by “American,” I mean of the Americas, the continents, not the country. Also remember, of course, that Asia is a huge continent—and I’m including authors from across the continent. I’m … Continue reading Asian American Voices: Picture Books and Easy Readers