Beautiful Picture Books!

Mr. Watson’s Chickens by Jarrett Dapier and Andrea Tsurumi. Chronicle, 2021. 9781452177144.

Mr. Watson lives with Mr. Nelson and a sensible number of chickens: three. But soon there are more and more until they’re everywhere. Chickens are everywhere, and then Aunt Agnes leads the other chickens in a sing-a-long. It’s all too much for Mr. Nelson.

This book’s level of love and fun and utter catastrophe (chickens everywhere!) make Tsurumi the perfect artist for it. (It’s kind of a spiritual cousin to their picture book Accident!)

The Katha Chest by Radhiah Chowdhury, illustrated by Lavanya Naidu. Salaam Reads, 2021. 9781665903905.

At her Nanu’s (grandmother’s) house, Asiya loves to explore the family’s kathas, quilts made out of old saris. As she explores the threads and the patterns she thinks about the stories of her aunts, uncles, grandmother, and mother. (These stories are wordless, four-panel narratives that feature the katha Asiya has unfolded on the previous page.) It’s a brilliant book, full of wonder and colors and patterns, the triumph of amazing lives and the sadness of difficult lives, too.

According to the notes in the back, the patterns in the book were inspired by both the the author’s and illustrator’s families’ saris.

The Journey by Francesca Sanna. Flying Eye Books, 2016. 9781909263994.

This story of refugees fleeing their home because of a war is narrated by the family’s daughter. After her father dies, they flee to a safe place her mother has heard of — it sounds kind of magical.

The picture of them packing, and leaving their pet cat behind, is heartbreaking, and there’s nothing magical about the journey which includes a wall, scary border guards, a sea that must be crossed, and more. (Spoiler: the jouney never ends, but it’s hopeful and beautiful because of the mother’s stories and Sanna’s illustrations.)

Worth noting: Sanna’s later picture book, Me And My Fear, feels like a sequel of sorts to this book — it’s about a young girl at a new school where she doesn’t speak the language, and her fear, a creature that keeps her safe but also keeps her isolated.


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