Stop and smell the roses

Written by Kevin Young
Illustrated by Chioma Ebinama

This first picture book by Young (poetry editor of The New Yorker and director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture) and Ebinama (a Nigerian-American visual artist who never saw characters who looked like her as a child, “really enjoyed im free”) is a beautiful thing. It captivates with its exquisite headers dotted with wildflowers and its sublime first words reminiscent of lying in tall blue grasses. Named after Young’s great-grandfather and inspired by his own son, Emile is a boy who “fell in love” with a field, and the field (feeling cared for) loved him back.

40 p. Make me a world. $17.99. (Ages 4 to 8)

Written by Morgane de Cadier
Illustrated by Florian Pigé
Translated by Johanna McCalmont

Sometimes looking too hard at one thing means missing out on bigger, more random pleasures. At the start of this whimsical crayon dream, a girl says she knows “the inside out” of the forest she studies every day with binoculars from her tree house. Then she suddenly notices a tree that wasn’t there before, growing high above the others, and jumps into the forest “just to see”. When she finds a deer among his “twigs,” she asks why he lets his antlers grow so high. “No need, just to see…” he says, giving her free rein to climb. When we reach the two wordless spreads towards the end, where readers can let their own imagination run wild, she’s exploring a whole new universe, from the outside in.

40p. Blue Dot Kids. $18.95. (age 3 to 7)

Written and illustrated by Terry Fan and Eric Fan

While most of the kids in the park rush to the new carousel, Lizzy makes her way to the “cloud seller”. Instead of choosing a fluffy marshmallow cloud preformed into an animal, she chooses an amorphous everyday cloud. The brilliant fan brothers show us the wonderful in the ordinary, but unlike the colorful marble in It Fell From the Sky, the wonder of this book lies in the Meh-est of the Meh, on your delightfully average “overcast” day.

56 S. Simon & Schuster. $18.99. (Ages 4 to 8)

Written by Pippa Goodhart
Illustrated by Maria Christiania

When a stressed-out homeroom teacher (sketched in charcoal) tells a boy (shown in color) that he doesn’t have time to finish his picture of what he saw on his way to school, the boy breaks down: “Hold on Clock is on! ” Everyone but the boy freezes. Now they’re in color and he’s a shadow. After a “big slow breath,” he adds his little sister to the picture. “Why is she crying?” he ponders and runs outside to retrace his steps. He notices that the sky is more than “just bright blue”. There’s “gray and white and…birds in it.” And he also notices what turned his sister blue.

32 p. Tiny Owl. $16.99. (Ages 4 to 7)

Written by Wendy Meddour
Illustrated by Daniel Egneu

Tisha catches a flower in her backyard, listens to the sounds on her way to the bus stop, leafs through a book about space, counts the dots on a ladybug as her mother, bus driver, teacher and friend take turns saying, “Hurry up .” When school ends, she’s in tears, so she begs her mom to slow down. They take a walk on the beach, sit on a bench in the park, enjoy a picnic with their dad, and yes, catch flowers When They Fall Egnéus also collaborated with Meddour, using similar mixed media (crayons, watercolour, acrylic, pencil, ink, cut-out collage) on the acclaimed ‘Lubna and Pebble’, about a refugee child.

32 S. Candlewick. $17.99. (2 to 5 years)

Written and illustrated by Kim Jihyun

Created to share the serenity South Korean Kim experienced far from Seoul in “a lake town in another country surrounded by a dense forest of trees,” this wordless debut follows a city boy and his dog on their first immersive encounter with nature. Drawn and painted with writing ink to show different qualities of light, it is amazing to behold.

48 S.Floris. $17.95. (age 4 to 7)

Jennifer Krauss is Children’s Books Editor at Book Review.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/01/books/review/childrens-picture-books-stop-and-smell-the-roses.html Stop and smell the roses

Isaiah Colbert

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