It only takes a few minutes to read a picture book, but it can take years, from original idea to final publication, to bring one into the world.
So when the pandemic interrupted bookstore readings, library storytimes and school visits, authors whose picture books came out after March 2020 found their new releases suddenly wandering in the void.
Stephanie Shaw, a children’s author from Oregon, told The Oregonian/OregonLive, “Publishers have generously allowed teachers to read books in virtual classrooms. Some authors have provided Zoom events. But the former really lacks direct contact with the students. And bookstores that offered Zoom events quickly discovered that children were tired of screens and were unlikely to tune in.
Many bookstores are still withholding in-person events, especially for children under 5, who cannot yet receive COVID-19 vaccines. Same for libraries.
So here’s a look at 10 new and recent picture books from Oregon authors and illustrators that you might have missed.
“Amah awayby Margaret Chiu Greenias
This picture book will resonate for any family with distant loved ones. When California-raised Kylie and her mother visit Grandma (Amah) in Taiwan, Kylie is initially unsure of the unfamiliar foods and customs she encounters there. The watercolors of Portland illustrator Tracy Subisak perfectly evoke Taipei, the capital of Taiwan.
“Can a rock grow?by Audrey Sauble
Audrey Sauble, author-illustrator from Oregon, started writing picture books about science and nature to answer her daughter’s questions. His latest offers a fun introduction to geology by looking at the natural forces that act on rocks as well as the different types of rocks. Clear and detailed illustrations complement the text. (Inside tip: Look for the hidden snail on every page.)
“Friends are friends forever” by Dane Liu
Two Lunar New Year celebrations, thousands of miles apart, conclude Portland author Dane Liu’s autobiographical tale of a girl who must say goodbye to her best friend in China, then face to loneliness in the United States before finally making a new friend. Lynn Scurfield’s dynamic illustrations capture the energy of childhood.
“Lucy’s flowers” by Dawn Babb Prochovnic
In this grandmother-granddaughter story by Portland author Dawn Babb Prochovnic, little Lucy takes to gardening with relish, eager to win a flower contest. When the judges view her precious plants differently from her, she wilts – but only for a moment. Alice Brereton provides delightfully vivid and expressive illustrations.
“My little Betty White guestbookby Deborah Hopkinson
While your Little Golden Books memories may center on poky little puppies, the series now includes biographies, including West Linn author Deborah Hopkinson’s biography of Betty White, published a few months before her death. of White on December 31. The book traces his television career and his love of animals, with light illustrations by Margeaux Lucas.
“The pianoby Chari Smith
Portland pianist and songwriter Chari Smith wrote this charming picture book about the experience of learning to play an instrument from the perspective of a piano and her journey through the life of a young musician. Illustrations by Elle Smith, the author’s daughter, add warmth and depth to the story.
Smith celebrates “The Piano” with lyrics and music at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 5, Portland Piano Company, 8700 NE Columbia Blvd. To free; mandatory masks.
“Pig and horse and something scaryby Zoey Abbott
Pig is restless and frightened by something lodged in her head. Fortunately, his friend Horse is entirely supportive – and full of ideas. Together, the two identify Pig’s fears and find ways to overcome them. Portland-based author-illustrator Zoey Abbott’s book offers a sweet and whimsical exploration of how to become better at understanding emotions.
“Sylvia finds a wayby Stephanie Shaw
Could there be a more Oregon picture book than one featuring a slug doing yoga? Oregon author Stephanie Shaw’s eccentric protagonist stars in a story in which her devious sweetness wins out when the speed, strength, and size of her animal friends fails against a protective gardener. Fiona Lee’s mixed-media illustrations enhance Sylvia’s elegant solution.
“Animal Shelter Tailsby Stephanie Shaw
This non-fiction book, with lively illustrations by Liza Woodruff, teaches children about human societies by telling, in rhyme and direct prose, the stories of animals commonly placed in shelters – not just dogs and cats, but also rabbits, farm animals, reptiles, even (disabled) skunks. Vancouver’s Chris Driggins receives a special mention for his work with parrots.
“Werewolf ? there wolf!” by Kyle Sullivan
Monsters are fun and friendly are a successful selling point for Hazy Dell Press, a Portland/Seattle publisher of hardbacks, pictures and chapters. In Hazy Dell’s latest picture book, Portland author Kyle Sullivan takes Little Red Riding Hood through her paces in rhyming verse, with a nice boost from Meg Hunt’s bold illustrations, until … the plot is twisted!
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