Some of Our Most Talked-about Titles in 2018: Part 2

most talked-about books 2018

Following up on last week’s post from Greg Hunter and Amy Fitzgerald, here is Carol Hinz, Editorial Director of Millbrook Press and Carolrhoda Books, to share a few of the titles she’s been involved with.


Can I Touch Your Hair? Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship

We’ve shared a lot on the blog already about this book, including a Q&A with Irene Latham, Charles Waters, and Selina Alko;  a conversation about the book’s creation with Irene and Charles; and some thoughts about why the book includes the poem “The N-Bomb.” In a starred review, Publishers Weekly said, “The poems delicately demonstrate the complexity of identity and the power of communication to build friendships.” And a starred review from Kirkus Reviews included this: “A fresh approach to exploring interracial communication. . . .A brave and touching portrayal worthy of sharing in classrooms across America.”

The book has been named to the Kirkus Best Children’s Books list, and we learned this past Saturday afternoon that is a 2019 Charlotte Huck Award honor book!

There’s a reason I’m an editor and not a designer!

Fun fact: I am much more of a words person than a visual person, but in an early conversation about the book’s cover, I shared a sketch with our amazing art director Danielle Carnito. No one else saw the sketch, but surprisingly, the cover turned out to have at least a little bit in common with that initial idea!

Seeing into Tomorrow

Seeing into Tomorrow: Haiku by Richard Wright

We’ve previously featured an amazing interview between Nina Crews and Selina Alkoo about creating the art for their respective books and tips from Nina Crews for sharing Seeing into Tomorrow with young children. In a starred review, School Library Journal said, “A must for all children’s collections. These verses are an introduction to haiku as well as an entry point into Wright’s work; they can be read aloud to younger children or enjoyed independently by older readers.” And also in a starred review, Kirkus Reviews said, “This loving, welcoming introduction to one of the most important American writers of the 20th century centers young black boys as supreme observers and interrogators of the natural wonders that surround them.”

Additionally, the book has been discussed on the Calling Caldecott blog, where Autumn Allen wrote, “Haiku are so simple that one might think a children’s book would need fancy paintings to make them interesting to children. But here, Crews may have done her best work by using photographic collage to highlight the observed piece of nature and the observer — black boys representing the young Richard Wright and all of their infinite possibilities of creation. The more we see concrete images of black boys as creators of their own destinies, attached to the infinite possibilities of the world, the more these ideas can settle into our minds as real and not imagined. What a gift to a society in need.”

Seeing into Tomorrow is on the New York Public Library’s Best Books for Kids list, and finally, announced today: it has been named to SLJ’s Best Books of 2018 list!

Interior spread from Seeing into Tomorrow

Fun fact: Nina Crews is the daughter of acclaimed writers and illustrators Ann Jonas and Donald Crews. Donald is perhaps best known for the beloved book Freight Train, and one spread of Seeing into Tomorrow includes Donald together with Nina’s son, looking at a freight train.

vast wonder of the world

The Vast Wonder of the World: Biologist Ernest Everett Just

This debut picture book by Mélina Mangal, with illustrations by Luisa Uribe, was such a joy to create, and we shared a look behind the scenes of making the book in this blog post. In a starred review, School Library Journal wrote, “Set amidst the evocative illustrations of Uribe is the life of Ernest Everett Just, a teacher, a scientist, and a poet famous for his foundational contributions to cell biology. . . . A must-purchase picture book biography of a figure sure to inspire awe and admiration among readers.”

Luisa Uribe recently traveled to New York City to accept the Dilys Evans Founders Award from the Society of Illustrators for her incredible illustrations in this book.

Fun fact: Author Mélina Mangal first learned about Ernest Everett Just when her daughter was in kindergarten. At the school’s Black History Month celebration, she picked up a coloring sheet featuring Dr. Just. The coloring sheet included only brief information, and Mélina was inspired to find out more. Curiosity led to research, and that research ultimately led to her writing this book.


The Great Rhino Rescue: Saving the Southern White Rhinos

Part of an ongoing series of sorts we’ve been publishing with Sandra Markle, this book concisely explores what has been happening with the Southern white rhino population as well as what scientists are doing to help these amazing creatures. In a starred review, Kirkus Reviews wrote, “On the African savanna, efforts to save the southern white rhino require varied approaches. . . . The clear and well-organized exposition weaves in plenty of information about the habits and habitats of this remarkable species and the nature of its coveted horn. Appealing design includes photos from a variety of sources. . . . Another compelling, hopeful account of ecosystem defense.”

This book made the longlist for the AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books, which is truly one of my favorite book awards! If you love science books, be sure to check out their Twitter feed for lots of great recommendations.

Fun fact: For each of her books, Sandra Markle interviews the scientists whose research she features in the book. In many cases, the scientists are able to provide photos that haven’t appeared in any other book as well as sharing up-to-the-minute information about their findings.


Dig In! 12 Easy Gardening Projects Using Kitchen Scraps

Hands-on, how-to books often fly a bit under the radar in terms of starred reviews, awards, and recognition. So I was absolutely thrilled when Dig In! was named a finalist for the AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books in the Hands-On Science category.

What I love about this book is that it’s not your average gardening book for kids. As we say in our catalog: “Grow your own fruits and vegetables from nothing but kitchen scraps! Rather than throwing away leftovers from food in your kitchen, you can use them to grow more. Learn how to turn a single sweet potato into a pot full of them. Grow a salad from the end bit of lettuce and a lemon tree from a single seed. Several of these projects require nothing more than a jar, a windowsill, and a few pieces of food that would otherwise end up in the trash or compost. Step-by-step drawings and photographs make it easy to follow along, and fun recipes will help you enjoy the fruits of your labor.”

Fun fact: Author Kari Cornell and photographer Jennifer S. Larson are friends in real life!

Sea Otther cover

Sea Otter Heroes: The Predators That Saved an Ecosystem

And finally, this book was a 2017 release, but I can’t help but include it, given all the good things that have happened for it in 2018! We were over the moon back in February when the book was named a Sibert Award Honor Book, which we talked about in this blog post. At the American Library Association Annual Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, in June, Patricia Newman received the official award and gave a wonderful speech at a luncheon afterward, which we shared here.

In a starred review, Kirkus Reviews noted, “A young scientist’s doctoral research reveals a surprising relationship between sea grasses and sea otters in a California bay. . . . A thoughtfully organized and attractively presented example of science in the field.” The book is an ALA Notable Children’s Book, it was on the longlist for the AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books, and it received the Green Earth Book Award in the Children’s Nonfiction category.

Fun fact: Before acquiring this book, I was not aware that sea otters are apex predators, and I was not familiar with the term trophic cascade!

What a year it has been! Thank you to all the authors, illustrators, and photographers for your amazing work, and here’s to another phenomenal year in 2019!

More posts by Carol.

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