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Tag: picture books

Picture Books for Young Adults

Guest post by Jessica Ormonde

Picture books aren’t just for kids anymore. They can be for all ages. Even a graphic novel is a picture book if you think about it.

There are quite a few titles that while packaged in the traditional picture book format feature twisted humor or complex themes that will appeal to young adults.  

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YA/Picture Book Pairings: Where Did You Go on Your Summer Vacation?

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Summer vacation is drawing to a close, but whether you have time to squeeze in one last trip or you just have time to remember the trips you already took, it’s always fun to curl up with a good book about vacation spots. Both YA and picture books abound with these stories, and here are some suggestions if you need a last (literary) getaway for the summer.

Camping

YA Pick: The Moon by Night by Madeleine L’Engle (1998 Margaret A. Edwards award winner)
This is still the quintessential camping book to me–the book that still moon_by_nightmakes me imagine I will one day take my family on a cross-country camping trip, seeing all the great national parks out west. The Moon by Night follows the Austin family (from, among others, Meet the Austins and A Ring of Endless Light) as they make just such a trip, but the vacation gets especially interesting for Vicky when she inadvertently picks up an admirer with a bad boy streak and the romantic plan to pursue her across the country. Vicky’s interactions with Zachary, her family’s disapproval, her upcoming move to New York City, and her ordinary growing up struggles are all on Vicky’s mind in the midst of enjoying the astounding beauty of her surroundings.

YA Pick: Patiently Alice by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
I’ve loved the Alice series since I was a kid, and this is one that stands out as being a good mix of fun and serious issues. Alice, Pamela, and Elizabeth decide to spend part of their summer as assistant counselors for a camp for disadvantaged kids. Their camping experience is a mixture of learning how to handle all sorts of issues (including racial issues) with their young charges and counselor hijinks during their breaks. There’s less romance for Alice than in other installments of the series, but Elizabeth has a summer romance that can keep the romantically-inclined reading!

Picture Book: Carl’s Summer Vacation by Alexandra Day
Lovable Rottweiler Carl gets into adventures with his young charge, Madeleine (now getting to be less of a baby and more of a little girl) while they are supposed to be napping on the back porch of the family’s summer cabin. They enjoy a boat trip (until the boat overturns!), berry picking (before they have to run away from a family of skunks), time on the playground, and sneaking a snack from another family’s picnic. When it’s time to get up for dinner and fireworks, Madeleine’s parents can’t understand why the buddies are so tired. If you enjoy this, there are lots of other Carl episodes.

lost_in_the_woodsPicture Book: Lost in the Woods: A Photographic Fantasby Carl R. Sams, II, and Jean Stoick (2005 Independent Publisher Book Award Winner, Children’s Picture Books 6 and under). This isn’t so much a camping story as a story that might inspire young readers to get out into the woods. This husband-and-wife team are nature photographers who took the beautiful, up-close photos that make up the pictures, then created a story to go along with them. Readers follow a young fawn as he waits for his mother. Other animals are sure the fawn is lost, but the fawn knows he’s just supposed to wait… 

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Young Adult-Picture Book Pairings: Happy Mothers’ Day!

Happy (belated) Mother’s Day! Love_You_Forever

It’s always a tight-rope to talk about mothers in kids’ books or YA books. On the one hand, there are lots of mothers, good, bad, and indifferent, who make appearances in books for young people. However, since kids’ books are supposed to be about the kids, and YA books about the teens, the mothers often have to be shuffled into the background. It seems like a disproportionate number of YA protagonists have mothers who are dead or absent, while picture book mothers are often too perfect, since the protagonist kids need to have their adventures against a relatively safe background.

With that said, here are some picture book and YA mothers who have stuck out to me. I know I can’t begin to cover all of them, so please add your favorites (or least favorites!) in the comments, and check out Wendy Daughdrill’s post that celebrates mothers in YA lit.

Picture Books

The Berenstein Bears and Mama’s New Job by Stan and Jan Berenstein. The Berenstein Bears are one of those picture book families in which the mother sometimes seems a little too perfect. I feel like this tendency is more pronounced in later books in the series, especially in the ones where poor Papa Bear becomes the bad example time and again. However, the series also has a lot of good, realistic parenting moments (maternal and paternal), and I think Mama’s New Job is one of these. It shows the process of Mama going from a stay-at-home bear to a working woman and how the whole family makes the adjustment and helps her along the way.

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Seeing It Happen: Books for Visual Readers

I first saw the book because it was looking at me. Sure, later it made the BBYA list, won the Caldecott, and got snapped up by Martin Scorcese, but I first picked up The Invention of Hugo Cabret because a child’s eye was drawn in soft pencil on the spine, and passing it on the shelf felt an awful lot like being watched by a curious onlooker peeking between the books. As soon as I read it, I was a convert. Brian Selznick’s method of telling the same story in alternating visual and prose sequences was new and unusual, and I was recommending the book to anyone who would listen. Of course, it wasn’t long (sometimes less than an hour, in fact) before those same readers were back, clutching the book with stars in their eyes. “I love this book! What ELSE do you have like this??”

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