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All Picture Book Coverage

Breathtaking picture books, heartwarming chapter books and enthralling middle grade books await young readers—or anyone who enjoys a good story—in our list of most anticipated children’s books this fall.

Sam’s Super Seats by Keah Brown, illustrated by Sharee Miller
Kokila | August 23

Author Keah Brown created the viral hashtag #DisabledAndCute to challenge widespread misperceptions and representations of disabled people, themes she also explored in The Pretty One, her essay collection for adult readers. In Sam’s Super Seats, her first picture book, Brown introduces Sam, a girl who has cerebral palsy, which means that sometimes she needs to sit down and rest. Engaging illustrations by Sharee Miller capture a fun shopping trip to the mall that Sam shares with her friends before the first day of school. Cheerful and conversational, Sam’s Super Seats is an intersectional addition to the back-to-school picture book canon.

Patchwork by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Corinna Luyken
Putnam | August 30

In recent decades, the Newbery Medal has typically honored longer works of children’s literature, so author Matt de la Peña defied both convention and expectation by winning the 2016 Newbery for Last Stop on Market Street, a picture book that also earned illustrator Christian Robinson a Caldecott Honor. De la Peña has been on a hot streak ever since, publishing two more books with Robinson (Carmela Full of Wishes and Milo Imagines the World) as well as Love, which features art by Loren Long. 

In the meantime, illustrator Corinna Luyken has established a name for herself via thoughtful picture books, including the bestsellers My Heart and The Book of Mistakes, her 2017 debut, as well as through her work with writers such as Kate Hoefler (Nothing in Common) and Marcy Campbell (Something Good). Luyken and de la Peña’s first picture book together, Patchwork is a poetic ode to possibility that’s perfect for readers who love de la Peña’s lyricism and Luyken’s effortlessly impressionistic art.

A Taste of Magic by J. Elle
Bloomsbury | August 30

We don’t like to pat ourselves on the back too much, but we did highlight author J. Elle’s debut novel, a YA fantasy called Wings of Ebony, as one of our most anticipated books of 2021, and the book went on to become an instant bestseller and establish Elle as one of the most exciting new voices in YA. So we were thrilled when Elle’s first book for younger readers, A Taste of Magic, was announced. The story of a young witch named Kyana who enters a baking contest in the hopes of using the prize money to save her magical school, A Taste of Magic looks enchantingly scrumptious.

Magnolia Flower by Zora Neale Hurston, adapted by Ibram X. Kendi, illustrated by Loveis Wise
HarperCollins | September 6

Earlier this year, HarperCollins announced an ambitious new project: National Book Award-winning author and scholar Ibram X. Kendi would adapt six works by Zora Neale Hurston for young readers. Hurston is best known today as a novelist, but she also wrote short stories and collected folk tales as an anthropologist throughout the South. In this first volume, Kendi’s adaptation of one such short story is paired with vibrant illustrations by Loveis Wise, a rising star who has recently illustrated picture books by Ibi Zoboi (The People Remember) and Jeanne Walker Harvey (Ablaze With Color). We can’t think of two people more perfectly suited to bring Hurston’s work to a new generation of readers.

Spy School: Project X by Stuart Gibbs
Simon & Schuster | September 6

In the decade since middle grade author Stuart Gibbs published Spy School, a mystery novel about a boy named Ben who attends the CIA’s top secret Academy of Espionage, Gibbs has written nine more books in his Spy School series. What’s more, he’s also released books in four additional blockbuster series, publishing 14 titles across them. This year, Gibbs publishes his 10th Spy School novel, the opaquely titled Spy School: Project X, in which Ben will go head to head with his longtime nemesis. How is it possible, we ask, to create such consistently thrilling, entertaining reads at such a rapid pace while also getting the recommended eight hours of sleep every night? Our current working theory involves clones, but if Gibbs wants to enlighten us, he knows how to find us.

Farmhouse by Sophie Blackall
Little, Brown | September 13

In the 84-year history of the Caldecott Medal, only a handful of illustrators, including Barbara Cooney, David Wiesner, Leo and Diane Dillon and Robert McCloskey, have won multiple medals. Author-illustrator Sophie Blackall joined their rarified ranks in 2019 when she won her second medal for Hello Lighthouse. (She won her first in 2016 for Finding Winnie.) To create Farmhouse, Blackall incorporates mixed media into her illustrations as she tells a remarkably personal story about a family and their home. 

Odder by Katherine Applegate, illustrated by Charles Santoso
Feiwel & Friends | September 20

Author Katherine Applegate has been turning kids into readers with fantastical stories filled with heart for more than two decades, and we’re fortunate that the 2013 Newbery Medalist shows no sign of slowing down. In order to know whether you’ll love this novel in verse about a young sea otter whose life is changed at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California, you really only need to look at the cover. Seriously, we dare you to attempt to resist its charms.

The Door of No Return by Kwame Alexander
Little, Brown | September 27

Poet Kwame Alexander took the world of children’s literature by storm when he won the 2015 Newbery Medal for The Crossover, a novel in verse. Not content to rest on his laurels, Alexander won a Newbery Honor in 2020 for The Undefeated, a picture book for which illustrator Kadir Nelson also won the Caldecott Medal. The Door of No Return sees Alexander take another exciting, ambitious step forward, this time into historical fiction. The novel opens in West Africa in 1860 and follows a boy named Kofi who is swept up into the unstoppable current of history.

Meanwhile Back on Earth . . . by Oliver Jeffers
Philomel | October 4

Author-illustrator Oliver Jeffers is one of the most successful picture book creators working today. He’s sold more than 12 million copies of titles that include Stuck, The Heart and the Bottle and, of course, The Day the Crayons Quit, which features text by author Drew Daywalt paired with Jeffers’ unmistakable artwork. Meanwhile Back on Earth continues a theme Jeffers has been exploring since his 2017 book, Here We Are, portraying a parent introducing their children to some aspect of human existence. In this case, Jeffers addresses the long history of conflict among people.

A Rover’s Story by Jasmine Warga
Balzer + Bray | October 4

If you loved Wall-E and Peter Brown’s The Wild Robot, or if looking at the recently released photographs from the James Webb Space Telescope filled you with awe and wonder, you won’t want to miss Jasmine Warga’s middle grade novel A Rover’s Story. Warga has a knack for plumbing the emotional depths of a story, so imbuing a Mars rover with humanity and heart seems like exactly the sort of new challenge we love to see authors take on.  

The Real Dada Mother Goose by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Julia Rothman
Candlewick | October 11

Author Jon Scieszka began his kidlit career with three postmodern picture books: The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs!, illustrated by Lane Smith; The Frog Prince, Continued, illustrated by Steven Johnson; and The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, another collaboration with Smith that earned a Caldecott Honor. In the three decades since, Scieszka has brought his signature humor to chapter books, middle grade novels and a memoir. He even served as the first National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. He comes full circle with The Real Dada Mother Goose, partnering with illustrator Julia Rothman to offer a new take on another beloved work of children’s literature, Blanche Fisher Wright’s The Real Mother Goose. We can practically hear the storytime giggles now.

I Don’t Care by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Molly Idle and Juana Martinez-Neal
Neal Porter | October 11

Picture books illustrated by multiple illustrators aren’t unheard of, though in such cases, each illustrator typically works individually, creating separate images and giving each page a different look and feel. It’s much less common for illustrators to truly collaborate and create artwork together, as Caldecott Medalists Molly Idle and Juana Martinez-Neal did with I Don’t Care, a quirky ode to friendship with text by bestselling author Julie Fogliano. We hope their work inspires more collaborative picture books in the future.

Our Friend Hedgehog: A Place to Call Home by Lauren Castillo
Knopf | October 18

Caldecott Honor recipient Lauren Castillo published Our Friend Hedgehog: The Story of Us in May 2020—little more than two years ago, and yet it feels like centuries have passed since then. Castillo completed our Meet the Author questionnaire in February of that year. “What message would you like to send to young readers?” we asked her. “Be brave,” she wrote, with no way of knowing how much bravery we were all about to need. In Our Friend Hedgehog: A Place to Call Home, Castillo returns at long last to the woodsy world of Hedgehog and her friends for more stories of adventure and friendship, and we can’t wait to join her there.

The Three Billy Goats Gruff by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen
Orchard | October 18

Author Mac Barnett and illustrator Jon Klassen first collaborated in 2012. The result of that collaboration, Extra Yarn, won a Caldecott Honor. They’ve since created five more picture books together, including Sam and Dave Dig a Hole, which won another Caldecott Honor, and the Shapes trilogy (Triangle, Square and Circle), all featuring Barnett’s dry wit and Klassen’s deceptively simple art. The duo will enter ambitious new territory this fall as they launch a planned series of reenvisioned fairy tales, beginning with the Norwegian story of The Three Billy Goats Gruff.  

The Tryout by Christina Soontornvat, illustrated by Joanna Cacao
Graphix | November 1

In 2021, Christina Soontornvat joined an exclusive club, becoming one of only a few authors to receive Newbery recognition for two different books in the same year. What’s more, Soontornvat’s two Newbery Honors were for two very different books, a fantasy novel (A Wish in the Dark) and a work of narrative nonfiction (All Thirteen). But Soontornvat has always had range, publishing fiction and nonfiction picture books and a chapter book series in addition to her middle grade titles. With The Tryout, Soontornvat takes on two more new categories in one book: graphic novels and memoir. Accompanied by illustrations from webcomic artist Joanna Cacao, Soontornvat tells a story drawn from her own middle school experiences that fans of Jerry Craft’s New Kid and Shannon Hale’s Real Friends will enjoy.

Forget homework and after-school activities. Instead, make time to enjoy these upcoming children’s books.

The best picture books tap honestly and unpatronizingly into children's emotions. These two books remind children that being human means appreciating the complex emotions we all experience. 

Sometimes I Grumblesquinch

“I'm a really nice kid,” declares protagonist Katie Honors on the first page of author Rachel Vail and illustrator Hyewon Yum’s Sometimes I Grumblesquinch, a tale about the pitfalls of trying to tame emotions. Katie tries to be on her best behavior at all times. She's “a good sport” when she loses a soccer match: “‘Good game,’ I say. . . . I hardly frown.” Katie’s mom declares that her daughter is “such a pleasure,” and Katie takes pride in knowing that her parents are proud of her. But readers, privy to Katie's inner thoughts, know that she contains multitudes.

Katie's little brother, Chuck, annoys her, and she routinely bottles up how he makes her feel. “Sometimes I grumblesquinch,” Katie confesses. When this happens, her “insides tighten” and she has “mean thoughts,” such as wishing that she had “a trampoline or a tree house or a giraffe instead of a brother.” Vail captures Katie's feelings with an unequivocal, refreshing candor that's deeply respectful toward Katie's complicated interior life: “I wish I could pop [Chuck] like a balloon. . . . I wish he would disappear.” When Katie finally snaps, Yum's soft color palette and smooth linework are transformed: Intense colors and ragged, angular lines embody Katie's acute fear that her parents “won't think I am such a pleasure anymore.” 

But Katie's mother gently validates Katie's feelings, telling her daughter that she understands how a person can hold both frustration and love for someone. A shocked Katie nods and tells readers, “This nod is true.” These four words convey so much about how children—especially girls—are encouraged to suppress their feelings and minimize their emotions. When Katie acknowledges that her nod is “true,” she's also suggesting that some of her smiles have been insincere, even forced. 

It's moving to watch Katie begin to understand that attempting to ignore healthy but negative emotions, all in the name of being likable, still causes harm. Even after failing to grumblesquinch all her feelings, Katie still receives a loving hug from her mom, who has space for “the whole me” in her arms.

What Feelings Do When No One's Looking    

Polish author Tina Oziewicz offers readers a whole host of emotions in What Feelings Do When No One's Looking, translated from the Polish by Jennifer Croft. (Kudos to Oziewicz’s American publisher, Elsewhere Editions, for placing the translator's name prominently on the cover.) 

Because the book's title tells readers precisely what to expect, the first spread dives right in, introducing Curiosity, a creature with large ears who sits atop a tall chimney, eager to see what's beyond the horizon. Curiosity is followed by Joy, Gratitude, Calm, Envy, Insecurities, Shame, Courage, Bliss and more, each depicted on its own spread. 

Illustrator Aleksandra Zając (making her picture book debut) introduces an endearing cast of characters, conveying these emotions as furry, amicable creatures who move about on clean, uncluttered backgrounds. Her crisp, fine lines and gray-tone palette (with subtle touches of coral, sky blue and sage) ensure that even the more volatile emotions, such as Anger, won't frighten the youngest readers.

This is a picture book filled with surprises. There are unexpected personifications (“Jitters sit in a rusty can in a dark corner under a wardrobe.” “Nostalgia sniffs a scarf.”), but Oziewicz also has a startlingly succinct and evocative way of capturing these feelings. “Anxiety juggles,” for one. These two words float amid ample white space next to an unhappy-looking creature atop a unicycle trying to keep five balls in the air, its mouth a thin, wavy line. A full-bleed illustration shows a wide-eyed creature attempting to blend in with patterned floral wallpaper: “Fear pretends it isn't there.” And what else would Hope do but pack “a sandwich for the road”? 

Oziewicz and Zając link two spreads in an especially meaningful way: Readers learn that Hate “chews through links and cables. Can't connect! Can't connect!” But in the book's final spread, Love, who is an electrician, holds an oversize lightbulb aglow with amber hues. The bulb seems to run from the same rose-colored cable Hate tried so vehemently to destroy. 

What Feelings Do When No One's Looking will prompt thoughtful conversations about the wide range of feelings a person can experience. It's exactly the sort of book that Katie Honors—and all children—need. 

These children’s books put some of our most complex emotions into words (and pictures!).

Lupe Lopez: Rock Star Rules

Lupe Lopez is ready to rock and roll her way into kindergarten. Fresh from a summer of drumming and perfecting her hip new look, she knows all rock stars make their own rules. Lupe is committed to never letting anyone tell her what to do, being as loud as possible and making “fans, not friends.” Unsurprisingly, this works great for Lupe—but not so well for Ms. Quintanilla, Lupe’s new teacher. 

Little by little, Lupe learns that even rock stars have to adhere to the rules (sometimes). Drumming belongs more on a stage than in the classroom, and friends are much better than fans—especially when they start a band together! Best of all, Lupe finds a way to remain the one-of-a-kind, “Texas-size” kindergarten rock star she is. 

Lupe Lopez: Rock Star Rules is a fun, fresh addition to the back-to-school picture book canon. It’s perfect for young readers who march to the beat of their own drums but may benefit from a gentle reminder to respect the needs of others around them. 

Lupe is the brainchild of a picture book dream team: co-writers e.E Charlton-Trujillo and Pat Zietlow Miller (Be Kind), and illustrator Joe Cepeda. Stonewall Award-winning Charlton-Trujillo’s influence as a South Texas native is clear in the familiar and joyful portrait of Lupe’s predominantly Latinx Hector P. Garcia Elementary school, complete with the requisite map of Texas on the classroom wall and bilingual labeling of classroom objects. (Don’t miss the nod to legendary Tejano musician Selena in Ms. Quintanilla’s name.) 

Zietlow Miller’s signature voice contributes to the story’s rhythm and narrative structure, both of which make Lupe Lopez: Rock Star Rules an excellent read-aloud. Children will love drumming along with Lupe when she shouts “¡Ran! ¡Rataplán! Boom-tica-bam! ¡Pit-a-pat. Rat-a-tat. Wham-wham-wham! ¡Soy famosa!” 

Pura Belpré Honor recipient Cepeda’s crisp, classical illustration style is perfect for a story with this much heart. He spares no detail in bringing Lupe to life on the page, right down to the pigtails in her hair and the pencils she uses for her drumsticks. 

Together, Charlton-Trujillo, Zietlow Miller and Cepeda have created an unforgettable heroine who will leap off the page and right onto your bookshelf. Fans of feisty heroines such as Russell and Lillian Hoban’s Frances, Ian Falconer’s Olivia and Monica Brown and Sara Palacios’ Marisol McDonald will be clamoring to join Lupe’s band.

One Boy Watching

As many children in rural areas know, living in the country often means being the first to board the school bus in the morning and the last to get dropped off at the end of the day. It means mornings of quiet reflection as the world wakes up and evenings spent on winding gravel roads toward home. 

One Boy Watching is a nearly wordless picture book that opens as the sun is just barely beginning to rise, when a school bus arrives at a boy’s rural home. Some introductory descriptions follow the unnamed protagonist as he steps onto the bus (“Twenty-eight empty seats. . . . One bus at sunrise under an infinite sky.”), but the scene’s beauty can be found in the serene spaces between those phrases. The reader is invited to sit peacefully, to breathe deeply, to soak in the prismatic watercolor and colored pencil sunrise skies. 

Author-illustrator Grant Snider, the creator of the popular webcomic “Incidental Comics,” reprises the same hushed feeling found in his earlier picture books, including What Color Is Night and What Sound Is Morning. His artistry seems simple: It’s light on distinct detail and heavy on bold lines, capturing the shapes of objects just barely visible in the early dawn, such as bulbous trees or the peak of a roof. Later spreads contain sights that will be familiar to rural school bus riders: pastures of hay bales, the glow of headlights in the early dawn, fields of rusted cars, water towers, the silhouettes of distant barns and feed silos. 

The real wow factor, however, is in the quietly powerful way that Snider uses color. By blending colors, lines and shapes into one another, Snider mimics the blur of what children see from a bus window on the way to school. As the journey continues and more children board the bus, the reader can almost hear the sound of their laughter, the rumble of the bus’s engine and the wail of a train horn at the railroad crossing—all with hardly any words on the page. 

Reserved, thoughtful readers who prefer to spend time lingering over illustrations or making up their own stories about the stories they read will especially appreciate One Boy Watching. It vividly conveys the experiences of those first-to-get-on, last-to-get-off students who witness a sunrise every morning and a sunset every evening as they mark the beginning and end of each school day.

The first day of school is a momentous occasion for many children. These picture books capture the experience with sparkle and style.

Debut author Margaret Aitken offers up the story of the superhero we didn't know we needed: Undercover Granny! Bursting with color and movement, Old Friends is a sweetly funny story about intergenerational friendship. 

Marjorie is a little girl with a penchant for baking, gardening, crafting and listening to Glen Miller records. She used to share these passions with her beloved Granny, the one person who truly understood her. Nobody else in Marjorie's orbit thinks crafting is cool or wants to spend time perfecting their scones, and she's too young to join an online hobby group. 

Serendipity strikes when Marjorie strolls past the community center one day. A sign promoting a “senior citizen friends group” not only lists activities that seem perfectly tailored to her interests but also proclaims “New members welcome!” Alas, Marjorie is prevented from joining the group. “Kids club is that way,” explains a well-intentioned woman in the community center lobby. Undeterred, Marjorie reflects that “Granny didn't give up easily . . . and neither would she!” After acquiring a pair of glasses, a fuzzy cardigan and some flour to powder her hair, Undercover Granny is ready for action:

But then—oh, no! Amid all energetic cha-cha-cha-ing with her new friends, Marjorie's disguise slips off, revealing her true identity. (Don't miss the community center cat's shocked expression, a hilarious wonder to behold.) What will happen now?

Aitken's playful use of language, from clever alliteration to suspense-building ellipses, will keep readers turning the pages with anticipation. So, too, will illustrator Lenny Wen's vibrant, energetic spreads, which brim with tantalizing details such as a rainbow of outfits that celebrate pattern mixing, expertly textured leafy plants and shaggy rugs, and a twirling, whirling dance party. Cha-cha-cha!

The seniors' compassionate response to Marjorie's subterfuge is a poignant reminder that there's no age limit on friendship. After all, as bow-tie aficionado Arthur reveals, “On the inside, we still feel like kids. Just like you.” Readers of every generation will delight in Old Friends‘ joyful tone and affirming message—and its superb surprise ending, too.

In this sweetly funny book, Marjorie misses the hobbies she shared with her grandmother, so she goes incognito and joins a “senior citizens friend group.”

The Stranger Diaries

When you're dealing with a murder mystery set in a possibly haunted high school, you need a practical, analytical lead investigator whose sense of humor is solidly intact. Detective Sergeant Harbinder Kaur is my methodical queen, her assessments of characters both living and dead as sharp as a jagged piece of glass, her self- deprecation just the right amount of wicked. She's been underestimated enough in her life—and experienced enough prejudice—to gain a significant chip on her shoulder, which is more pronounced now that she's been called back to her alma mater to investigate a murder in Elly Griffiths' The Stranger Diaries. A line from fictional gothic author R.M. Holland's most famous story is found with the body, so Kaur pays special attention to English teacher Claire Cassidy. Scenes from Kaur's family life (she lives with her Sikh parents) provide a soft place to land after her most biting appraisals, such as when she's considering the inanity of celebrity dancing shows. Why do people like dance competition shows? DS Kaur knows many things, but she hasn't got a clue there.

—Cat, Deputy Editor

Inheritance

She may not wear a trenchcoat or carry a magnifying glass, but novelist and memoirist Dani Shapiro can investigate a mystery with the best of them. In her 2019 blockbuster memoir, Shapiro does an at-home genealogy test on a whim and accidentally uncovers a 52-year-old family secret: Her late father was not her biological father. This revelation kicks off a search for the truth that winds its way through all manner of thorny questions. What role did the emerging field of fertility science play in Shapiro's conception? Were her parents aware that she was conceived using donor sperm? Did they intentionally keep this a secret? Were they duped by their doctor? Is her biological father still alive? Shapiro's chops as a novelist shine in Inheritance, which is plotted as well as any mystery, with enough twists to keep you guessing about what detail she might uncover next. Determined to get to the root of her family tree, she is as indefatigable, dogged and determined as any fictional gumshoe.

—Christy, Associate Editor

I Want My Hat Back

The ursine protagonist of Jon Klassen's debut picture book, I Want My Hat Back, is an exemplary detective. Faced with the mystery of his hat's location, he immediately begins questioning potential witnesses. He's polite and thanks everyone he meets for taking the time to speak with him, even though they offer no useful leads. He stays focused on the task at hand and isn't waylaid by existential meanderings, such as when an armadillo asks, “What is a hat?” He's helpful to his community, as we see when he offers assistance to a turtle who's been trying to climb a rock all day. He believes the best of everyone, even rabbits wearing familiar red hats who claim they would never steal a hat. When he hits an investigative wall, he does exactly what I would do: He lies down and despairs until the solution comes to him. And he would never, ever, ever eat a rabbit. Not even a rabbit who stole his hat.

—Stephanie, Associate Editor

The Devil and the Dark Water

In Stuart Turton's The Devil and the Dark Water, Samuel “Sammy” Pipps is basically a globe-trotting, 17th-century Sherlock Holmes. When a mysterious, seemingly demonic force begins to haunt Saardam, the ship he's sailing on from the Dutch East Indies back to the Netherlands, you'd think that Sammy would immediately be on the case. There's just one problem: Sammy's locked in the Saardam‘s brig, where he is to remain for the entire voyage. Enter his bodyguard, Arent Hayes, an enormous former mercenary and all-around nice guy who's deeply grateful to Sammy for giving him a purpose beyond body-slamming anybody dumb enough to face him in battle. As Turton gleefully tilts things into Grand Guignol horror, Arent is the down-to-earth port in the storm: humble to a fault, instinctively feminist when faced with a few female passengers who might be better at this whole sleuthing thing than he is and possessed of an unshakable (but still somewhat flexible) sense of justice. Turton maintains that he never conceived of Arent as being, well, sexy—but rather tellingly, many readers insist that he very much is.

—Savanna, Associate Editor

None Shall Sleep

To catch a teenage serial killer, the FBI recruits Emma Lewis and Travis Bell, who are teenagers themselves, for their capabilities as well as their atypical circumstances: Travis lost his father to a serial killer, and Emma is the sole survivor of one. The heroes of Ellie Marney's thriller None Shall Sleep are remarkably refreshing as their personal and professional involvement in the investigation builds genuine tension and inner conflict. However, despite the novel's many plotlines, Emma is at the heart of it all. I felt attached to her early on, especially when witnessing her navigate her sense of duty toward solving the case while grappling with the crime's triggering nature. Her unique perspective and talents provide forward momentum, as she comes to conclusions that people who lack her insight would never think of. At the novel's end, I wanted to keep following her as she drove away.

—Jessie, Editorial Intern

It takes a certain spirit to leap into action and pursue the slightest of clues. Our favorite sleuths, both real and fictional, get right down to business exposing the evidence and solving seemingly unsolvable quandaries, and we love them for it.

Eily and her father live by the sea, not far from the mysterious island of Lisnashee, home to the fairy folk known as the Good People. Eily's father ventures annually to the island to gather fog, which has magical properties. It's a dangerous job, but the village folk rely on the fog water for charms, cures and protection, particularly from the Good People. But this year, Papa accidentally makes the trip to Lisnashee without his charm meant to ward off fairy spells, leaving Eily with her own job to do.

Marianne McShane's text in The Fog Catcher's Daughter feels like it's been passed down through generations, a folk legend whispered in hushed tones to little ones leaning forward to listen. Her tale is filled with rich sensory descriptions. When she writes that “a cold wind shivered across the sand,” you'll tremble right along with Eily. Young readers are sure to wonder, as I did, whether The Fog Catcher's Daughter is based on a true story. An author's note gives a glimpse into the Irish folklore that underpins the tale, as well as the real-life Moroccan practice of fog catching that inspired McShane to create it.

Illustrator Alan Marks' watercolor art is so ethereal and captivating, you'll want to hang it on the wall. Windswept grasses and tumbling waves create a landscape that seems both fantastical and utterly real. Fog creeps around corners, rises from the ground and blows across the water, becoming a character every bit as significant as Eily herself. At times, Marks depicts the Good People as mere wisps of mist and other times as distinct, ghostly figures, perfectly capturing their ambiguous, tempestuous nature. A soft, warm-toned hearth scene as well as the lush greens of spreads depicting Eily's family's fields offer a reassuring and welcoming contrast to the wild blues and grays of Lisnashee. You'll especially want to linger on a wondrous two-page spread of the village apothecary shop and its shelves packed with plants, shells, stones and bottles. 

Though it contains slightly spooky themes, The Fog Catcher's Daughter doesn't haunt so much as enchant.

This original tale feels like it's been passed down through generations, a folk legend whispered in hushed tones to little ones leaning forward to listen.

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