2017 Blue Spruce Award™ Nominated Titles
The Artist and Me
Written by Shane Peacock, Illustrated by Sophie Casson
Vincent van Gogh is now known as an acclaimed, incomparable Post-impressionist painter. But when he lived in Arles, France, in the 1880s, he was mocked for being different. Back then, van Gogh was an eccentric man with wild red hair who used clashing hues to paint unusual-looking people and strange starry skies. Children and adults alike called him names and laughed at him. Nobody bought his art. But he kept painting.
Inspired by these events, The Artist and Me is the fictional confession of one of van Gogh’s bullies — a young boy who adopted the popular attitude of adults around him. It’s not until the boy faces his victim alone that he realizes there is more than one way to see the world.
Artwork in the book uses vibrant color and texture to bring the laneways, cafés, and wheat fields of southern France to life while playing on scenes from van Gogh’s own work. The lyrical text carries the emotional weight of the subject and will leave readers with the understanding that everyone’s point of view is valuable.
Good Little Book
Written by Kyo Maclear, Illustrated by Marion Arbona
While banished to a dusty study one day “to think things over”, a boy pulls a book off a shelf and with great reluctance begins to read. As the afternoon passes, the story nabs him and carries him away. Before long, this good little book becomes his loyal companion, accompanying him everywhere … until, one day, the book is lost. Will this bad little boy get back his good little book?
Harry & Walter
Written by Kathy Stinson, Illustrated by Qin Leng
Harry may be four and three-quarters and Walter may be ninety-two and a half, but that doesn’t stop them from being best friends. Harry loves to go next door to play games with Walter and draw pictures together. And when the snow falls, Walter clears a path to Harry’s house so that they can visit every day.
But one day, a For Sale sign appears on Harry’s lawn. Harry is devastated that he and Walter will no longer be neighbors. Harry’s new house is bigger and better than his old one, but without Walter to share things with, nothing seems to be much fun … until one day, Harry hears a familiar voice. Walter, too, has moved—to a nearby seniors’ residence. Now, Harry and Walter can still be best friends.
Acclaimed author Kathy Stinson has created a poignant, cross-generational story that will warm the hearts of children and adults alike. With charming illustrations by Qin Leng, Harry and Walter is a perfect book for children to share with grandparents.
If I Had a Gryphon
Written by Vikki Vansickle, Illustrated by Cale Atkinson
Sam just got a hamster for a pet. But the hamster is kind of boring ... he just eats and sleeps and gets his shavings wet. Inspired by her book of mythological creatures, Sam longs for a more exciting pet. But she soon realizes that taking care of these magical beasts might not be as wonderful as she thought. Sasquatches are messy, unicorns are shy, gryphons scare the dogs at the dogpark, and having a fire extinguisher handy at all times makes dragons seem like an awful lot of work. In the end, Sam realizes that her hamster is a pretty sweet and safe pet ... or is he?
If I Had a Gryphon is a raucous rhyming read-aloud about fantastical beasts in everyday situations--and the increasingly beleaguered heroine who has to deal with them.
Written by Maureen Fergus, Illustrated by Dušan Petričić
Bill just wanted someone to pass him the potatoes.
Unfortunately, no one even noticed--not his mother (a very busy woman with an important job), not his father (a very important man with a busy job), not his very intelligent older brother, not even his very athletic little sister.
If someone had noticed, the wonderful, terrible thing that happened might never have happened. But it did. InvisiBill is the hilariously absurd, tongue-in-cheek story of an ordinary middle child who feels so overlooked by his busy, distracted family that he becomes invisible ... or InvisiBill!
Written and Illustrated by Eric Fan and Terry Fan
In the spirit of Goodnight Moon and The Curious Garden comes a stunning debut picture book filled with whimsy and creativity from brothers Terry and Eric Fan.
One day, William discovers that the tree outside his window has been sculpted into a wise owl. In the following days, more topiaries appear, and each one is more beautiful than the last. Soon, William’s gray little town is full of colour and life. And though the mysterious night gardener disappears as suddenly as he appeared, William—and his town—are changed forever.
With breathtaking illustrations and spare, sweet text, this masterpiece about enjoying the beauty of nature is sure to become an instant classic.
Written by Hazel Hutchins, Illustrated by Dušan Petričić
Snap! Scritch! Whoosh! There goes another crayon!
What could be more perfect than a brand new set of crayons? Evan can’t wait to use them, until Snap!, the brown one breaks in two. Then one by one, the others break, get crushed, are blown away, or simply disappear. How can he possibly draw when there’s no green, purple, or even black?
Evan feels like throwing things, but instead, he scribbles using all the bits and pieces that are left. But what’s this? Where yellow and blue cross, there’s green, and when blue and red get all mixed up, it creates just the right purple to draw monsters. Soon, all he’s left with are tiny stubs of red, yellow, and blue, but Evan discovers that even with just a few crayons, he can create new and exciting art—his imagination is the only tool he needs.
The winning combination of Hazel Hutchins’s lively text and Dušan Petričić’s ingenious illustrations make this a wonderful addition to every young child’s library.
Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox
Written and Illustrated by Danielle Daniel
In this introduction to the Anishinaabe tradition of totem animals, young children explain why they identify with different creatures such as a deer, beaver or moose. Delightful illustrations show the children wearing masks representing their chosen animal, while the few lines of text on each page work as a series of simple poems throughout the book.
In a brief author’s note, Danielle Daniel explains the importance of totem animals in Anishinaabe culture and how they can also act as animal guides for young children seeking to understand themselves and others.
Stanley at School
Written by Linda Bailey, Illustrated by Bill Slavin
Every day, Stanley the dog watched all the children in his neighborhood walk down his street and into their school, where they stayed until the afternoon. And every day he got more and more curious. “What did the kids do in that school all day?” His dog friends at the park didn't know any more than he did. So they decided to find out, and together they made their way to the bottom of the stairs in front of the school. “And that's when Stanley got an idea. A big idea. A bold idea! An idea so daring, it made his fur stand up. 'Why don't we go inside?' he said.” What could be more fun than four dogs running loose in an elementary school? Not much. Until they get caught, that is!
Small children love stories about things in their world getting turned upside down, and this story delivers in a big way. This sixth book in the bestselling series from the multi-award-winning team of Linda Bailey and Bill Slavin will have children roaring with delight, as the dogs are shown in hilarious detail making their way through lunch boxes, chasing basketballs and upending instruments and paint jars before eventually getting marched out by the principal (the “top dog” at the school). This book is a natural for a lively read-aloud, but it could also spark a discussion about seeing things from another's point of view, in this case a dog's.
Written and Illustrated by Willow Dawson
In a story set deep in the wild winter wood, two hungry ravens fly in search of their next meal. A pack of wolves is on the hunt, too. Food is scarce, but, if they team up, the ravens and wolves just might be able to help each other.
The ravens follow a pack of starving wolves on the hunt. The wolves come up empty handed – and even lose one of their own in the chase – but the ravens have better luck. The wolves hear the ravens cawing and investigate only to find an injured deer, the perfect meal! The wolves make the kill; the opportunistic ravens benefit, feasting alongside and after the wolves.
The Wolf-Birds takes an honest, unflinching view of survival in the wild, highlighting the fact that one animal’s life helps many others live. Based on scientific data and anecdotal reports from Aboriginal hunters, the book explores the fascinating symbiotic relationship shared by wolves and ravens. Because ravens follow and scavenge food from wolves — which scientists believe hints at an ecological relationship thousands of years old — ravens have been dubbed “wolf-birds.” An informational author’s note at the back of the book explains more about this amazing animal behavior.
Lyrical, spare text and acrylic paint illustrations combine to give this picture book a elegant, stylized feel that completes this portrait of a multi-faceted symbiotic relationship.