USBBY Program Highlights Noteworthy International Books

At the ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans, the United States Board on Books for Young People (USBBY) presented a panel discussion called International Children’s Book Publishing: A Small Press Perspective. Representatives from Groundwood, Kane/Miller, Chronicle, and NorthSouth Books spoke about their line of children’s books as well as the history and characteristics of their publishing companies. There are many books I would like to highlight here today, but I’ve chosen two that made it home with me in my suitcase, allowing ample time for reading and relishing: Seasons by Anne Crausaz (Kane/Miller) and 999 Tadpoles (NorthSouth).

Everything is green. It must be springtime. With this simple statement of fact, author/illustrator Anne Crausaz begins her exploration of the seasons through a child’s five senses. Each two-page spread has an exquisite color palette that is never ordinary. The autumn leaves are especially striking in their subdued shades of grey-blue, burnt orange, and mustard. There’s a cool perfection to the images that is warmed by the rosy cheeks and freckled face of the young protagonist as she gathers tomatoes in her skirt or tastes the first blackberries of autumn. This title will make a lovely addition to preschool storytime collections – and your coffee table.

One warm spring day, 999 tadpoles were born. First published in Japan in 2003, this story begins in springtime as well. When the frog family grows too large for their pond, they embark on a journey to find a new home. When Father is grabbed by a hawk, the family grabs on, too, forming a long, froggy chain. The exhausted hawk eventually lets go, leaving the frogs (and the reader) dangling in suspense until a chorus of splashes announces the family’s arrival in their new home. Illustrator Yasunari Murakami’s tiny frogs are expressive in their simplicity and hilarious in their numbers. White space, green frogs, and round yellow eyes dominate the pages, making the appearance of cool blue at the end all the more satisfying.

Both of these titles are available for Suffolk County librarians to borrow from the SCLS Youth Services Review Collection. The 9th IBBY Regional Conference (sponsored by USBBY) is titled Peace the World Together with Children’s Books and takes place in Fresno in October.

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