Tag Archives: Matt Myers

Starting with the Little Ones

Continuing the Best of EatReadSleep’s Tenth Anniversary!

I read everything, but children’s books are also my profession. I loved reading to my son when he was little, and now I have grandchildren to turn into bibliophiles. During the ten years that I’ve been writing EatReadSleep, I have been the children’s selector for a large library system. Here are some of my favorites from that time.

Board Books

I have only written one post about these sturdy little volumes, and it was meant to be funny. Seriously, though, Sandra Boynton, Michael Dahl, and others have poured their prodigious talents into books that will be slobbered and chewed on, and parents everywhere appreciate it.

Academic Board Books are a thriving industry. Lots of titles here. Also lots of snark.

Picture Books

Picture books! Those little artistic gems. How I love them. The best picture books convey oceans of meaning in just a few well-chosen words, along with gorgeous or hilarious illustrations. Here are some of my favorites over the years. Many of the reviews are grouped in the original posts. Click the links for full reviews!


How Do Dinosaurs…? Jane Yolen is one the most prolific living writers, and this continuing series never fails to teach lessons in the cleverest ways.
Pete the Cat is one groovy dude. James Litwin started the series, which was continued by James Dean. This is one of the most popular series going these days.
Olivia makes an appearance in the same post. She is one precocious little pig.
Duck and Goose are a charming pair, one more adventurous than the other. Tad Hills is also the author of the excellent Rocket Learns to Read and others.
Jean Reagan writes the How to Babysit a…. series, instructing children to allow grandparents naps and other helpful advice. Comedy that hits close to home.
Bonny Becker started the Bear series with A Visitor for Bear. Sweet, charming, and amusing. Large volumes just right for bedtimes.
What dog lover doesn’t sympathize with Carter Goodrich’s Mister Bud? Adorable.
Some children’s books, like Muppets movies, are at least partly written for grownups, even though they definitely work for the kids, too. I Am Otter is one of those.

Single Titles:

Oh, this poor, little penguin. Flight School will have you sympathetically laughing along.
The Tortoise & the Hare is a wordless wonder, just one of the Caldecott winner’s stunning creations.
There Might Be Lobsters is a summery title that will help timid children to overcome their fears.
Hum and Swish is another breezy, oceanside title. This one encourages children to stay true to their own vision.
Great Joy is not your usual Santa-and-his-reindeer Christmas books for kids. Enduring and gorgeous. Tissues not included.
I mean, seriously. Look at those ears and tell me you’re not in love. In a Jar is for every child whose friend has moved away.
Sweety is a confident little misfit. For every child who marches to the beat of her own drummer. Sweetness and naked mole rats. (That’s a species, not a state of undress.)
This Is My Home, This Is My School. A fond look back by a happily homeschooled author, for his younger fellow home educators and their friends in conventional school settings.
Everything about Madeline Finn and the Library Dog will make you say, “Awww.” There are other books that follow, but I love this one.
Watercress is a recent multi-award winner, a quietly beautiful book that packs an emotional wallop.
Clovis Keeps His Cool, but just barely. That huge bull with the petite feet! Hilarious with a message.
Achingly poignant, Boats for Papa is for little ones experiencing the loss of a parent, whether through divorce, abandonment, incarceration, or death.
The Steads can do no wrong. A Sick Day for Amos McGee was the first Caldecott winner for this married couple and features an old zookeeper and his loving animals.
Saint George and the Dragon was old when my son was young. A medieval myth retold and spectacularly illustrated by one of my favorite book artists.

There will be many more children’s books to come, so stay tuned!

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Summer Picture Books

Hum and Swish

Hum and Swish, by Matt Myers

Jamie is a creative little girl spending a day at the beach. As she hums and the waves swish, Jamie uses everything around her to make something new. Grown-ups walk by and offer useless comments like, “Aren’t you clever?” or “What are you making there?” to which Jamie always responds, “I don’t know.” Mom and Dad bring sunblock and juice, and Jamie quietly incorporates them into her art while her dark hair swirls in the sea breeze and the little shore birds keep watch. Eventually, an older woman comes out and sets up her easel, and when Jamie asks her, “What are you making?”, she responds, “I don’t know yet.” So the two artists continue working contentedly side by side.

An ode to the creative process, the oil and acrylic paintings in this picture book convey all of the elements of a summer day at the beach. The waves fairly hiss off the page, and the grit of sand sticks to salty legs. Elderly people, toddlers, and teenagers all stroll by, but Jamie longs for the solitude of her own thoughts. As she sits at the edge of the surf, she thinks, “The sea tells stories, but it doesn’t ask questions.”

Matt Myers is a North Carolina author, and our state has miles and miles of seashore to inspire just such scenes. Although he has illustrated many picture books in the past, Hum and Swish is his first work in which he is both author and illustrator. This lovely, contemplative book has many details to discover, and your little artist may find a soulmate in Jamie.

Sea Glass Summer

Sea Glass Summer, by Michelle Houts; illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline

Young Thomas is spending the summer with his grandmother on a rocky island. She gives him a magnifying glass that had belonged to his grandfather, and Thomas sets out to explore. One of his favorite discoveries is a piece of glass that has been worn smooth by years of polishing in the ocean waves. When Thomas puts it on his night table, he dreams of its former owner and the origin of the broken glass. When it is time to leave the island, Thomas drops the magnifying glass, and the shards fall into the sea. Years later, a little girl visits the island with her Pappaw Tom. Annie finds a piece of sea glass, puts it on the table by her bed, and dreams of a boy named Thomas.

Michelle Houts’ picture book has more text than most, but her story is charming, with a sweet surprise ending. Bagram Ibatoulline uses shimmering sea-glass colors to create a chilly Maine beach, rocky and serene. Thomas wears the rolled-up jeans and high-top sneakers of an earlier time, and his grandmother wears a sweater on a summer day. In the present time, Annie wears pink Crocs. Houts appends a note to say that we now have more concern for the environment than to throw glass into the ocean, but how that also makes sea glass even more rare than it used to be.

Great JoyBoth the author and the illustrator have other notable works, but I first became aware of Ibatoulline in his Christmas picture book, Great Joy, written by the inimitable Kate DiCamillo. Be sure to pick that one up this holiday season, and I dare you to keep a dry eye.

There Might Be LobstersWhen thinking about summer picture books, I remember fondly the adorable There Might Be Lobsters, by Carolyn Crimi, which I reviewed here. Little dog lovers will find that one tenderly hilarious, as well.

All highly recommended for your salty, sticky, sandy beach babies.

Disclaimer: I read a library copy of all of the above. Opinions expressed are solely my own and may not reflect those of my employer or anyone else.

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