My picture book choice: Grumpy Pants by Claire Messer. Penguin is having a grumpy day. No matter what he does, he just can’t shake it! He tries taking a bath and reading and drinking hot cocoa. But sometimes the only thing to do is to start over. The simple text and primary-color artwork, done in a traditional printmaking style, fully capture a toddler’s emotions and attention. Yet the sentiment is just as applicable to adults, because we all have grumpy days and just don’t know why! This debut launched the career of British artist Claire Messer, whose next title, Lazybones, publishes in the spring.
Young adult pick: Caraval by Stephanie Garber is the story of Scarlett and her beloved sister, Tella. Scarlett has never left the tiny island where they live with their powerful but cruel father and dreams of seeing Caraval, a legendary once-a-year performance in a distant land. But then an invitation arrives, and she finds that Caraval involves a thrilling game where the audience participates in the show and nothing is as it appears. Soon, Scarlett is wrapped up in a dangerous game of love and heartbreak as she attempts to save her sister from the game’s mastermind organizer, Legend. This rich world is as lush and magical as it is dangerous and deceptive and keeps readers spellbound to the very last page.