February 20, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox


Daniel Miyares. illus. by author. S. & S.

PreS-Gr 3–An imaginative child decked out in a yellow raincoat splashes through a stormy day with his wayward paper airplane in this stunning wordless picture book. Evoking the works of Ezra Jack Keats, Miyares adds depth and light to moments of adventure and drama in this deceptively simple tale.



  1. Im curious…. every year the “best picture books” of any given year have beautiful illustrations and wonderful stories ment, I assume , to be read aloud to primary grade students. I find that all this talent goes un-appreciated by primary (K-3) students. @ the library where I work, that age group(esp. boys) seems to prefer books w/”real” images and information about those images. Are authors making “adult childrens picture books” ?

    • This is a very good question. Even though I am a children’s book illustrator (What James Said), I am no expert. But I do remember being a kid, and what I wanted was both. Sometimes I was in the mood for a factual book, with real pictures, and sometimes a fantasy, to take me away from reality. I also used to stare at factual books and let my imagination go wild. I doubt that any six-year-old boy is looking at a book filled with photographs of construction equipment the way you or I would. In his mind he is probably riding a bulldozer, or smashing buildings apart with a wrecking ball.

      Personally, I think fictional picture books could be much more strange, meaning that a child could read more between the lines and pictures than they are usually asked to do. Too much is spelled out and tied up with a neat bow. If I were given a choice between a tame fictional story and a book of cool facts about dinosaurs, I’d pick the latter. Even as an adult, I choose to read history over a predictable novel.

      I believe that children now have access to many great informational books. And a few great imaginative books. Kids are smart. They can smell a “tidy” picture book a mile away. If more books provided “real” imagination, more children would pounce on them.

      And there is the inherent problem. Facts are often weird, but they are objectively real. The imagination is weird, and it is completely subjective. Obviously a weird subjective story is far more likely to get vetoed somewhere along the way than a book on construction equipment.

      That’s where librarians can make a real difference. If you want more real imagination, you need to ask for it. Publishers care what you think.