Hidden City

1.  Hidden City: Poems of Urban Wildlife

by Amy Schimler-Safford and Sarah Grace Tuttle

A poetic book highlighting everyday nature

WATCH: Book trailer for Hidden City

The perfect blend of science and poetry, Hidden City demonstrates that nature can thrive anywhere, even in highly populated areas. In this graceful collection of poems, skyscrapers serve as perches for falcons, streetlights attract an insect buffet for hungry bats, and an overgrown urban lot offers shelter to both flora and fauna. Hidden City also includes engaging supplementary materials, which provide scientific information about the animals and plants featured in the book.

Coupled with beautiful collage illustrations, the poems in Hidden City offer readers the perfect reminder to notice and care about their environment.

Kirkus Reviews
“Paired with Schimler-Safford’s breathtaking digital collages, Tuttle’s 28 free-verse poems and engaging end notes center on representatives from the plant, animal, and insect kingdoms commonly found in North American urban and suburban settings. . . . This celebration of urban wildlife subtly informs as it delights.”

The Watcher

2. The Watcher

by Nikki Grimes and Bryan Collier

A poetic story inspired by Psalm 121

2018 World Magazine Picture Book of the Year

Nikki Grimes takes the words of Psalm 121 and masterfully transforms them into a golden shovel poem of compassion, friendship, and faith. Coupled with powerful artwork from Bryan Collier, this heartfelt story is one that readers will treasure.

Jordan lives in fear of Tanya, the class bully. But Tanya has worries of her own, no matter how much she tries to ignore them. It seems impossible that Jordan and Tanya could be anything other than enemies, but the Lord is watching over them, guiding each of them along a path that might just help them to understand one another.

Kirkus Reviews (STARRED review)
“A sumptuous work filled with a deliciously wrapped center—perfect for classrooms, school, public, or church libraries, or home: wherever hearts go for mending.”

Publishers Weekly (STARRED review)
“The language, by turns soaring and searing, requires close attention, but its beauty is brought to earth in the best way by Collier’s resonant photo-collages.”

Booklist (STARRED review)
“Collier uses his look-and-look-again collage work, here in earth tones, to capture and extend the emotions bubbling near the surface. Childhood concerns, some common, some not, are elevated by the infusion of God into this wholly (and holy) original mix.”

Shelf Awareness (STARRED review)
“Hopeful and affecting, Grimes and Collier’s third collaboration provides exquisite affirmation of the healing power of forgiveness and compassion.”


3. Crazy

by Linda Vigen Phillips

A compelling novel in verse about mental illness

Laura is a typical fifteen-year-old growing up in the 1960s, navigating her way through classes, friendships, and even a new romance.

WATCH: Book trailer for Crazy

But she’s carrying around a secret: her mother is suffering from a mental illness. No one in Laura’s family will talk about her mother’s past hospitalizations or increasingly erratic behavior, and Laura is confused and frightened. Laura finds some refuge in art, but when her mother suffers a breakdown after taking painting back up again herself, even art ceases to provide much comfort.

Eloquent and compelling, this powerful novel-in-verse tackles complex themes in a way that will have readers rooting for Laura to find the courage to get the answers she needs.

New York Public Library: Best Books for Teens 2014
Junior Library Guild Selection
Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA): 2015 Best Fiction for Young Adults List
Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People: 2015
Bank Street College: Best Children’s Books of the Year, 2015 Edition
2014 INDIEFAB: Book of the Year Award, GOLD Winner for Young Adult Fiction

School Library Journal
“Beautifully written and emotionally impactful.”

A River of Words

4. A River of Words

by Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet

Caldecott Award Honor Book (2009)

The elegant tapestry of worship through a young girl’s eyes

READ: 5 Questions with Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet.

Willie loved to write — words gave him freedom and peace. But he also knew that he needed to earn a living, so when he grew up he went off to medical school and became a doctor — one of the busiest men in town! Yet he never stopped writing.

In this picture book biography of poet William Carlos Williams, Jen Bryant’s engaging prose and Melissa Sweet’s stunning mixed-media illustrations celebrate the amazing man whose poems about ordinary, everyday things will inspire young readers to create poems of their own.

Kirkus Reviews (STARRED review)
“With plain words, appropriate to the style of this master of clear and precisely worded poetry, and brilliant images, Bryant and Sweet introduce Williams and his poetry in a fresh, accessible way. . . It is entirely possible that this offering will not only acquaint readers with the man and his poetry but will also inspire creativity — Williams would no doubt be pleased.”

School Library Journal (STARRED review)
“This stunning picture-book biography combines a lyrical text with wonderfully creative mixed-media illustrations in an impressive and personal homage to an extraordinary and accomplished man.”

I Lay My Stitches Down

5. I Lay My Stitches Down

by Cynthia Grady and Michele Wood

Embrace the dream of diversity

This rich and intricate collection of poems chronicles the various experiences of American slaves. Drawn together through imagery drawn from quilting and fiber arts, each poem is spoken from a different perspective: a house slave, a mother losing her daughter to the auction block, a blacksmith, a slave fleeing on the Underground Railroad.

This moving and eloquent set of poems, brought to life by vivid and colorful artwork from Michele Wood, offers a timeless witness to the hardship endured by America’s slaves. Each poem is supplemented by a historical note.

Kirkus Reviews (STARRED review)
“A powerful grouping of thought-provoking poems and brilliantly designed paintings.”

School Library Journal (STARRED review)
“This ambitious work offers a bit of poetry, history, folk art, quilting, religion and more. It will definitely fill a niche in libraries.”

A Pond Full of Ink

6. A Pond Full of Ink

by Annie M.G. Schmidt and Sieb Posthuma

A whimsical collection of children’s poems

This delightful collection of poems offers children and the young at heart a refreshing, inventive look at the world from the well-known Dutch author, Annie Schmidt.

WATCH: Book trailer for A Pond Full of Ink 

The rollicking poems tell the stories of such intriguing characters as three elderly otters who long to go boating but find themselves biking instead, animated furniture that comes to life when no one is home, and Aunt Sue and Uncle Steve who nest up in a tree!

The poems in A Pond Full of Ink transform ordinary events and places into extraordinary adventures full of imagination, much like the work of Shel Silverstein or Jack Prelutsky. Accompanying the poems is bold and expressive artwork that makes this book too charming to resist.

Kirkus Reviews (STARRED review)
“Heartwarming creative genius abounds here, offering visual and aural pleasures aplenty: not to be missed.”

Children’s Book Council 
“This delightful collection of poems offers children and the young at heart a refreshing, inventive look at the world.”

At Jerusalem’s Gate

7. At Jerusalem’s Gate: Poems of Easter

by Nikki Grimes and David Frampton

Through poignant, heart-warming images of an urban African-American family, children experience the comfort and encouragement this favorite psalm still offers—the powerful message that they can rely on the Lord as they thread their way through the risk-filled maze of daily life in the city.

The author’s introductions provide a thoughtful framework, and David Frampton’s beautifully intricate and expressive woodcuts illuminate each poem. At Jerusalem’s Gate offers readers of all ages insight into the most important moments in Christian history.

Kirkus Reviews (STARRED review)
“Poetry is gentle yet thoughtful, alluding to the brutality of the execution while providing an almost prayer-like personal reflection. . . . A handsome, well-designed offering for middle readers and families.”

Publishers Weekly
“An extraordinary collection. . . . Frampton’s elegant woodcut to illustrate the treatment of Christ shows a dove flying through curling barbed branches. These images in words and pictures will keep readers thinking about the book — and the Passion — long after the covers are closed.”

Society of Illustrators: The Original Art Annual Exhibition (2005)
BooklistTop Ten Religion Books for Youth (2005)
Cleveland Public Library: Celebrate with Books (2005)
National Council of Teachers of English: Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children to Nikki Grimes (2006)

When Daddy Prays

8. When Daddy Prays

by Nikki Grimes and Tim Ladwig

When Daddy prays
my fear of darkness disappears
and angels tiptoe down the hall.
I hear them through the door and wall . . . when Daddy prays.

In this collection of poems by Nikki Grimes, a child learns about prayer from his father, whose prayers carry the family through each day—no matter what the circumstances.

Nikki Grimes believes that spirituality and prayer are signs of true strength and power. When Daddy Prays celebrates fathers who help their children see this. Grimes writes, “In my view there is no more powerful image than that of a strong man bowing before God.”

Illustrator Tim Ladwig has created remarkable images, rich with tenderness and touches of affectionate humor, to enhance and complete this exceptional book.

Catholic Observer
“With today’s seemingly never-ending news coverage of families breaking up and the important role that fathers play in the procedure, this book offers a ray of sunshine for these fathers and their sons.”

Kirkus Reviews
“Fourteen graceful poems portray a small boy’s relationship with his prayerful father. . . Bold, strong pictures match the poetry and anchor the writing in an everyday world. . . A unique offering for a family read-aloud.”

Night Guard

9. Night Guard

by Stian Hole and Synne Lea

Friendship, fear, loneliness — these are things that are universally experienced but difficult to describe. In this arresting poetry collection, Synne Lea explores these concepts and more through the thoughts and experiences of a family. As the family members examine their connections with each other and the world around them, they gain a deeper appreciation of love and friendship and learn how to reach beyond the confines of their own isolation.

Accompanied by breathtaking artwork, these enchanting poems will stay with readers long after they have turned the final page.

Publishers Weekly
“It’s rare to see children’s poetry in translation in the U.S., making this volume a welcome addition to the category, from creators who are widely lauded in Europe. . . . Hole’s photorealistic collage paintings, with elements of magical realism, form a strong partnership with [Lea’s] spare, sophisticated text, which weaves elements of magic and delight in the natural world into the way children experience emotions.”

Booklist (STARRED review)
“Enchanting, unsettling, and profound. . . . This collection glows.”

Song of Creation

10. Song of Creation

by Paul Goble

“Birds pray, trees pray, flowers pray, mountains pray, the winds and rain pray, rivers and the little insects pray as well. The whole earth is in constant prayer, and we can join with its great prayer,” says award-winning author and illustrator Paul Goble.

Every element of creation—from the magpie to the minnow—glorifies God in its own way in this bold and brightly illustrated work, adapted from The Book of Common Prayer. Goble invites readers to join with the land and the animals in singing praise to God.

Kirkus Reviews (STARRED review)
“Caldecott Medalist Goble has created a stunning prayer of praise. . . Goble’s instantly recognizable illustration style is at its best, from the herd of charging wild horses on the cover to the snowy mountain on the final page.”

Publishers Weekly (STARRED review)
“Goble’s sweeping vistas . . . show a gorgeous cross-section of God’s gifts to the world.”