Whether you have a tot or preteen, local authors have put out insightful illustrated storybooks to keep your kids engaged before they’re off to school.
Invisible Emmie by Terri Libenson (Balzer & Bray, $10.99)
The Gist: The author behind the internationally syndicated The Pajama Diaries comic strip debuts her first graphic novel. She takes us inside the seemingly different, yet surprising similar worlds of two middle schoolers: the meek, creative Emmie and the popular, athletic Katie. Libenson drew personal inspiration for Emmie. “I was really shy and quiet and artistic,” Libenson says. “But I had a huge imagination.”
Artist’s Touch: To distinguish the main characters, Libenson uses disparate illustration styles. “[For Emmie,] I kind of wanted to make it kind of fun and juvenile … not quite as polished as the Katie chapters,” she says.
Who’ll Love It: Elementary and middle schoolers ages 7 to 13 can easily take in the visually engaging graphic novel, while anyone who has struggled with identity can appreciate the message. “Just knowing you’re not alone and there are other kids out there like you,” Libenson says, “that’s always helpful.”
When I Carried You in My Belly by Thrity Umrigar (Running Press, $12.99)
The Gist: Fans know her acclaimed novels, but this time the Case Western Reserve University professor has shrunk her word count with a picture book about a mother’s love. “If there’s a message, it’s simply: Be lavish in your love,” Umrigar says. “Give your child a lot of love, attention, and yes, even respect.”
Artist’s Touch: Singapore illustrator Ziyue Chen breathes life into the text. “She did a good job with taking emotions that are intangible, such as kindness, joy and love, and she made them real,” Umrigar says.
Who’ll Love It: The colorful images appeal to kids ages 2 to 8, while their parents can enjoy the thoughtful prose. “What makes us human is language,” Umrigar says. “It’s very important to immerse children in that world at a young age.”