Summer is a terrific time for kids to try something new. While school is out, kids can explore their own interests and build knowledge and skills in the process. One of the activities in Denver Public Library's Summer of Adventure program is to make something for the Maker Challenge. To complete the challenge, kids can make anything--be it high tech, no tech or somewhere in the middle. It is an opportunity for kids to experiment with whatever is making them happy right now. For books to inspire a summer of making, check out one of these new picture books about kids diving in to their individual passions.
That Neighbor Kid, written and illustrated by Daniel Miyares, is an almost wordless picture book about a new friendship built on the foundation of a good building project. Miyares' textured ink and watercolor illustrations invite readers into a neighborhood of single family houses with backyards separated by wooden fences, into which a girl has just moved. Through the fence, she spies, "that neighbor kid," who is building something in his yard. Eventually, her curiosity draws her into the neighbors yard and they collaborate to build a tree house. As their friendship grows, Miyares' gentle gray color palette blossoms into yellows and reds. A book about two kids building in their own backyard, not a grownup in sight.
Priscilla Gorilla by Barbara Bottner, illustrated by Michael Emberley, will ring true to anyone who has seen firsthand the fervor of a child who has found their passion. Priscilla is all about gorillas. She reads about them, writes about them, and aspires to be one of them. What she likes most about them is that they always get their way. But, when she brings her gorilla behavior to school, she is invited to sit in the "Thinking Corner." Luckily, a little more reading brings to light new aspects of gorilla-ness that smooth the way at school. Emberley's friendly pencil watercolor illustrations pair exceptionally well with Bottner's well chosen text. A delightful book about a young person exploring her interests through books and research.
Ah, the satisfaction of finding a friend who understands your view of the world! Niko Draws a Feeling, by Bob Raczka, illustrated by Simone Shin, illuminates the joy of a creative connection. Niko is an artist, but his art is misunderstood. He doesn't draw the ice cream truck, he draws the truck's "ring-a-ling." He despairs of his art ever being truly known until Iris moves in next door. A celebration of one child's unique vision and the joy of finding a kindred spirit. Shin's digital and mixed-media illustrations convey the effort and meaning of Niko's art and Raczka's text illuminates the struggles of an artist for a young audience.