2016 in [Book] Review Books International It's Monday What Are You Reading Picture Books Reading Themes

[Monday Reading] Alemagna and Arsenault for the New Year: 2016 International PictureBook Titles


It's Monday! What Are You Reading

Myra here.

It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (new host of Monday reading: Kathryn T at Book Date). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community.


We have just launched our new reading theme yesterday in time for the New Year.

A Very Happy New Year, fellow bibliogeeks! We have decided to do a 2016 in [Book Review] this January-February as we catch up on 2016 titles we may have missed reading or missed out sharing here. I’ve really thought long and hard about what I will be sharing as I have borrowed a serious stack of reading materials from the library, before finally deciding on some Alemagna and Arsenault love to welcome the New Year.

img_9151You Belong Here

Written byM. H. Clark Illustrated by: Isabelle Arsenault
Published by: Compendium, Inc. 2016 ISBN: 1938298993 (ISBN13: 9781938298998)
Borrowed a copy from Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me. 

As the New Year rolls in, I think it is a perfect time to wax lyrical about who we are and what we truly wish for in life. And for most of us, it is really this sense of belongingness that matters most of all, whereby “here” is not an actual place, but a feeling, a sentiment, a promise, a commitment.


Admittedly, I am not a fan of rhyming text, but Arsenault’s illustrations more than make up for it. The writer takes the reader on a journey of the many creatures and objects (from whales to birds to deer) who belong somewhere (the typography is different in this narrative – see below)


before settling in with the refrain of “you belong here” – and going back to the cursive typography (see another image below). It is the lyrical quality of the narrative matched by the superb book layout and design that undid me, showing how much thought and care has gone to the making of this beautiful book:


While a lot of cynical people may regard this as another Guess How Much I Love You kind of book, I thought that this message of finding refuge and sanctuary through unconditional acceptance is a message that should resonate deeply given what is going on with the world right now. It is important to acknowledge and appreciate beauty and goodness and enduring love wherever it can be found.

What Is A Child?img_9145

Written and Illustrated byBeatrice Alemagna Translated by: Anna Bennett Edited by: Catriona Clayon
Published by: Tate Enterprises, Ltd. First published in Italian in 2008. ISBN: 1849764123 (ISBN13: 9781849764124)
Bought a copy of the book. Book photos taken by me. 

This is one of my favourite reads in 2016. Granted, I am a fan of oversized picturebooks – and Beatrice Alemagna is no stranger to that kind of style, except that this one opens portrait style, unlike the landscape one of her beautifully rendered A Lion in Paris.


This book celebrates childhood in all its glories, with a quick nod as well to adulthood, and what it means to be a grown-up. I was especially taken by the sketches of children in varied hues and states – from those who imitate grown-ups (see image above – that is so me when I was a child; I think I was born an adult) to the really candid ones devoid of any form of self-consciousness whatsoever (see image below):


Apart from the delightful character sketches here, it is the message of innocence, simplicity, and youth that captivated me most of all – regardless of what age you are, as you can see in the image below, truly beautiful:


May you be moved today by the littlest of things: from a ray of sunshine to a glittering dew drop (no snowflakes in our part of the world). Happy New Year, once again.

14 comments on “[Monday Reading] Alemagna and Arsenault for the New Year: 2016 International PictureBook Titles

  1. These are both new to me, and both look utterly enchanting. I think my reading goal this year is going to be seeking out more books in translation, since it’s all too easy to miss out on international treasures like these.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Both of these sound beautiful. Lovely illustrations in both. Thanks for sharing and Happy New Year to you as well!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I hadn’t read or even heard of these two books. I’m really interested in You Belong Here. Thanks for sharing. Happy New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I generally don’t like rhyming text either, but Arsenault is a huge draw for me. Such a gorgeous book! The Beatrice Alemagna title looks amazing. I am off to see if I can get my hands on it!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. lindabaie

    These both look enchanting, Myra. I loved A Lion In Paris, so will look for these. I hope I can find them! Happy New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Two beautiful books, Myra – the first one, especially, seems like a book for our times. Happy New Year, my friend!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Both of these books look fabulous Myra. I’m going to be sure to get more Isabelle Arsenault. I adored her work in Cloth Lullaby. What is a Child isn’t available at my library, but other Beatrice Alemagna titles are. I’ve just put a hold on A Lion in Paris.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I am unfamiliar with this author, but really appreciate the time you took to share details and pictures from both the books. You’ve definitely sold me on wanting to check these out! Thanks so much!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Gorgeous illustrations.

    Welcome to you!!

    Happy New Year, and Happy Reading in 2017.

    Silver’s Reviews
    My It’s Monday, What Are You Reading

    Liked by 1 person

  10. You always find such beautiful books! Happy New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. crbrunelle

    Both of these are completely new to me. Thanks for sharing them!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Pingback: [Monday Reading] Tiny Kids from Europe With Huuuuge Imagination in “Bonjour Camille” and “Little Big Boubo” – Gathering Books

  13. Pingback: [Saturday Reads] Favourite Titles Across GatheringBooks’ 2017 Reading Themes – Gathering Books

  14. Pingback: [Saturday Reads] The Limitless Imagination of Beatrice Alemagna – Gathering Books

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