Nathan Bryon and Dapo Adeola's Favourite Reads of 2020
Nathan Bryon and Dapo Adeola are the author-illustrator duo who earlier this year scooped up the Waterstones Children's Book Prize 2020 with Look Up! – a wide-eyed story of interstellar wonder, which was followed by the delightful Clean Up! this summer. In this exclusive piece, Bryon and Adeola recommend some amazing picture books they've discovered in 2020.
Julian at the Wedding, written and illustrated by Jessica Love
For those who don't know, Julian at the Wedding is the follow-up to my favourite picture book ever; Julian is a Mermaid! Julian at the Wedding is the most beautifully illustrated and joyous book about allowing your loved ones to be their true selves and embracing it. The minute Julian at the Wedding came out I knew I had to get a copy. Jessica Love's mesmerizing illustrations will keep you smiling and comforted knowing that Julian is still living their best life! Jessica's art is so joyous and I love how she portrays her black protagonist, I feel like I personally know and recognise every character in her illustrations, the last time I read a book and felt like that was by the master Trish Cooke! In this book, as the title states, Julian is at an ethereal wedding where they meet a friend called Marisol and have a stunning adventure. I love how the scarcity of text works in this book, as when it does appear it is so poignant and powerful. I wish our world looked more like what Jessica Love paints, it is so beautiful and I love getting lost in her books.
Posy the Monster Slayer, written by Cory Doctorow and illustrated by Matt Rockefeller
This book is amazing! To be perfectly honest I choose my picture books based on the artwork first, and as a huge fan of Matt’s work anything he does is pretty much a no brainer for me. But imagine my delight when I saw that his next picture book was going to be about a monster-slaying young Black girl, I was so stoked for this and it did not disappoint! The story is wonderfully humorous and delightfully dark, not enough to scare but enough to surprise. And the illustrations do an amazing job of bringing everything to life. The character of Posy is so confident, bordering on cheeky but also managing to be quite sweet at times and the bestiary on display is brilliant, with all the classics (vampires, werewolves etc) and a couple of Dungeons & Dragons creatures thrown in for good measure. This is a great bedtime story for sure.
Jeremy Worried About the Wind, written by Pamela Butchart and illustrated by Kate Hindley
I really love this book. Kate is one of my fave illustrators so again this was a no brainer for me. I love the characters she creates and the way she captures their emotions so perfectly. The story is about Jeremy, who is quite possibly the most cautious boy alive. He worries about E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G but being blown away by the wind gives him the most anxiety. One day he meets Maggie who’s pretty much his opposite and shenanigans ensue. There are a few stories out at the moment that explore emotions like anxiety, fear etc, but this one does it in the most fun and comedic way I’ve come across in a while and that’s thanks to how well Pamela’s text works with Kate’s illustration. It’s a great character driven book and definitely worth adding to any child’s collection.
Never Show A T. Rex A Book, written by Rashmi Sirdeshpande and illustrated by Diane Ewen
This book sees the rising children’s book author Rashmi Sirdeshpande collaborating with the amazingly talented debut illustrator Diane Ewen, and it is SUPER FUN! I’m always on the lookout for children’s books from other Black illustrators as there aren’t that many around in the UK industry, Diane is definitely a talent to watch. Her work is so much fun with an almost whimsical quality attached to each character and it works so well with Rashmi’s writing, I can’t wait to see more from this talented duo. I love that this book not only features a Black child lead but it also has a dinosaur as her co-star which until recently was a domain commonly associated with literature for “Boys” and both Rashmi and Diane do a bang up job of creating a character to effortlessly occupy this space.
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