I am thrilled to join a group of amazing authors, illustrators, and bloggers as we each discuss our all-time favorite children’s book of 2016 (so far).
My pick is (drumroll please) Six Dots: A Story of Young Louis Braille.
Simply follow the links at the bottom of this post to see the remaining favorite picks of 2016.
Six Dots: A Story of Young Louis Braille
by Jen Bryant and Boris Kulikov
Published by Alfred A. Knopf September 2016
Louis Braille was just five years old when he lost his sight. He was a clever boy, determined to live like everyone else, and what he wanted more than anything was to be able to read.
Even at the school for the blind in Paris, there were no books for him.
And so he invented his own alphabet—a whole new system for writing that could be read by touch. A system so ingenious that it is still used by the blind community today.
Why I love this book and why it is my favorite picture book of 2016
The beauty of this book begins before the story starts. Upon opening the cover, the reader is greeted with a quote by Helen Keller (in Braille, of course). The following page is printed with the Braille Alphabet. It would have been great (but costly, I assume) for the Braille Alphabet to be raised, still, it is a wonderful addition. Because Louis Braille (loo-WEE-brale) was French, the author used many French names (Gah-bree-EL) and phrases (Oui!) which are scattered throughout the story. A pronunciation guide is included.
Jen Bryant chose to tell Louis’ story in the first person which helps to draw the reader in and feel more of a connection to Louis and his trials and accomplishments. The author also includes a Q & A section at the back of the book which answers questions the reader may have such as, What happened after Louis finished his studies? How has Braille kept pace with the digital age? and What else did Louis invent?
My favorite page of SIX DOTS is on the day young Louis Braille loses his sight completely. The pages, which have been white with black text up to this point, change to a pitch black page with white text:
…I could see nothing at all. No trees or sparrows. No faces. No lace or loaves of bread. By the time I turned five, I was completely blind. ….”Where is the sun?” I cried.
This book will tug at the reader’s heartstrings, after all, Louis had many struggles, but look further and you will see that this is a book about adaptation, perseverance, creation, and celebration.
Blend a well-written story, beautiful and fitting illustrations in mixed media, and all the extras this book has to offer, and voilá! you have a hit that children, teachers, and parents will enjoy and learn from for years to come.
“An inspiring look at a child inventor whose drive and intelligence changed the world—for the blind and sighted alike.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Although many Braille biographies stress his disability, Bryant’s title subtly emphasizes his creativity and celebrates him as an inventor, making this an excellent addition for STEM collections. Illustrations in Kulikov’s signature style, light-hearted with a touch of tartness, deftly toggle between sun-washed scenes in which the world views Louis and blackened scenes in which Louis recreates the world he sees in his mind.”—The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, starred review
Buy this book and add it to your playlist
Ready for the rest of our 2016 recommendations? Just follow the links!
Who we are:
Cate Berry is an author, performer, songwriter, and teacher. She’s the author of two original shows, one of which (Dish) was produced at the Long Center for Performing Arts in 2014. Cate’s debut picture book, Penguin and Tiny Shrimp Don’t Do Bedtime will be available in Spring 2018 (Balzar + Bray).
Charnaie Gordon, a computer programmer by trade and a Distinguished Toastmaster, is the blogger behind the popular Here Wee Read blog, where you’ll find tips and suggestions for finding the best children’s books, and be inspired to make the most of your read aloud time, however much that is.
Danna Smith is the author of many books for children, including her most recent fiction titles, Swallow the Leader and Arctic White, as well as numerous non-fiction titles, such as Balloon Trees and the forthcoming The Hawk of the Castle: A Story of Medieval Falconry (Candlewick, 2017).
Eileen Manes is a writer, an artist and the blogger behind Pickle Corn Jam, a blog about books and writing for children of all ages. She was recently nominated as a finalist for the SCBWI-Austin Cynthia Leitich Smith Writing Mentor Award, and her current projects include picture books, a middle grade novel and a novel for adults, all in various stages of completion.
Henry L. Herz is the author of numerous books for children, including Mabel and the Queen of Dreams, Little Red Cuttlefish and the forthcoming Dinosaur Pirates (Sterling, 2017). He’s a regular panelist at conventions, including San Diego Comic-Con and WonderCon, and has been a guest blogger on several blogs, including Tara Lazar’s amazing Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo) and Angie Karcher’s Rhyming Picture Book Month (RhyPiBoMo).
Karen Santhanam is a writer, an artist, a blogger, and host of the popular Storybook Spotlight podcast. Storybook Spotlight is about reading with kids, children’s books and family fun, including interviews with children’s books authors, illustrators, librarians, teachers, preschool folks and friends. She was also recently nominated as a finalist for the SCBWI-Austin Cynthia Leitich Smith Writing Mentor Award.
Kell Andrews writes novels and picture books for children and nonfiction for adults. A little bit of magic helps with both. Her first novel, Deadwood, was published in 2014 and her debut picture book, Mira Forecasts the Future, came out this year (2016, Sterling).
Keyosha Atwater is an avid reader, Instagramer, and blogger. When she isn’t reading to her own kiddos or reviewing books on Instagram @weebooklovers, you’ll find her working on her brand new blog, Wee Book Lovers, where she’ll be reviewing even more books and suggesting the best of the best kid-tested, mom-approved books to try with your own family.
Liz Garton Scanlon is the author of numerous beloved books for young people, including the highly-acclaimed, Caldecott-honored picture book, All the World, and her debut novel for middle grade readers, The Great Good Summer. She’s also a poet, a teacher and a frequent, popular presenter at schools, libraries and conferences.
Vanessa Roeder (Nessa Dee) is an illustrator, painter and self-proclaimed crafty mess-maker. She’s worked as a muralist and made art for magazines, children’s books and homes around the world. She’s taught art, writes stories, has been featured in Highlights Magazine and on Apartment Therapy and was the grand prize winner in the Austin SCBWI 2016 portfolio contest.