Throughout 2022, 24 Carrot Writing has shared our favorite books in our Book Picks section. As the holiday season approaches, these books would make perfect gifts for readers and writers alike. Enjoy a round-up of 24 Carrot Writing's 2022 Books Picks.
As a bonus, we've asked a few of our Book Pick authors to recommend one of their favorite 2022 books too!
Put these books on your want to read list, your mentor lists, and then wrap them up and share them just in time for reading during the winter season.
Megan Litwin's Book Pick
In TWINKLE, TWINKLE, WINTER NIGHT (September 20, 2022, Clarion Books), debut author Megan Litwin and illustrator Nneka Myers take readers on an exquisite journey through a magnificent winter wonderland. This beautiful book is about finding joy in the details, seeing light in the darkness, and discovering all of the many wonders of the season. Read the full Book Pick here.
BIG AND SMALL AND IN-BETWEEN (Chronicle, 2022) written by Carter Higgins and illustrated by Daniel Miyares, is a uniquely stunning picture book in which a carefully arranged list unfolds across three sections, categorized by size. The list of “things” is not just things at all, but rather a range of observations, experiences, emotions, and more - all presented in glorious, linger-worthy detail.
Writers could learn a lot from the specificity of this book, and the way it taps right into the heart of childhood. As a teacher, I used to do a lot of work helping young writers “zoom in” on the world and their personal experiences – and that is exactly what this book does, making it a mentor text for writers of all sizes.
Marcy Campbell's Book Pick
The first page of SOMETHING GOOD (LBYR, 2021) written by Marcy Campbell, illustrated by Corinna Luyken, starts like this:
“The day the custodian found the bad-something on the bathroom wall…”.
With those words, Campbell drops us right into this beautiful, powerful story – and into the tangle of feelings and questions that circle through an entire school community. Read the full Book Pick here.
In Charlotte Voake's BEE, a curious boy gets a glimpse into the lives of bees when he is magically transformed into one for a day.
This book so perfectly captures a child’s imagination, while also managing to incorporate science facts and ends with an easy way to show love and appreciation for these amazing creatures.
Sometimes, as writers, we can over explain. In this fictional story, which nonetheless helps kids learn information about bees, we never lose the thread of the young narrator’s point of view and his sense of wonder.
Blanca Gomez's Book Pick
In DRESS-UP DAY, by author/illustrator Blanca Gomez a young girl is distressed to have missed her opportunity to dress up as a bunny for her class' dress-up day because she's out sick. She decides to wear her bunny outfit to school the next day (What could go wrong?). With smart, sparse text and evocative illustrations that make the characters' emotions dance off the page, Gómez conveys a message of acceptance and kindness without once stating or summarizing the theme of her story. Read the full Book Pick here.
THE KIOSK by Anete Melece is about Olga, who works and lives in her kiosk, where she finds herself stuck. Until one day something happens…
I love this book because it reminds me of the books I used to read when I was a kid; or at least it made me feel the same way. Books about normal people living incredible situations, a bit surreal and totally crazy.
The book is a great example of how to tell a story. We can see Olga is literally stuck: her body cannot physically escape from the kiosk, but the first lines of the book: “Olga has been living and working at the kiosk for a long, long time. Maybe too long” are telling us that Olga is also mentally trapped. She dreams about travelling, about doing something else… but she needs a push, and we certainly can see that push along the pages of the book.
THE KIOSK is a great example of how to talk about important matters in a really funny and unexpected way.
April Jones Prince's Book Pick
YOU ARE A READER! YOU ARE A WRITER! by April Jones Prince and illustrated by Christine Davenier (Margaret Ferguson Books, 2021) is a book for readers and writers everywhere. Its “two-books-in-one” design cleverly shows that readers are writers and writers are readers, and the acts of reading and writing are all around. Writers of all ages would do well to read Prince’s pages on being a writer. To begin, she notes the importance of looking and listening well, no matter what you’re doing. Read the full Book Pick here.
In THIRST by Varsha Bajaj, communal water taps in Minni's impoverished Mumbai neighborhood provide water only a few hours a day. This compelling middle grade novel is an important reminder that things we often take for granted are not equally accessible in other parts of the world and that speaking up is something we all have the power to do. I loved Minni’s grit and compassion and especially the deep and broad community that sustains her throughout the story.
As a mentor text, THIRST is a master class in creating a cast of primary and secondary characters who feel real, relatable, and true and in leaving readers feeling empowered and fulfilled. (After reading you’ll be thirsty for more Varsha Bajaj, so check out her inclusive middle grade novel COUNT ME IN as well!)
24 Carrot Writing's 2022 Book Picks
In JOHN'S TURN, it's a young boy's turn to demonstrate his talent during the school's "Sharing Gifts" time. Mac Barnett's simple yet strong text - along with expressive illustrations by Kate Berube - gives the reader the space to experience the emotional power of the story without once pointing out the message. Read the full Book Pick here.
THE CREATURE OF HABIT (Random House Studio, 2021), by Jennifer E. Smith and illustrated by Leo Espinosa, tells the story of an island dwelling creature who loves his routine. A great mentor text to examine the way long vs short, and serious vs silly sentences can move plot, create tension, drive pacing, and enhance readability. Read the full Book Pick here.
You may think balloons and cake are just for birthdays, but SOMETIMES CAKE (Candlewick, January 2022), written by Edwina Wyatt and illustrated by Tamsin Ainslie, proves that when it comes to celebrations, thinking out-of-the-box is encouraged. SOMETIMES CAKE combines two lovable characters, kid-friendly dialogue, and perfectly pared-down prose. Read the full Book Pick here.
In I'M STICKING WITH YOU, (Henry Holt and Company, 2020), written by Smriti Prasadam-Halls and illustrated by Steve Small, Bear vows to be there for and do everything with his best friend, Squirrel. But when Bear’s enthusiastic devotion wreaks havoc on his buddy’s things and space, Squirrel decides their friendship may becoming a little… over-bearing. A perfect mentor text for first person rhyme and dual narrator transitions. Read the full Book Pick here.
You are welcome to share your favorite 2022 books in the comments. Be sure to let us know how they can be used as a mentor text for our 24 Carrot Community!
Books really do make the BEST gifts! Happy Reading!
Our favorite mentor texts to guide your writing and revisions.