Jarrett J. Krosoczka's mother began many of her letters to him with the greeting Hey, Kiddo (Graphix, $24.99 HB/$14.99 PB), right before explaining that she couldn't come to his birthday, to his graduation, to pretty much anything. Jarrett eventually discovered that his grandparents were raising him because his mother was a heroin addict, and her letters came from jail or a halfway house. Krosoczka’s graphic memoir, an artistic leap forward from the simpler line drawings of his beloved Lunch Lady series, highlights his deep compassion: for his addicted mother, absentee father, alcoholic grandmother, and for his own younger, hurting self. Ages 14-18.
Robin Page and Steve Jenkins breathe new life into the favorite game of small animal lovers everywhere. “I have… nine black spots, two delicate wings, six wiggly legs, two beady eyes, and a flower for a home. Who Am I?” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $14.99). One by one, the animals, illustrated in bold, ripped-paper collage, present clues to lead the reader to the answer. Some of these animals (like the ladybug!) will be familiar, but others (ghost crab, spider monkey) will be more challenging to identify. Even the adults turning the pages may learn something from this visit to the animal kingdom. Ages 5-8.
Amy and Greg Newbold have opened a whimsical window into art history for the young reader: snowmen! Illustrator Greg envisions what it would look like If Picasso Painted a Snowman (Tilbury House, $17.95) (a cubist snowman, of course), as well as imagining snowy creations by Marc Chagall (bright, cavorting circus snowmen), Gustav Klimt (a cozy snowman family wrapped up in a highly geometric quilt), Grant Wood (Snowman Gothic), and eleven other masters. This goofy, immersive introduction to style, a boon to emerging artists and art appreciators, is topped off with an invitation to readers to develop a unique style of their own. Ages 7-10.