The Bluest of Blues: Anna Atkins and the First Book of Photographs by Fiona Robinson; illustrated by Fiona Robinson

The Blues of BluesThe Bluest of Blues: Anna Atkins and the First Book of Photographs by Fiona Robinson; illustrated by Fiona Robinson. 2019. “Montages of pencil drawings, watercolor paintings, vintage fabrics and wallpapers, wood veneers, and photographs.” Published by Abrams.

Brief summary: Anna and her father press flowers and collect  insects in Kent, England sometime in 1807. John Children has only one child, Anna, and is determined to give her the best education possible by home schooling her, since girls rarely went to school especially to learn about science.

Anna grew up to become a botanist often sketching her own specimens. Her father translates French scientific journals to English and needs 250  illustrations for a series he just finished called Lamarck’s Genera of Shells. Anna illustrates the various shells.

Anna marries and moves to London. Anna wants to attend the Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge but women are not allowed. Her father shares the lectures with her. She wants to find a way to share her knowledge of the extensive herbarium she has collected. She is given membership to the Royal Botanic Society in London during 1839.

In 1841, Anna and her father learn how to take photographs. They visit Sir John Herschel where he shares how he has discovered the cyanotype print that does not need a camera to make a quick image in blue (due to the chemicals used). Anna decides to use this method and creates a book of her seaweed* which is completed in 1843. Her father shares her books with several of the scientific museums.

Comments: The color of this book and its pages are all done in blues. The end pages have labeled cyantypes of various plants.  In the back of the book, there is an author’s note, instructions of how to make your own cyanotype, bibliography, institutions holding Anna’s Cyanotypes, acknowledgements, illustration credits, and a detailed explanation of the mediums used for the book.

This book could be used for biography reports, a science and art class collaboration(students collecting specimens and then making their own cyanotype), and Women’s History Month in March.

Personal note: As I am reading this book, I am reminded of how unique it was for Anna to have a father who valued the intellect of his daughter and educated her to become a  botanist. Even with all of her work with creating and recording her specimens in several books of cyanotypes, she is not given due credit. She wrote a biography about her father and a book titled Photographs of British Algae. She did not use her name but her initials A.A. which were taken for many years as “anonymous author.”

I paused and thought several times during this book of how many other women with wonderful scientific minds were ignored during this time period because of the  prejudices towards women.

*Note: The author does not know for sure what the subject matter was for Anna’s first cyanotype.

My Papi Has a Motorcycle by Isabel Quintero; illustrated by Zeke Pena

My Papi has a MotorcycleMy  Papi has a Motorcycle by Isabel Quintero; illustrated by Zeke Pena. 2019. Mix of hand-painted watercolor texture. Published by Kokila.

Brief summary: Daisy Ramona loves it when her Papi comes home from work to take his daughter on a motorcycle trip through their neighborhood. Daisy points out all of the highlights injecting many of the Spanish words for those special places in her life. They are disappointed to see that one of their favorite places has gone out of business. They continue waving to neighbors including her grandparents as they head to the job site where her father has been helping to build a new house. They turn to drive back home to find  her brother and Mami are waiting to share a surprise that completes the ride.

Comments: This book is based on the author’s own bike rides with her father when he came home from work, and  they would drove around Corona, California.  The illustrator was able to successfully caption the love and admiration of the daughter towards her father, the colors and characters of the neighborhood, and the fun they had driving around on the motorcycle. Beautifully done!


Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry; illustrated by Vashti Harrison

Hair LoveHair Love by Matthew A. Cherry; illustrated by Vashti Harrison. 2019. Art is digitally created.  Published by Kokila.

Brief summary: Zuri wants a special hairstyle for a special day and tries several with the help of her loving father until he finds one she likes. Her mom arrives home in time to see the final creation in which they take a selfie together to remember.

Comments: Cute and whimsical story of how a father does not give up with getting his little girl’s hair the way she wants it. I personally can’t remember when my father ever did that!

I would read this and other hair picture books (A Mighty Girl has a good list: I Love My Hair: 18 Books About Mighty Girls and Their Hair)and pair them with Rapunzel and variants of the fairy tale from other countries.

Days With Dad by Nari Hong

Days with Dad

Days With Dad by Nari Hong; illustrated by Nari Hong. 2017. (Originally published in South Korea). Published by Enchanted Lion Books.

Brief summary: A young girl spends time with her Dad. Her father often apologies to his daughter about the things he cannot do with her, because he is in a wheelchair. The girl does not mind, as she focuses more on the things they can do together.

Comments: I love the perspective of the daughter focusing and loving the time she spends with her father and does not have concerns about the things he cannot do with her due to his disability.

This book is autobiographical of the author.

The colored pencil illustrations are bright and happy which helped set a happy tone for a book that could have been very serious and somber.

Buy here.

My Daddy Rules the World: Poems About Dads by Hope Anita Smith

My Daddy Rules the World

My Daddy Rules the World: Poems About Dads by Hope Anita Smith; illustrated by Hope Anita Smith. 2017. Torn paper. Published by Henry Holt and Company.

Brief summary: Fifteen poems with full-page illustrations all in the voice and viewpoint of the son or daughter.

Comments: Illustrations are created with torn paper. The faces are without features. I liked all of the different roles that a father had in this book. Students and children will be able to relate to the subject matter. Multicultural.

Buy here.

(I may receive a small commission for purchases made with links in this post through the Amazon Affiliate Program.  Books in this picture book blog are not sent to me in exchange for a review, but instead, are checked out from a public library).

Beauty and the Beast by Mahlon F. Craft

Beauty and the Beast by Mahlon F. Craft

Beauty and the Beast by Mahlon F. Craft; illustrated by Kinuko Y. Craft. 2016. Oil over watercolor on gesso panel.

Brief summary: A rich merchant has three daughters and lives well until he loses his fortune causing them to live in a small cottage. He receives news that one of his ships is found. He leaves  his daughters with high hopes, but  all of the cargo is used to pay off his debts. The father returns on his long journey empty-handed and exhausted stopping by a castle in the middle of a storm where he eats and stays overnight never seeing his host. He takes  a rose as he leaves causing a beast to appear furious with the thief. The beast tells the father he will die unless the man switches places with one of his daughters which ends up to be Beauty. She arrives frighten of the beast but learns to love him over many dinners. The beast asks for her hand in marriage, but she refuses  longing to see her sick father. He allows her to go for a week if she promises to return. She is overdue a few days and rushes back to find him dying, but he is revived by her kiss and turns back into a prince. They marry.

Comments: There are  little twists and differences from the popular Disney version. The oil illustrations are stunning and capture the essence of the fairy tale. This is an excellent addition to any library.



Return by Aaron Becker

Return by Aaron Becker

Return by Aaron Becker; illustrated by Aaron Becker. 2016. Watercolor, pen, and ink.

Brief summary: A girl draws a door on the wall with a red crayon and walks through it. Her father discovers the door and opens it discovering a forest with a pier where his daughter’s red ball sits. He goes to it getting on a little boat shaped like a dragon. The daughter finds her royal friends. The father looks up and sees her. Soldiers arrive trying to steal the magical crayons. They escape in a submarine drawn by one of the magical crayons and go into a large cavern where the drawings on the wall are about her adventures including her father’s. The father is able to save the magical crayons, releasing them along with a large purple griffin that flies away. They go back home.

Comments: This is the last of the trilogy with Journey and Quest written a few years earlier. Story without words. Students will enjoy the progress of the story and the watercolor contrasts.

journey  quest