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Jim Cox Report: April 2024

Dear Publisher Folk, Friends & Family:

One of the missions of the Midwest Book Review is to promote literacy -- especially with respect to children. In this month's Jim Cox Report I want to present some simply outstanding reading themed picture books for young children -- followed by a few important on-line resources thematically relevant to promoting literacy among children.

First is one for the parents of children, then two being on picture books on reading for the kids themselves:

Reading Together
Robert Broder, author
Melissa Larson, illustrator
Blue Star Press
9781950968923, $18.99, HC, 32pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "Reading Together: A Heartwarming Story About Bonding with Your Child Through the Love of Reading" by the team of author/storyteller Robert Broder and artist/illustrator Melissa Larson, parents, teachers, and caregivers will help children to discover the magic of reading together with this story of a family's love for picture books and the moments of laughter, imagination, and connection they share.

Filled with playful illustrations and fond memories from classic children's tales, "Reading Together: A Heartwarming Story About Bonding with Your Child Through the Love of Reading" is a nostalgic journey through childhood, when the joys of discovering new stories together create bonds that last a lifetime.

Critique: Whether you're a parent or caregiver looking to relive the magic of reading with your child, a teacher working to install a love of reading in their young charges, or simply a lover of picture books and wanting to share that joy with a child, "Reading Together: A Heartwarming Story About Bonding with Your Child Through the Love of Reading" is specifically appropriate and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, family, and community library collections with its theme of family bonding through the power of books and storytelling.

Editorial Note #1: Robert Broder ( is a children's book author and founding publisher of award-winning Ripple Grove Press. He is the writer of Patagonia's first picture book titled Better Than New. Other books include Crow & Snow (Simon and Schuster) and Our Shed (Little Bigfoot) which received a Kirkus Starred Review.

Editorial Note #2: Melissa Larson ( is the illustrator of Iver & Ellsworth, written by Casey Robinson. She lives in Oklahoma with her husband, painting small town shop windows and getting her hands into every creative project that comes her way.

Then for the kids:

My Book and Me
Linday Sue Park, author
Chris Raschka, illustrator
Red Comet Press
9781636550947, $18.99, HC, 36pp

Synopsis: Meet the child who loves books in "My Book and Me", a lyrical tribute to the joys of books and reading by Newbery medalist Linda Sue Park and featuring the jubilant illustrations of celebrated Caldecott artist Chris Raschka.

This is my book.
My favorite book.
I carry it with me
wherever I go.

"My Book and Me" invites young children to reflect on beloved books which are friends we hold dear; books we read over and again; books that may take us to places afar to experience the world in different ways, and books that comfort and reassure us. "My Book and Me" is a jubilant paean to literature is a celebration of favorite authors, characters, and stories; those that we cherish the most and are friends for life... which books are your favorite?

Critique A celebration of the joy of reading and the value of books, and showcasing a diverse group of children, all enjoying their favorite books, "My Book and Me" deserves as wide a readership as possible and therefore an unreservedly recommended pick for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 3-6. It should be noted that "My Book and Me" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Editorial Note #1: Linda Sue Park ( is the author of the Newbery Medal-winning A Single Shard, the best-seller A Long Walk to Water, and the highly-praised novel Prairie Lotus. She has also written several acclaimed picture books and serves on the advisory board of We Need Diverse Books. She can be followed on Twitter: @LindaSuePark

Editorial Note #2: Chris Raschka ( received the Caldecott Medal for The Hello, Goodbye Window and for A Ball for Daisy. He also won a Caldecott Honor for the book Yo! Yes?. He has been hailed by Publishers Weekly as one of the most original illustrators working today, and he continues to create stories and art that appeal to readers of all ages. Follow Chris on Instagram @chris.raschka

I Am Book
Joren Cull
Penguin Workshop
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
9780593659243, $18.99, HC, 48pp, (Ages 5-8)

Synopsis: In the picture book pages of "I Am Book" by Joren Cull, young readers will be introduced to "Book" -- a plain old book with a dusty yellow jacket and torn pages. When Book's library closes, it moves to a new one in a neighboring town, expecting a friendly welcome. But the kids there don't care for books with dusty jackets and torn pages! So, Book hatches a plan to change its jacket and rewrites its pages to fit in with the new crowd. After several hilarious failures to do so, Book finally learns to accept itself just the way it always was -- spelling misteaks (mistakes) and all.

Critique: Unique, lively, clever, and fun from start to finish, as well as with presenting important underlying message about the value of reading, "I AM Book" by author and illustrator Joren Cull is a highly prized and unreservedly recommended pick for family, elementary school, and community library picture book collections for children ages 5-8. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "I Am Book" from the Penguin Workshop is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Editorial Note: Joren Cull ( is an author, illustrator, and animator from Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Their work has appeared in many publications, including The New York Times, National Geographic, Bloomberg Businessweek, The Guardian, Reader's Digest, and The Globe and Mail. Joren's work has been celebrated with awards from American Illustration, Applied Arts, and The National Magazine Awards. They also received a Webby Award for best animation. Joren likes ice cream and records!

Now for some very highly recommended Child Literacy on-line resources:

Children's Literarcy Initative

Supporting Your Child's Literacy Development

Best Practices in Early Childhood Literacy

National Children's Literacy Website

Why is this subject of interest to writers, publishers, bookstore owners, librarians, bibliophiles, and the general public? -- Because a literate society means an informed society -- the which has a much better chance of continuing to be a democratic, free, and prosperous society. Because literate children will grow up to be literate adults and its literate adults who buy books, read books, and support the publishing industry.

Quote of the Month:

"We shouldn't teach great books, we should teach a love of reading."
Burrbus Frederic Skinner

Website of the Month:

Writers & Publishers Network

Now here are reviews of some newly published books that will be of special interest and relevance to writers, publishers, and dedicated bibliophiles:

How to Self-Publish Like A Pro
Tina Koenig
Independently Published
9781736470527, $24.95 Paperback/$14.95 ebook

Diane Donovan
Senior Reviewer

With the publication of "How to Self-Publish Like A Pro: A Comprehensive Guide for Writing, Publishing, and Promoting Your Book", Tina Koenig covers all the basics for would-be self-published authors, from the initial structuring of an author's business to building and promoting an author presence and registering a book with the Library of Congress.

Koenig's extensive information goes beyond the basics of how to publish a book. It also covers the aftermath of promotion, which is as important to the publishing process as gaining an ISBN and understanding how to work with different kinds of publishers.

Koenig outlines how to provide review copies months before publication so there is adequate time to schedule reviews that dovetail with a book's publication date. She also encourages understanding the pros and cons of different platforms for gaining book reviews (including ones that many novices won't think about, like Instagram).

Ultimately, Koenig pins down the nuts and bolts of the publishing process in a manner that requires no advanced (or even much basic) prior knowledge.

Another subject Koenig covers, that many books about the process do not, is how authors can lay the groundwork to become an 'expert' whose advice will be solicited by podcasters and other media entities. There is no better publicity than that which comes from added value, delivered by an author who backs, say, an interview with repeated emphasis that their book holds further information, and thus will prove of additional interest to listeners or readers.

These kinds of strategies make the most of the latest technology, social media, and literary connections in the industry, affording Koenig's book a contemporary and wide-ranging series of applications. These are broad in scope and specific, with easy step-by-step insights that any novice publisher can easily absorb.

Koenig's strategies make the most of the latest technology, social media and literary connections. Each chapter is broad enough in scope to be easily absorbed, with step-by-step insights that any novice publisher can implement. These qualities place How to Self-Publish Like A Pro head and shoulders above similar-sounding books, affording it a diversity and ease of understanding that will make it a major library and reader attraction.

Universal Principles of Typography
Elliot Jay Stocks
Rockport Publishers
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
9780760383384, $40.00, HC, 224pp

Synopsis: We communicate with text every single day, but what does it mean to really understand type -- to use it with clear intent and purpose?

The art and science of typography combines subtle tweaks to line lengths with harmonious combinations of weights and styles; considered typeface pairings with a robust set of alternate characters; exciting technological advances with the realities of font licensing. There are so many ways designers can optimize how text is read and influence the way its message is understood -- and yet so many designers miscommunicate without even realizing it.

Richly illustrated and easy to navigate, with the publication of "Universal Principles of Typography: 100 Key Concepts for Choosing and Using Type", typography expert Elliot Jay Stocks pairs clear explanations of each principle with visual examples of it applied in practice. By considering these concepts and examples, you can learn to make more informed, and ultimately better, typography decisions.

Building upon tried-and-tested principles from the world of print through to the very latest advances in browser technology, "Universal Principles of Typography" will equip you with everything you need to make the most informed typographic decisions in your design work today.

The featured principles covered in "Universal Principles of Typography" include: Characters & Glyphs; Font v. Typeface; Hierarchy; Inclusivity; OpenType; Pairing Type; Rhythm; and Web Fonts .

Each principle is presented in a two-page format. The left-hand page contains a succinct definition, a full description of the principle, examples of its use, and guidelines for use. Sidenotes appear to the right of the text, and provide elaborations and references. The right-hand page contains visual examples and related graphics to support a deeper understanding of the principle.

With "Universal Principles of Typography", authors, publishers, and printers will gain a deep understanding of the universal principles of typography and learn how to apply them across any work they do with type, ranging from the simplest of documents to the most complex of cross-platform design systems.

Critique: A complete and comprehensive course of instruction in typography, as well as being thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, "Universal Principles of Typography: 100 Key Concepts for Choosing and Using Type" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, technical college, and university library Calligraphy, Decorative Design, and Typography collections and curriculum studies lists. It should be oted that "Universal Principles of Typography: 100 Key Concepts for Choosing and Using Type" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $19.99).

Editorial Note: Elliot Jay Stocks ( is a designer and musician, based just outside Bristol, UK. After founding the typography magazine 8 Faces in 2010, Elliot joined Typekit (now known as Adobe Fonts) as Creative Director, and helped lead the service's transition into desktop fonts and the Creative Cloud ecosystem. He then went on to take several Creative Director roles and collaborated with Google to launch the typography education resource Google Fonts Knowledge. Elliot currently focuses exclusively on typographic projects, as well as publishing the newsletter Typographic & Sporadic, and hosting the podcast Hello, Type Friends!

Writing by Heart
Meredith Heller
New World Library
9781608689101, $21.95, PB, 336pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "Writing by Heart: A Poetry Path to Healing and Self-Discovery", Meredith Heller invites you to write as a path toward self-understanding and as a lifelong refuge of steadfast friendship with yourself.

She herself has used the power of writing to heal and save her own life, and now she teaches others to do the same. In the pages of "Writing by Heart", Meredith shares the techniques she developed to help people from all walks of life explore their emotions, find their voice, and better navigate life's challenges.

Critique: Packed with potent DIY exercises and inspiring poems by Meredith and her students, "Writing by Heart: A Poetry Path to Healing and Self-Discovery" is essential reading for anyone, from the seasoned writer to the novice beginner, wanting to discover the transformative power of writing in the context of their own lives. While highly recommended for personal, professional, community, writer workshop, college, and university library Writing & Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections, it should be noted that "Writing by Heart: A Poetry Path to Healing and Self-Discovery" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Meredith Heller ( is a poet, singer-songwriter, avid nature lover, and educator with degrees in writing and education. She leads workshops at schools, women's prisons, the Institute for Poetic Medicine, creativity summits, wellness retreats, and online.

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Anonymous (BN)
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So until next time -- goodbye, good luck, and good reading!

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review
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James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
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Oregon, WI 53575-1129
phone: 1-608-835-7937

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