May 5, 2022

Learning from 2022 Picture Books That Soar High with Craft

The Soaring ‘20s High Flying Picture Book Debut Group formed in 2019 to support each other as they debuted their first picture books. It’s a diverse group of authors and illustrators from across the United States (and one border jumper from Canada), and they continue to support each other on their individual publishing journeys. Now in 2022, we are delighted to check in with many in the group about their latest picture books. 

Since we’re all about mentor texts, each Soaring ‘20s author or illustrator is highlighting a craft element in their latest book that you can integrate into your own writing or illustrating. Hearing about these delightful new picture books from that lens has been so inspiring. We hope it will get your creative juices flowing too!  ~ Kristi Wright

Courage Like Kate cover

Courage Like Kate: The True Story of a Girl Lighthouse Keeper

Random House Studio, August 16, 2022

Author: Anna Crowley, Redding Illustrator: Emily Sutton

Courage Like Kate: The True Story of a Girl Lighthouse Keeper is about a girl who started keeping the light at saving lives at age 12 – – back in the 1800’s, a time when women had very few rights and were told they were weak and not capable of such bravery!

Courage Like Kate would be a great mentor text for writers looking for the heart of their story because everything about Kate’s world (the time period, the island, duties of a lighthouse keeper, individual rescues) was and is so fascinating! In terms of writing her story, it was also incredibly distracting. The heart of the story is the fact that even though 18th century society did not recognize her skill, bravery, or dedication, she had always been the woman for the job!

Battle of the Books cover

Battle of the Books

Little Bee Books, August 23, 2022

Author: Melanie Ellsworth, Illustrator: James Rey Sanchez

Battle of the Books is a funny, fast-paced picture book about the battle between Josh’s books as they vie to be chosen for story time! 

 Battle of the Books is a great mentor text for using a unique point of view – the books themselves tell this story – and for creating unique voices if you have multiple characters in your picture book.

Together We Ride & Ride, Roll, Run

Together We Ride cover

Together We Ride

Chronicle Books, April 26, 2022

Author: Valerie Bolling, Illustrator: Kaylani Juanita

Ride, Roll, Run cover

Ride, Roll, Run: Time for Fun!

Abrams Appleseed, October 4, 2022

Author: Valerie Bolling, Illustrator: Sabrena Khadija

TOGETHER WE RIDE and RIDE, ROLL, RUN celebrate the fun activities children enjoy doing outdoors with their family and friends.

TOGETHER WE RIDE and RIDE, ROLL, RUN are wonderful mentor texts for those writing in rhyme, using sparse text because TOGETHER WE RIDE is only 30 words with one to four words per spread, and RIDE, ROLL, RUN has 120 words and is written in quatrains. 

Mabel's Topsy-Turvy Homes cover

Mabel’s Topsy-Turvy Homes

Beaming Books, October 25, 2022

Author: Candy Wellins, Illustrator: Jess Rose 

Mabel’s Topsy-Turvy Homes is a sweet and hopeful picture book that is ideal for kids from divorced families as well as any readers going through difficult situations. 

Mabel’s Topsy-Turvy Homes would make a great mentor text for someone working on parallel structure.  Mabel has divorced parents and thus two different houses; her whole life feels like two, parallel events. The story begins by highlighting the differences that frustrate her (“Her bedroom is upstairs…And downstairs.  Jumping on the bed is never allowed…And also encouraged. And the way to the bathroom is down the hall and to the left…And also to the right.”). The story ends by highlighting the differences that make Mabel’s life fun and unique (“And every single night, it’s the exact same thing:  Snuggling on the couch and reading a story… Unless she’s giggling down the hall avoiding the tickle monster.”).

Amah Faraway cover

Amah Faraway 

Bloomsbury Children’s Books, January 25, 2022

Author: Margaret Chiu Greanias, Illustrator: Tracy Subisak

Amah Faraway is a heartfelt, highly relatable picture book that is ideal for children who may not have seen family in a long time, those with family in another country, those who may be reluctant to try new things, or those getting ready to travel to new places.

Amah Faraway would be a great mentor text for mirrored, reverse, or experimental picture book structures because I use a number of techniques to reverse the text so that it could highlight the change in the main character’s actions and emotions as well as story tone.

One Wish cover

One Wish: Fatima al-Fihri and the World’s Oldest University 

HarperCollins, March 1, 2022

Author: M.O. Yuksel, Illustrator: Mariam Quraishi

One Wish is a biography about an extraordinary woman, Fatima al-Fihri, who built the oldest existing and continually operating university in the world in Fez, Morocco in the 9th century.

One Wish is a great mentor text for writing lyrical nonfiction because I use several techniques like rhyming words, refrains, metaphors, and similes.

Mommy's Hometown cover

Mommy’s Hometown

Candlewick Press, April 12, 2022

Author: Hope Lim, Illustrator: Jaime Kim

Mommy’s Hometown is a gentle and contemplative story about the meaning of home rooted in family love and connections that stand the test of time. 

Mommy’s Hometown would be a great mentor text for stories that focus on childhood memories and the meaning of home, because it encourages readers to remember the things that remain special and unchanged in their hometown. 

One Turtle’s Last Straw: The Real-Life Rescue That Sparked a Sea Change

One Turtle's Last Straw cover

Crown Books for Young Readers, May 10, 2022

Author: Elisa Boxer, illustrator: Marta Alvarez Miguens

Based on the viral video that set a movement in motion, One Turtle’s Last Straw is an inspirational reminder that even the smallest piece of plastic can hurt marine life, and that one conscious choice has the power to change the world!

One Turtle’s Last Straw would make a great mentor text for books about unsung heroes creating change, because I highlight a real-life situation through an unfolding narrative, and then support it with quotes from the marine biologists involved, as well as stories about kids across the country tackling the plastic problem in their communities.

Beauty Woke cover

Beauty Woke

Versify, February 15, 2022

Author: NoNieqa Ramos, Illustrator: Paola Escobar

Told with the heart of a fairytale, Beauty Woke is a poetic ode affirming the power of family, community, and cultural heritage. Readers will enjoy this anthem of self-acceptance in the face of adversity.

Beauty Woke is a great mentor text for lyrical writing and writing in free verse. Writers can read Beauty Woke for an example of how to breathe new life into classic stories.

I'll Go and Come Back cover

I’ll Go and Come Back

Candlewick, March 29, 2022

Author: Rajani LaRocca, Illustrator: Sara Palacios

I’ll Go and Come Back is a story about a girl in America and her grandmother in India, whose love stretches between languages and cultures—and across the world.

I’ll Go and Come Back would be a great mentor text for writing a mirror story because from the very beginning of writing this book, I envisioned it as having two halves that parallel and mirror each other while depicting the experiences of the girl and the grandmother while visiting each other in India and America. 

Not All Sheep Are Boring! cover

Not All Sheep Are Boring!

G.P. Putnam’s Sons, September 20, 2022

Author: Bobby Moynihan, Illustrator: Julie Rowan-Zoch

Actor Bobby Moynihan’s (SNL) debut picture book, Not All Sheep Are Boring! (with illustrations by Soaring ‘20s Julie Rowan-Zoch), proves sheep are anything but snooze worthy, introducing a cast of the weirdest, wackiest, funniest sheep you’ve ever seen.

This book has great mentor illustrations for showing how the text can be amplified with both humor and story by the illustrations.

Purchase, pre-order, or request from your library any or all of these picture books and get drafting on your own magnificent story!

If you missed them, here are some blogposts showcasing specific Soaring ’20s authors and their books:


  1. Thanks for the opportunity to share our books and how they might be useful as mentor texts/illos!


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