May 1, 2012


Hello Picture Book friends!  I am a bit behind in my writing… I am so sorry!  There has been a lot going on in our family as of late and I just simply have not had time to sit down and put a new blog together.  I am changing up my style a bit to add more professional reviews of the books, along with some of my commentary.  I was finding that I seemed to just be repeating much of what was already being written, and I think that the professional reviews are much more comprehensive in describing the books.  I want to give you the best information, so I am allowing myself to turn to inserting reviews from some professional resources in my blog.  The books that I feature are still all ones that I would recommend, as a Children’s Bookseller.

First, let me follow up on my last entry about Mo Willems.  His new book, The Duckling Gets a Cookie!? is hilarious and I love it!  It had not been released when I posted last.  I went to a Mo Willems event, also, and it was one of the best author events I have ever attended!!  He is funny and appeals to adults, as well as children.  If you get a chance to attend an event with him, GO!  You will have a blast!

Now on to the books for May!  I decided to try to focus on fairly new titles and ones that you may not have seen before.  I hope you enjoy this edition!



Written by I. C. Springman; Illustrated by Brian Lies  (2012)

Available in Hardcover

I love this book and it’s message… Publishers Weekly describes it best:

Lies’s (Bats at the Ballgame) marvelously lifelike paintings of a kleptomaniac magpie and a mouse with superior judgment do most of the storytelling in a story anchored on debut author Springman’s string of quantity words (“Lots. Plenty. A bit much”). The first spread shows a single word at left (“Nothing”), a long expanse of blank backdrop, and a despondent magpie all alone at the far right. A mouse offers a glass marble to the delighted magpie: “Something.” A Lego block makes “a few,” and a coin makes “several”; the magpie’s three treasures are shown in its nest under the bird’s dramatically enlarged feet. In no time, the magpie assembles mounds of junk: “Way too much.” The mouse calls a halt—“Enough!”—as the magpie is buried under its own treasure. The fable offers a finely drawn, restrained “less is more” lesson about attachment to things (so finely drawn, in fact, that some children with overflowing toy boxes may not recognize themselves). Lies’s striking paintings of the magpie’s flashy wings, swooping tail, and gleaming eyes—as good as any field guide’s—are the story’s real treasures. Ages 4–8. (Mar.)

After reading this book to a group of preschoolers, it jumped to my “favorites” list!  I love the pictures and the lively discussion it helps to bring about.


Oh No, George!

Written and Illustrated by Chris Haughton  (2012)

Available in Hardcover

This book’s cover immediately grabbed by attention, with it’s bold, bright colors.  Haughton captures the feelings of a dog trying so hard to be good and obey.  It reminded me so much of my Black Lab!  Here’s what Publishers Weekly had to say:

George, the hero of this dog-behaving-badly story from Haughton (Little Owl Lost), hits the canine trifecta: oversize snout, floppy ears, and an anguished expression. His body is a polyhedron of warm red and fuchsia, and the house he shares with his troll-like owner, Harry, is similarly bathed in supersaturated hues. George vows to be good when Harry leaves, but he promptly encounters temptation (“It’s cake! I said I’d be good, George thinks, but I love cake”). In a droll parody of an old-fashioned moral lesson, the narrator intones, “What will George do?” as George gazes out at readers with a familiar dog-in-headlights look. The suspense is broken when the page turns to a double spread of George chowing down, as the narrator cries, “Oh no, George!” The results of several errors of judgment greet Harry upon his return. A brief but impressive period of high-minded resolve during a walk is followed by the speedy return of the mush-willed George readers have already grown to love. Behind the dopey entertainment, though, there’s a carefully disciplined visual and verbal economy—evidence of Haughton’s substantial gifts. Ages 2–up. (Mar.)



Written and Illustrated by Mies Van Hout  (2012)

Available in Hardcover

I love the colorful illustrations against the black background in Miles Van Hout’s book, Happy.  This is especially a wonderful book to share with toddlers, learning about emotions and feelings.  I remember when my children were young, we had books of feelings and they always acted them out!  They were fun little kids!  Here’s what Publishers Weekly has to say about Happy:

Van Hout’s (The Child Cruncher) catalogue of emotions is dead simple: an emotion word (“shy,” “surprised,” “proud”) appears on one page, and a drawing of a fish expressing that emotion is shown on the other. But what fish! Scrawled like children’s doodles or cartoons in sizzling lines of scarlet, orange, aqua, and fuchsia, each one swims alone in an ink-black sea, reacting to experiences readers can only guess at. The emotion words, one per spread, are handwritten with childlike care over pages scribbled with color, and are just as suggestive of each emotion as the fish are. “Curious,” a canary-colored fish, glides goggle-eyed toward something off-page. On the opposing page, the letters that spell “curious” are all different colors, like a cheerful ransom note. The “Nervous” fish is long, thin, and miserable-looking, outlined in pale, tremulous lines. “Bored” is a flounder, almost cross-eyed with ennui. There’s no particular story arc, or even a story to be found within each drawing—it’s a delightful amuse-bouche of a book, and an aquatic introduction to everyday emotions. Ages 2–up. (Apr.)

It is a simple and truly delightful book!


Huff & Puff:  Can You Blow Down the House of the Three Little Pigs?

Written and Illustrated by Claudia Rueda  (2012)

Available in Hardcover

I love picture books that have an element of participation to them!  Huff & Puff is an interactive book engaging children into the story.  Publishers Weekly says:

With a series of die-cut holes and prompts, Rueda (My Little Polar Bear) invites readers to first play the part of a Big Bad Wolf (hence the title), then discover that they’re not being so villainous after all. Rueda pares the original story down to the bare essentials (“First pig building a house. First pig inside the house. One wolf huffing and huffing”). Small die-cut holes in the “huff and puff” pages invite readers to show off their lungpower, and a page turn reveals the destructive results (“First pig is not happy”). At the third pig’s brick house, however, readers learn that the wolf isn’t so much a menace as a nuisance—it becomes clear that each of the three pigs built a house in order to bake a birthday cake for the wolf, who keeps spoiling their plans. Rueda offers few clues to what she’s up to, so readers will have to be particularly attuned to nuance. But the novelty of mild interactivity, coupled with comically minimalist text, should ameliorate any minor frustrations with the storytelling. Ages 2–6. (Mar.)

Check out this sweet little retelling story of The Three Little Pigs!  You will definitely get a little giggle!


Library Mouse:  A Museum Adventure

Written and Illustrated by Daniel Kirk  (2012)

Available in Hardcover

I LOVE all of Daniel Kirk’s “Mouse” books!  This particular one takes you and your little ones on an adventure to a museum, finding unexpected things along the way.  Here is what Publishers Weekly has to say:

Kirk’s fourth book about Sam the library mouse continues the exploration theme of the third book, Library Mouse: A World to Explore, while offering a significant focus on art. Along with Sarah, the adventure-seeking mouse he met in the previous story, Sam makes an after-hours visit to the museum next door, giving Sam his first trip outside the library and introducing both mice to art and artifacts from across the centuries. Kirk revels in the museum environment, and readers (with parental help) will be able to identify works by and allusions to Seurat, Hokusai, Degas, and many more. The mice, though, are a bit wooden, with the same basic expressions whether admiring statuary or running away from the museum’s resident artist cat. Ages 4–8. (Mar.)

You will want to add this one to your picture book collection, for sure!


The Family Tree

Written and Illustrated by David McPhail  (2012)

Available in Hardcover and e-Reader editions

This is a wonderful book when teaching young children about family history or about trees.  The watercolor and ink illustrations are soft and soothing.  The story is a great springboard to talk about families and ancestry.  Publishers Weekly says:

The continuity of family and nature and the power of a single voice resonate in McPhail’s (The Abandoned Lighthouse) thoughtful fable. Riding in a covered wagon, a man arrives in the wilderness “to start a new life.” He chops down trees to create pastures for his animals, fields for his crops, and logs for his house, but he leaves one tree standing to provide shade in summer and act as a buffer against winter winds. McPhail’s understated, homespun watercolor-and-ink illustrations effectively portray the passage of time, as cars replace horses on the road near the tree. The day finally comes when workers arrive to widen the road—and fell the tree. The original settler’s great-great-grandson, a small boy in overalls, resolutely stands in front of the tree in protest: “Not this tree.” Soon, the boy is joined by a bevy of forest animals; together they stare down the workers, who relent and reroute the road around the tree. A sentimental but inspirational tale. Ages 4–8. Agent: Faith Hamlin, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. (Mar.)

This will be a cherished book for years to come, to pass down in your own family.


Lucy Rescued

Written by Harriet Ziefert; Illustrated by Barroux  (2012)

Available in Hardcover

A very cute book, written by one of my favorite picture book authors.  Is your household preparing to adopt a shelter pet?  This would be a perfect book to prepare and help a child understand a new pet.  Here’s an overview from

When Lucy is adopted from the local animal shelter, her new family thinks that they have chosen a perfect pet. And she is, right up to the minute she starts to howl, and howl, and howl some more. Treats, tricks, a soft red bed, lullabies, and even doggy therapy cannot stop her “Wah-ooo-ooo-roo!” It is the little girl figures out that Lucy needs a comfy friend (her own stuffed animal) and Lucy who figures out that she needs as many as she can get her paws on. And then, all is well.


And Then It’s Spring

Written by Julie Fogliano; Illustrated by Erin Stead  (2012)

Available in Hardcover

Ready to plant your garden?  This is a perfect book to read first, to get your little ones excited about the prospect and what is to come from it.  The woodblock print and pencil illustrations are lovely and from the Caldecott winning artist, Erin Stead.  Publishers Weekly says:

Readers of Shaun Tan’s The Red Tree will recognize the glum-to-radiant trajectory of Fogliano’s soft-spoken debut, subtly illustrated by Caldecott Medalist Stead (A Sick Day for Amos McGee). Unfolding as a single sentence that carries readers from late winter to spring (almost every page opens with an “and,” pushing things along), the story focuses on a boy in blank-eyed glasses, who slouches in barren farmland with a dog, a turtle, and other assorted animals and birds. “First you have brown,/ all around you have brown.” The boy plants seeds in the packed earth and waits for the plants to grow. Worry and waiting are recurring themes: did birds eat the seeds? what about that trio of bears, seen happily ignoring the boy’s “please do not stomp here” sign? Pale blue sky and tawny drabs flood Stead’s block-print-and-pencil images, which yield not a sprout until the closing spread, “and now you have green,/ all around you have green.” In an understated and intimate partnership, Fogliano and Stead conjure late winter doldrums and the relief of spring’s arrival, well worth the wait. Ages 4–7. Illustrator’s agent: Emily Van Beek, Folio Literary Management. (Feb.)

This is a great story to read aloud, especially when teaching little ones about seasons, nature and plants.

Here are a few other notables – (because I have to stop somewhere!):

– Kite Day:  A Bear and Mole Story

– Written and Illustrated by Will Hillenbrand

– Just Ducks!

– Written by Nicola Davies; Illustrated by Salvatore Rubbino

– Penny and Her Song

– Written and Illustrated by Kevin Henkes

– A Number of Animals

– Written and Illustrated by Christopher Wormell

Sources sited:
Publishers Weekly
Barnes & Noble (

About picturebooklook

Hello picture book enthusiasts! I am the mother of 3 twenty-something children and became a grandmother for the first time in early 2012. I have had an affection for picture books for almost as long as I can remember. I have acquired a treasured collection from when my children were young. I have never lost my fondness for them! I have worked in the Children's department of my local Barnes & Noble for the last 10 years. Each month I hope to feature a new picture book review, along with a classic picture book. The fact is, these books are true works of art! The stories are simple, sweet lines, that often stay with us into our adult lives. This blog is dedicated to Danielle Catherine and all of my future grandchildren, and also to all of you who love the beauty of picture books as much as I do!
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  1. Caitlin says:

    Happy looks adorable…I must get my hands on some of these books!

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