October 7, 2012

Some New Picture Books for Your Autumn Reading!

Happy Autumn Picture Book friends,

As the weather gets cooler outside, it is so nice to sit inside and cuddle up with your little ones and a stack of picture books!  Featured this month, are six brand new releases for your reading enjoyment!

Happy reading,



The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse

Written and Illustrated by Helen Ward  (2012)

Available in Hardcover

Every now and then, a picture book comes along that absolutely takes my breath away!  This happens to be one of those books!  Not only are the illustrations beautiful and breathtaking, but also the story one of those classic tales that makes us think about what is important in life.  This particular version is set at Christmastime and will warm your heart on a cold winter day.

Here’s a review from the School Library Journal:

PreS-Gr 3—In brief, beautifully descriptive text placed amid charming watercolor illustrations, Ward retells Aesop’s familiar tale of the field mouse whose city-dwelling cousin tries to convince him that the sights, sounds, and food in the city make it a far more wondrous place to live than the plain, sometimes scary, countryside. With the advent of colder weather, the country mouse-now “less certain of his contentedness”-travels to his cousin’s fancy city apartment but soon realizes that the true dangers there overshadow the luxurious environment and rich food. As luck would have it, his hiding place (from the dog) is an apple basket in the very same truck that brought him to the city, and he is returned to his beloved countryside to sleep away the winter in his own soft nest. Ward’s lush pastoral illustrations bring out the deep contrasts between rural and city life. As the city cousin describes the “noise and bustle and hum” of his home, the accompanying painting shows a huge, shining harvest moon resting on a field of wheat sheaves and branches of plump blueberries and golden apples. City scenes are busy with tall, sprawling buildings and their leaded windows; armloads of Christmas gifts and ornaments; overladen sweet tables. This retelling, closely based on the original short fable, is a worthy addition to any collection.—Susan Scheps, formerly at Shaker Heights Public Library, OH


It’s Duffy Time!

Written and Illustrated by Audrey and Don Wood  (2012)

Available in Hardcover

If you read my reviews frequently, you know that I am a sucker for a cute book that features a dog!  This one hits the mark in the “cuteness” factor, for sure!  You will enjoy this new picture book by two of my favorite authors/illustrators, Audrey and Don Wood.

Publishers Weekly review:

The creators of The Napping House offer an affectionate portrait of Duffy, a good-natured, chronically sleepy pug inspired by one of their own pets. Given the emphasis on Duffy’s fondness for napping, the story is rather short on action. Between naps—there are seven throughout the day—Duffy makes a couple of outings with his owners: during a trip to the bank Duffy inexplicably wears a pirate costume (to be fair, he looks none too happy about it), and the family later takes a postprandial walk in the park. Don Wood includes images of various clocks into his paintings, indicating the hours at which Duffy naps and adding an opportunity for readers to practice telling time. The Woods’ light story closes with a dab of irony, as Duffy snuggles with his best girl for a bedtime story (they wear matching striped pajamas) and “doesn’t feel sleepy at all.” Pug lovers young and old will likely be the most enthusiastic audience for this tale, and they’ll see plenty of their own pets in Duffy, whether he’s at play or at rest. Ages 3–7. (Oct.)


The Monsters’ Monster

Written and Illustrated by Patrick McDonnell  (2012)

Available in Hardcover and eReader editions

Who can resist a sweet monster?  This particular one, in McDonnell’s new picture book, even has manners… he says “Dank you!” (Thank you!)!  Oh, oh so cute!

Kirkus Reviews review:

Tiny Grouch, Grump and Gloom ‘n’ Doom (who has two heads) continually bicker about who is the most impressive monster. When the solution they come up with turns out to be different from what they expected, a surprising but welcome lesson is eventually learned. Caldecott Honor winner McDonnell (Me…Jane, 2011) produces a special tale that seamlessly blends an engaging text, gentle humor and skillful illustrations that readers of all ages can appreciate. The monstrous trio smash, crash and bash about, and a black cloud literally hangs over the castle where they live. A coordinated stroke of genius leads them to “make a MONSTER monster. The biggest, baddest monster EVER!” “[S]ome tape, tacks, staples, and glue…some gunk, gauze, and gobs of goo… [and] bolts, wire and a smelly old shoe” form a huge creature that comes to life via lightning strike. But instead of making a scary, intimidating monster, they have brought to life a sweet, polite, life-loving being whose first words are “Dank you!” Soon, the small threesome finds they cannot change their creation’s pleasant nature–he repeatedly blurts out his favorite phrase–and learns that respectful, mannerly companionship can lead to fulfilling and sunny results…like watching the sunrise at the beach while sharing jelly doughnuts. The story charms, but it is the overall thoughtful design that makes this a frightfully amazing book to read. Make time to share with young monsters everywhere. (Picture book. 3-6)


Too Tall Houses

Written and Illustrated by Gianna Marino  (2012)

Available in Hardcover

This book’s theme is a lesson in friendship and cooperation.  The illustrations keep the story moving and lively!  A perfect read aloud/discussion type of story.

The School Library Journal review:

K-Gr 2—Owl and Rabbit live side by side in two small huts. Rabbit tends to his vegetable garden and Owl perches on the roof, gazing at the forest. Trouble starts when Rabbit’s plants grow too tall, blocking Owl’s vista. Angry Owl makes his abode taller, Rabbit follows suit, and a construction race ensues. When the houses become impossibly sky-high, cartoonishly looming over continents, a formidable wind blows them down. With their dwellings in ruins, the former friends wisely decide that it is much better to join forces and build one small house, where they settle in harmony. Laid out in spreads, the illustrations feature impeccably detailed pencil drawings combined with sumptuously colored gouache backgrounds. The animals are full of heartfelt emotions, from anger and frustration to happy contentment. Marino interjects a few humorous details throughout the story-the expressions of grumpy Owl getting watered by Rabbit or flying with a squashed tomato on his head are priceless. This story about friendship and togetherness contains a great lesson without being didactic or moralizing and should be welcome in most collections.—Yelena Alekseyeva-Popova, formerly at Chappaqua Library, NY



Written by Mark Kelly; Illustrated by C. F. Payne  (2012)

Available in Hardcover and eReader editions

This is a sweet picture book written by retired NASA astronaut, Mark Kelly.  He actually flew with little “mice-tronauts” aboard his mission on the space shuttle Endeavour in 2001.  This is a tale of perseverance, courage, and that being small can have its advantages!

Publishers Weekly review:

In an afterword, former astronaut Kelly (who is also the husband of Gabrielle Giffords) recalls that on his first Endeavor flight, the research mice on board would have nothing to do with weightlessness and clung to the mesh of their cage for the entire mission—except one, “smaller than the rest, seemed to enjoy the experience and effortlessly floated around the cage.” Inspired by this real-life mouse, Kelly’s first children’s book tells the story of Meteor, a lightly anthropomorphized rodent who turns his tininess into an advantage when an important key gets stuck in a crack between two monitors. The understated, quietly intense prose (“ ‘This isn’t good,’ says the commander. ‘We need that key back’ ”) is just right for the particular breed of hero that is the American astronaut, and the narrative stakes are just high enough for the younger end of the target audience. Payne (Hide-and-Squeak) contributes muscular, handsomely textured images and vivid portraits that make it absolutely clear that space travel is a larger-than-life adventure. Ages 4–8. Agent: Robert Barnett, Williams & Connolly. (Oct.)


Each Kindness

Written by Jacqueline Woodson; Illustrated by E. B. Lewis  (2012)

Available in Hardcover

What does our world need more of?  Kindness!  This picture book is a lesson about how even small acts of kindness can make a difference in our world.  I love the illustrations and I love the message.  This would make a great addition to every classroom library!

Publishers Weekly review:

When a new and clearly impoverished girl named Maya shows up at school (“Her coat was open and the clothes beneath it looked old and ragged”), Chloe and her friends brush off any attempt to befriend her. Even when Maya valiantly—and heartbreakingly—tries to fit in and entice the girls to play with her, she is rejected. Then one day, Maya is gone, and Chloe realizes that her “chance of a kindness” is “more and more forever gone.” Combining realism with shimmering impressionistic washes of color, Lewis turns readers into witnesses as kindness hangs in the balance in the cafeteria, the classroom, and on the sun-bleached playground asphalt; readers see how the most mundane settings can become tense testing grounds for character. Woodson, who collaborated with Lewis on The Other Side and Coming On Home Soon, again brings an unsparing lyricism to a difficult topic. The question she answers with this story is one that can haunt at any age: what if you’re cruel to someone and never get the chance to make it right? Ages 5–8. Agent: Charlotte Sheedy Literary Agency. Illustrator’s agent: Dwyer & O’Grady. (Oct.)


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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