Happy First Day of Spring!
March 20, 2013
Dear Picture Book friends,
Happy First Day of Spring! It doesn’t feel like it here (it’s 27 degrees outside!) but I love the hopeful, renewed feeling that comes along this time of the year. Wherever you are I hope you are having a great month! From looking at my statistics, I my little blog is reaching over 40 different countries!! WOW! Thank you so much!!
Here are a few new picture books that have caught my eye.
*Oh, by the way, if I write that a book is offered in an eReader format, I am referring to the B&N Nook because that is what I have and my resource… the book may be offered in other eReader editions but I cannot confirm that for sure so you may want to check. Thanks!
Peace & Love,
Written and Illustrated by Wendy Anderson Halperin (2013)
Available in Hardcover and eReader editions
This is my new FAVORITE picture book!! I actually found it in an Indie bookstore when I was in Miami (Books & Books) and ordered it into the B&N store where I work. The soft toned illustrations are simply beautiful… and I LOVE the different quotes on peace! This would make a lovely gift for anyone… not just for children!
Halperin (Planting the Wild Garden) combines spreads that evoke stained glass with simple, aphoristic statements about how peace grows (“When there is peace in our hearts, there will be peace in our homes”). Watercolor-and-colored-pencil spreads, divided into smaller panels, show miniatures of the world’s children with quotations from figures like Mother Theresa running decoratively through and around them: “Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.” A child sits next to a donkey underneath a crescent moon; an Asian child and a white-bearded grandfather look at a computer together. Children demonstrate with placards (“Girls can be scientists, too!”), help each other with homework, and bend over buckets, doing chores. Many spreads show animals and plants alongside humans: it’s clear that for Halperin, peace can come only when humans live in balance with the Earth. Although some of the quotations will be beyond the comprehension of younger readers (“Slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures”), the main text is simple enough that repeated readings may have children reciting along. Ages 4–8. Agent: Alyssa Eisner Henkin, Trident Media Group. (Jan.)
How To Be a Cat
Written and Illustrated by Nikki McClure (2013)
Available in Hardcover
This is a perfect book for young children with pet cats. The paper-cut illustrations are simple, standout, and mostly eye-catching black and white. The text is simple… one word per page. I will be getting this as a gift for my newborn great nephew, Lucien!
A watchful kitten shadows a big cat to learn the fundamentals of feline life. A simple series of double-page spreads introduce kitty-cat basics (CLEAN, POUNCE, LISTEN, LICK, HUNT, CHASE, among others) in capitalized, periwinkle lettering and black-and-white cut-paper illustrations. Two feline foils (one an adult cat that is black with white markings and the other a white kitten with black spots) dominate pages in mesmerizing, bold reliefs. Curvy cat bodies frame borders and cross gutters, creating pleasing puzzles of negative and positive space. While flat and certainly binary, these complex illustrations miraculously evoke the frisky, fluid physicality of feline movement. STRETCH spans both pages from furthest-most left to right, from the tips of tails, across elongated backs, all the way to fully extended paws and claws. Ah, the luxurious pull of flesh and fur! On STALK and CHASE, kitten’s body tumbles in duplication, rolling along in fitful pursuit of a blue butterfly (which adds a flicker of color on most pages). Looping lines lasso readers’ eyes and leave them swiveling their own hips playfully. Cat keenness comes through too. Kitten’s eye twinkles, especially alongside the black, expressionless mask of her mentor. Purrrrfect for beginning readers and little artists with an eye for fine cut-paper compositions and craftsmanship. (Picture book. 1-6)
Written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal; Illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld (2013)
Available in Hardcover
I am a huge fan of Amy Krouse Rosenthal! She entertains us, again, with a simple idea that she twists into a fun, adorable book. This would be a fun book to read aloud during story time. You and your children will get a giggle from reading this sweet story!
Here is a video trailer of the book !
Rosenthal and Lichtenheld (the team behind Duck! Rabbit! and other titles) give punctuation personalities in this witty calligraphic jaunt. Against a background of lined penmanship paper, an exclamation mark realizes he differs from his neighbors, a neat row of periods. Like them, he consists of a smiley face drawn in swooshes of expressive black ink, but above his head stands a resolute vertical dash. He twists and curls his topper to no avail, until—“Hello? Who are you?”—an inquisitive question mark appears. Bothered by the newcomer’s incessant queries (“When’s your birthday? Know any good jokes?”), the hero bellows a spread-shaking “Stop!” and discovers his talent for assertions, from “Hi!” to “Wow!” and “Look what I can do!” Thanks to savvy design, the exclamation mark’s announcements are printed in different sizes and colors to subtly indicate emphasis and tone, yet the mark never meets others like himself and therefore never suffers from overuse. With a restraint that’s more declaratory than exclamatory, Rosenthal and Lichtenheld cleverly raise awareness of the ways punctuation conveys mood. Ages 4–8. Agent: Amy Rennert, the Amy Rennert Agency, (Mar.)
One Gorilla: A Counting Book
Written and Illustrated by Anthony Browne (2013)
Available in Hardcover
This book jumped out at me when I was browsing books on counting for my one-year old granddaughter. She loves animals, so I knew this would be a hit with her. The illustrations are delightful!!
Browne really cranks up the color intensity in this gorgeous, large-trim portrait gallery of primates. Beginning with “1 gorilla” and counting up to “10 lemurs,” he presents on each spread a formally arranged head and upper-body close-up, with each subject placed against a plain white backdrop facing the viewer. Most are smiling, though as the groupings increase in size, they begin to take on the look of class photos, with a range of expressions on view and eyes sometimes playfully glancing to the side rather than looking directly out. Nonetheless, every visible eye gleams with steady, clear intelligence. Each ape is painted in hair-fine detail, in variegated hues that—particularly for the titular simian and the fiery orange parent and child orangutans that follow—glow incandescently. Browne closes with a self-portrait followed by a multicultural gathering of humans spanning the age spectrum, all with features and expressions that clearly echo those seen previously on hairier faces. The former British Children’s Laureate has a simple point—”All primates. / All one family. / All my family… / and yours!”—and he makes it in a visually compelling way. (Picture book. 3-8)
The Black Rabbit
Written and Illustrated by Phillipa Leathers (2013)
Available in Hardcover
A clever debut picture book about a rabbit with a problem… he’s being stalked. This is cute and funny!
One sunny day, a tiny white rabbit notices a gigantic and strangely quiet black rabbit by his side. No matter where he goes, “the Black Rabbit was right behind him.” Readers will immediately recognize the Black Rabbit as a shadow, yet its “pursuit” prompts the white bunny to take cover in “the deep, dark wood”—a poor course of action. Having evaded his silhouette, the bunny now faces “two eyes shining brightly in the dark.” He hurries back into sunlit fields, pursued by a slavering wolf, and braces for an attack that never comes; the Black Rabbit reappears and sends the predator scurrying. Leathers, an animator/illustrator making her children’s book debut, creates uncomplicated watercolor spreads that balance the ominous presence of the Black Rabbit with humor had at the white rabbit’s expense. Her bipedal, kawaii-influenced white bunny has an oversize head and petite body, and her snaggly-fanged, shaggy, and slant-eyed wolf recalls Lauren Child’s caricatures. Images of the long-eared shadow against river reeds and hedges lend an unsettling touch to a lightly funny, lightly creepy story. Ages 3–6. Agent: Kirsten Hall, the Bright Agency. (Jan.)
Open This Little Book
Written by Jesse Klausmeier; Illustrated by Suzy Lee (2013)
This is a unique, colorful book where one book opens upon another book which opens upon another book… and so on and so on. The theme of friendship and the power of books spoke to me, as I am sure it will to you also! I love this one!
Enjoy this video preview of the book:
You really can’t judge a book by its cover! Follow the instructions of the title and find…another, smaller cover, in purple, with a frog and a rabbit both engrossed in their reading. Open that cover, and there’s a red one (with black dots) about a ladybug, then a green one about a frog, an orange one about a rabbit, a yellow (with honeycombs) about a bear, each progressively smaller, and finally, a tiny blue one, which really contains a story. It’s about a giant, the ladybug, the rabbit, the frog and the bear, dedicated readers all, who form a friendship based on their love of reading. Meantime, the outer edges of the books that were opened on the way form a pretty, square rainbow. (Each cover features a different typeface and background design.) Getting to the end of the story means passing back through all the previous page sizes and colors. On the final red page, the ladybug closes her book, and then “[y]ou close this little red book….” But of course, then readers are urged to “open another!” And the illustration on the real last page features a tall bookcase with all the animals around it reading, as well as the giant’s hand, other tiny creatures and a couple of engrossed children. The sleek text and endlessly inventive design register strongly by showing rather than just telling. A delightful and timely homage to reading and, more, to books themselves. (Picture book. 3-8)