A Few New Gems For You!

May 3, 2013

Dear Picture Book friends,

I must begin with an apology… April escaped me somehow, and I didn’t post a Picture Book edition for that month.  Sooooo, to make up for it, I am posting a super double issue with some exciting new picture books that have been published in recent months.

I began writing this blog when I was becoming a grandmother for the first time.  Now, my sweet granddaughter is almost 14 months old.  Time flies by, my friends!  In a blink of an eye, your children will be grown, so please spend as much time with them as you possibly can and enjoy every single moment!!

Thank you to all of my readers and fans!  I truly appreciate your friendship and support!  Enjoy these 10 gems!

Peace & Love,


ImageBOOK 1:


Written and Illustrated by Mary Sullivan  (2013)

Available in Hardcover and eReader Editions

If you have read my blog, then you already know I am a sucker for picture books featuring DOGS!  This one is hilarious and makes my list as a new favorite!

 Publishers Weekly:

Illustrator Sullivan (Field of Peace) makes a hilarious debut as an author by touring the brain of a ball-obsessed dog. The dog’s googley eyes, droopy snout, and oversize midriff provide comedy of their own, and he’s even funnier when paneled sequences show him charging after his red ball, complete with puffs of smoke to signal blazing speed. “Ball!” he thinks (or sometimes “Ball?”); it’s the book’s only word. The dog’s curly headed owner is delighted to play with him, but after she leaves for school he’s stuck with her meditating mother and a squalling baby. He tries listlessly to amuse himself, then dozes off. His dreams are a parade of mad, creative whimsy. A tiered cake dotted with balls, a monstrous baby, and an interstellar game of chase climax with a journey down the toilet and through a maze of pipes. It’s a paean to the neurotic single-mindedness of dogs, and a brilliant study of boredom. Readers will greet the moment when the girl arrives home with almost as much relief as the dog—and they’ll eagerly await Sullivan’s next book. Ages 4–8. Agent: Justin Rucker, Shannon Associates. (Apr.)

ImageBOOK 2:

Tea Rex

Written and Illustrated by Molly Idle  (2013)

Available in Hardcover and eReader Editions

I have one word for this… adorable!

 Kirkus Reviews:

 Emily Post herself could not come up with a more proper set of guidelines for entertaining a visitor from the Cretaceous. Except for opening and closing invitations, the text is made up entirely of words of sage advice, while the illustrations tell the riotous story. Cordelia and her teddy-clutching younger brother host a polite, if not entirely trained, T-Rex at their tea party. At first, things go well, with the toothy guest shaking hands all around and devouring cakes and treats. The party quickly disintegrates, however, when the hostess’ hat proves to be the only possible adequate teacup, the teddy barely escapes several dire fates, and some raucous dancing leads to a busted home. Fortunately–and properly–the T-Rex makes sure to return the invite, and our young heroes party with all their favorite dinos. Idle makes full use of the ironic juxtaposition of meat-eater against tea etiquette, mining the humor of it for all it’s worth. Created by surprisingly bright colored pencils, each scene glows. Idle’s smallest details are where the true pleasure lies, as when the hostess bores her guests with talk of begonias, and the T-Rex surreptitiously checks the watch on his tiny little wrist. Sure to be enjoyed by tea-party enthusiasts, and even dino fans with no use for a teapot will find themselves drawn to this clever tale of a not-entirely-civilized beast of the past. (Picture book. 4-8)

ImageBOOK 3:


Written and Illustrated by Bob Staake  (2013)

Available in Hardcover and eReader Editions

I love wordless picture books.  It helps little ones to stretch their own imaginations to create a story.  You will fall in love with this one too!  It took the author 10 years to complete!

 Publishers Weekly:

In this wordless story, a shy boy finds a winged mentor in a cheery bluebird. The bird helps the boy perk up after a rough day at school and then connects him to some friendly children at a sailboat pond. But when bullies kill the bird—a truly shocking moment—the story sheds its simple yearning and wishfulness (with the bird as a kind of feathered fairy godmother) and deepens into an eloquent affirmation of love, faith, and the persistence of goodness. Staake (Bugs Galore!) propels his story forward with steady assurance, using a largely gray palette, geometric shapes, and comics-style framing. He vividly evokes a Manhattanlike landscape that’s overwhelming, yet full of potential, and he gives full visual voice to the boy’s emotions; there are several moments when Staake stops the action and lets his audience savor how the bird has transformed the boy. It’s possible (though not necessary) to attach the suggestion of an afterlife to the final pages, but believers and skeptics alike will find something deeply impressive and moving in this work of a singular, fully committed talent. Ages 4–8. Agent: Gilliam Mackenzie, Gillian Mackenzie Agency. (Apr.)

ImageBOOK 4:

A Funny Little Bird

Written and Illustrated by Jennifer Yerkes  (2013)

Available in Hardcover

This is a very clever book about friendship and would lend itself well to read aloud groups and discussion.

 School Library Journal:

K-Gr 1—The artwork is the charm of this petite picture book. The simple, jewel-toned illustrations pop against abundant white space, making a crisp and vivid presentation. Spare text tells the tale of an invisible bird that is tired of being teased for his appearance (or lack of one) and decides to adorn himself with a hodgepodge of leaves, blooms, and feathers from other birds. He gets noticed, but it’s at a price: one of his admirers is a fox. The bird realizes his invisibility is a quality that benefits not only him but small friends as well, since he can camouflage them from predators. With only a few words per page, the book can serve either as a quick read-aloud or an accessible text for early readers. Refreshingly, Yerkes gives a nod of respect to the youngest readers with a sprinkling of more sophisticated vocabulary (“vanity,” “souvenir,” “discreet,” etc.) and elegantly understated art that blend together in a sweet and lovely package.—Alyson Low, Fayetteville Public Library, AR

ImageBOOK 5:

Deer Watch

Written by Pat Lowery Collins;  Illustrated by David Slonim  (2013)

Available in Hardcover

This is a bit of a sophisticated story but the oil painted pictures make it lovely.  It would be best read to school age children.

School Library Journal:

Gr 1–4—After the family returns to its summer home, a boy and his dad go on a much-anticipated outing to find a deer. They climb the dunes and tramp through the marsh and onto conservation land. Throughout their quest, they see birds and other animals, but no deer. The child’s sneeze and his feet that dance in eagerness might have frightened them away. Certainly the men with their bulldozers, hammers, and drills have scared them off. Indeed, wildlife was far more abundant here, Dad laments, before humans encroached on the habitat. Still, for those who take the time to look and listen quietly, seemingly hidden creatures can make an appearance. And sure enough, after a warm rain, a doe and her two fawns step out of the shadows and then disappear, a gift for patient waiting. The large oil paintings on linen are richly textured and depict the forest landscape in quiet pastel hues. The poetic text is lovely, though it may stretch credulity to believe the young narrator would really describe their house as smelling like “old trees,” or a boat as having a “moth-wing sail.” Pair this story with Nicola Davies’s Outside Your Window (Candlewick, 2012) to spark children’s interest in the natural world and generate ideas for its preservation.—Marianne Saccardi, formerly at Norwalk Community College, CT

ImageBOOK 6:

Inside Outside

Written and Illustrated by Lizi Boyd  (2013)

Available in Hardcover

Another wordless picture book, little ones will enjoy the die cut windows to get clues about what is inside and what is outside.

 Kirkus Reviews:

In this wordless picture book, youngsters follow a boy through the seasons and see how the natural world influences his indoor projects and outdoor activities. The ease with which he moves between the two spaces–inside to outside and back again with each page turn–and his subsequent productivity are emphasized by intriguing die-cut windows throughout. In the opening spread, mittens, boots and scarf are strewn about, clues that the boy has been outdoors; indeed, snowmen are visible through his windows. Yet he anticipates spring as he sits at the table planting seedlings. He takes a break to make more snowmen and then he’s back indoors, where he hangs his paintings of snowmen, appropriately melting, and birds. The seedlings sprout, and outside his windows, trees are in bud. Children will pore over the increasing number of details as the two worlds merge. Bird mobiles inside complement the birds outside; he keeps houseplants as well as a garden. At all times, glimpses through the windows show inside and outside in harmony. Beautifully paced, the boy’s endeavors encourage replication. This is a fine example of how nature sparks the imagination of the creator, whether sculptor, painter, gardener or crafter. Even the illustrations, gouache on brown Kraft paper, staples on many children’s art tables, invite tots to get busy. Inspired and inspiring, this is creative genius at work. (Picture book. 2-6)

ImageBOOK 7:

Thank you, Mama

Written by Kate Banks; Illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska  (2013)

Available in Hardcover

This picture book is a somewhat sneaky book on manners.  I absolutely LOVE the illustrations!  This is a very different kind of picture book!  Check it out!

BN.com overview:

It was Alice’s birthday, and Alice’s mama and papa took her to the zoo. They bought Alice a pet parrot, an ice cream, and a flower.
“Thank you, Mama,” said Alice.
“Thank you, Mama,” said the parrot.
But when they returned home and Alice gave the parrot a cracker, the parrot only said, “Thank you, Mama.” Alice thinks she needs to teach the parrot manners–but could it be that the parrot is actually teaching her?
Thank You, Mama pairs up the award-winning team of Kate Banks and Gabi Swiatkowska for an imaginative lesson on politeness and play. Check out its companion book, Please, Papa, too.

ImageBOOK 8:

Miss Moore Thought Otherwise:  How Anne Carroll Moore Created Libraries for Children

Written by Jan Pinborough; Illustrated boy Debby Atwell  (2013)

Available in Hardcover

This picture book biography will delight library-loving readers!

Gr 3–4—From early childhood, Moore had “ideas of her own” and “preferred taking wild toboggan rides” to staying indoors and doing the quiet things expected of girls in the 1870s. Pinborough’s introduction to the pioneering librarian’s Maine upbringing quickly identifies her independent thinking and strong opinions for which she was known. This picture-book account then focuses on her role in designing the famous children’s room during construction of New York City’s historic central library, her activities in developing services there, and her influence on the promotion of children’s books and the wider field of children’s library services. Readers learn that some libraries had become more welcoming to children in the late 19th and early 20th centuries though many were still inhospitable to them. The enthusiastic narrative makes it seem that Moore was a singular force in developing special rooms for children. “In big cities and small towns across America, more and more libraries began to copy Miss Moore’s Central Children’s Room. So did libraries in England, France, Belgium, Sweden, Russia, India and Japan.” A concluding author’s note does explain that other librarians were actually forerunners of Moore. Atwell’s sunny, naive paintings and vignettes vary nicely in layout with many filling the page and a few set in frames or sweeping in circular lines. The flat figures in cheerful countryside, city, and library settings convey a long-ago time. The text is wooden at times but competent in telling its story. As a lesson in library history it will be most interesting to adults, who may also find enjoyable items in the bibliography of adult sources. It might also find readers among children who enjoy reading about earlier times —Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston

ImageBOOK 9:

Open Very Carefully:  A Book with Bite

Written by Nick Bromley; Illustrated by Nicola O’Byrne  (2013)

Available in Hardcover

This picture book delighted me from the moment I opened the cover!  I love picture books that make me giggle and this one made me laugh out loud!

 Publishers Weekly:

This metafictional attempted telling of “The Ugly Duckling” gets derailed when a louche crocodile intrudes and starts consuming the narrative from the inside (“Now he’s gobbling up… whole words and sentences!”). Aided by the mousy gray duckling, the alarmed narrator tries to save the story, even enlisting readers’ help to lull the crocodile to sleep or shake him from the book’s pages. This is a lively read with many prompts for interactivity and a format that makes it a good choice for both lap reads and preschool circle time (it’s hard to imagine the child that won’t laugh when a giant pink crayon swoops in to give the sleeping croc a tutu and ballet slippers). Debut author Bromley stumbles with the wrapup to his self-referential story, closing with a weak “Where do you think he’ll turn up next?” Regardless, O’Byrne’s crocodile is a personable antihero—she underscores his disruptive nature by drawing him in a brash, aggressive style that contrasts mischievously with her soft, storybook duckling—and her integration of typography and action is consistently ingenious. Ages 3–up. (Feb.)

BOOK 10:

ImageThe Museum

Written by Susan Verde; Illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds  (2013)

Available in Hardcover and eReader Editions

I have been a huge fan of Peter Reynold’s illustrations for quite some time now.  This little gem of a picture book does not disappoint!

Publishers Weekly:

“When I see a work of art,/ something happens in my heart./ I cannot stifle my reaction./ My body just goes into action.” A girl in pigtails embodies the emotions elicited by the paintings she sees, leaping, twirling, giggling, and—inspired by the famous Munch work—even shrieking, as she tours a museum gallery filled with European and American masterpieces. The spirals of Starry Night make her spin, cubist portraits cause her to pull ugly faces (“He did it first!”), and Rodin’s Thinker moves her to sit and “analyze/ the whos and whats and wheres and whys.” An expanse of blank, white canvas puzzles her until she understands it as an invitation to project her own mental state onto it: “No longer blank,/ it’s my creation…/ I am feeling such elation!” Reynolds’s (Sky Color) swooping, calligraphic ink drawings give the pages balletic charm. The girl and her surroundings are rendered in light washes, while the paintings’ colors are full and intense. Debut author Verde makes an engaging case for understanding art as an experience rather than an object. Ages 3–7. Agent: Holly McGhee, Pippin Properties. (Mar.)


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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One Response to A Few New Gems For You!

  1. Liz says:

    Once again, you have picked some of my favorites and the other ones I can’t wait to read! Love you bunches!!!

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