A Fun Day of Picture Book Reading with My Daughter, Caitlin!


Dear Picture Book Friends,

Here are a few sweet picture books that you are going to want to add to your summer reading list with your little ones!  There is no better way to spend a summer afternoon than reading with your children!  So get out to your local bookstore or library and enjoy a few hours creating some memories of reading picture books with your family!

P.S.  My daughter has moved home since completing Grad School and today we sat at my Barnes & Noble Café together and read a huge stack of picture books so that she could help me decide which ones to feature.  We STILL LOVE reading picture books together and soon I will be able to read them to another little granddaughter!  She and her husband are expecting around Thanksgiving!  Now I’ll have 2 little granddaughters to read to and love!!  Beyond excited!!

Love to all,




If You Want to See a Whale

Written by Julie Fogliano; Illustrated by Erin Stead  (2013)

Available in Hardcover

Oh my goodness!!  This picture book immediately jumped onto my “favorites” list!  Erin Stead is one of my favorite children’s book illustrators and she hits it again with this lovely gem!  My daughter and I were “ooh-ing” and “ahh-ing” as we read this together and you will love it too!

Kirkus Reviews:

Fogliano and Stead (And Then It’s Spring, 2012) produce another tender, timid story about a boy, his animal friends (a basset hound and a bird) and practicing patience. Whale watching requires lots of resolve to avoid distractions like birds, roses, pirate ships, clouds, pelicans and so on. Fogliano’s exhaustive accounting of what not to notice artfully communicates the impossibility of unflagging focus. Her skeined advice unreels in a vivid, looping poem, while Stead’s soft, accompanying artwork settles into subdued, simple compositions. Linoleum printing offers oceanic, undulating blues and greens, while pencil drawings bring the redheaded boy’s freckles and his hound’s drooping skin into focus. Stunning specificity surfaces in the poem’s off-kilter phrasing (an inchworm’s “just nibble scoot” across a leaf). The drifting verse floats and coalesces like the clouds that threaten to divert the boy from whale watching. When read aloud, it charms like an incantation. The poem’s unresolved ellipses at the conclusion suggest an unending whale hunt, but Stead’s final two images silently deliver what we’ve been waiting for. The whale, huge and hidden, floats beneath the unknowing child’s tiny vessel and then twists its mass, pulling its head completely out of the water. The boy, his dog and bird rear back in wonder; readers will gape at the two enormous, whale-sized talents at work in this transfixing picture book. (Picture book. 2-6



Dozens of Cousins

Written by Shutta Crum; Illustrated by David Catrow (2013)

Available in Hardcover

My cousins have been a huge part of me for all of my life!  I grew up in a small town, where my large family used to gather frequently and my cousins were my very first friends.  The author and illustrator capture the fun and chaos perfectly in this hilarious, quirky picture book!

School Library Journal:

PreS-Gr 3—An unnamed child tells of the glorious day with “beastie” cousins at a family reunion, “running with hearts hungry for hugs and tummies hungry for treats.” Politeness is thrown to the wind as the cousins make themselves at home, bursting through doors and leaping into the creek, playing wild games, and annoying older siblings. They spit watermelon seeds and grab at fireflies, until they finally sleep wherever they happen to fall in the relative-packed house. Crum’s text is energetically lyrical: “We are drummers of song and magicians of laughter./Our hair, spiked with mud,/proclaims us astounding.” Catrow’s warts-and-all illustration style is especially fitting here; those squint-eyed mugs are just right on cousins shaking their fannies and throwing underwear out of the windows with wild abandon. Author and illustrator together have captured the manic energy of cousins unleashed.—Kathleen Kelly MacMillan, Carroll County Public Library, MD



Little Mouse

Written and Illustrated by Alison Murray  (2013)

Available in Hardcover

My daughter and I had a good giggle as we read “Little Mouse” together!  It reminded us both so much of HER!  The illustrations have somewhat of a “vintage” look to them and we both loved them!  I fell slightly in love with the little girl and especially if you have a daughter, you will too!

Kirkus Reviews:

Murray captures a young girl’s changing moods—from feeling big and bold to little and cuddly—in this playful, empathetic story. Mommy sometimes calls her daughter little mouse, which amuses the spirited child because her self-perception is that she’s strong as an ox and brave as a lion and that she can howl like a wolf. But when bedtime nears and the sprightly child gets sleepy, she is more than happy to curl up in her mother’s arms and be that little mouse. Friendly animals populate both the pages and the girl’s imagination as the artist implies similes: The protagonist stomps in front of a bear, waddles beside a penguin and trumpets with an elephant. Attractive backgrounds, done in a pleasing pastel palette, showcase Murray’s textile-design training. However, the artist’s digital work, done to look like the gouache illustrations of a bygone era, lack the depth and richness classic illustrators like Richard Scarry, Gyo Fujikawa or Mary Blair offered. As with so much digital art, the computer here produces a certain feeling of sameness in the illustrations (the child’s face is depicted in only profile or full, frontal view, for instance). Despite this, it is a charming bedtime tale, accessible and winsome and a delight for little readers anytime. Youngsters will clamor for more as they climb into a lap and ask to also be called their mommy’s little mouse. (Picture book. 3-6)



If You Were a Panda Bear

Written and Illustrated by Wendell and Florence Minor  (2013)

Available in Hardcover

Animal lovers, take note!  A new, beautiful picture book featuring all different types of bears!  Absolutely, lovely pictures and the back of the book features factual information about each variety of bear. 

School Library Journal:

PreS-Gr 2—A picture-book introduction to the world’s eight bear species. Similar in format to the Minors’ If You Were a Penguin (HarperCollins, 2009), Panda Bear is written in rhymed quatrains that have minimal facts about each breed (e.g., a sun bear’s long tongue helps it get honey; and grizzlies can be 10 feet tall and love to catch salmon with their paws and teeth). Each four-liner is divided between the one or two spreads allotted to each species. Skillfully detailed paintings show the variety in textures of the bears’ fur-some soft, some wiry, others thick and fluffy. Facial close-ups of panda, sloth, black, moon, sun, and spectacled bears show intelligence and compassion. Because many of the poems pair a small fact or two with the nonsense of forced rhyme (e.g., “If you were a spectacled bear,/You’d have furry eyeglasses./And if you went to school,/You’d look smart in your classes”), libraries that purchase the book may want to consider cataloging it as a picture book. In contrast to the simple text, two appended pages of “Bear Fun Facts” and a half page of excellent “Bear Sources and Websites” are more appropriate for older children. Bob Barner’s Bears! Bears! Bears! (Chronicle, 2010), an informational book that is also written in rhyme, ends with a fact about bear cubs of each species and a colorful map that shows where they live.—Susan Scheps, formerly at Shaker Public Library, OH



A Pirate’s Guide to Recess

Written by James Preller; Illustrated by Greg Ruth  (2013)

Available in Hardcover and eReader Editions

One thing that drew me to wanting to pick up this picture book was the fact that there was a boy AND a GIRL on the cover!  I cannot think of any pirate books, off the top of my head that feature girls.  As I read through, I was not disappointed.  The illustrations a beautiful mixture of pencil sketches and color paintings.  The imagination factor with this book rates a 10 out of 10!  This is perfect to read aloud with many pirate exclamations, along with a pirate vocabulary dictionary at the back of the book.  Delightful!

Publishers Weekly:

Using the same blustery pirate slang and vintage-style artwork that propelled A Pirate’s Guide to First Grade, Preller and Ruth transform a school playground into a swashbuckling adventure featuring two rival captains—Red (from the previous book) and fearsome Molly. Their respective pirate crews are again rendered in pencil, creating a ghostly effect, and their surly theatrics will pull readers through this nautical fantasy. “Don’t scowl so, sweet Red!” Molly tells Red after his crew mutinies. “We’re just having a little yo ho ho.” Preller and Ruth put kids at the helm as they communicate the joy of escaping into a world of pretend. Ages 3–6. Author’s agent: Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary Studio. (June)



The Day the Crayons Quit

Written by Drew Daywalt; Illustrated by Oliver Jeffers  (2013)

Available in Hardcover and eReader Editions

My, oh my!!  I LOVE this picture book and have another new favorite to add to my growing list of “favs”!  I have always been an Oliver Jeffers fan and this collaboration with Drew Daywalt really hits the “adorable” mark!  You will want to add this one to your personal picture book library, for sure!

School Library Journal:

K-Gr 2—In this delightfully imaginative take on a beloved childhood activity, a young boy’s crayons have had enough. Fed up with their workload and eager to voice their grievances, they pen letters to Duncan detailing their frustrations. Energetic and off-the-wall, the complaints are always wildly funny, from the neurotically neat Purple (“If you DON’T START COLORING INSIDE the lines soon… I’m going to COMPLETELY LOSE IT”) to the underappreciated White (“If I didn’t have a black outline, you wouldn’t even know I was THERE!”). Daywalt has an instinctive understanding of the kind of humor that will resonate with young children, such as Orange and Yellow duking it out over which of them represents the true color of the sun or Peach’s lament that ever since its wrapper has fallen off, it feels naked. Though Jeffers’s messily scrawled crayon illustrations are appropriately childlike, they’re also infused with a sophisticated wit that perfectly accompanies the laugh-out-loud text; for example, a letter from Beige, in which he bemoans being tasked with drawing dull items like turkey dinners, is paired with an image of the crestfallen crayon drooping over beside a blade of wheat. Later on, Pink grumbles about constantly being passed over for less-feminine colors while the opposite page depicts a discomfited-looking pink monster and cowboy being derided by a similarly hued dinosaur. This colorful title should make for an uproarious storytime and may even inspire some equally creative art projects.—Mahnaz Dar, Library Journal

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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