Happy New Year! Happy New Picture Books!


Happy New Year and Happy New Picture Books!

January 6, 2014

Dear Picture Book Friends,

I am sorry to have been absent for the past few months!  It has been a bit of a whirlwind, first with the birth of my beautiful, new, tiny granddaughter, London.  And then shortly after her birth I broke my ankle in a silly fall and struggled a bit to get through the holidays.  I am mending well and should be out of my boot cast in the next few weeks. 

I was able, recently, to head up to my bookstore and check out some of the newly released picture books.  Here are a few my daughter, Cait, and I, thought blog worthy!  There is nothing cozier during winter days than a stack of picture books, a blanket and some hot cocoa!!  Your children will remember those days, my friends!  I loaded up both of my sweet granddaughters with some wonderful picture books for their moms & dads to read to them on wintery days just like we are having here today in Indiana!

Also, don’t forget the big upcoming Caldecott announcement on January 27!   This is a day that always excites me and I live stream the ceremony on my computer.  I will post a special blog note when I hear the announcement so be looking for it!

Thank you reading my blog and for your support!  It means a lot to me!

Happy reading!




The Runaway Hug

Written by Nick Bland; Illustrated by Freya Blackwood (2013)

Available in Hardcover and eReader Editions

The cover of this adorable book grabbed my attention right away!  The picture drawings are whimsical and sweet!  As a Grammy of a granddaughter that enjoys passing her hugs around, I know she’s going to love this story and you will too!!

Overview on www.bn.com :

“Mommy,” said Lucy. “Can I have a hug before I go to bed?” 

When Mommy jokes that she only has one hug left, Lucy decides she must keep Mommy’s last hug safe. As Lucy shares the hug with everyone in her large and loving family, she is always careful to get it back . . . until the canine member of the family refuses to play along!

Highly acclaimed, internationally bestselling picture-book creators Nick Bland and Freya Blackwood collaborate for the first time on this charming story, which celebrates the imaginative powers of children and the extraordinary love to be found in ordinary bedtime routines.



Paul Meets Bernadette

Written and Illustrated by Rosy Lamb (2013)

Available in Hardcover

This story is about a fish who sees things in a different way.  It is imaginative and the pictures are stunning.  This lends itself well to a beginning discussion of “everything is not always as it seems”.

Publishers Weekly:

Two goldfish admire the view from their bowl in Lamb’s promising debut. At first, orange juice–hued Paul spends all his time circling “from left to right and from right to left,” without much emotion or variety. “And then one day, Bernadette dropped in.” The newcomer, a saucy tomato-red fish, makes imaginative observations about their kitchen-table surroundings, pronouncing a banana “a boat” and a teapot “an elephant.” As the fish watch the “elephant” filling teacups (courtesy of an offstage human hand), Berna-dette cautions, “you must not disturb her when she is feeding her babies.” Amused children will protest as Paul falls under Bernadette’s spell, especially when Paul correctly identifies a pair of fried eggs and Bernadette contradicts him: “That is the sun and the moon!” Lamb’s delectable painting technique recalls that of confection-master Wayne Thiebaud; her backdrops resemble buttercream frosting in turquoise, sky blue, and lichen green, and she limns the fishes’ domain with impasto brushstrokes of white, yellow, and marine blue. Her sly approach to the way that love and friendship can alter one’s very view of life welcomes repeat visits. Ages 4–8. (Dec.)




Written by Meg Kearney; Illustrated by E.B. Lewis (2013)

Based on a true story, Trouper is a moving story of a three-legged stray dog who finds a loving boy to call his own.  I am a huge advocate of pet rescue adoptions and I love this story!  The watercolor painted illustrations are muted and realistic.  This is a perfect group read-aloud book, lending itself to discussions of compassion, differences, and love of our pets.

Publishers Weekly:

The premise of Kearney’s (The Girl in the Mirror) story of canine adoption is moving in itself; that it’s based on her own rescue of a black Lab only amplifies its poignancy. An introductory note explains the story of the real Trouper, a Puerto Rican street dog rescued by the owners of an animal shelter, who arranged to have his mangled leg amputated and then put him up for adoption. The fictional Trouper (who already has only three legs) narrates his version of events in verse, telling his young owner about “the before time” when he “ran with a mob of mutts.” After a dogcatcher captures the strays and locks them in cages at the pound, Trouper’s pals are adopted one by one, until he is the only dog left (“My heart was a cold, starless night—/ until your face/ shone through the bars/ like a mini sun”). Caldecott Honor illustrator Lewis (Coming on Home Soon) used Kearney’s pet as a model for his lifelike watercolor portraits, which provide a sure sense of the dog’s indefatigable spirit. Ages 4–8. Illustrator’s agent: Dwyer & O’Grady. (Nov.)




Written and Illustrated by Eric Carle (2013)

Available in Hardcover

This is a sweet story about the power of friendship.  Sure to become a classic, Eric Carle illustrates this beautifully in his “chunky” style.  A deeply personal story for Eric, this story is dedicated to his longtime wife, Bobbie, and it is their bond that inspired the book. For anyone who has ever scaled mountains to be with the one he loves, or for anyone who has simply known the love and joy of a great friendship, this book will touch your heart.

School Library Journal:

PreS-Gr 2—A boy describes his devoted affection for a friend with whom he plays, dances, and shares secrets. Then she moves away, and he is all alone. He misses her terribly and vows to find her. Readers will cheer his bravery as he crosses a swift river, climbs over a steep mountain, and travels through a dewy meadow and shadowy forest to find her. Ultimately, he stumbles across a flower garden. With a bouquet in hand, he finds his friend, reunites with her and (playfully) marries her. Both are humorously shown in oversize adult apparel, holding hands. The concluding page shows a scanned photograph, taken in 1932, of the author and a long-lost friend at age three. This story of love and determination is illustrated with Carle’s extraordinary signature artwork. Layers of tissue paper and acrylic paint create a unique blend of colorful images. For anyone who would cross rivers and scale mountains for a beloved friend, this warmhearted story will create an emotional response. Young readers will learn the value of friendship and its many challenges.—Krista Welz, The North Bergen Public Library, NJ



Bits & Pieces

Written and Illustrated by Judy Schnacher (2013)

Available in Hardcover and eReader Editions

If you are a fan of the Skippy Jon Jones picture books, then the illustrations in this one will look very familiar.  Judy Schnacher is one of my favorite author/illustrators! The theme in this one is a warmly affectionate portrait of a family’s devotion to their beloved cat.  Tink has everything he ever wanted – delicious treats, hugs and kisses, and even to raise her own kitten. The only thing missing is wild outdoor adventure. So when the opportunity arises, Tink sneaks out and becomes an outdoor cat for one unforgettable night!  Judy Schnacher’s books are always perfect for reading aloud and this one is a puuuurrrfect picture book!

Kirkus Reviews:

Another charming slice-of-(real)-life story from veteran author/illustrator Schachner that will particularly please fans of The Grannyman (1999). Readers learn immediately that Tink, the feline main character who’s loved to “bits and pieces” by his human family, is the kitten that was raised by Simon, the elderly Siamese cat in the earlier book. The narrator speculates that perhaps this unorthodox upbringing is the source of Tink’s quirky habits. But really, his behavior seems completely catlike. Combining mixed-media illustrations and a conversational tone with a healthy dollop of humor, Schachner describes how Tink digs in the plants, sits on the newspaper, jumps into the middle of board games, stalks the bathtub and generally makes a beloved pest of himself. Breezy, colorful full-page paintings and multiple smaller vignettes are created with charcoal, pastel, watercolor and cut-paper collage to show these and other adventures, including a memorable trip to the vet. Though Schachner doesn’t explicitly identify Tink’s family, fans will likely recognize the two adorable girls who are his “sisters” as well as their parents, and they may even have some suspicions about the big-eared Siamese kitten that eventually joins the household. Their cozy home life contrasts effectively with the mild adventure Tink manages to tuck into his old age. Fellow cat fanciers will appreciate Schachner’s low-key tale and share her unabashed love for her furry friend. (Picture book. 4-7)



Never Too Little to Love

Written by Jeanne Willis; Illustrated by Jan Fearnley (2013)

Available in Hardcover

My daughter, Cait, and I fell in love with this little book!  I had to include it in my post this month!

Overview on www.bn.com :

Whimsical watercolors illustrate a comical, cumulative tale of an amorous mouse who aims impossibly high — and learns that you’re never too little (or too big) to love.  Tiny Too-Little loves someone who’s very, very tall, and Tiny wants a kiss. What if he stands on his tiptoes on top of a thimble? What if he stands on his tiptoes on top of a matchbox on top of a thimble? Clever cut-away pages show Tiny’s precarious pile growing higher and higher, while the object of his affection stays just out of reach. When the teetering stack finally falls with a crash, will his hopes be dashed? How can a tiny mouse get the kiss he needs?



Dinosaur Kisses

Written and Illustrated by David Ezra Stein (2013)

Available in Hardcover

This cute dinosaur, Dinah, made me laugh out loud!  This is a romp of a story sure to bring a giggle to you too!

Publishers Weekly:

Chomp! Stomp! Whomp! Dinah is a wide-eyed, speckled baby dinosaur who wants to try everything, but finesse is not her strong point. She has stubby legs, an eager smile, and a matchless set of jaws. When two tiny creatures kiss each other at Dinah’s feet, Dinah wants to try, too. Her first victim gets a bite on the rear, the next one is flattened by her big dinosaur stompers, and the third gets… eaten. “Whoops,” says Dinah. “Not good.” Only when another baby dinosaur appears does Dinah find a playmate whose life she won’t endanger. “What’s kiss?” the other dinosaur asks, and the two explore affection—rather violently. Stein (Ol’ Mama Squirrel) draws Dinah with a simple, cookie-cutter outline, but her stricken expressions and forthright pursuit of love are plenty complex. Dinah’s swampy world features a sulfurous yellow sky and pint-size volcanoes that explode quietly in the distance. Kids will plunge into the whomping and chomping with glee, and they’ll understand a hero who means to be careful, but who ends up stomping all over things anyway. Ages 2–5. Agent: Rebecca Sherman, Writers House. (Aug.)



Snowflakes Fall

Written by Patricia MacLachlan; Illustrated by Steven Kellogg (2013)

Available in Hardcover and eReader Editions

Moved to collaborate on a message of hope, MacLachlan and Kellogg weave a story of renewal and life’s natural cycle.  The book is a tribute to the lives lost in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. I think it will especially strike a chord with adults.

School Library Journal:

PreS-Gr 3—A gentle picture book created as tribute to the victims of the 2012 shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. In his dedication, Kellogg expresses his hope that this book “celebrates the laughter, the playful high spirits, and the uniqueness of the children of Sandy Hook and of children everywhere.” And indeed, the image of falling snowflakes-“Flake/After flake/After flake/Each one a pattern/All its own-/No two the same-/All beautiful”-makes an affecting metaphor. MacLachlan’s lyrical and understated poem describes snowflakes swirling “together/Like the voices of children” to blanket backyards and sleeping gardens, rolling countryside, and the town’s familiar sites. Though a nighttime storm may bring shadows that “darken dreams,” morning always comes again, revealing a shining world and the opportunity to play outdoors. In springtime, “when the flowers bloom/The children remember the snowflakes/And we remember the children-/No two the same-/All beautiful.” Throughout, Kellogg’s paintings dazzle with brightly clad kids joyfully romping through winter scenes. As flowers bloom, some of the youngsters dance into a still-snowy sky, and the back endpaper shows a row of 20 snow angels taking flight from a moonlit hillside and soaring into the heavens. Accentuating the rebirth found in nature’s cycle, text and images depict the process of healing and renewal, the comfort of memory, and the power of hope. Adults can share this book to address tragic events, discuss grief and the recovery process, and remind children of the precious beauty of life.—Joy Fleishhacker, School 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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