Dear Picture Book Friends,

Hello! I have missed writing about picture books this past year. My life has been busy, busy, with another new grandchild (our first boy!) and now we are up to three little blessings. We have another on the way, as our daughter will be having her second girl at the beginning of June. We are beyond thrilled and I LOVE being a Grammy!

One of the best things I love about being Grammy is reading to my little ones! This past year I was a bit disappointed, never exactly finding new picture books that took my breath away. I admit that I have been a bit out of the loop, but in the things that I did see, nothing exactly had me super excited. There have been several new ones that have come out since the beginning of 2015 that I have truly enjoyed reading to the “Grands” and that I am excited to share with you.

Happy Spring and Happy Reading, friends!



Book 1:








Spring Walk

Written and Illustrated by Virginia Brimhall Snow (2015)

Available in Hardcover

In companion to her earlier releases Fall Walk and Winter Walk, Virginia Brimhall Snow has added this beautiful addition. I absolutely love these books and anticipate her next one, Summer Walk!

After a long winter’s sleep, the soil is springing to life. Spring flowers break through the ground to welcome warmer days. Come with Grammy and her grandchildren as they explore and learn all about 24 different flowers. Once home, she teaches them how to plant their own flowers from seeds and make beautiful bouquets.

Book 2:









If You Plant a Seed

Written and Illustrated by Kadir Nelson (2015)

Available in Hardcover

This is such a beautiful book! You will want to read this one aloud and then display it as a reminder to your little ones about kindness.

Kirkus Reviews:

Nelson spins a gardening metaphor about kindness. “If you plant a tomato seed, a carrot seed, and a cabbage seed,” that’s what will grow. A rabbit and a mouse garden together and delight in their harvest—but a mourning dove, crow, blue jay, cardinal and sparrow come begging. “If you plant a seed of selfishness”—here Nelson depicts the gardeners refusing to share—”it will grow, and grow, and grow // into a heap of trouble.” A monumental food fight leaves all the combatants splattered with tomato. Amid the debris, the mouse offers possibly the last intact fruit—and the birds respond with an airlift of seeds that sprout into an astonishing garden, proving that “the fruits of kindness // …are very, very sweet.” To this spare, fablelike text Nelson pairs stunningly cinematic oils, modulating palette and perspective to astonishing effect. The tomatoes gleam red against blue sky and green leaves, and it’s easy to see why the circling birds descend in hopes of a meal. Wordless spreads convey drama and humor; a double-page close-up of all five birds depicted from the front, each head a-tilt and silhouetted against blue sky, is hysterical. The animals are slightly anthropomorphized; they read books but wear no clothes, communicating joy, dejection, anger and contentment in every bone. Though the message is as old as time, its delivery here is fresh and sweet as August corn. (Picture book. 4-8)

Book 3:








The House That’s Your Home

Written by Sally Lloyd-Jones; Illustrated by Jane Dyer (2015)

Available in Hardcover and eReader Editions

Jane Dyer has been a favorite illustrator of mine for many years. Her style is immediately recognizable, in its softness and beauty. This is a lovely story also, although received some criticism about a middle class version of what makes a home.

School Library Journal:

PreS-Gr 1—A house is just a building, but a home is made up of all the pieces on the inside. Lloyd-Jones tells the tale of a young girl and the parts that make up her home in rhythmic, hand-lettered text. The story builds on repetition and travels through a day with the main character, inside her home and further into her community. “And your Swing is to swing you./Right up to the sky/Up over the wall/Up, up till you see/Swallows and cornfields/And tractors and sheep/And the world that is waiting below.” Dyer’s gouache and pencil pictures include a balanced variation of spreads and closer images with greater white space behind them. The images reveal the finer details of a young child’s life and draw together the broad story line. Although the words are charming and the pictures are captivating, the book does paint a very privileged, middle-class version of what constitutes a home. According to this title, it means having a full family, a large house, a yard with a swings- et, a bike, lots of toys, and much more. For communities that can relate to this standard of living, this selection will be well received as a read aloud.—Megan Egbert, Meridian Library District, ID

Book 4:







The Bear Ate Your Sandwich

Written and Illustrated by Julia Sarcone-Roach (2015)

Available in Hardcover and eReader Editions

Publishers Weekly:

“By now I think you know what happened to your sandwich,” begins the unseen narrator of Sarcone-Roach’s (Subway Story) sly tale. “But you may not know how it happened…. It all started with the bear.” The narrator spins a long, involved story about how a bear found its way to the city (and the sandwich), while warm, painterly acrylics show what’s really going on. The bear finds himself a stowaway on a berry truck that passes “high cliffs” (readers see tall buildings) and arrives in “a new forest” (a lively city street). He makes the city his own, shinnying up fire escapes and riffling ruinously through the papers outside a newsstand, then arrives in the park: “There it was. Your beautiful and delicious sandwich. All alone.” The bear gobbles it down and returns to bear country by boat. Or so the storyteller says—he’s revealed to be the young sandwich owner’s dog, and he might not be entirely trustworthy. The fabricated story and accompanying artwork stand nicely on their own, while the narrative frame delivers an extra comic kick in the pants. Ages 3–7. Agent: Paul Rodeen, Rodeeen Literary Management. (Jan.)

Book 5:








Special Delivery

Written by Phillip Stead; Illustrated by Matthew Cordell (2015)

Available in Hardcover

Another favorite Author/Illustrator duo reteams up for a delightful, silly story. They won a Caldecott Medal for A Sick Day for Amos in 2011. Be sure to check this one out!

School Library Journal:

PreS-Gr 2—How exactly does one deliver an elephant to a dear aunt “who lives almost completely alone and could really use the company”? Spunky young Sadie plans to send the pachyderm through the mail, but the wheelbarrow full of stamps required for the transaction makes her realize she needs another game plan. Undaunted, Sadie and the elephant travel by biplane, train, alligator and ice-cream truck to get to Great-Aunt Josephine, who as it turns out, doesn’t really live almost completely alone thanks to Sadie. Watercolor and ink illustrations have a scratchy cartoonish quality reminiscent of James Stevenson that infuses the story with energy. From the “uh, oh” speech bubble hovering over the sputtering plane as Sadie realizes she’s running out of gas to a train full of monkey bandits chowing down on bananas and canned beans, these two-page spreads are a comic delight, resulting in an engaging blend of perfectly paced adventure and visual humor. Add in a liberal use of exaggerated sound effects, and the outcome is a read-aloud winner sure to deliver laughs to young readers.—Teri Markson, Los Angeles Public Library

Book 6:










Written and Illustrated by Carson Ellis (2015)

Available in Hardcover

There is beauty on every page of this lovely picture book, depicting different kinds of homes. I love it!

Kirkus Reviews:

Ellis, known for her illustrations for Colin Meloy’s Wildwood series, here riffs on the concept of “home. “Shifting among homes mundane and speculative, contemporary and not, Ellis begins and ends with views of her own home and a peek into her studio. She highlights palaces and mansions, but she also takes readers to animal homes and a certain famously folkloric shoe (whose iconic Old Woman manages a passel of multiethnic kids absorbed in daring games). One spread showcases “some folks” who “live on the road”; a band unloads its tour bus in front of a theater marquee. Ellis’ compelling ink and gouache paintings, in a palette of blue-grays, sepia and brick red, depict scenes ranging from mythical, underwater Atlantis to a distant moonscape. Another spread, depicting a garden and large building under connected, transparent domes, invites readers to wonder: “Who in the world lives here? / And why?” (Earth is seen as a distant blue marble.) Some of Ellis’ chosen depictions, oddly juxtaposed and stripped of any historical or cultural context due to the stylized design and spare text, become stereotypical. “Some homes are boats. / Some homes are wigwams.” A sailing ship’s crew seems poised to land near a trio of men clad in breechcloths—otherwise unidentified and unremarked upon. Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions. (Picture book. 4-8)

Book 7:








Henry Finds His Word

Written and Illustrated by Lindsay Ward (2015)

Available in Hardcover and eReader Editions

New moms will love this sweet book of baby talk and the learning of the first word! The illustrations will bring a smile to your face.

School Library Journal:

PreS-K—Henry talks a lot, saying things like “Rah Rah Rah Rah Rah!” and “bbbghsh.” Unfortunately, while he thinks what he says makes perfect sense, his parents don’t understand him. The toddler decides to go searching for the right word, looking in his crib and in his toy box and even asking some of the animals in his backyard for help, albeit unsuccessfully. But when he loses sight of his mother, his first word finally comes to him, as he calls out, “Mama!” and his mother appears right by his side. Like adorable Henry, the writing is warm but also sensitive, particularly when he cannot find his mother: “Henry began to cry. Where was she? He needed her!” Ward also adds a touch of humor both with Henry’s gibberish and at the end, when Henry uses his newfound word whenever he wants something. Ward’s illustrations are created using pencil and pastel, making for soft colors and lines, which match the sweet, gentle tone of the story and young Henry himself. Like the title character of Robert Kraus’s classic Leo the Late Bloomer (HarperCollins, 1979), Henry finds his first word in his own good time.—Laura J. Giunta, Garden City Public Library, NY

Book 8:









Written and Illustrated by Jorey Hurley (2015)

Available in Hardcover and eReader Editions

If you have read my blog much, then you already know that picture books featuring dogs are my absolute favorite! This one has ranked at the top of my list for it’s cute protagonist pup!

School Library Journal:


PreS-Gr 1—From the author of Nest (S. & S., 2014) comes another spare and beautiful outdoor adventure. One day at the beach, a big dog’s red ball is thrown into the water. “Splash!” And he’s off to “swim,” “dive,” and “seek” that ball. Using only 15 words in total, Hurley takes the canine and readers on a delightful and fanciful romp. Children watch as the waves “crash” over him, see his playful stance when he meets some curious seagulls, and on one of two vertical spreads, are captivated as the dog floats at the water’s surface while down near the ocean floor a shark gains on his fishy prey. Returning triumphantly to his owner with the ball, the eager pup is ready to do it all “again?” An author’s note explains that all of the creatures and plants the dog encounters may be found off the West coast of North America. The palette of blues, greens, grays, browns, and white masterfully evokes the ocean and beach. Occasional use of red adds impact and vitality to the full-page illustrations. Whether this book is enjoyed one-on-one or with a group, requests for repeated readings are sure to follow. Recommended for all, but a must where Hurley’s previous book is popular.—Sara-Jo Lupo Sites, George F. Johnson Memorial Library, Endicott, NY

Here are a few more to that I enjoyed, so be sure to check them out at your local library or favorite bookstore!






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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