Back to School Picture Books!

August 12, 2013

Back To School Picture Books!

Dear Picture Book Friends,

Happy August!  I am always shocked at how quickly the summer months fly by!  Here we are already, with most children heading back to school this week. 

Generally I feature brand new released picture books on my blog, but this month, I decided to mix it up a bit and suggest some books that I recommend for going back to school. 

Stay tuned for September, though… I plan on having many brand spanking NEW picture books to delight you and your little ones!

Love and peace,

Lisa

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BOOK 1:

How Do Dinosaurs Go to School?

Written by Jane Yolen; Illustrated by Mark Teague  (2007)

Available in Hardcover

Jane Yolen’s “Dinosaurs” books are among some of my favorite for reading out loud.  They are simply delightful and kids (and parents) love them!  This one is particularly cute in dealing with social behavior in the classroom.  I love these illustrations… the looks on the Dino faces make me laugh.

 School Library Journal:

PreS-Gr 2
A new cast of brightly colored dinosaurs appears in this charming back-to-school story. The text’s easy rhyme and rhythm will be familiar to those who have read other books in this series, and Teague’s charismatic and naughty dinosaurs will continue to delight readers with their antics and exuberance. The illustration accompanying “DOES A DINOSAUR YELL?” is sure to elicit smiles as an excited Herrerasaurus leaps out of his chair proudly holding up a newly lost tooth. His teacher looks annoyed, but his classmates all turn toward him with their own gap-toothed grins. The 10 dinosaurs that appear are identified on the endpapers where each is hard at work or play. Stygimoloch using one arm to prop up his raised hand as he blurts out is also likely to draw a smile from veteran teachers. A fun read-aloud for the first day of school.-Neala Arnold, St. Francis Elementary School, MN

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BOOK 2:

If You Take a Mouse to School

Written by Laura Numeroff; Illustrated by Felicia Bond  (2002)

Available in Hardcover

Laura Numeroff’s Mouse is one of my favorite picture book characters!  I read these to my own children years ago, and they never tired of hearing them.  This school edition is entertaining and another perfect one for reading aloud the week before school begins.

Publishers Weekly:

In a rollicking romp, Numeroff and Bond send the energetic, exuberant star of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and If You Take a Mouse to the Movies (and his boy sidekick) into the classroom. After pulling on his overalls, the diminutive character makes his first request (“He’ll ask you for your lunchbox”) and then demands a snack, notebook and pencils before climbing into the boy’s backpack. Once at school, the mercurial mouse happily bounds from one activity to the next: he spells “a word or two” on the blackboard (Bond shows these as an impressive list headed by “onomatopoeia”), conducts a science experiment (purple matter erupts from his beaker), builds “a little mouse house” out of blocks (the edifice looks quite elaborate) and fashions furniture for it with clay. Realizing he needs something on his new bookshelf, the ambitious critter collects paper and pencils and creates his own book, which he then wants to take home, in “your” lunch box. As animated as the whiskered student it depicts, Bond’s art lives up to expectation, featuring her customary crisp colors and kid-pleasing details. Its school setting, tried-and-true tone and popular protagonist mark this title as a winner. Ages 3-7. (July) FYI: Numeroff will donate a portion of her royalties to First Book, a national nonprofit organization that promotes children’s literacy. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

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BOOK 3:

The Kissing Hand

Written by Audrey Penn; Illustrated by Ruth E. Harper and Nancy M. Leek  (2006)

Available in Hardcover and eReader Editions

This is a book that I would highly recommend to read to children who are somewhat anxious about going to school for the very first time.  Chester Raccoon is worried about missing his Momma while he goes off to school for the first time.  Mrs. Raccoon comes up with the perfect idea of placing her kiss in Chester’s hand so that he can take it with him and feel comforted any time he feels he misses Momma.  The words and pictures are perfect for parents searching for a book to help their children through this common anxiety.

Publishers Weekly:

In her foreword to Penn’s sugary tale about Chester, a young raccoon who would rather stay at home than go to school, Jean Kennedy Smith notes that the story is “for any child who confronts a difficult situation, and for the child within each of us who sometimes needs reassurance.” Its obvious message is delivered by Mrs. Raccoon, who tells her son that “I know a wonderful secret that will make your nights at school seem as warm and cozy as your days at home.” She then kisses his palm, and Chester feels the kiss “rush from his hand, up his arm, and into his heart.” Whenever he gets lonely, she advises, he is to press his hand to his cheek and “that very kiss will jump to your face and fill you with toasty warm thoughts.” As it may for youngsters in comparable situations, this “secret” works for Chester, who in turn kisses his mother’s palm so that she, too, will be reassured. Sprinkled with hearts and flowers, Harper and Leak’s paintings of the raccoons and their woodland habitat are pleasant if sentimental. Ages 3-8. (Mar.)

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BOOK 4:

First Day Jitters

Written by Julie Danneberg; Illustrated by Judith Dufour Love  (2000)

Available in Hardcover, Paperback, and eReader Editions

Sarah Jane is worried about her first day at a new school.  She imagines all the things that could go wrong and it is easy to understand her feelings.  You will get a laugh at the surprise ending to this funny story!

School Library Journal:

K-Gr 3-Sarah is hiding under her covers as Mr. Hartwell asks, “You don’t want to miss the first day at your new school do you?” From under the blanket she replies, “I’m not going.” When he reminds her how much she liked her other school and asks her to think of all the new friends she’ll meet, she imagines a classroom where a paper airplane is flying, a boy is pulling his neighbor’s pigtail, and another is blowing a gigantic bubble. Mr. Hartwell finally gets Sarah to stumble out of bed, eat a bit of toast, and get into the car where she slumps down into her seat. At school, the principal cheerfully welcomes her and takes her to the classroom where she is introduced as “Mrs. Sarah Jane Hartwell,” the new teacher. There is a bit of foreshadowing that Sarah is an adult, but as she is always partially hidden, the ending will come as a surprise to most readers. The ink-and-watercolor illustrations are full of action and maintain the lighthearted tone. A little subplot in the paintings shows the family cat and dog having their own contest of wills while their owner is trying to get his wife up and out. The joke provides a good laugh and children may find it reassuring that they are not alone in their anxieties about new situations.-Adele Greenlee, Bethel College, St. Paul, MN Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|

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BOOK 5:

Chamelia and the New Kid in Class

Written and Illustrated by Ethan Long  (2013)

Available in Hardcover and eReader Editions

Chamelia the Chameleon loves to stand out in a crowd!  In this second installation of her story, a new girl comes to school taking attention away from Chamelia.  This is a great story to talk about friendship and what it means to be friend to others.

Kirkus Reviews:

The unique Chamelia is back, but this time her antics and loud outfits aren’t enough to make her the center of attention, a position that has been stolen by the new kid in school, Cooper. The chameleon diva is singing and dancing through her rendition of her summer vacation for her enraptured classmates when Mrs. Knight introduces the interloper. Not only is this the end of her show, it is the end of Chamelia as the standout in class. His portraits have the other kids clamoring to be drawn in art, his team wins at soccer, and his after-school games enthrall everyone–except Chamelia, who’s not used to coming in second place in anything. Finally, Chamelia decides that his run needs to end: She sabotages his show-and-tell presentation. But when her plan works too well, “[s]uddenly, being the best felt the worst,” and she changes her attitude and actions to “show the class what it really meant to be a star.” As in her eponymous first outing (2011), Long makes Chamelia, and now Cooper as well, pop off the pages with collaged, fabric-patterned clothing, in contrast to the other chameleons’ solid, pastel outfits. His characters are expressive to the nth degree, their eyes (and eyelids) and mouths showing emotion, while their body language leaves no doubt as to their feelings–Chamelia’s upturned snout speaks volumes. Giving up the starring role isn’t easy, but readers may appreciate Chamelia’s example. (Picture book. 4-7)

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BOOK 6:

Hooway for Wodney Wat

Written by Helen Lester; Illustrated by Lynn Munsinger  (2002)

Available in Hardcover, Paperback, and eReader Editions

This is a great book to read to children about teasing other children.  Poor Rodney Rat cannot pronounce his R’s.  The other rodents tease him because of his speech impediment but shy Rodney surprises himself when he finds his voice and stands up for his rodent classmates to a bully.  This book lends itself very well in teaching young children about empathy and bullying.

School Library Journal:

PreS-Gr 3-An underdog who can’t say his “r”s suffers unmerciful teasing until he saves his classmates from Camilla Capybara, who announces and then proves that she is bigger, meaner, and smarter than anyone else in the class. However, when Camilla is not quite observant enough to detect Rodney’s speech impediment, a game of Simon Says becomes her downfall. As leader, the young rat squeaks “Wodney says go west,” and instead of resting, Camilla stomps off to the west never to return, making Rodney an instant hero. Munsinger’s watercolor with pen-and-ink illustrations positively bristle with humor and each rat, mouse, hamster, and capybara is fully realized as both rodent and child. Children will empathize with Rodney as he hides his head in his jacket and eats lunch all alone. Bullies may not want to recognize themselves in Camilla but the battle cry “bigger…meaner…smarter” is hard to deny. Hooway is wight…er, right. Wodney Wat is wonderful.-Jody McCoy, The Bush School, Seattle, WA Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

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

7/15/2013

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,

Lisa

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BOOK 1:

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

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BOOK 2:

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

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BOOK 3:

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)

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BOOK 4:

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

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BOOK 5:

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)

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BOOK 6:

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

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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,

Lisa

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Ball

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.)

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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)

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Bluebird

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.)

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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

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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

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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)

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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.)

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Happy First Day of Spring!

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,

Lisa

Image BOOK 1:

Peace

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!

Publishers Weekly:

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.)

ImageBOOK 2:

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!

Kirkus Reviews:

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)

ImageBOOK 3:

Exclamation Mark

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 !

Publishers Weekly:

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.)

ImageBOOK 4:

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!!

Kirkus Reviews:

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)

ImageBOOK 5:

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!

Publishers Weekly:

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.)

ImageBOOK 6:

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:

Kirkus Reviews:

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)

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Happy Presidents’ Day!

Good afternoon Picture Book fans!

Today is an official holiday… Presidents’ Day!  What better way to learn about our country and history than through picture books?  Here is a new book that caught my eye… I really like it!  Also I posted a few more that may just make learning more exciting!  As a visual learner, I know that picture books were (and still are… ex. “visual” computer guides!) the best way for many to retain information.  

Also, we are back from Florida now… our stay was cut a few weeks short, as my dear mother-in-law passed away.  The funeral service is this weekend, so we are still in the midst of tasks and details.  I know this post is short… sorry… I have a list already started of the picture books I want to feature in March!  I am also working on my page to make it more user friendly and be able to get it directly to your email in box.  Any suggestions or how to improve my blog are truly welcome!  Until then, happy reading!

Lisa

 

ImageBOOK 1:

America The Beautiful:  Together We Stand

Written by Katharine Lee Bates;  Illustrated by Bryan Collier, Jon J Muth, Diane Goode, Mary GrandPre, Raul Colon, Sonia Lynn Sadler, Yuyi Morales, John Hendrix, LeUyen Pham, and Chris Soentpiet (2013)

Available in Hardcover

This cover grabbed me right off the display!  The illustrations are from 10 different artists, putting the patriotic song into their pictures.  I love it!

Kirkus Reviews:

What better way to make this patriotic song meaningful to kids than with these lively illustrations by 10 different illustrators? Each spread portrays a line or phrase from the song with a sidebar quote from a president (cherry-picking from Washington to Obama). For “For amber waves of grain,” Mary GrandPré depicts three kids and a dog pretending to be sailing on a boat that’s a dead tree amid a field of wheat; this is paired with a quote from Thomas Jefferson: “I believe…that every human mind feels pleasure in doing good to another.” An interior spread (“with brotherhood”) by LeUyen Pham repeats the cover, picturing kids wearing red-and-white striped outfits representing the flag’s stripes and kids in blue sweaters with stars completing the flag. The quote is from Theodore Roosevelt: “Keep your eyes on the stars, but remember to keep your feet on the ground.” The other illustrators are Diane Goode, Jon J Muth, Yuyi Morales, John Hendrix, Bryan Collier, Chris Soentpiet, Raúl Colon and Sonia Lynn Sadler. Handsomely designed, this is a beautiful tribute to America and Americana. (selected national landmarks and symbols, biographical note, song lyrics, definition of democracy) (Picture book. 5-9)

 

ImageBOOK 2:

When Washington Crossed the Delaware: A Wintertime Story for Young Patriots

Written by Lynne Cheney; Illustrated by Brian Fiore (2004) 

Available in Hardcover and e-Reader editions

I wish that Lynne Cheney’s books had been around when my own children were school-aged.  I love her writing and how it speaks to children in a mature manner.  I love every single one of the five picture books that she has written, so please check them out if you haven’t already!

Publishers Weekly:

Cheney (A Is for Abigail) serves up an inspiring slice of U.S. history in this account of a pivotal event in the American Revolution. With a generous smattering of quotes from primary sources, the author describes Washington’s crossing of the ice-encrusted Delaware River on Christmas night, 1776, as he led 2,400 men from Pennsylvania into New Jersey and defeated British-hired Hessian soldiers at the Battle of Trenton. At times, the narrative awkwardly jumps ahead (in the midst of the surprise attack on Trenton, the author intersperses biographies of 19-year-old Capt. Hamilton and then 18-year-old Lieut. James Monroe). But if the leaps slow the momentum somewhat, these facts will nonetheless fascinate readers, as will some of the more familiar-undeniably powerful-details (e.g., many of the American troops taking their prisoners back over the river to Pennsylvania “marched without shoes and left bloody footprints in the snow”). The author underscores Washington’s charisma, bravery and brilliance as a military tactician with examples of how he rallied his exhausted troops for a subsequent, successful surprise attack on British General Cornwallis’s army in Princeton on January 3. Fiore’s (Touching the Sky) midnight landscape of the lone British soldier keeping watch on the fires of the surreptitiously vacated American campground underscores the dramatic strategy. The multi-textured, effectively shadowed oil paintings simultaneously capture both the dire circumstances and elegance of the soldiers, and deftly do justice to this history-altering event. A source note cites the references to the elucidating quotes from Washington and others. All ages. (Oct.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

 

ImageBOOK 3:

So You Want to be President?

Written by Judith St. George; Illustrated by Brian Small (originally published in 2000;     revised and updated edition 2004)

Winner of the 2001 Caldecott Medal for picture books, this informative, humorous read will appeal to kids and adults alike!

School LIbrary Journal:

Gr 4-8-Curious tidbits of personal information and national history combine with humorously drawn caricatures to give this tongue-in-cheek picture book a quirky appeal. “There are good things about being President and there are bad things about being President.” So begins a walk through a brief history of facts, successes, oddities, and mishaps. For example, most readers won’t know that William Howard Taft weighed over 300 pounds and ordered a specially made bathtub. Small’s drawing of a naked Taft being lowered into a water-filled tub by means of a crane should help them remember. Another spread depicts a men’s shop where Andrew Johnson (a tailor) fits Ronald Reagan (an actor) for a suit while Harry Truman (a haberdasher) stands behind the counter. While the text exposes the human side of the individuals, the office of the presidency is ultimately treated with respect and dignity. A list of presidents with terms of office, birthplace, date of birth and death, and a one-sentence summary of their accomplishments is provided. This title will add spark to any study of this popular subject.-Alicia Eames, New York City Public Schools Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

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New Picture Books to Warm Your Heart!

January 22, 2013

New Picture Books to Warm Your Heart!

Hello Picture Book fans!  Sorry this is late in getting finished!  I am currently snow birding in Florida with my husband and we have had sketchy Internet service since our arrival. Hopefully the issue has been resolved, since I’m hoping to watch the live feed next week (1/28) when the American Library Association announces the 2012 winners of the Caldecott and Newbery medals!!  I will post the announcement to my Facebook Picture Book Look page… check it out and please “like” my page!  I see that people are reading my blog and would love to know who some of you are!  Thank you for reading my blog and I hope you are enjoying it!

Happy reading!

Lisa

ImageBOOK 1:

Polar Bear Morning

Written by Lauren Thompson; Illustrations by Steven Savage. (2013)

Available in Hardcover

This is a simple and sweet picture book for younger children. This companion to Polar Bear Night (2004), the illustrations are large and chunky, with simple text.  This is a new favorite of mine!

Kirkus Reviews:

Hooray, this companion to Polar Bear Night (2004) is as charming and attractive as its predecessor. With the same spare textual sensibility, limited palette and blocky linocut prints, the story picks up where the first ended, with a new day and the freshness of morning. When a polar-bear cub awakens and peeks out at the snow, ice and blue sky, she hears the faraway call of sea gulls and clambers out into the day. She sets off across the snow and ice and meets a snow cub, nose-to-nose (literally). This is dramatically illustrated with a profile view of their heads and noses covering a full double-page spread. The pair frolic, climb, tumble and jump into the sea together–new friends. The deceptive simplicity of the playful graphic design masks great sophistication. Clever composition conveys the rambunctiousness of the cubs, while the many hues of blue showcase the background (even an underwater scene); two dawn-pink spreads surprise readers pleasantly. It’s crystal clear, this is another winner. (Picture book. 3-5)

ImageBOOK 2:

This Moose Belongs to Me

Written and Illustrated by Oliver Jeffers (2012)

Available in Hardcover

This is the newest from one of my favorite picture book authors, Oliver Jeffers. Would a moose make a good pet?  You and you little ones will get a giggle out of Wilfred and his pet moose!

Kirkus Reveiws:

Moose are not necessarily the best pets–except when it really matters. Wilfred carefully teaches his moose, whom he names Marcel, all the rules for being a good pet. Marcel follows some of them. He knows to be quiet when Wilfred is listening to music, for example, but sometimes he roams too far from home. Still, Marcel is a good companion, providing shelter in the rain and reaching high into trees for fruit. Then calamity strikes. Wilfred discovers that Marcel actually belongs to another, causing Wilfred to run home in anger and get lost. To the rescue comes Marcel the moose, strutting nobly on his four thin but strong legs. The boy learns a valuable lesson about wild animals: “[P]erhaps…he’d never really owned the moose anyway.” Jeffers has set his cautionary tale in the beautiful Rocky Mountains using “a mishmash of oil painting onto old linotype and painted landscapes and a bit of technical wizardry thrown into the mix.” The result is an eye-catching and imaginative book with illustrations that vary from close-ups of the imposing moose against a white background to landscapes of the moose standing tall in his very own Albert Bierstadt painting. Pet lovers and nature lovers alike will enjoy this offbeat and entertaining tale. (Picture book. 4-7)

ImageBOOK 3:

Time-Out for Sophie

Written and Illustrated by Rosemary Wells (2013)

Available in Hardcover and Nook eReader formats

Sophie tries to be a good little mouse but sometimes it’s just more fun to be naughty!  This is a perfect book to read to little ones who are learning self control!  I love Rosemary Wells and Sophie takes her place next to her other book characters, Max, Ruby, Nora, and Yoko.

Publishers Weekly:

Watch out, Max and Ruby. Wells’s new anthropomorphic heroine, Sophie, is a two-year-old rodent with mischief in her eyes and an inability to stay out of trouble. After getting sent to time-out for unnecessary roughness during dinner with Mama (a mac and cheese dinner ends up on the floor twice) and upsetting the laundry Daddy has folded (also twice), Sophie comes up against a master: Granny. Instead of giving Sophie a time-out for repeated eyeglasses-snatching, Granny gives herself one, moving from the sofa to the rocking chair, where she sits implacably, arms folded. Wells’s always sunny drawings get an extra punch from collaged pieces of brightly patterned fabrics, and her characters’ facial expressions have plenty to say about parental patience and wild toddler abandon. As wise (and concise) as ever, Wells lets readers have guilt-free fun savoring Sophie’s naughtiness, but delivers the story’s aha moment with an equally deft hand. Good behavior isn’t really about obeisance to the rules, readers will gather. It’s about understanding what makes us pleasant to be around. Ages 2–up. Agent: Brenda Bowen, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. (Jan.)

ImageBOOK 4:

The Shape of My Heart

Written by Mark Sperring; Illustrated by Alys Paterson (2012)

Available in Hardcover

I enjoy reading singsong text and know that young children enjoy listening being read to in this format. It’s not a traditional conceptual shape book but somewhat a new spin to that genre.

Publishers Weekly:

Part concept book and part poem, this eye-catching picture book is a reassuring valentine for any day of the year. Despite the emphasis on shapes, Sperring (The Sunflower Sword) isn’t offering an introduction to circles, squares, and triangles: “This is the shape that we are./ The shape of you and me,” he writes, as the opening spread shows two smiling figures—one large, one small—in white silhouette, defined by a sea of colorful shapes that surround them. A focus on bodily shapes continues (“This is the shape of my hand,/ the hand you hold on to”), serving as an entry into related objects and settings (a spread about food follows one about mouths; a look at feet and shoes paves the way for a scene featuring vehicles). Debut illustrator Paterson fills the pages with crisp and colorful objects, often accented with sound effects (a friendly dinosaur offers a gentle “raaaa,” birds chirp and tweet). It’s a lovingly designed and visually appealing portrait of the places, animals, and objects common to a child’s world, with the invisible but perceptible adult presence hovering in the background. Ages 2–5. (Jan.)

ImageBOOK 5:

Baby Penguins Everywhere!

Written and Illustrated by Melissa Guion (2012)

Available in Hardcover

This is a darling debut picture book from this author.  The whimsical illustrations lend a sweetness to this story of a Penguin who bites off a bit more than she can chew.  Simply adorable!

Publishers Weekly:

Guion’s debut uses adorable penguins to salute the idea of taking time to recharge. Loosely drawn watercolor and pencil spreads show an unnamed penguin alone on an ice floe: “She enjoyed the peace and quiet of the sea and ice. Yet some days… she felt lonely.” A top hat floating in the waves nearby turns out, miraculously, to contain several dozen baby penguins who emerge from it like clowns from a car. They create instant, ?exuberant chaos, frolicking with scarves and waving their stumpy wings in the air. It’s easy to enjoy their fun: Guion’s forms are simple but expressive, and her spreads convey gentle excitement. The new penguin mother is exhausted, though. A page turn shows her sitting alone with her eyes closed: “Happy as she was, she needed something. Just a minute to herself.” Restored, she rejoins her family. Guion doesn’t just explain to young readers why a parent might need an occasional break, she suggests that they, too, can listen for an inner voice that tells them they’re in need of quiet time. Ages 2–5. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Dec.)

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A Special Edition Post of My Favorite Books (Non Picture Books!) of 2012!

January 3, 2013

Hello Picture Book friends!  I hope you had a magical holiday and that 2012 held many happy memories for you.  May 2013 be filled with peace and love and lots of reading to your little ones!

As many of you know, reading is my passion.  Nothing excites me more that an anticipated newly released book!  I love the feel and the smell of books!!  I know many of you can relate to this.  Many of you also know that I work in a bookstore and that I read all different genres of books… not JUST picture books all the time.  Friends have been asking me what my favorite books were that I read last year and for good recommendations, so I decided to just add a little bonus post to my picture book blog.  Some of these books are considered to be Young Reader or Young Adult genres, but I promise that adults will love them too!  This is always a difficult task for me to narrow down… but definitely; these have stayed in my heart that I would say were my favorites of 2012.  Soooo… here you go…

(this is in “somewhat” order… sometimes a book finds us at just the right time that we’re supposed to read it and perhaps that is why often they touch my heart so deeply at that exact time)

OH!  And I will be publishing a new PICTURE BOOK blog edition sometime in the next week or so… be looking for some of the great new ones I have come across so far in 2013!!

ImageBOOK 1:

Wonder by R. J. Palacio

LOVED, LOVED, LOVED!!!

Publishers Weekly:

Auggie Pullman was born with severe facial deformities-no outer ears, eyes in the wrong place, his skin “melted”-and he’s learned to steel himself against the horrified reactions he produces in strangers. Now, after years of homeschooling, his parents have enrolled him in fifth grade. In short chapters told from various first-person perspectives, debut author Palacio sketches his challenging but triumphant year. Though he has some expectedly horrible experiences at school, Auggie has lucked out with the adults in his life-his parents love him unconditionally, and his principal and teachers value kindness over all other qualities. While one bully manages, temporarily, to turn most of Auggie’s classmates against him (Auggie likens this to becoming the human equivalent of “the Cheese Touch,” a clever Diary of a Wimpy Kid reference), good wins out. Few first novels pack more of a punch: it’s a rare story with the power to open eyes-and hearts-to what it’s like to be singled out for a difference you can’t control, when all you want is to be just another face in the crowd. Ages 8-12. Agent: Alyssa Eisner Henkin, Trident Media Group.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

ImageBOOK 2:

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Another beautiful book by one of my favorite authors!

BN.com overview:

TIME Magazine’s #1 Fiction Book of 2012!
“The Fault in Our Stars is a love story, one of the most genuine and moving ones in recent American fiction, but it’s also an existential tragedy of tremendous intelligence and courage and sadness.” —Lev Grossman, TIME Magazine

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning-author John Green’s most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love.

ImageBOOK 3:

Every Day by David Levithan

So cool… so different… loved!

Publishers Weekly:

Is it possible to disregard someone’s exterior to see—and love—that person’s true, interior self? That’s just one of the provocative questions Levithan (Every You, Every Me) asks in a novel that follows “A,” who takes over the body of a different person each day at midnight. Right around A’s 6,000th day on the planet, A meets Rhiannon—girlfriend of current host body Justin—and falls in love. A is careful not to disrupt the lives of the bodies he/she inhabits (A doesn’t identify as male or female), but that starts to change as A pursues Rhiannon. Levithan sets up the rules of this thought experiment carefully: A only hops between the bodies of teenagers (who all live fairly near each other), and A can access their memories. As a result, the story unfolds smoothly (the regular shifts between bodies give the novel a natural momentum), but it’s also less ambitious. Despite the diverse teens A inhabits, A’s cerebral, wiser-than-thou voice dominates, in much the same way A directs the lives of these teens for 24 hours. Ages 12–up. Agent: Bill Clegg, William Morris Endeavor. (Aug.)

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The Age Of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

This is not your average dystopian-type read.  I was riveted from page one!  Loved!

Kirkus Reviews:

In Walker’s stunning debut, a young California girl coming of age in a dystopian near future confronts the inevitability of change on the most personal level as life on earth withers. Sixth-grader Julia, whose mother is a slightly neurotic former actress and whose father is an obstetrician, is living an unremarkable American middle-class childhood. She rides the school bus and takes piano lessons; she has a mild crush on a boy named Seth whose mother has cancer; she enjoys sleepovers with her best friend Hanna, who happens to be a Mormon. Then one October morning there’s a news report that scientists have discovered a slowing of the earth’s rotation, adding minutes to each day and night. After initial panic, the human tendency to adapt sets in even as the extra minutes increase into hours. Most citizens go along when the government stays on a 24-hour clock, although an underground movement of those living by “real time” sprouts up. Gravity is affected; birds begin to die, and astronauts are stranded on their space station. By November, the “real time” of days has grown to 40 hours, and the actual periods of light and dark only get longer from that point. The world faces crises in communication, health, transportation and food supply. The changes in the planet are profound, but the daily changes in Julia’s life, which she might be facing even in a normal day, are equally profound. Hanna’s family moves to Utah, leaving Julia without a best friend to help defend against the bullies at the bus stop. She goes through the trials and joys of first love. She begins to see cracks in her parents’ marriage and must navigate the currents of loyalty and moral uncertainty. She faces sickness and death of loved ones. But she also witnesses constancy and perseverance. Julia’s life is shaped by what happens in the larger world, but it is the only life she knows, and Walker captures each moment, intimate and universal, with magical precision. Riveting, heartbreaking, profoundly moving.

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Pandemonium  (Delirium, #2) by Lauren Oliver

Normally I don’t like the second in a series nearly as much as I enjoyed the first book (Delirium).  Pandemonium, however, was that rare gem of a book for me!  My daughter and I are obsessed with this series and love the writing.  We are twisting in anticipation at #3 coming out March 5, 2013!!

Kirkus Reviews:

It’s been six months since readers first met 17-year-old Lena Haloway, desperately in love in a world that considers such feelings an infection to be permanently and irrevocably “cured.” This much-anticipated sequel to Delirium (2011) picks up right where the first novel left off, with Lena and Alex’s only partially successful attempt to escape to “the Wilds.” Lena, alone, heartbroken and near death, must reach deep within herself to find the strength and the will to survive. “Step by step–and then, inch by inch,” she is reborn. The story of Lena’s new life as a rebel Invalid, determined to honor the memory of Alex by fighting for a world in which love is no longer considered a capital offense, is told through a series of flashbacks and present-day accounts that will leave readers breathless. The stakes only get higher when Lena realizes she has feelings for someone new. The novel’s success can be attributed to its near pitch-perfect combination of action and suspense, coupled with the subtler but equally gripping evolution of Lena’s character. From the grief-stricken shell of her former self to a nascent refugee and finally to a full-fledged resistance fighter, Lena’s strength and the complexity of her internal struggles will keep readers up at night. (Dystopian romance. 14 & up)

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October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard by Leslea Newman

Mere words cannot express the beauty of this book… read it!!

School Library Journal:

Gr 9 Up—Matthew Shepard, a gay college student, died nearly 14 years ago, of wounds inflicted during a violent beating. Just before his brutal attack, he and other students had been planning a Gay Awareness Week; Newman was the keynote speaker at this event, which took place a week after the assault. Through 68 poems, she captures facets of the event that were likely never uncovered before. The poems’ fictitious narrators, ranging from Matthew’s cat to hateful frat boys at nearby Colorado State to the fence on which Shepard was abandoned, appear and then return later as the narrative unfolds. What impact will the depiction of such an event have on today’s teens, many of whom were just born at the time of its occurrence? Put simply-a tremendous impact. Newman’s verse is both masterful and steady-handed. Each poem is beautiful in its subtle sophistication. The overarching narrative will be appreciated most by readers who have read a brief overview of what happened to Matthew, but those who haven’t will certainly be inspired to do so immediately following. Many teens will see how very far we’ve come, while others will see how far we still have to go. Either way, the book will be a valuable addition to poetry and fiction collections.  Jill Heritage Maza, Montclair Kimberley Academy, Montclair, NJ

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See You at Harry’s by Jo Knowles

A sad story, so be prepared… but there are so many tender sweet family moments that it’s worth it.  Thanks for recommending it to me Laurie P.!

Kirkus Reviews:

Sit back in a comfortable chair, bring on the Kleenex and cry your heart out. Seventh grader Fern, in pitch-perfect present tense, relates the dual tragedies of her family. Her high-school–freshman older brother Holden has come to the place in his life where he’s acknowledged that he’s gay and is taking the first painful, unsteady steps out into a less-than-fully-accepting world. Fern offers him support and love, but what she can give is not always what he needs. Their older sister, Sara, spending a frustrating gap year after high school supposedly helping with the family restaurant, makes life hard for everyone with her critical eye and often unkind comments. And then there’s 3-year-old Charlie, always messy, often annoying, but deeply loved. Fern’s busy, distracted parents leave all of the kids wanting for more attention–until a tragic accident tears the family apart. The pain they experience after the calamity is vividly, agonizingly portrayed and never maudlin. Eventually there are tiny hints of brightness to relieve the gloom: the wisdom of Fern’s friend Ran, the ways that Sara, Fern and Holden find to support each other and their thoughtfully depicted, ever-so-gradual healing as they rediscover the strength of family. Prescient writing, fully developed characters and completely, tragically believable situations elevate this sad, gripping tale to a must-read level. (Fiction. 11 & up)

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Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

I don’t even know how to exactly explain this book… it takes unexpected twists and turns.  The story kept me riveted to the end and I loved it.  This was also a Laurie P. recommend, so THANKS L.P.!

Library Journal:

Fourteen-year-old June is a loner whose favorite activity is going to the woods in her lace-up boots and Gunne Sax dress and pretending she’s a medieval falconer. It’s the 1980s, and the only person who understands June is her gay uncle Finn, a famous artist dying of AIDS. June’s visits with him in New York listening to Mozart and exploring the city have made her older sister Greta jealous. A popular girl with a starring role in the school musical, Greta treats June cruelly, hiding her devastation that they are no longer best friends. In the end, Finn’s final creation, a portrait he painted of June and Greta, along with his secret lover, Toby, serve to unite the sisters. VERDICT Brunt’s debut novel is both a painful reminder of the ill-informed responses to a once little-known disease and a delightful romp through an earlier decade. The relationship issues with parents and siblings should appeal to YA audiences, but adult readers will enjoy the suspenseful plot and quirky characters.—Joy Humphrey, Pepperdine Univ. Law Lib., Malibu, CA

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The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

This book was recommended to me from a bookseller at Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville, IL.  I don’t usually enjoy animal stories… they are often too emotional for me.  But this one really stuck with me and I am so happy that I gave it a chance!

Publishers Weekly:

Inspired by a true story, Applegate (Home of the Brave) offers a haunting tale told from the perspective of Ivan, a silverback gorilla who has been confined to a small “domain” of concrete, metal, and glass for 27 years. Joining Ivan at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade are Stella, an aging elephant, and Bob, a feisty stray dog. While other animals perform, Ivan makes art, watches TV, and offers melancholy assessments of their situation. When Ruby, an inquisitive baby elephant, arrives and Stella dies from neglect, her dying wish is for Ivan to help Ruby escape. The brief chapters read like free-verse poetry, the extra line breaks between paragraphs driving home the contrast between Ivan and humans, who in his opinion, “waste words. They toss them like banana peels and leave them to rot.” As is to be expected, there’s significant anthropomorphism, but Applegate is largely successful in creating a protagonist who can understand humans yet feels like a gorilla. Although Ivan’s role in the events leading to their rescue reads as too human, readers will be left rethinking our relationship to animals. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 8–12. (Jan.)

Image**BONUS BOOK!!**:

The Cool Part Of His Pillow by Rodney Ross

This is a bonus book because I can’t really classify it into my list… it is really just too special to me.  You see, the author is a dear friend… we’ve been friends since Junior High when he used to distract me in band by striking me with his bass drum mallet (I was a bad clarinet player in the last row, just in front of percussion!)  As I read the book, it was like hearing Rodney’s words telling me a story… with many cultural references thrown in that struck a reminiscent cord within me.  At its core, it’s a love story.  And, well, I simply loved it!  And I love, my friend, the author!

 BN.com overview:

 The midforties are that time in a gay man’s life when his major paradigm shifts from sexy to sensible. But when Barry Grooms’s partner of twenty years is killed on Barry’s forty-fifth birthday, his world doesn’t so much evolve as it does explode.

After navigating through the surreal conveyor belt of friends and family, he can’t eat another casserole or swallow much more advice, and so, still numb, he escapes to Key West, then New York. He embraces a new mantra: Why the hell not? He becomes so spontaneous he’s ready to combust. First, he gets a thankless new job working for a crazy lady in a poncho, then has too many drinks with a narcissistic Broadway actor. Next, it’s a nude exercise class that redefines flop sweat, and from there he’s on to a relationship with a man twenty years his junior, so youthfully oblivious he thinks Karen Carpenter is a lesbian woodworker.

Yet no matter how great the retreat from the man he used to be, life’s gravity spins Barry back to the town where he grew up for one more ironic twist that teaches him how to say good-bye with grace.

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