bookish posts Picture Book Monday

Picture Book Monday: January 2016

I glomped through a pile of picture books recently and here are the results.

nuts in spaceNuts in Space by Elys Dolan: I loved Dolan’s Weasels a LOT, and I knew Ana liked this one. Dolan’s illustrations are complex and full of details for readers to pick up on in a second or third read. There are also lots of sly and fun allusions to classic SF, especially Star Trek and Star Wars. Hugely enjoyable!

moletownMoletown by Torben Kuhlmann: I had heard good things about this one, which is a nearly wordless picture book, so I expected to like it. But I didn’t. There isn’t quite enough substance to hold up to the message, and the message doesn’t seem to have any resolution at all. I actually looked at the whole thing twice to try to see if there was something I was missing. Maybe I still am, but I’m not sure it works.

tell me a dragonTell Me A Dragon by Jackie Morris: This is a pleasant fantasy picture book featuring children in many different settings with their own particular types of dragons. (One dragon lives in the sea, one breathes snowflakes, etc.) I really like Jackie Morris’s illustrations in general, although occasionally the humans seem a little odd to me.

who will i be lordWho Will I Be, Lord? by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, illustrated by Sean Qualls: A young girl thinks about the different people in her family, from her great-grandparents to herself, and what makes up each of their identities. There’s a lot packed into Micheaux Nelson’s text, from a sense of family history and dynamics, to learning to see the best in people, to the difference between what people say about you and who you really are.

inker's shadowThe Inker’s Shadow by Allen Say: I wish in a way that the backmatter for this book had been presented first, because reading it first was slightly frustrating for me due to the episodic nature of the story. Having read Say’s afterword, this makes tons of sense, but on a first reading, I think it kept me from purely loving the story. That being said, Say’s memories are woven into a coming of age story that’s pretty powerful.


bookish posts Picture Book Monday

Picture Book Monday: June 2015

finding the music hug me murilla gorilla wolfie

Wolfie the Bunny by Ame Dyckman and Zachariah OHora: Funny, sweet, with just a touch of danger to keep the story going.

Hug Me by Simona Ciraolo: I found this one fairly predictable, although the theme of finding the people who fit in your life is nice.

Murilla Gorilla and the Hammock Problem by Jennifer Lloyd, illustrated by Jacqui Lee: This is kind of an adorable story, about a gorilla detective. It’s a nice early chapter book for those readers transitioning from early readers.

Finding the Music by Jennifer Torres: I really like the sense of history and community in this one, and the connections with family and creativity; I think it’s one that will resonate with kids who have strong relationships with their grandparents.

bookish posts reviews

Picture Book Monday: Catching up edition

Gingerbread for Liberty by Mara Rockliff and Vincent X. Kirsch: I loved the illustrations for this one, and it’s a nice example of age appropriate non-fiction. I did definitely get the sense that the story was simplified, but it was still a good one.

Finding Spring by Carin Berger: I love the gorgeous paper art, and I feel like I haven’t seen many new & fresh spring-themed books recently, so this one is a nice addition. It’s a sweet story too.

Sparky by Jenny Offill and Chris Appelhans: I love this one mostly for the completely dead-pan delivery of the increasingly silly story. I’m also fond of the art and the expressions–or non-expressions–on Sparky’s face.

Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker by Patricia Hruby Powell and Christian Robinson: I really appreciated this one, which tells the story of Josephine Baker in a creative & passionate way that’s also clearly researched and aware of the complexities of Baker’s life but which is geared towards a child audience. Christian Robinson’s dynamic paints are a perfect match for Powell’s rhythmic text.

A Fine Dessert by Emily Jenkins and Sophie Blackall: This is a neat book, especially for the historically minded child (and even for kids who are not, food is always interesting). I loved Blackall’s illustrations and the way the changing methods are shown. I did feel that the story skated over complexities once or twice (particularly in the choice to point out the use of organic cream), but overall this is a fun and engaging way to think about what changes and what stays the same.

Lola Plants a Garden by Anna McQuinn and Rosalind Beardshaw: I’ve been really liking McQuinn and Beardshaw’s picture books, which take everyday stories and activities but center them around a black family in a way that is sadly all too rare. These are great for including diversity in normal storytime themes.

One Plastic Bag: I liked this one primarily because it shows a locally-based grassroots movement, as opposed to a Western savior rushing in to fix the poor people who can’t help themselves. I really appreciated that. I also felt that the text showed why people wanted to use plastic bags in a non-judgmental way.

Fox’s Garden by Princesse Camcam: I first heard about this one via Betsy Bird’s review. I tend to like cut paper illustrations, and these are beautiful and fresh, with a three-dimensional element. I also liked the story, with its gentle morals and sense of wonder.

bookish posts Picture Book Monday

Picture Book Monday: February 2015

I seem to have read remarkably few picture books this month, so in addition to the one (1!) that I have noted, I’ve gone back to look at a few favorite picture books from last year which I didn’t discuss at the time.

once upon an alphabetthe new small personblue on blue

The New Small Person by Lauren Child: This is a great one for the slightly reluctant older sibling. Elmore Green’s worry about not being the most important person in his parents’ lives anymore would resonate a lot with many kids. I’d also like to note that it’s a nice example of not defaulting to white.

Gaston by Kelly DiPucchio and Christian Robinson: I have noticed several books recently about a family with one child who doesn’t quite fit, and both this book and the next fall into the category. Gaston is a nice example of this, and I loved Christian Robinson’s illustrations, which are often hilarious.

The Crocodile Who Didn’t Like Water by Gemma Merino: As much as I enjoyed Gaston, The Crocodile Who Didn’t Like Water is even better, imo. Merino’s illustrations are marvelous and I loved the story quite a bit. I’m not sure exactly why I like the one a little better, since they’re both very strong.

Once Upon an Alphabet by Oliver Jeffers: Jeffers is one of those odd and lovely children’s book writers, who has an apparently endless invention. (His Stuck is my standard class visit read-aloud, and it is MARVELOUS.) Once Upon an Alphabet is a little older than some of his picture books–or at least it requires a slightly longer attention span. I loved the details and the way some of the stories loop back on each other.

Blue on Blue by Dianne White and Beth Krommes: When I was young, I loved Michael McCurdy’s illustrations, and Krommes’ charming scratchboard illustrations reminded me a lot of that. This is a nice sciencey picture book, with a nice rhythm to the text and a sense of wonder that I found very attractive.

Mr Bud Wears the Cone by Carter Goodrich: I have a weird soft spot for the Mr. Bud and Zorro books. I don’t know why, but I really enjoy them. This is another fun installment.

crocodilegastonmister bud

bookish posts Picture Book Monday

Picture Book Monday: January 2015

Lo! It is the time for bringing back old features. Remember how I used to talk about picture books and early readers occasionally?

juna's jar last stop on market street brother hugo and the bear chukfi rabbit

Brother Hugo and the Bear by Katy Beebe and S.D. Schindler: This is a funny little book, and I’m not entirely sure who will enjoy it (other than me as a child, who would have adored it). I really liked the illustrations and the humor of the story, and it would be great for homeschooling families, I bet.

Chukfi Rabbit’s Big Bad Bellyache by Greg Rodgers and Leslie Stall Widener: This is a really fun story from a Choctaw storyteller and author. I personally wasn’t in love with the illustrations, but they did fit the story and as Debbie Reese says, they provide clues that this is a Choctaw story. A great book if you’re looking for a funny and diverse tale.

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson: A sweet story of a boy and his Nana. I loved the cadence of the language–I could really hear the dialogue between grandmother and grandson. It occasionally got a bit wordy, but for the right kid this wouldn’t be a problem. Robinson’s colorful and vibrant illustrations are a great match for the words.

Raindrops Roll by April Pulley Sayre: Nice non-fiction which also I think tells a clear enough story to draw in readers who don’t normally gravitate towards Facts. April Pulley Sayre’s photographs are clear and eye-catching. I really enjoyed reading this one.

First Snow by Peter McCarty: Pedro has never seen snow before, so it’s up to his classmates to help him navigate the wintry world. In the end, they all enjoy a good sled-ride. I like McCarty’s books, generally speaking, and this one is nice too. There’s a gentleness to it that I imagine would be reassuring to a nervous reader.

The Dinner That Cooked Itself by Kenard Pak, illustrated by J.C. Hsyu: I really enjoy a good folk tale, and this is a nice one that I hadn’t heard of before. Hsyu’s illustrations and Pak’s text work really well together. Probably best for slightly older kids, because it’s occasionally a little dense, this is definitely one to look for.

Where’s Lenny? by Ken Wilson-Max: This is a nice little story, of a family playing hide and go seek, and the dad’s (possibly willful) obtuseness. But I’m mentioning it specifically because it doesn’t default to white, and in fact shows a biracial family. I really enjoyed the illustrations, which are simple without being boring.

Juna’s Jar by Jane Bahk, illustrated by Felicia Hoshino: Beautiful story and beautiful illustrations. I loved the simple acceptance of the magical realism and the resolution. Hoshino’s illustrations are perfect. This is a great one for the kid who’s lost a best friend and has to deal with that sadness.

dinner that cooked itself where's lenny first snow

bookish posts Picture Book Monday reviews

Picture Book Monday: July 2014

I took an unintentional break from PBM the past few months, partly because I forgot to keep track of the books I looked at and partly because we were doing a major update of the Children’s Room and it wreaked havoc with everything. (When I say “we” I mean mostly not-me.) Now we’re back, and the room looks amazing! If you want to see some pictures from the massively huge SRC kickoff/Grand Reopening, check out the library’s FB page.

Anyway, as I was denewing recently (thanks to Anna M for this marvelous term!), I noticed that I hadn’t talked about a few of the picture books when they first came in and wanted to highlight them now.

Miss Maple’s Seeds by Eliza Wheeler: I loved both art and story for this one; the palette is gorgeous and the line art is clear and lovely. It’s certainly a gentle book, but it didn’t seem twee or overly sentimental to me–there’s a kind of clarity that gives integrity to the whole thing. It’s also, incidentally, a good book to use when talking about the life cycle of trees, or the changing seasons.

Rainbow Stew by Cathryn Falwell: There’s been quite a bit of talk recently about casual or everyday diversity (I like the latter term). Falwell’s book is a great example of this. A bit like Thunder Cake, it shows three young children who happen to be African-American as they visit their Grandpa and make his famous Rainbow Stew with the produce from his garden. The warm relationship between kids and grandfather and the lovely artwork makes me even forgive the fact that the text rhymes. (To be fair, Falwell has an excellent sense of rhythm which sets it above most of the rhyming picture books I see.) It even includes a recipe to make your own Rainbow Stew!

I don’t know whose brilliant idea it was to have Gennady Spirin illustrate a series of non-fiction books, but Macmillan went for it and I love the result. After all, why shouldn’t books that happen to be informational rather than fictional have great illustrations? Spirin and his son Ilya have done a total of four books with Brenda Guiberson to date. My favorite is Frog Song, mostly because Spirin’s shimmery style suits frogs perfect. You can browse through some of the illustrations here. I also like Guiberson and Ilya Spirin’s Ice Bears a lot. I would love for this trend to continue, especially with some of the “hard” sciences.

Weasels by Elys Dolan: When this one came in, Coworker K and I read it at least twice in one day. While some of the references may resonate more with adults, the idea of weasels plotting world domination and the number of fun details should appeal to the older picture book crowd. And it’s just so funny. You can find out a bit more and browse through the opening pages here.

This published early due to the classic “Hit publish instead of save” blunder. Oh well!

bookish posts Picture Book Monday reviews

Picture Book Monday: January 2014

countingCounting in the Garden by Patrick and Emily Hruby: I liked the art for this one a lot; there are nice simple shapes, clear colors, and simple text. Plus, the authors have avoided the temptation to rhyme. I approve of this.



curiousThe Curious Garden by Peter Brown: I apparently had not read this one before–I loved it. The illustrations are so fun, with all the little details, and the slow transformation of the city. It read to me as earnest without being preachy, which is a difficult balance to pull off.



little mouseLittle Mouse by Alison Murray: I liked this one a LOT. There’s a great depiction of imagination, and also a sense of how complex the inner world of children can be and how many multitudes they can contain. It was sweet, funny, and unexpected; one for the quiet kid who is always being something different.



some monstersSome Monsters are Different by David Milgrim: Milgrim also treads the earnest-not-preachy line pretty well here, especially in comparison to titles like You’re Wearing That to School?, which really bugged me. His monsters have all different personalities, but they are all presented as valid and valuable.





on my streetOn My Street by Koos Meinderts and Annette Fienieg: I really liked the art for this one–very colorful and cheerful. But it rhymes, and rhymes awkwardly at that. Probably partly because of translation problems; nonetheless!



little owlLittle Owl’s Orange Scarf by Tatyana Feeney: I really enjoyed this one; a fun story, plus how does Feeney manage to make an owl look outraged and disgruntled? Poor Little Owl!




snow white rose redSnow White and Rose Red by Kallie George and Kelly Vivanco: I’ve loved the illustrations I’ve seen from Vivanco, and her art here was simply gorgeous. Also, Snow White and Rose Red is a favorite fairy tale of mine and there haven’t been many picture book editions (that I know of). That said, I wasn’t wild about George’s retelling, which seemed to simplify the story too much, with too little beauty of rhythm or image.


babiesA Book of Babies by Il Sung Na: It’s a simple concept, but nicely done–all different kinds of animal mothers and babies. And the illustrations are really lovely.

bookish posts Picture Book Monday reviews

Picture Book Monday: September 2013

if you want to see a whaleike's incredible inkjourneymaudemr tiger goes wild

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown: I like Peter Brown’s books a lot, and his new one has a nice storyline that has a message without feeling too preachy. I also liked the artwork, which seemed a little Klassen-y (I mean that in the best way).

Ike’s Incredible Ink by Brianne Farley: A story of creativity and creative travails.

Anton and the Battle by Ole Konnecke: A fun story of two boys telling tale tales…until a dog provides a sudden dose of reality.

Aesop’s Fables by Lisbeth Zwerger: This collection really shines because of two things. First, the simplicity–one story per page, with one illustration facing. Second, the delicate pen and ink illustrations, which transplant the fables to Switzerland.

Maude by Lauren Child: WELL THAT ENDING WAS UNEXPECTED. I’m glad someone else illustrated it too–gives it a different feel from Child’s other books, as charming as those are.

Journey by Aaron Becker: Favorite book of the month. Beautiful illustrations in a wordless picture book about the power of imagination and creativity, which makes it sound heavy and message-y. It’s not. It’s magical, and when I finished, I flipped back to the beginning and started again. Think David Wiesner, except more ethereal.

Sukey and the Mermaid by Robert D. San Souci: Great mermaid story from South Carolina.

If You Want to See a Whale by Julie Fogliano and Erin Stead: Lovely, poetic. These two make a wonderful team.

Vampirina Ballerina Hosts a Sleepover by Anne Marie Pace and Le Uyen Pham: The charm of this one is in the details, especially Le Uyen Pham’s lovely illustrations.

sukey and the mermaidvampirina ballerina sleepoveraesop's fablesanton and the battle

bookish posts Picture Book Monday

Picture Book Monday: recent acquisitions

I took horrible notes (ie, none) this month, so instead of recent picture books I’ve read, you’re getting a few I’ve recently bought or been given.

and then it's springAnd Then It’s Spring by Julie Fogliano and Erin Stead: I’ve been interested recently in books about the seasons, or that tie into them in some way. Fogliano and Stead have created a wonderful little book about spring coming, which is just the sort of thing I like. Spare, poetic language (this is how you do poetry in picture books) and spare, gentle illustrations weave together beautifully.

the high hillsThe High Hills by Jill Barklem: I am a major Jill Barklem fan–she’s part of the mythology of my heart for sure–and I’m on a quest to eventually own all of the Brambly Hedge books. I’ve been trying to buy one per season, but I accidentally bought one of the autumn books this time. Whoops, except not, because it’s also one of my favorites.

extra_yarnExtra Yarn by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen: Extra Yarn is probably my favorite picture book from last year, and I literally screamed with joy when it won the Caldecott Honor. Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen are a wonderful team, and the fairy tale almost-echoes are so wonderful, picked up in Klassen’s use of color.

miss rumphiusMiss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney: Miss Rumphius is one of my all time favorite books by one of my all time favorite authors/illustrators. I didn’t own a copy, so when I saw a paperback version in a donation pile, I snatched it up. Eventually, I hope to get a hardback copy. But for right now, I have the Lupine Lady and her quest to do something to make the world more beautiful.

bookish posts Picture Book Monday reviews

Picture Book Monday: July 2013

new arrivalFirst of all a plea to all picture book authors out there: just because it’s a picture book doesn’t mean it needs to rhyme! In a recent batch of new picture books, I read three in a row that rhymed. And I’ll be blunt–they weren’t good poetry AT ALL.

I finally read Click, Clack, Moo–I know! I am a terrible children’s librarian. It was lots of fun, and I can definitely see why it’s a classic.

We got a biography of Irena Sendler, by Susan Rubin Goldman, which I read through and which nearly made me start sobbing at the desk. She just passed away, so this seems sort of awfully appropriate. I thought the book did a nice job of balancing awful details with being truthful about what was happening.

Binky to the Rescue, and Binky Takes Charge, by Ashley Spires, are two fun graphic novely books. There are tons of dog books out there, so these are a valuable resource for the cat people.

I really liked The Watermelon Seed, by Greg Pizzoli. A little crocodile loves his watermelon, until one day he swallows a seed! Fun art and a nice story–plus, I will admit, it made me think of Maureen Johnson and her watermelon eating ways.

But maybe my favorite picture book this month was the utterly charming The New Arrival by Vanya Nastanlieva. Sam moves into a new home and, wanting a friend, puts up a sign to that effect. But the wind blows the sign away, leaving Sam in despair. The writing was lovely and the illustrations were really beautiful.