New Picture Books You’ll Want to Buy – Winter 2012

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I’ve been stockpiling books to review, apparently the pile has gotten so far ahead of me that I can’t get all the great books into one post. (Or the post would be a novel.) So, for now, I’ve picked my favorites of my favorite picture books to share and will get to the others soon.

A Few Blocks by Cybele Young

Older sister, Viola, knows how to get little brother, Ferdie, to school. Even though he doesn’t want to go. Viola says, “Ferdie, look! I found your superfast cape! Quick– put on your rocket-blaster boots and we’ll take off.” And so she continues to imagine ships and islands, and kings and knights, all the way to . . . almost to school. Now it’s Ferdie’s turn to use some imagination to get Viola to school.

You’ll love the beautiful urban images cut into scenery, collaged on the white background – they’re gorgeous! Of course, you’ll mostly love the imagination that carries these two siblings to school.

My Name is Elizabeth by Annika Dunklee, illustrated by Matthew Forsythe

Elizabeth loves her name — “I like that it’s nine letters long. . . And I like all the neat things my mouth does when I say it.” But she doesn’t like when people call her Lizzy or Beth or Betsy. She’s had enough and announces for the world that her name is Elizabeth, “but you may call me Elizabeth.”

Blue and white backgrounds with white and orange characters give this book a unique retro feel. It’s a book for anyone who loves their given name — and doesn’t want to be called anything else.

When Blue Met Egg by Lindsay Ward

Blue is an adorable turquoise bird who on a snowy morning finds something flying through the air — an egg. Or, is it? Blue, being the nurturing sort, nestles Egg in a yellow bucket and the pair take off in search of Egg’s mother. Together, they search all over New York City which is beautifully depicted in paper-cut illustrations. Blue and Egg have many months of fun together but in April, Blue notices Egg is getting smaller. Is she sick?

I love the ending- Egg does melt, since she is a snowball, but Blue never realizes it — because in Egg’s place, Blue finds a flower. “I think you’re going to love this time of year,” Blue tells her friend.

Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen

Annabelle lives in a cold little town with white snow and black, sooty chimneys. One cold afternoon, she finds a box filled with colorful yarn, yarn that magically doesn’t ever end. First, Annabelle knits herself a sweater, then one for her dog, Mars, too. She has more yarn so she knits Nate and his dog a sweater. Then, her class, and her teacher, and her parents, and soon she knits sweaters for things, too – the mailbox, the bird feeder. Soon, the town beautifies. An archduke visits Annabelle and when she won’t sell him the yarn, he steals it. But, not really — Annabelle still has her box with yarn and the duke gets nothing. Readers will love the message of giving and wonder just how the magic works.
Klassen (of I Want My Hat Back) uses ink, gouache, and rainbow scans of a sweater to contrast with the white background. The colors pop and you feel the shift as Annabelle’s world brightens.
The Monster Returns by Peter McCarty
This sequel to Jeremy Draws a Monster shows Jeremy’s monster calling Jeremy. “I’m coming back, . . . And I’m bored.” Jeremy thinks fast and asks the neighbor kids for help. Each child draws a monster of their own so by the time Jeremy’s monster arrives, there are new monster friends for everyone.
Like the other books in this round-up, there are lots splashy, colorful images, in this case watercolor and pen, on a white background.
Chloe by Peter McCarty
“Chloe loved the end of the day, when her whole family was together. She called it family fun time.” And she has a lot of family for fun – 20 brothers and sisters. When Dad brings home a television, Chloe thinks it’s the worst family fun time EVER. She and sister Bridget go to play with the empty television cardboard box. They find bubble wrap. Pop! Pretty soon all their brothers and sisters join them in popping. Then, they put on their own television show using the box as their stage / screen.
For all of us who recognize that a cardboard box is better than an electronic box, this is our book!!
No Bears by Meg McKinlay, illustrated by Leila Rudge
Ella, our spunky narrator tells us a story — one that’s going to be good, she explains due to the fact that there are NO BEARS in it. It starts out Once Upon a Time . . . and has a princess, a castle, a fairy godmother, but of course NO BEARS. (Except we, the readers, can clearly see that there is a bear who is peering around the edges of the book — who takes the fairy godmother’s wand and saves the princess from the bad monster who tries to steal her.) It’s great fun to be in on the secret which Ella never realizes. “Wow! This turned out to be a pretty good book, don’t you think? In fact, I think this has been the prettiest, most exciting, scariest, and funniest book ever. And I know why! Because there were NO BEARS in it.”
Little does she know. . .
This book is a favorite around our house — it just cracks JJ up!
Where’s the Meerkat? by Jen Wainwright, illustrated by Paul Moran, Steve Wiltshire and Simon Ecob
A mischievous meerkat family of ten is traveling around the world and you get to find the ten in each double-page spread location. You’ll visit places like New York City, Paris, Moscow, the Great Barrier Reef, London, and Venice. The back has answers and more to find on checklists for each location. 48 pages of finding fun!
Too Shy for Show and Tell by Beth Bracken, illustrated by Jennifer Bell
No one knows that Sam likes trucks, dogs, and chocolate cake because Sam is quiet. When it’s his turn for show and tell, Sam knows just what he wants to bring but he’s scared. Which makes him worry. He watches all the other kids go and gets up the courage to show a picture of his new dog named Chocolate. He doesn’t even throw-up or faint! And the kids learn a little more about him. For anyone who has ever been scared or shy, this book shows that other people feel the same way sometimes.
Wow do I love this book! Salas writes 21 fun, funny, delightful poems about books — from the perspective of a character, or what happens in the bookstore at night, or how the book sees the reader (“the sky is falling”) or the journal inviting the writer to “describe your desires.” Here’s an example:

Book Plate

I don’t need your napkin.
I’m not your soup bowl’s mate.
I don’t want your peas or bread.

I’m not that kind of plate!

Write your name upon me.
I’m a paper love tattoo.
Paste me in your book to show

that I belong to you.

–Laura Purdie Salas, all rights reserved

Wagons Ho! by George Hallowell and Joan Holub, illustrated by Lynne Avril
Side by side are the stories in diary and scrapbook form of two girls who move from Missouri to the west. One story takes place in 18496, the other, now. It’s a fascinating comparison of what is the same (missing home) and what is different (lots!) This would be a great book to use in a study of westward expansion!
July & August The Wretched Rockies
Some wagons are too heavy to go up and down the mountains. Many things must be given up in order to cross. The Rockies look like a graveyard of precious belongings left by many families going west.
We cross the Rockies in Wyoming. Buddy is carsick from the curves.
When My Baby Dreams by Adele Enersen
Do you remember this artists’ blog of her baby sleeping, posed in artful scenes? Now you can see the amazing scenes in a picture book which your kids will love, too! Kids just love photographs of other kids – a cute baby is no exception.
If you haven’t seen these photographs, visit Adele’s Etsy blog to see how a baby can look like an astronaut, a book worm, a birthday girl with balloons, and more! It’s creative genius.
Up, Tall, and High by Ethan Long
This may sound silly but I LOVE the paper used in this book – it’s slippery and thick. Ooooh. Aaaah.
Up, Tall, and High is silly stories of silly birds, perfect for new readers with the added bonus of fold-out pages. Who doesn’t love that? Long’s illustrations truly are charming. This is a bedtime favorite right now.
What Color is My World? The Lost History of African-American Inventors by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Raymond Obstfeld, illustrated by Ben Boos & A.G. Ford
Twins, Herbie and Ella, move into a new house where they meet Mr. Mital, a handman who surprises the kids with fascinating information about African-American scientists. Throughout the narrative are non-fiction lift-the-flap sidebars and two-page spread biographies of people like James E. West who invented a compact microphone used in race cars or Frederick McKinley Jones, Dr. Percy Lavon Julian, George Crum, Dr. Valerie L. Thomas, and many others.
I love how the story connects with the famous people, making it easy to read than most non-fiction books. Plus, the large size of the book, the fold-out parts, and bright illustrations make it a terrific design for kids. Best Biographies for Black History Month



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  1. Hi Melissa,

    I am glad tht you are ff toanother start a again. Great list of books and reviews. Now all I have to do is to decide wjicj one I should get to rad to my grandchildren.

  2. What a great collection, reading is my passion and I know that these several books will provide to me a kind of learning.. I hope this coming summer vacation you can still give us a review of your new collection…

  3. That No Bears book sounds really cute. I liked My Name Is Elizabeth too. After I read it, I gave it to my son’s friend in first grade whose name is Elizabeth. She liked it a lot too!

  4. There are more than a few here that I need to take a look at. Nice choices. The children’s book section of the bookstore and library still are…and will always be my favorite place to explore. -heather