Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Top Shelf: Pete with No Pants

Pete with No Pants Cover

I began Top Shelf this year to identify what I perceive as the very best for first readers. As soon as I saw the title, Pete with No Pants, I said aloud, "This is a book for me."

Pete is an elephant searching to define himself. Is he a boulder? Is he a cloud? With a penchant for knock, knock jokes and not wearing pants, Pete is on the hunt for self-identification. Rowboat Watkins, author of Rude Cakes, has again brought freshness and ingenuity to the picture book world.

Rowboat's message, illustrations, and the sidebar discussion among the squirrels and owls will bring smiles to you and your readertotz. The illustrations, "pieced together with this and that," are muted and patterned. Maybe watercolor, pencil, and a bit of charcoal?

Pete with No Pants is Top Shelf. Welcome, Pete! I can't wait to share this with my daughters. And they are in their twenties. :)

Pete with No Pants
by Rowboat Watkins
Chronicle Books, 2017

Friday, March 10, 2017

Poetry Friday: Are You My Cuddle Bunny?

Are You My Cuddle Bunny? Cover

New from Cartwheel Books, with thick flannel arms and ears is Are You My Cuddle Bunny? Sandra Magsamen's short poem illustrates a mother bunny asking her little one a series of questions. This is a great book for Poetry Friday.

Do you like to snuggle in the rain?
Do you like to nuzzle on a train?

Do you like to hug in the breeze?
Do you like a squeeze under the trees?

Illustrations are drawn like stitched fabric. The colors are bold and flat. Cuddle your bunny and this book.

Are you my Cuddle Bunny?
by Sandra Magsamen
Cartwheel Books, 2017

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Hop, Hop Bunny: Betty Ann Schwartz and Lynn Seresin

Hop, Hop Bunny Cover

Your first reader can help the bunny hop, hop over the blue rocks, under the green bush, and through the sunflowers. Laced onto a bound string, the puzzle bunny piece can hop through the various die-cuts in Hop, Hop Bunny by Betty Ann Schwartz and Lynn Seresin.

Neiko Ng's soft-valued and soft-edged imagery shows a bunny who likes to play, climb, and explore. And his daddy is waiting for his bunny's return to the carrot patch.

Whether for the upcoming holiday; or for dexterity, and color and action identification, look for this "follow-along book" from Chronicle.

Hop, Hop Bunny
by Betty Ann Schwartz and Lynn Seresin
illustrated by Neiko Ng
Chronicle Books, 2017

Friday, March 3, 2017

Poetry Friday: Seeking a Bunny

Seeking a Bunny Cover

For those eager for spring, you may be ready for Seeking a Bunny. Another board book from Angela Diterlizzi, illustrated by Allie Smith, takes the Easter holiday and hops away with it. Consider this for Poetry Friday:

Have marshmallow chicks
and green grass and flowers
Come in all weather
especially spring showers

What should the Easter Bunny be like? Bold graphic images, with main characters surrounded by a thick black line, lead the way in the search down the bunny trail. Here's a quick-paced contribution to the upcoming holiday. Seek the bunny with your readertotz.

Seeking a Bunny
by Angela Diterlizzi
illustrated by Allie Smith
Little Simon, 2017

Friday, February 24, 2017

Poetry Friday: Tree

Tree Cover

Did you see Tree by Britta Teckentrup in 2015? The Peek-Through Picture Book is a great pick for Poetry Friday. First readers will follow the seasons illustrated through changes to and around one tree.

"Birds flit through the leafy bowers.
The forest is abloom with flowers.

Birds are singing, foxes play.
Summertime is on its way."

Watch the changes with owl through the pages' clever die-cuts. Happy Poetry Friday, readertotz!

Tree, a Peek-Through Picture Book
by Britta Teckentrup
Doubleday, 2015

Friday, February 17, 2017

Poetry Friday: The Maine Coon's Haiku

The Maine Coon's Haiku Cover

Happy Poetry Friday, readertotz! Today's feature is The Maine Coon's Haiku, and Other Poems for Cat Lovers by Michael J. Rosen, illustrated by Lee White. Flat, textured graphics, with a print-like quality achieved digitally, illustrate each cat haiku. Alternating between Outside and Inside, pick your favorite and read more about the breed in the back matter.

Scottish Fold

wind-whipped magnolia
cat's pink-petal toes--the last
to drop from its boughs

Be ready for beautiful language and exquisite imagery.

The Maine Coon's Haiku, and Other Poems for Cat Lovers
by Michael J. Rosen
illustrated by Lee White
Candlewick Press, 2015

Thursday, February 16, 2017

More, More, More: The Owl and the Pussy-cat, and Further Adventures

The Owl and the Pussy-Cat Cover

The Further Adventures of the Owl and the Pussy-Cat Cover

My favorite poem growing up was "The Owl and the Pussy-cat." Edward Lear wrote the "picture poem" for a sick child of close friends. Recently voted Britain's favorite poem, it dances through generations. A new edition, illustrated with Charlotte Voake's gentle watercolors, has been released by Candlewick Press. In conjunction is the picture book, The Further Adventures of the Owl and the Pussy-cat. Author Julia Donaldson was raised on Lear and re-immersed herself in his work to write this text, also illustrated by Voake.

When a crow steals the ring from the end of Pussy's tail, another journey begins. Watch for other Lear characters to make appearances such as the Pobble who has no toes, the Jumbly Crew, and the Dong with a luminous Nose.

What an honor to be asked to write a sequel for such a beloved poem. Well done, all, in these two releases!

The Owl and the Pussy-cat
by Edward Lear
illustrated by Charlotte Voake
The Further Adventures of the Owl and Pussy-cat
by Julia Donaldson
illustrated by Charlotte Voake
Candlewick Press, 2017

Friday, February 10, 2017

Poetry Friday: Love is

Love Is Cover

Happy Poetry Friday! How about a little love in time for Valentine's Day? Find Diane Adams' work Love is, illustrated by Claire Keane (developmental artist for Tangled and Frozen). The work is retro-fresh and rendered in Photoshop. Diane shares the concept of love with first readers by describing the love between a girl and a duck.

"Love is holding something fragile,
tiny wings and downy head.

Love is noisy midnight feedings,
shoe box right beside the bed."

Chaos, comfort, loss, and reunion are all featured. This is a beauty. Love from us to you!

Love is
by Diane Adams
illustrated by Claire Keane
Chronicle Books, 2017

Thursday, February 9, 2017

More, More, More: An Artist's Alphabet



An Artist's Alphabet by Norman Messenger is a visual feast. In watercolor and pencil, objects, animals, people, and the environment assume the shape of each letter of the alphabet. Six interior images can be seen here.

Inventive, gentle, dynamic, and intriguing, the art will capture both the adult and totz' attention. A through Z.

An Artist's Alphabet
by Norman Messenger
Candlewick Studio, 2016

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

More, More, More: Frederick Douglass, The Lion Who Wrote History

Frederick Douglass Cover

Are you ready for a masterpiece? Combine Walter Dean Myers with illustrator Floyd Cooper and have the two present a picture of Frederick Douglass. There is so much beauty in this picture book collaboration: Frederick Douglass, The Lion Who Wrote History, I can't convey the breadth.

Meyers begins:
"This is the story of how one man's careful decisions and many accomplishments not only made his own life better but in many ways changed the history of America."

With a meaty text from Meyers, Cooper's illustrations are both realistic and stylized in his oil on board paintings. There's a flickering glow in each spread. Unique perspectives invite the reader into Douglass' actions.

This work should not be missed. It should be awarded.

Frederick Douglass, The Lion Who Wrote History
by Walter Dean Myers
illustrated by Floyd Cooper
HarperCollins, 2017