Saturday, April 29, 2017

Top Shelf: My Little Cities, London, New York

My Little Cities Cover

My Little Cities Cover

I love this new series from Chronicle Books: My Little Cities, by Jennifer Adams with illustrations by Greg Pizzoli. So far, I see London and New York. And Paris and San Francisco.

Veering away from adult board books, Adams' rhyme is child-relatable and interweaves beautifully with Pizzoli's graphic art with simple shapes and subdued color. These works will appeal to first readers and then offer more as they grow and learn about the featured cities.

Now, how about Athens? Dubai? Madrid? Moscow? Shanghai?

My Little Cities, London
New York
by Jennifer Adams
illustrated by Greg Pizzoli
Chronicle Books, 2017

Monday, April 17, 2017

Shake, Wiggle & Roll: Carli Davidson

Shake, Wiggle & Roll CoverHeads & Tails Cover

Alerting all dog lovers! Shake, Wiggle & Roll and Heads & Tails are adorable new board books from Chronicle Books by Carli Davidson. In the first, totz learn about actions, including walk, jump, and lick. In the second work, parts of dogs are illustrated up close and then in a full body photo: tongue, legs, belly. White backgrounds showcase these fun pets who are named and listed in concluding spreads.

Top Dog is one more in the series. Find these for your beloved dog people and their readertotz. So cute!

Shake, Wiggle & Roll
Heads & Tails
Top Dog
by Carli Davidson
Chronicle Books, 2017

Monday, April 10, 2017

Masha and Her Sisters: Suzy Ultman

Masha and Her Sisters Cover

This book is adorable. Stacked pages flip down to introduce a family of nesting dolls. Masha and Her Sisters by Suzy Ultman is clever with beautiful, patterned folk art in subdued colors. There's Natasha the storyteller; Larisa, the performer; and Olya, the chef among the group. The bodies of each sister are illustrated, front and back, with their beloved items: books and ink, measuring cups and pots, recorders and lutes. The mechanics of the book are so smooth, it's fun to manipulate the pages.

In this age, where we avoid labeling, I'd remind totz that these are things the sisters enjoy. The sisters are more than the labels the book is illustrating. Does that make sense? One can enjoy storytelling and be a nature lover. This work can raise that conversation. Also, there are no descriptions which broaden the roles of women beyond the familiar. Yet, they do reflect the time period of the art. Another chat to be had.

When concerns are addressed with your readertotz, Masha and Her Sisters is dear.

Masha and Her Sisters
by Suzy Ultman
Chronicle Books, 2017

Thursday, April 6, 2017

More, more, more: North, South, East, West; Margaret Wise Brown

North, South, East, West Cover

Oh, deliciousness! A never-before-published work by Margaret Wise Brown! North, South, East, West is the question the young bird asks her mother before flying off into the world. Which way should she go? Mother never answers, but she allows the bird to discover the world on her own. Eventually, the bird returns east, to her first home. There she finds a mate, and when their eggs hatch, she sings the song her mother first sang to her. She, also, leaves their question unanswered for the chicks to find their own way.

The language is as beautiful and tight as you'd expect:

"Her mother taught her to ride the wind
and to fly above and below the storms,
and glide on the strength of the wind.

Greg Pizzoli's flat, graphic illustrations offer space for the little bird to soar in the world. The simple shapes are accessible and appealing. The digital work looks like a rough-edged print. What an honor to come alongside Margaret's text. Well done, Greg!

And thanks to Harper for bringing this work to the shelf. Whether we are north, south, east, or west.

North, South, East, West
by Margaret Wise Brown
illustrated by Greg Pizzoli
Harper, 2017

Monday, April 3, 2017

Fly! Xavier Deneux

Touchthinklearn Cover

Touch, Think, Learn books are, "Fun for fingers, eyes, and minds," says Publishers Weekly in a starred review. Fly! by Xavier Deneux is a beautiful mix of story, puzzle, and play pieces for first readers.

Bird comes to a tree, concluding her journey. She watches the tree eventually produce apples, and  her mate arrives. After they build a nest, two chicks are born and fly to find their own tree. The graphic, printed quality of the airy illustrations invites the reader to expand the storytelling as they refit shapes into new imagery.

Such a lovely, thoughtful book for your readertotz.

by Xavier Deneux
Handprint Book, 2017

Monday, March 27, 2017

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star: Yu-hsuan Huang

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star Cover

How about revisiting a classic? With a downloadable song via a QR code, Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, illustrated by Yu-hsuan Huang, is a chunky delight for first readers. Push and pull features, and turning wheels cause owls to open and close their eyes, stars to rise, and creatures to enjoy the night sky and park.

The illustrations convey friendliness and safety for your totz. Enjoy the Sing Along With Me! book. And then fall quietly asleep.

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star
illustrated by Yu-hsuan Huang
Nosy Crow, 2017

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

Monday, January 30, 2017

Nighty-Night and Hair: Leslie Patricelli

Nighty-Night Cover
Hair Cover

Always, always I cheer when Leslie Patricelli offers up a new board book. This round is Nighty-Night and the hilarious Hair.

In Nighty-Night, baby takes us through the evening ritual. A string of couplets helps march your reader to bed. My favorite:

Bye-bye, pants.
Naked dance.

In Hair, it's time for baby to have a haircut. For one hair, that is. "I have a hair!" baby says, then goes on to explain all that must be done for its care. Gender neutral, baby is ever adorable. The book concludes with examples of diverse kinds of hair.

Thank you for two more baby books, Leslie! We heart you!

by Leslie Patricelli
Candlewick Press, 2017

Friday, January 20, 2017

Poetry Friday: I Love You, Honey Bunny

I Love You, Honey Bunny Cover

A sweet first board book for readertotz is I Love You, Honey Bunny. With perky, soft ears which poke out of the top, this is a sure cuddle.

"You're sweeter than the sweetest little honeybee.
You fill the world with love--you're amazing to me."

Happy Poetry Friday to you and your bunny!

I love you, Honey Bunny
by Sandra Magsamen

Thursday, January 19, 2017

More, More, More: Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali Cover

For the older sibling of your readertotz, I suggest Muhammad Ali, A Champion is Born. Written by Gene Barretta, with dynamic illustration by Frank Morrison, the picture book is a strong tribute to the forces and fortitude which shaped Cassius Clay.

Beginning with one knockout after another, the story continues to show good following difficulty. From one stolen bike, one champion grows, a role model for a generation.

"I had to prove you could be a new kind of black man. I had to show the world."

Add this strong work from Katherine Tegen Books to your collection.

"Impossible is nothing." Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali, A Champion is Born
by Gene Barretta
illustrated by Frank Morrison
Katherine Tegen Books, 2017

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Please, Mr. Panda: by Steve Antony

Please, Mr. Panda (a Board Book) Cover

How often do we wish there was an award for the very best in books for first readers? Often! This is why readertotz proposes The Dorothy Kunhardt Award for Outstanding Board or Novelty Book be awarded by ALA. Today's recommend would have been a contender for 2015. Please, Mr. Panda by Steve Antony is unique and adorable and unexpected.

Various black and white animals approach Mr. Panda who is offering a colorful donut from his box. To each he changes his mind: "No, you cannot have a doughnut. I have changed my mind." Penguin, skunk, ostrich, and orca are offered donuts but then denied. Your readertotz will be delighted when the lemur arrives on scene.

Don't miss this wonderful release from Cartwheel Books. Please?

Please, Mr. Panda
by Steve Antony
Cartwheel Books, 2015