Sunday, September 19, 2021

More, more, more: ABC of Feelings

How many of us could benefit from this new picture book? I can! Author/illustrator Bonnie Lui brings a range of emotions to young readers by walking through the alphabet. Short definitions and expressive illustrations aid in the teaching. A background painter for Dreamworks and WB, Lui has created beauty in another format for all to enjoy. 

A is for anxious. Anxious is feeling really worried about something. 

B is for brave. Brave is being nervous about something...and doing it anyway!


N is for needy. Needy is wanting someone you love to pay attention to you. 

O is for overwhelmed. Overwhelmed is having too many thoughts and feelings all at once. 

I can imagine reaching for this book over and over as your readertotz gain self-awareness and learn to identify emotions. Get ready to spot those feelings!

by Bonnie Lui
Philomel, 2021

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Celebrations: Margaret Wise Brown Board Book Award


It's official! Bank Street College of Education has decided to begin acknowledging and awarding board books! My editor just zipped me the press release as she and I talked about this need in 2010. The award will be named: the Margaret Wise Brown Board Book Award for excellence in literature for very young children. Wonderful!

Here is a press release excerpt: 

The first prize will be awarded in the spring of 2023 for board books published or picture books adapted to board book format in 2021 and 2022. The award will be given every two years to a board book for infants and toddlers (ages 0-3).

“Criteria for selection will include books that promote interplay and engagement, incorporate rich
language, demonstrate a consideration for childhood development, and are constructed to withstand multiple encounters with little hands,” said Dr. Cynthia Weill, Director, Center for Children’s Literature, Bank Street College of Education.

Joan Holub and I, both board book author/illustrators, have been calling for a recognition of the board book format since 2009. Our aim at the readertotz blog has always been to raise the profile of board books for our first readers. We make a call to authors, illustrators, and publishers to create the best possible works as they introduce reading to our youngest ones. 

We have envisioned the American Library Association creating the Dorothy Kunhardt Award for the Outstanding Board or Novelty Book. Click here to see our facebook page. We would love to see Dorothy named as the creator of the beloved, first novelty book still in print: Pat the Bunny

Joan and I are thrilled Bank Street College is lifting this important format for all to see! Here's to future award recipients, the wee ones who will hold the works, and Bank Street College for their efforts. Bravo! 

What is Fall? Genie Espinosa


What is Fall? gives a cut-out, shaped experience of the season nearly upon us. 

"The days are shorter. Summer is done.
Now FALL is here....
Let's have

Rhymes continue to accompany author/illustrator Genie Espinosa's rounded illustrations created with a soft fall palette. You might need a scarf, or want an apple, or enjoy a bright sunflower this season. Readertotz can explore the cut shapes, be introduced to autumn, and anticipate the coming rhyme. This is a delightful addition to season books for first readers. 

What is Fall?
by Genie Espinosa
Random House, 2021

Saturday, September 4, 2021

Grumpy Monkey's Little Book of Grumpiness: Suzanne Lang

Everyone tries to help Suzanne Lang's Grumpy Monkey lose the grumps. But no matter the offerings, from a rainbow to a flamingo, nothing helps. Grumpy Monkey moves through anger and sadness before finding a bit of happiness beside a friend. 

Emotions are illustrated boldly, vividly, and close-up to the reader at times. Max Lang's work pops off the page and illicits giggles from everyone. Yay for this character finding his way to the smallest hands. 

by Suzanne Lang
illustrated by Max Lang
Random House, 2020

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Ganesha's Sweet Tooth: Sanjay Patel and Emily Haynes

With two authors, Sanjay Patel and Emily Haynes, creating text, and Sanjay illustrating, the Hindu legend of Ganesha and his sweet tooth comes to the board book format with energy and beauty. Already, an Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator Honor book, an IRA Notable in picture book format from 2012, the tale is brought to size for first readers. 

When the Hindu god breaks his tusk on a laddoo, it is only Vyasa the poet who can offer a transforming solution. Ganesha can write with his tusk and record the Mahabharata with understanding. Forgetting sweets, and appearances, Ganesha writes the entire epic poem. 

The graphic illustrations pop with color and pattern. This work is a beauty. We hope you enjoy sharing the modified legend and illustrating to your readertotz how creativity can at times reframe our perceived realities.

by Sanjay Patel and Emily Haynes
illustrated by Sanjay Patel
Chronicle Books, 2021

Monday, August 16, 2021

Unicorn's School Day: Lucy Golden


Unicorn's School Day is a fun burst of color and shapes from illustrator Sophie Beer. Author Lucy Golden's text takes Unicorn off to her lessons with friends and Ms. Llama. 

Spinning the wheels on each page will bring silly solutions. What does Unicorn paint, play with, or eat for lunch? Your first reader can decide and be introduced to the corresponding words. Which option is a number, which qualifies as a fruit or flower, and which can be flown? Giggles will be shared. 

The book concludes with the sparkly mural the students have created together. You can also look for Unicorn's Birthday. Let the party begin!

by Lucy Golden
illustrated by Sophie Beer
Random House, 2021

Saturday, August 14, 2021

More, more, more: Three Little Engines

Empathy and compassion versus self-interest and personal success. Bob McKinnon's Three Little Engines brings a new perspective to The Little Engine That Could who has taught us for 90 years that the road to success is self belief. The journey isn't the same for all, and we can look about and help others forward as we have also been helped at times. 

Illustrations by Lou Fancher and Steve Johnson are unique while they echo the older picture book. Fun patterns can be found in flattened shapes in rolling landscapes. 

Three Little Engines has reached the New York Times Bestseller list! Watch the recent CBS Sunday Morning interview here. Your first readers will cheer for all the engines as they learn a life lesson in care. The illustrators dedicate the work so beautifully: 

For all people who act for greater equitable good and say, "I know we can..."

by Bob McKinnon 
illustrated by Lou Fancher and Steve Johnson

Grosset & Dunlap, 2021

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Sleep Tight, Polar Bear: Sabina Gibson

Sleep Tight, Polar Bear is a felted delight for bedtime. Artist Sabina Gibson's small, fuzzy creatures invite the reader to lean in and snuggle close. The text rhymes beautifully and provides the perfect framework for the illustrations. 

"Home is calling. The sun is setting low.
The moon is rising fast, and that means it's time to go."

Full, soft spreads bring all the animals to rest, from fox kits to narwhal who count fish and ask for one more lullaby. Only the owls wake to fly off and "search for prey." Throughout the book, the bears travel home to sleep in safety under the moon. 

Look for the entire series of Little Loves books for your readertotz' collection. Snuggle close and read. 

by Sabina Gibson
Alfred A. Knopf, 2021

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Women in Science: Rachel Ignotofsky


There's a new edition available of the New York Times bestseller, Women in Science, which has been adapted for your readertotz. The board book is perfect for little hands, and the content is aged for older toddlers. In a celebration of often overlooked scientists, the work shares facts and imagery of amazing women and their contributions throughout time. 

Beautiful muted pages feature scientists, a timeline, and lab tools. Included in the collection are Psychologist, Mamie Phipps Clark; Astronomer, Vera Rubin; and Volcanologist, Katia Krafft. The work closes with an encouragement to go out and make your own discoveries. 

Share these mighty women from ancient Greece to today, who worked through enormous obstacles for our lasting benefit. 

by Rachel Ignotofsky
Crown Books, June 2021

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

More, more, more: The Magnificent Books Series

Publisher Weldon Owen International has released two works in their The Magnificent Books Series. Oversized, the format delivers incredibly beautiful illustrations. In The Magnificent Book of Birds, written by Tom Jackson, illustrator Walerczuk's realistic imagery captivates. One expects the birds to sing and fly from the pages. A fact file gives the basics, while further bulleted text expands on habitat and behaviors. When proportions or scale warrants, the book is turned on its side, such as for the Greater Flamingo or the Resplendent Quetzal. The wide age spans are just one interesting feature to compare from bird to bird.

The same creative passion is given to The Magnificent Book of Horses. The text is by Tom Jackson and Diana Ferguson while illustrations were created by both Simon Mendez and Val Walerczuk. From the Camargue to the Brabant, horses from around the world walk, prance, stand, and run through the pages. The fact file includes the horse's character, such as the friendly Icelandic Horse, the strong-willed Mustang, and the stubborn Shetland Pony. Both books in the series give a human scale reference in silhouette. 

Enjoy these works with your entire family. I can imagine leaving the book open on a coffee table to feature one horse or bird a day. Brilliant!

by Tom Jackson
illustrated by Walerczuk
by Tom Jackson and Diana Ferguson
illustrated by Simon Mendez and Val Walerczuk
Weldon Owen International, 2021 

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

More more more: Sunny Day, A Celebration of the Sesame Street Theme Song

How has this not been created before? The Sesame Street song begs to be illustrated as a picture book. So how about eighteen illustrators sharing their views? Perfect? Yes! The diversity of imagery and artists allow this imaginary street, and the journey to it, to come alive in one more format. Permission to imagine your own setting is given by the multiplicity of illustrators. 

Be sure to peak under the dust jacket to see the illustration wrapping the cover. Roger Bradfield illustrated for Sesame Street in the 1970s and the style takes me back to my Sesame Street. Also included on the title page is an illustration from Joe Mathieu who has been illustrating Sesame Street books since 1971. 

So, celebrate Sesame Street with this treasure. Find your way with your child. With thanks to the illustrators, the music and lyrics by Joe Raposo and two other lyricists: Bruce Hart and Jon R. Stone. Enjoy your Sunny Day!

by Joe Raposo, Bruce Hart, and Jon R. Stone
illustrations by various illustrators 
Random House, 2019

Heads up! This picture book will be released in board book format, September 2021. Woohoo!