Monday, December 29, 2008

Colleen Carroll: How Artists See Jr. Dogs

Do you hear me squeeing and running around the room? It's because the How Artists See Jr. series exists! I am THRILLED to share these treasures. Well, I'm restraining myself and only featuring Dogs with you today. (Watch readertotz for further reviews of this collection!)

Imagine the greatest works of art, gathered according to topic, titled and dated, and then bound as board books for the youngest eyes. That is the How Artists See Jr. series. Colleen Carroll, who has created educational materials for USA Today, the Smithsonian Institution, and MTV, is now bringing the finest art to the youngest reader.

In Dogs, the examples range from Roman, 1st Century, Dog on a Leash to Jeff Koons' Puppy, 1992. Spread after spread introduces amazing art and transports the viewer through time and back again. How rich for the eyes to absorb a Gauguin and then a 1st Century, Chinese sculpture. It's a feast, especially at a page turn which moves from two images to a full spread. One can actually get lost in the Tomb of Sennedjem with the Anubis. My absolute heart-breaking favorite is Dog, 1951, by Alberto Giacometti.

"So, are these readertotz appropriate?" I hear you asking. YES! First of all, these are the images your babies will grow to love by this early exposure. Then, as they mature, the book can be used for further exploration. In the front matter, Colleen has wonderful questions you might ask your toddlers while reading together:

*What is the puppy doing?
*Does she look happy or sad? How can you tell?
*If this were your dog, what would you name him?

I'd add that the child could make a drawing inspired by his own favorite in the board book.

Talk about raising the bar in infant/toddler books, Dogs is appropriate for your coffee table! Watch how many adults pick it up and then share it with their own babies. Here's a special thanks to Colleen and Abbeville Press Publishers for enriching the arena of board books.

Inside Scoop:
Listen to Colleen discuss the series in her own words through this podcast.

I, myself, have taught art lessons for nine years to children ages six through sixteen. I will be using these sturdy board books with my classes! As well as sharing them with the totz I know.

How Artists See Jr. Dogs
, 2008
Colleen Carroll
Abbeville Press Publishers

Lorie Ann Grover ~author/illustrator

Friday, December 26, 2008

Poetry Friday: Come to the Window

Poetry Friday

Come to the Window

Come to the window,
My baby, with me,
And look at the stars
That shine on the sea!
There are two little stars
That play bo-peep
With two little fish
Far down in the deep;
And two little frogs
Cry "Neap, neap, neap;"
I see a dear baby
That should be asleep.

Find the full poetry roundup this week at The Miss Rumphius Effect!

Enjoy the holidays with your readertotz!
~Lorie Ann Grover, author/illustrator

Monday, December 22, 2008

David Shannon: Oh, David!

I’m a fan of David Shannon’s picture book, No, David!, which was named a Caldecott Honor Book, an ALA Notable Children's Book, and a New York Times Best Illustrated Book of the Year, and which lead to two more bestselling picture books about David. So I was interested when I ran across the three “Diaper David” board books, which explore the mischievous David’s toddler years.

Oh, David! is my favorite of the three board books, though I like them all. There are only twenty-one words in this sturdy fourteen-page book in which a gleeful David takes center stage as he unrolls toilet tissue, rebuffs his dinner, and empties a box of cereal. But no matter what he does, his mother loves him--and I do, too.

Trying to choose which pages to display wasn’t easy because the illustrations in this book are all hilarious. The expression on David’s face here is so endearing, and he seems so proud of his, um, accomplishment. The little skunk on his blanket is a nice touch. There’s another spread that ties with this one for my affections. It's the one in which David seems to have more than the usual number of arms and legs as Mom tries to wrangle him into a pair of pjs.

Inside Scoop:
You can view a series of five video interviews with David Shannon on Scholastic’s site, including one in which he offers advice for kids who want to be artists. I also found this cool quote on the site:

"A few years ago, my mother sent me a book I made when I was a little boy. It was called No, David, and it was illustrated with drawings of David doing all sorts of things he wasn't supposed to do. The text consisted entirely of the words "no" and "David." (They were the only words I knew how to spell.) I thought it would be fun to do a remake celebrating those familiar variations of the universal "no" that we all hear while growing. Of course, "yes" is a wonderful word...but "yes" doesn't keep crayon off the living room wall." -- David Shannon

Interested in owning the original art from Oh, David! or some of David Shannon's other books? Some of it’s available at Every Picture Tells A Story.

If your readertotz enjoy Oh, David!, they’ll be pleased to know there are two more in the “Diaper David” board book series: Oops! and David Smells.

David Shannon, author-illustrator
Scholastic, Blue Sky Press, 2005

~ Joan Holub, author/illustrator

Friday, December 19, 2008

Poetry Friday: Horsey Horsey

As many head to their families and homes for the holiday, I thought this nursery rhyme was perfect! Catch the full roundup at author amok!

Poetry Friday

Horsey Horsey

Horsey horsey don't you stop
Just let your feet go clippetty clop
The tail goes swish and the wheels go round
Giddy up, we're homeward bound.

Lorie Ann Grover ~author/illustrator

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

December Pick for the Older Sibling: Knuckleheads

Each month, Joan and I will choose a recommended read for the older sibling of your readertotz. We don't plan to limit this choice to a picture book. Maybe we'll suggest a beginning reader or even a novel at times. Ages between siblings vary much, so we'll aim to bring you a great variety of books.

Also, occasionally, we'll give away a book on readertotz and today is one of those days. Leave a comment here for a chance to win an autographed copy of Joan Holub's new picture book, Knuckleheads. One winner will be randomly chosen and notified via a post on this blog on Sunday night. Ready, set, GO!

Now I'm thrilled to share our first monthly older sibling pick! I just have to give Joan a BIG HAND for Knuckleheads!

~Lorie Ann

From Joan Holub . . .

So here's the story on the creation of Knuckleheads:

Have you ever noticed that every fairy tale has a bad guy that fuels the plot—a witch, a jealous queen, a hungry wolf? Their job is to give the main character a hard time. In essence, these bad guys are all the same--pure evil.

This core idea lead me to choose a mischievous, green witch as the connecting link between four mini-tales in Knuckleheads. The four tales are subtitled: Handsel and Gretel, Handerella, Nose White, and Thumbelina. Why the misspellings? Because the characters are quite literally hands--with the occasional inclusion of a nose (as in Nose White), a foot (as in Handerella’s step-sisters), or a thumb (as in Thumbelina.)

One of my favorite spreads is when Handerella and the Finger Prints dance hand-in-hand at the ball, spelling “LOVE” in sign language, even as things turn to toe jam for her two step-sisters.

Meanwhile, that green witch slips from one tale to the next,
pretending to be a queen or a stepmother or whatever evil character each tale requires, until she's eventually shown escaping out of the back cover of the book.

Inside scoop:
There are times when a typed manuscript simply cannot communicate what an author has in mind. One of those times is when a diverse group of characters speak in speech bubbles, as in the case of Knuckleheads.

So, to show what I intended, I made a dummy full of simple black and white sketches. I shared it with my critique group, including the fabulous Dia Calhoun and Lorie Ann Grover, who cheered me on. After much revision, I submitted the dummy to Chronicle Books. Fortunately, the editors there had been on the lookout for a project for an amazing illustrator--Michael Slack. When my dummy came in their door, they knew his beautiful, quirky, humorous style, which is reminiscent of early fairy tale books, would be perfect! (My rough sketch is on the left; Michael's illustration of that same page on the right. Can you guess which of the four mini-tales in the book this is from?)

Feel free to watch and listen to the video and podcast with your readertotz' older sibling!

Click on the links to find Knuckleheads at Powell's Books.

Joan Holub, Author
Michael Slack, Illustrator
Chronicle Books, 2008
Hardcover picture book
Ages 6-10 and up

~ Joan Holub, author

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Hug Hug! Press Release

Immediate Release


Author/illustrator Lorie Ann Grover's new board book for babies and toddlers embodies the love of a hug.

December 16, 2008 (Seattle, Wash.) – readergirlz and readertotz co-founder and author/illustrator Lorie Ann Grover's new board book Hug Hug! has just been released from Little Simon. Endearingly illustrated by Rebecca Malone, the work beautifully expresses love from the largest animals to the smallest bug.

Hugs with our noses. (elephants) Hugs in red roses. (ladybugs)

Hugs round the neck. (giraffes) Hugs with a peck. (chickens)

"I loved the thought that we all snuggle and hug each other," says Grover. "It was exemplified as I watched Sumner High School band students greeting each other, and swallows were nesting in the school vents. Pairing a rhyme with each spread was the perfect format to mimic a hug and share this concept with parents and their babies."

Hug Hug! is a sturdy board book which introduces a love of reading to preschoolers and reinforces the comfort of a hug.

About readergirlz, readertotz, Lorie Ann Grover, and Rebecca Malone

readergirlz is the foremost online book community for teen girls, led by six critically acclaimed YA authors. The site is the recipient of a 2007 James Patterson PageTurner Award and the Association for Library Services to Children, ALA, Great Web Sites Award.

readertotz is a blog which showcases infant-toddler books as an important addition to children's literature.

Lorie Ann Grover is the author of three young adult verse novels (Loose Threads, On Pointe, Hold Me Tight) and three board books (When Daddy Comes Home, Hug Hug!, Bedtime Kiss for Little Fish).

Rebecca Malone is an illustrator from Massachusetts who enjoys creating beautiful works with acrylic paints.

Contact information:

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Nikki Grimes and Bryan Collier: Welcome, Precious

Oh, my. I love writing for this blog! Joan and I knew we would have fun, but there is so much joy in sharing beautiful work. I just discovered Welcome Precious!

This is exactly what we mean by literary quality and beautiful illustration. If there was a board book award, this work would have been a contender!

The beautiful poet Nikki Grimes of Bronx Masquerade authored the lyrical text that welcomes the newborn to our world. Listen:

"Welcome to a world
wrapped in rainbow."

"For now, rest, Precious,
rest in the ark of my arms.
Rest, safe beneath the blanket
of love's lullaby."

From "wrapped in rainbow" to "the ark of my arms" I find I keep returning to the beginning of this work to read the rhythm that is going to soothe your readertotz. The crisp, fresh images are a delight to the mind and ear.

And then there are the paintings by
Bryan Collier!

Bryan's watercolors and collage glow with the joy of life. The layers of texture and color invite your eye to wander through his world and enter the love being shared between the characters.

I particularly respond to the portraits of the mother and then the father holding the baby. There's a looseness and freedom to the abstract backgrounds that brings a flowing, pulsing warmth to the illustrations. The magical bond between parent, child, and grandparent is caught by Collier's brush.

Inside Info:
I just visited Bryan's online
gallery and discovered his works are affordable! I don't think I can snag the images and post them here. You must go and see them. My favorite: "Love Can Be Heard."

Taking Care of Business:
Because Welcome, Precious was originally a picture book that was released again in a board format, let me take a moment to talk about reissues. How do we personally view them at readertotz?

Sometimes a reissue is a poor choice as the picture book is the best format for a text. Editing out text and illustration to accommodate the shortened board book structure is often detrimental to the story. Or packing it all in is just as poor of a choice. However, in other instances, the board book is actually the better form to communicate the story, or at least it is equally viable.

Joan and I are committed to responding to reissues as if they are first releases. We will not compare the work to its original form but view it exclusively as an infant-toddler book. Each reissue will be gauged against original infant-toddler books. Our aim is to bring you the best for your baby regardless of the work's publishing history.

Therefore, with confidence and pleasure we recommend Welcome, Precious to your readertotz library!

Welcome Precious, 2008
by Nikki Grimes and Bryan Collier
Orchard, Scholastic

Lorie Ann Grover ~author/illustrator

Friday, December 12, 2008

Poetry Friday: The North Wind Doth Blow

As I ran around this morning, this nursery rhyme seemed terribly appropriate! Snuggle warm with your readertotz!

Cold and Raw the North Wind Doth Blow

Cold and raw the north wind doth blow
Bleak in the morning early,
All the hills are covered with snow,
And winter's now come fairly.

Lorie Ann Grover ~author/illustrator

Monday, December 8, 2008

Nina Laden: Button Nose

This is one of my favorite kinds of books for toddlers because it teaches in a painless way, and it allows children to take charge of an activity—in this case it’s practicing the basics of uncomplicated fastenings. Made of cloth, Button Nose includes five interactive parts: a button, a zipper, tying laces, Velcro, and a snap.

The dog on the cover has a large pink button as a nose, which can be unbuttoned to reveal the first page of the book. There is also a rabbit with ear-laces and a turtle that snaps. My favorite is the “zipper teeth” page, which shows an alligator with a green zippered mouth. When the zipper is unzipped, its teeth actually look a bit like alligator teeth. Very clever.

Inside Info: I’ve met author-illustrator, Nina Laden, at various writing events, so I asked her to give me some background scoop on the development of this book. Here’s what she told me:

“When I was a child, I had a cloth “book” called “Dressy Bessie.” Basically, it was a girl wearing clothing that you had to button, zipper, tie and snap. There were no words, and it was, in my mind, a little sexist. (Was there a “Dressy Dan?”) When I came up with “Button Nose” I knew I had to play with the simple words and tasks, and use animals to teach kids the motor skills they need to dress themselves. However, in order to submit this idea, I had to literally sew up the book. I am sewing-challenged. Thankfully I can do some simple things, so I bought cloth, buttons, zippers, snaps, laces and Velcro and put a dummy together. I drew the illustrations with marker on the cloth. Chronicle had never done a cloth book either, and it took about nine months to get the right materials and the best manufacturer.”

Note that this book is packaged in a plastic container, so you may find it hanging in a bookstore, rather than on a shelf. The book itself is about the size of a potholder and the cloth makes it easy for little hands to grasp.

Button Nose
Nina Laden (Author-illustrator)
Chronicle Books, 2008

Joan Holub ~author/illustrator

Friday, December 5, 2008

Poetry Friday: Edward Lear, The Owl and the Pussycat

Joan and I thought we'd celebrate Poetry Friday at readertotz. For our first Friday, I'm going to indulge myself with Edward Lear's poem from 1871. This was my first ever favorite poem of my life. You can ask my mother. ;~) Enjoy it with your readertotz!

Image:Edward Lear The Owl and the Pussy Cat 1.jpg

The Owl and the Pussycat

by Edward Lear

The Owl and the Pussycat went to sea
In a beautiful pea-green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
"O lovely Pussy! O Pussy, my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are, you are, you are,
What a beautiful Pussy you are."

Pussy said to the Owl "You elegant fowl,
How charmingly sweet you sing.
O let us be married, too long we have tarried;
But what shall we do for a ring?"
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the Bong-tree grows,
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
With a ring at the end of his nose, his nose, his nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.

"Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
your ring?" Said the Piggy, "I will"
So they took it away, and were married next day
By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon.
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand.
They danced by the light of the moon, the moon, the moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.

Catch the full Poetry Friday roundup at Mommy's Favorite Children's Books.

Lorie Ann Grover ~author/illustrator

Monday, December 1, 2008

Leslie Patricelli: BIG Little

Hello all parents and grandparents of toddlers, as well as teachers, and librarians!

Joan Holub and I are psyched to begin readertotz together. We each will be posting every other week about an infant-toddler book in board, novelty, and interactive formats. We'll also throw a few extra blogs in occasionally. Watch for author and illustrator interviews and the highlighted book of the month entry for the older sibling.

We hope you enjoy the monthly community service project in the sidebar, and the playlist which will be updated periodically. Hats off to our sister site readergirlz. Nobody does it better!

So here's a warm welcome to readertotz and let the blogging begin!

Our first feature is Leslie Patricelli's board book:

I'm so proud that this is our first book review at readertotz. Leslie's bald baby character, clad only in a diaper, is a spirited, endearing figure. Join baby as he demonstrates opposites in BIG Little with humor and enthusiasm.

Leslie's graphic, bold colors and thick black lines combine to create an energetic delight. Her layers of colors build rich depth in her flat paintings. I especially appreciate her hand lettering which brings a cohesiveness to the entire layout.

Leslie's humor will be appreciated by totz and adults.

"Ladies are BIG.
Ladybugs are little."

Each comparison she has chosen to illustrate big and little are things dear to a toddler's life: dandelions, puddles, trikes, and of course babies themselves.
Be prepared to be charmed from the first spread:

"Heads are BIG.
Toes are little."

to the last:

"The moon is BIG.
My night-light is little."

Who can resist smiling at baby's square nose, wiggling toes, and pursed lips as he blows out his cupcake candle?

Insider Info:

I can share that Leslie and I first took an amazing picture book class together about ten years ago under Keith Baker and Laura Kvasnosky. Leslie and I sat next to each other as she wrote dandelion poems, and I wrote a book about squirrels. As critique partners a few years later, I had the pleasure of seeing her baby board books in dummy form. Margaret Chodos Irvine and I knew these would bring joy to many. Needless to say, we were right! Woohoo! Here's a recent photo of me and Leslie.

As a side note, Joan and I are author/illustrators, and we will review and celebrate books of authors we don't know and of those we do, dare I even say, our friends? The industry is not that large, and we refuse to overlook the best of the best, because of a relationship. Our aim is to bring great infant-toddler books to you. So enjoy!

Here's to Leslie Patricelli's board book BIG Little.
Candlewick, 2003
* Click on the cover to purchase from Powells.

Lorie Ann Grover ~author/illustrator

Thursday, November 27, 2008

readertotz Press Release

For more information contact:

Sara Easterly, Publicist,, 206-632-8588


Celebrated author/illustrators Lorie Ann Grover and Joan Holub launch readertotz in an effort to recognize the infant-toddler book as a vital addition to children’s literature.

November 27, 2008 (Seattle, Wash.) – On December 1, 2008, readergirlz co-founder and author/illustrator Lorie Ann Grover and author/illustrator Joan Holub will launch readertotz (, a unique board book blog that aims to raise awareness of the infant-toddler book as a significant format of children’s literature.

While picture books, books for beginning readers, middle-grade novels and young-adult literature have been recognized with major awards such as the Caldecott, Theodor Seuss Geisel Medal, the Newbery, the Printz and the National Book Award, it is rare to find such esteem given to infant-toddler books—despite their importance in instilling a life-long love of books and reading in the youngest readers.

“Board books are certainly overlooked and misunderstood, and they serve such an important purpose in introducing babies and toddlers to books,” said Rotem Moscovich, Associate Editor, Scholastic. “What they are, how they work (and taste). The board makes it possible for them to do it themselves, and also to feel comfortable with books.”

Taking the lead from readergirlz, which boasts more than 8,000 members, readertotz will showcase high-quality literature. Lorie Ann Grover and Joan Holub will feature weekly blog posts that highlight the best contributions in the infant-toddler book arena and recommend monthly community service projects appropriate for families with young children to enjoy. Also included each month: an age-appropriate playlist and a recommended book for the older sibling.

“readertotz is our effort to raise the bar in board and novelty book literature,” says Lorie Ann Grover. “We’re challenging our colleagues to write great books for the youngest readers and encouraging the industry to publish those works. Eventually, we hope to work with the American Library Association to establish an award for infant-toddler books that’s equivalent to the Caldecott and Theodor Geisel Award.”

Lorie Ann Grover ( has authored three young-adult novels and three board books. Joan Holub ( is the author of more than 100 children’s books, many of which she has also illustrated.

About readergirlz

readergirlz is the foremost online book community for teen girls, led by six critically acclaimed YA authors—Dia Calhoun (Avielle of Rhia), Holly Cupala (A Light That Never Goes Out) Lorie Ann Grover (On Pointe), Justina Chen Headley (Girl Overboard), Mitali Perkins (First Daughter: White House Rules), and Melissa Walker (the Violet series). readergirlz is the recipient of a 2007 James Patterson PageTurner Award and the Association for Library Services to Children, ALA, Great Web Sites Award.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Blog to begin soon!

This blog is under construction and officially plans to begin December 1. In the meantime, enjoy this awesome video! It's based on the book Knuckleheads by one of the future contributing authors of this blog, Joan Holub!

See everyone soon!

Lorie Ann Grover, author and co-founder of readergirlz