Tuesday, October 26, 2010

More, More, More: Thumb Love

Yes, readertotz is a board book site, but we do like to take a moment to acknowledge those exceptional picture books we come across. Thumb Love by Elise Primavera is one for certain!


Dedicated to thumb suckers around the world, Elise's Lulu takes the reader inside the intimate love story of a young person and her thumb. A direct dialogue opens and closes the work while Lulu's story of thumb love is sandwiched between the address.

Always there for her, Lulu's thumb make's sure she feels loved and that she's comfy. It doesn't matter who ridicules her, and the possible dangers of teeth realignment and pronunciation problems seem unreal. All is love, until Lulu has a dream that truly frightens her into inventing a twelve-step program to end her damaging relationship.

The thumb cries over her resolution, but Lulu carries on. Whether it be a firm announcement of quitting, a little Tabasco, a sock, or sleeping with the thumb wedged out of sight, Lulu makes progress. And when she fails, she begins again.

Elise's charming text and illustrations of love exchanges between the thumb and Lulu are heartfelt and humorous. "Can we at least be friends?" the thumb asks. "Sure-but don't get any ideas." Lulu says with a wink.

What a fun, wonderful addition to children's literature. Be ready to welcome Lulu as she stands before the crowd and says:

"Hello. My name is Lulu and I'm a thumb sucker."

Thumb Love
by Elise Primavera
Random House, 2010

Monday, October 25, 2010

Happy Birthday, Little Pookie: Sandra Boynton

Happy Birthday, Little Pookie (Pookie Books)
Hooray! A new Sandra Boynton board book. I still remember how excited I was when I first saw Sandra's quirky, hilarious cards in the stores years ago. No one else was doing anything like she was at the time, and I consider her a creative pioneer.

Little Pookie is a pig. The first page illustration of him is so pignant, oh, I mean poignant. Really sweet and childlike. Pookie is waking up his/her pig parents because it's Pookie's birthday. However, it's the middle of the night before this big event. So Pookie is coaxed back into bed, only to return at precisely 5:32 a.m. with yet another birthday announcement. Parents reply:

You're back little Pookie.
It's 5:32.

Well, okay, it's your day,

Happy Birthday to you!

The fun day plays out with piggie pancakes, a balloon, and friends. And it ends with a wonderful happy birthday wish. This story took me back to a time when birthdays were so important--when I thought the world revolved around the fact that it was MY birthday!

A sweet, sturdy, rhyming, realistic board books totz will love!

Happy Birthday, Little Pookie
Author-illustrator: Sandra Boynton
Robin Corey Books, 2010

Friday, October 22, 2010

Photo Friday: Dream Big, Little Girl

This is my all-time favorite Polyvore creation, thanks to Gustav Klimt. I hope you like it, too! Happy Photo Friday!

Dream Big, Little Girl

Thursday, October 21, 2010

October Picture Book Pick: I'm the Best

We usually title these monthly picks as 'for the older sibling', but this one skews young, so we're going with 'picture book pick' this time. Lucy Cousins has a knack for creating eye-catching, age-appropriate books, and this is one of those. How many times have you heard your totz say: I'm the best? I know I said it a lot when I was a kid, which usually launched a squabble or at least some hurt feelings among my siblings and me. This book begins with:

Hello, I'm Dog, and I'm the best.
These are my friends--Ladybug, Mole, Goose, and Donkey.
I love them.
They're great, but I'm the best.

Uh-oh, I feel a squabble coming on, don't you?
Dog proceeds to point out all the things he can do better than his friends, adding "I win." Double uh-oh. Saying that in my family when we were kids definitely started an argument.

Dog's friends have hurt feelings, and they counter by pointing out they ways in which they are the best. Dog has an epiphany and apologizes. But he's still THE BEST in the end!

Very cute, Lucy Cousins!

I'm the Best
Author-illustrator, Lucy Cousins
Candlewick, 2010

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Congrats, Bedtime Kiss for Little Fish: 100,000 sold! Interview with illustrator Debra Ziss


In celebration of Bedtime Kiss for Little Fish selling over 100,000 copies, I thought to post this fun interview with illustrator Debra Ziss. Listen in with your totz:

1. Can you describe your process, Debra?

i usually see something in my head the moment i read the manuscript. then i sit down at the computer and "sculpt" in illustrator. by this i mean that i draw shapes and refine them until they begin to look like something. what i see in my head is NEVER what appears on screen. i'm usually pleasantly surprised by the end result.

2. Want to share an early sketch?

you can see sketches on: debbiedoesdoodles.blogspot.com i posted my original ideas for the book along with some finishes so readers could see the process. Like this:

3. Do you have any totz in your life now?

i sometimes test out my drawings on my "peanut gallery", my friends kids. if they like and understand what i've drawn, i know it's good!

4. Um, do you like to eat fish?

sushi is a personal favorite. good nite fishies!

Thanks, Debra! I love how our work came together. Thanks also to editor Rotem Moscovich and Scholastic. *hugs* And final thanks to everyone who has purchased copies for your totz!

Here's one last look at that sweetie pie reading to us:

Bedtime Kiss for Little Fish

by Lorie Ann Grover
illustrated by Debra Ziss
Scholastic, Cartwheel Books, 2009

Monday, October 18, 2010

Gigi in the Big City: Charise Mericle Harper


Gigi in the Big City is packed full of lift-the-flap and turn the dial fun! Author/illustrator Charise Mericle Harper has created an amazing day in the city for her character. Bravo to Robin Corey Books for investing all out in the concept.

For more mature totz, (Publishers Weekly advises 4-8) each page is filled with little flaps, pull tabs, and dials which flesh out Gigi's city experience. Multiple layers allow you to dress Gigi in various outfits before she heads off to the museums packed full of imagery. She considers the people she passes and dips into their stories, has a makeover, and concludes the day by writing and dreaming.

Joan is going to LOVE this work as it's packed full of interesting nonfiction facts. From definitions, to examples of shoes, gems, and mythical creatures, to types of books, there's so much to explore!

Gigi and her world are rendered with flat shapes with high kid appeal and a bit of funk to keep things lively. Enter the Big City with Gigi and be ready to be wowed!

Kudos to the team for bringing the board/novelty format to an older audience. Woot!

Gigi in the Big City

by Charise Mericle Harper
Robin Corey Books, 2010

Friday, October 15, 2010

Photo Friday: I love you

Oh, the fun of that first taste of cotton candy! Here's to the joy of sweet firsts with your totz. Happy Photo Friday, everyone.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

October: Totz Community Service

Photo from Mrs. Happy Housewife

With your totz, press those fall leaves between wax paper, and share the beauty with a neighbor.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Totz Shout Out: BlogHer

Shout out for readertotz on BlogHer! Definitely check out 's article on the beauty of picture books. It's spot on regarding parents pushing their children past the format.

Slow down! There is time for every step. Saturate your totz from day one and grow through each category of children's lit. And then revisit them all. In a house of college students, we still heart our board and picture books and early readers and middle grade and young adult...

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Spooky Wheels on the Bus: J. Elizabeth Mills

I was at Target today and admired this book on the shelf. When I returned home it was waiting for me in my mailbox. So I have a little inside scoop on its creation, straight from author J. Elizabeth Mills herself. I always enjoy hearing how an author came up with an idea, and here's how this book began:
"I was riding a Seattle public bus on a gray May day, listening to the rattle, bam, shake, and clatter of a bus that sounded like it was held together with Popsicle sticks and bubble gum.The preschool song The Wheels on the Bus" came into my head, and I began to imagine what a Halloween bus might sound like."

This is not a board book, but the content is appropriate for one, and I wouldn't be surprised to see it out in board book format in future. It's an 8x8 paperback with a rollicking rhyme scheme, and I predict totz will adore singing along with it this Halloween season.

It begins:

One spooky bus goes RATTLE and SHAKE,
One spooky bus goes RATTLE and SHAKE,
All through the town.

Ben Mantle's illustrations perfectly capture the gently-silly-spooky characters. I love that the bus wheels are jack-o-lanterns.

It's the perfect book to enjoy on the bus this October!

Note that J. Elizabeth will be appearing at Secret Garden Books in Seattle on October 26, and at other bookstore, library, and school events in October.

The Spooky Wheels on the Bus
Author: J. Elizabeth Mills
Illustrator: Ben Mantle
Cartwheel, Scholastic, 2010

Friday, October 8, 2010

Thursday, October 7, 2010

readertotz is Awarded!

Many thanks to Guide to Online Schools for recognizing readertotz as one of the Best Children's Lit Blogs in the industry. Joan and I are honored!


Boo Who? in 13th Reprint!

Boo Who?

Congratulations to readertotz co-founder, Joan Holub, on the lucky 13th reprinting of her Halloween book for ages 2-6: Boo Who? A Spooky Lift-the-Flap Book (Scholastic, Cartwheel). Still in print and going strong--a favorite of totz since 1997!

Guess who says boo?
A ghost

Scratch and hiss? Who is this?

Okay, we're going to make you guess that 2nd one. Take a look at Joan's book in your favorite bookstore to enjoy more guess-the-Halloween-creature fun! (There's even a mirror inside.)

Boo Who? A Spooky Lift-the-Flap Book
Scholastic (Cartwheel), 1997
Author-illustrator: Joan Holub

Monday, October 4, 2010

Mimi Loves to Mimic: Yih-Fen Chou

Meet Mimi, the adorable toddler finding her own voice and way with aplomb and energy. Author Yih-Fen Chou explores imitation as a means of learning in Mimi Love to Mimic. Mimi reads like Mommy, makes soup like Grandma, and imitates Grandpa's manners, which have room for improvement. The endearing turn at the close shares Grandpa and Grandma imitating Mimi. Lovely!

The 8x8 format with stiff pages is great for readertotz. The highly awarded Chih-Yuan Chen's multimedia illustrations are appealing with a mild palette and simple shapes.

In Mimi Says No, Mimi asserts her independence as she makes her own way through her day. Mommy is close by and available to help, but Mimi forges onward on her own as she dresses, pours her milk, and walks to the park. A large fold-out increases the drama of an accident.

Again, text and image are tight and polished. I only would have preferred Mimi to say, "No, thanks," rather than just telling her mother, "No," repeatedly. And "I'm sorry," would have helped when she spills her milk. Of course, both ideas can be discussed during the reading with your totz.

The dust jackets refer to both books as picture books. I'd say the size and thickness of the pages skews it younger for little hands.

Find Mimi for your readertotz and be charmed. The works have been translated into fourteen languages already!

Mimi Loves to Mimic

Mimi Says No
by Yih-Fen Chou
illustrated by Chih-Yuan Chen
Heryin Books, 2010

Friday, October 1, 2010

Photo Friday: Happy!

by Lorie Ann Grover, 2010

I made this for my good friend Dia Calhoun. Hope you like it, too!

Happy Photo Friday, totz and parent types! Smile. :~)