Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Top Shelf: Outside Todo el Día! and Vamos, Body!

Combine the San Antonio Museum of Art, with the San Antonio Library Foundation, and Trinity University Press, and you get a fabulous series of bilingual board books for your readertotz! Along with previous titles including, Black & Blanco! and Hello, Circulos! are two new releases from the Arte Kids Series: Outside Todo el Día! and Vamos, Body! 

The collection of imagery is diverse. The spreads are full of a wide range of styles creating wonderful contrasts. Your totz will be exposed to art from the ancient world to our own time. Questions, statements, and words, in a variety of fonts, label the featured focuses in both English and Spanish. A single image concludes each book as the pacing slows and comes to a close. Backmatter identifies paintings and sculptures from each work.

This work is truly Top Shelf material. Don't miss it.

Outside Todo el Día
Vamos, Body!
Concept and Design by Madeleine Budnick
Text and Illustrations by San Antonio Museum of Art
Trinity University Press, 2017

Thursday, October 26, 2017

I'm Scared: Jennier Holm and Matthew Holm

I'm Scared (My First Comics)

Note: Lorie Ann and I love this so much, we both had to feature it for your totz. Enjoy!

I'm Scared is the fourth board book in the My First Comics series by the sister and brother team of Jennifer Holm and Matthew Holm. I enjoy that totz are introduced to reading in the format of speech balloons and thought bubbles. (It's never too early for comics, right?)
Chilly the snowflake is scared of everything. The narrator coaxes Chilly into realizing it can be, well, fun, to have fun by trying something new!
Watch for the My First Comics books: I'm Grumpy, I'm Sunny!, and I'm Silly!
The Holms are the bestselling creators of Babymouse, one of my favorite book series. 
Random House, 24 pages

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Wickle Woo has a Halloween Party by Jannie Ho

 Wickle Woo is having a Halloween Party . . .
but where are his friends?

A little owl named Wickle Woo plan a Halloween party. But what's a party without pals? Where are they? A tug of some "tiny tabs" reveals Lion and Bear, Rabbit and Tiger, and more, all agreeing to come to the party. 

I really like this tab-pulling format. Take a look at the others Jannie Ho has created in this series including Teeny Weeny and Bunny Boo. They're cute and just the right amount of fun and challenge for totz.

Jannie is super creative about getting 
excitement up for her books. Love these
celebration lollipops!

Author-illustrator: Jannie Ho

Saturday, September 30, 2017

I'm Silly! I'm Scared: Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm

So much joy in introducing feelings to your totz with My First Comics from sister/brother team: Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm.

Tizzy Tornado is, of course, silly. But how often can one end up being too silly and cause damage? I'm Silly! helps wee ones to see levels of silly and what is enjoyable to others.

Chilly the snowflake is scared. Sometimes without even knowing why. With brave effort, Chilly finds fun beyond fear.

Comics graphics and panels are approachable and offer nudges into reading. Look for this series which also includes I'm Sunny! and I'm Grumpy. So many feels!

I'm Silly!
I'm Scared
by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm
Random House, 2017

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Bright Night: Lorie Ann Grover

A lovely review from Publishers Weekly!

Grover effectively reduces the Nativity story to quippy rhyming phrases in this padded board book, whose cozy mood is bolstered by Parry’s soft, gauzy-looking digital artwork. “Carry Mary,” reads the opening spread as Joseph leads a donkey down a road as birds, butterflies, and a rabbit dance around the couple. From there, they land in the “safe place” of the stable, celebrate “boy joy” when Jesus is born, and enjoy a little “swaddle, coddle” before visitors arrive, having followed the “far star” in the night sky. It’s a simple, punchy, and jubilant retelling. Ages 4–8. (Oct.)

Preorder is available here

by Lorie Ann Grover
illustrated by Jo Perry
Zonderkidz, Oct. 3, 2017

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

This Little Trailblazer: A Girl Power Primer

Readertotz co-founder Joan Holub's 
new board book celebrates girl power!
A tribute to some great women, who blazed trails 
that inspire us all, little or big.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Top Shelf: Nothing Rhymes with Orange

Nothing Rhymes with Orange Cover

Here's my favorite recent picture book that crossed my path. The one I left out for everyone to pick up and read as they passed by. It's fun, clever, and has great heart. For me, it's Top Shelf! Take it from Adam:

Nothing Rhymes with Orange
by Adam Rex
Chronicle Books, 2017

Thursday, July 13, 2017

More, More, More: This is How We Do It

This Is How We Do It Cover

Author/illustrator Matt Lamothe presents seven real children around the world as they live out their day. Italy, Japan, Peru, Uganda Russia, India, and Iran are featured. The large format accommodates the details of the full imagery. Among the illustrated are the variety of homes, families, school clothes, meals, play, and chores. It's fascinating to discover the similarities and differences.

This is How We Do It will bring the world a little closer and raise understanding and compassion. Families were chosen as representatives for countries with the explanation that not all people within the culture are the same as those portrayed.

From Matt's end note:
"I believe the more you learn about different people, the more you see yourself in them, and the more accepting you become."

Welcome this work!

This is How We Do It
by Matt Lamothe
Chronicle Books, 2017

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Sleepy Toes: Kelli McNeil

Sleepy Toes (a Padded Board Book) Cover

Are your totz ready for bed? Are toes, tummy, fingers, and eyes sleepy? There's been a day of wiggling, gurgles, touching, and seeing. Now what?

Kelli McNeil's Sleepy Toes accompanied with Cori Doerrfeld's illustrations will help your first reader settle down for the night.

Is your mouth getting sleepy?
So very, very sleepy?
All day long it sings a song-
sing-song, happy mouth.
And now it's time for lullabies,
nice long yawns, and bedtime sighs.

Enjoy this padded board book with your totz before bed.

Sleepy Toes
by Kelli McNeil
illustrated by Cori Doerrfeld
Cartwheel Books, Scholastic, 2017

Monday, June 26, 2017

Top Shelf: I Am a Story

I Am a Story Cover

Sometimes, you find that perfect picture book. For me, I Am a Story falls into this top category.

Dan Yaccarino follows story from being told around a fire to cell phones today. Story has been carved into cave walls and clay. It's been printed, woven, and acted. It's been banned and given to all through public libraries. It's been burned, but yet, story still inspires.

Here is a beautiful tribute to story. Graphic, flat illustrations, heavy on line, dance in this work. What a treasure for libraries to hold I Am a Story.

I Am a Story
by Dan Yaccarino
Harper, 2016

Mommy Snuggles and Daddy Dreams: Anne Gutman and Georg Hallensleben

Mommy Snuggles Cover
Daddy Dreams Cover

Two sweet board books from Anne Gutman and Georg Hallensleben. First published in France, the thick paintings pair beautifully with the simple text.

Mommy Snuggles compares how different animals carry their babies. Daddy Dreams illustrates how various animals sleep, while their offspring watch. Both works close with humans.

There is a gentle tone in both works that is perfect for snuggling down and dreaming.

Mommy Snuggles
Daddy Dreams
by Anne Gutman and Georg Hallensleben
Chronicle Books, 2017

Thursday, June 8, 2017

More, More, More: We're All Wonders

We're All Wonders Cover

"Look with kindness and you will always find wonder."

R.J. Palacio has brought the content of her bestselling middle grade novel to a picture book format. Writing and illustrating We're All Wonders, she illustrates how one child formed differently forbears under bullying. With hurt feelings, he is ultimately able to hope all might recognize we are each wonders.

The graphic imagery and large format portraying diverse people is bold and beautiful. This is a call for kindness. Please share it with your readers!

"I know I can't change the way I look. BUT maybe, just maybe, people can change the way they see."

We're All Wonders
by R.J. Palacio
Knopf, Borzoi Books, 2017

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

I Love My Mommy, I Love My Daddy: Sebastien Braun

I Love My Mommy CoverI Love My Daddy Cover

I Love My Mommy and I Love My Daddy is a sweet set of board books from Sebastien Braun. A simple list of what parents do for their babies is gathered and rendered warmly. Paintings of animals and their offspring glow in the illustrations.

My mommy watches
me while I play.
My mommy takes
me swimming.

My daddy looks
after me.
My daddy cuddles me.

The charm is in the imagery and will likely draw and comfort your totz.

I Love My Mommy
I Love My Daddy
by Sebastien Braun
Katherin Tegen Books, Board Book Format, 2017

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Mighty Dads

 Father's Day is June 18!
Mighty Dads is my celebration
of you dads, who pave the way for your
daughters and sons.
You guys roar, roar, ROAR!
Thank you, dads!
Find activities here.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Poetry Friday: Find It! Twist, Yoga Poems

Twist Cover

Celebrating a ten year birthday, Twist, Yoga Poems is brilliant and beautiful. Janet S. Wong's poetry nests in Julie Paschkis' art as the two illustrate yoga practice. I find I fall into the lyrical words and symmetrical images while being stirred to strike the poses.


pushes Cobra up from damp soil.

She lifts herself higher,
to dry out her heart.

Find this treasure from 2007. And then strike a Warrior's pose. Twist with your totz.

Twist, Yoga Poems
by Janet S. Wong
art by Julie Paschkis
Margaret K. McElderry, 2007

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 Books, 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