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
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
The Holms are the bestselling creators of Babymouse, one of my favorite book series.
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.
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.
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
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.)
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:
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."
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.
"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."
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
My daddy looks
My daddy cuddles me.
The charm is in the imagery and will likely draw and comfort your totz.
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.
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?
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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!
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.
cat's pink-petal toes--the last
to drop from its boughs
Be ready for beautiful language and exquisite imagery.
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!
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!
by Diane Adams
illustrated by Claire Keane
Chronicle Books, 2017
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.
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.
"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.
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:
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!
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.
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?