Friday, December 13, 2019

Poetry Friday: Goodnight Bubbala

Enjoy this parody of Goodnight Moon with your happy mishpacha and welcome Hanukkah. With text by Sheryl Haft and illustration by Jill Weber, your first reader will be ready to help you make latkes before you to read Goodnight Bubbala again! A Yiddish glossary may inform and expand vocabularies.

"Goodnight room
Goodnight schmatta
Goodnight mishpacha noshing on latkes"

Happy Hanukkah and Poetry Friday!

Goodnight Bubbala, a Joyful Parody
by Sheryl Haft
illustrated by Jill Weber
Dial Books for Young Readers, 2019

Monday, December 9, 2019

Teeny Tiny Santa: Rachel Matson

Oh, this little Christmas book from Rachel Matson and Joey Chou is endearing and engaging. The teeny tiny fox fears he's too little to catch Santa's notice. However, a teeny tiny whisper leads to this beautiful spread:

The teeny fox's heart
Did a dance of pure delight
As a teeny tiny SANTA
Appeared on this special night.

Teeny Tiny Santa and Fox will find their way into your heart this Christmas season.

Teeny Tiny Santa
by Rachel Matson
illustrated by Joey Chou
Cartwheel, Scholastic, 2019

Monday, November 25, 2019

Kindness Makes Us Strong: Sophie Beer

Exactly what we need! Kindness described for our first readers. Sophie Beer has tackled the definition through text and art with the help of Dial Books in this large format board book, Kindness Makes Us Strong.

"Kindness is...
saying hello.
Kindness is...
being patient."

Each simply stated fact is illustrated with eager children demonstrating the concept. There's a vibrancy to the color, line, and detail that energizes kindness.

As the year comes to a close, we can remember:

"Kindness is...
us strong!"

Kindness Makes Us Strong
by Sophie Beer
Dial Books for Young Readers, December 24, 2019

Friday, November 15, 2019

Poetry Friday: Roar Like a Dandelion

This Poetry Friday celebrate with a never-before released work by Ruth Krauss. Illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier, the whimsy and sillies will amuse your readertotz as the alphabet is reinforced in Roar Like a Dandelion.

Sit in the sun
and shine

Try to hug yourself
in a puddle

Undress to match
trees in winter

Vote for yourself

There's an empowering joy of life in this work. Thanks to Harper for choosing to share more from Krauss. Her voice is clear, and Ruzzier honors it well. Bravo!

Roar Like a Dandelion
by Ruth Krauss
illustrations by Sergio Ruzzier
Harper, 2019

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Top Shelf: Bedtime Classics, Carly Gledhill

Thanks go to Penguin Random House for bringing beloved classics to our first readers in board book form! Paired with Carly Gledhill's delicate, intricate illustrations, the series Bedtime Classics is one to find and follow.

Children of color in modern clothes bring a freshness to the tales. Gledhill's palette and patterns bear a calming comfort through the excitement. It's a lovely balance.

The text holds the barest plot points for the stories to remain cohesive. From Alice's Adventures in Wonderland:

"She tumbles
down the rabbit hole
and enters a
magical place
called Wonderland."

From The Nutcracker:

"Suddenly the Mouse King
arrives, leading his army against the
Nutcracker and his gingerbread soldiers."

How can you not love Alice in her overalls and high top Chucks, or Clara in her big round glasses? Your readertotz will engage with these stories presented so beautifully, and as they grow, they'll be primed for the full tales. Best of the best, these are Top Shelf picks!

Alice's Adventure in Wonderland
The Nutcracker
illustrated by Carly Gledhill
Penguin Random House, 2019

Monday, October 7, 2019

Clothes and My Day: Rilla Alexander

Touch Words are pretty much that: words raised for the touch. Also raised are elements within the illustrations of Clothes and My Day. These hefty board books invite touch, not with varying textures, but with carefully aligned die-cuts and raised portions.

My Day includes words: make, draw, play, bake, and more. While Clothes features words such as undies, dress, coat, and shoes. Accompanying each word are nouns one might find in the featured item or activity, with adjectives and verbs closing the lists. An example:

roller skates * wheels * blocks * tricycle * pull toy
speedy * rolling * skating * pulling * pushing * running
rolling * pedaling * steering * tugging


This is streamlined nonfiction with flat, hard-edged, digital imagery. Various ages will engage in different ways with Touch Words.

Touch Words
My Day
by Rilla Alexander
Handprint Book,  2019

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

More, more, more: The Hike

What a breath of fresh air The Hike is! Thanks to Chronicle Books for believing a "quiet" picture book can still hold a place on today's shelves. Alison Farrell's work does so beautifully.

Wren, El, and Hattie are off with their pup Bean to enjoy a hike through nature. Illustrations identify the variety of foliage and fauna they pass along the way. Armed with pencils, poems, and feathers, the three enjoy map-reading, sketching, and basket-making. Reaching the top of the hill, they celebrate before returning home.

I love everything about this work: from the text, to the font, to the layout, to the careful illustrations sharing the beauty all around us. Inspire a walk in nature with this picture book. There's so much to see!

The Hike
by Alison Farrell
Chronicle Books, 2019

Monday, September 30, 2019

Baby Animals and Body: Stephanie Babin

How about fun fiction for your readertotz? Play Tabs from Twirl has released Baby Animals and Body. Durable thick board books with prominent, arrowed tabs teach first readers concise facts.

Stephanie Babin's text is straightforward: "A dog's babies are called puppies." And "When you are out and about during the day, dirt gets stuck to your skin." Thierry Bedouet has illustrated the animal book while Ilaria Falorsi illustrated Body. I would have thought one person created both sets of images as there is a constancy between them.

From the back covers: "...sturdy pull-tabs on every page that are right for little hands, and bite-size facts that are just right for hungry minds!"

Enjoy these nonfiction works, their action and information.

Play Tabs
Baby Animals
by Stephanie Babin
illustrated by Thierry Bedouet

by Stephanie Babin
illustrated by Ilaria Falorsi

Twirl, 2019 (first published in France, 2018)

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

More, more, more: Rabbit and the Motorbike

"Exhilarating . . . Graceful text and evocative illustrations combine in this story about the rewards of facing fears and trying something new." — Kirkus Reviews, starred review

This beautiful work is a treasure as we walk through loss and brave living. Rabbit dreams of going down the road, but it's Dog who travels. When Dog doesn't return from an adventure, his bike is left to Rabbit. Watch as Rabbit nurses his loss and eventually takes to the road himself. Life holds wheat fields of comfort, but it also offers roads, motorbikes, wings, and stories that keep us all together.

Here is a heartfelt text, a wide format to hold the scope of the world, and illustration that echoes beloved John Birmingham. Don't miss this work that bears much truth and is ready to share. 

Rabbit and the Motorcycle
by Kate Hoefler
illustrated by Sarah Jacoby
Chronicle Books, 2019

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Top Shelf: This Little Artist, Joan Holub

Celebrations for readertotz founder, Joan Holub! Her "This Little" series continues beautifully with This Little Artist, an Art History Primer.

Painting, shaping, making art.
With creative joy, hands, and heart.

Little artists have great big imaginations.

Introduce your totz to ten artists who have shaped our world culture by reflecting their own insights. A rhyme and portrait is followed by a fact and example of the featured artist's work. Daniel Roode's adorable big-eyed, flat characters create a unity in our diversity. 

Lastly, a final spread collects eighteen more creators. The broad field of art is open to collage, photography, glass creation, performance and more. An end question asks:

Crayons, paper, paint, or clay-
what will you use to make art today?

Bravo, Joan and Daniel! Thank you for this joyful board book!

This Little Artist, an Art History Primer
by Joan Holub
illustrated by Daniel Roode
Little Simon, September 10, 2019

Thursday, September 19, 2019

More, more, more: We Are All Greta

Follow up the #ClimateStrike with this call to save our world. Take action for your wee one's future.

"This may be the first book about Thunberg, but with the youth mobilization for the upcoming Global Climate Strike in September, it almost certainly won't be the last."-Publishers Weekly

We Are All Greta
by Valentina Giannella
illustrated by Manuela Marazzi
Laurence King Publishing, September 24, 2019

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Happy Book Birthday: I Love All of Me

  • Today! She's born! Celebrations!

Happy book birthday to I Love All of Me! Thank you for sharing the joy in this virtual launch party. Feel free to spread the word. May she be held by many tiny hands who know they are worthy, wonderful, and welcome in our world. Huzzah!

Best Board Book of the Season

From “wiggle toes” and “smelly nose” to “blinky eyes” and “bendy knees,” this is a delightful, affirming ode to toddler parts. The smile-inducing rhymes beg to be repeated again and again, while the bold palette and cheery images heighten the book’s enthusiastic tone. 

Grover’s rhyming text soars, and reading the words aloud almost feels like singing a song...a vibrant and lyrical ode to bodies ideal for those learning to explore their own. 

Grover’s book gets right to the point in an unfussy and streamlined way; it’s a breath of fresh air and just right for sharing with the toddlers in your life....With a book like Grover’s at the ready, that grownup can say to a child: I love you just the way you are, and I want you to do the same. What a powerful and compassionate sentiment.

I Love All of Me
by Lorie Ann Grover
Cartwheel Books, Scholastic, September 17, 2019

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Top Shelf: Little Muir's Song

Top Shelf: The Best of the Best

After a short break for early summer, I'm back with a lovely Top Shelf board book pick for your little, outdoor enthusiast. Introduce your totz to Little Muir's Song before your next trek, maybe even into one of our national parks.

In his own words, John Muir expresses his love of the environment which can be a stepping stone into it for first readers. As John said, "Let children walk with nature."

Susie Ghahremani's brightly-edged illustrations are delicate and playful. They honor the words spoken more than one hundred years ago.

"The sun shines not on us but in us.
The rivers flow not past but through us."

This beautiful board book from Yosemite Conservancy directly supports Yosemite National Park. Don't miss this pick. It shares the beauty all around.

Little Muir's Song
by John Muir
illustrated by Susie Ghahremani
Yosemite Conservancy, August, 2019

Friday, May 17, 2019

Poetry Friday: Peek-A-Boo Zoo

Lift-the-flaps to see who is playing peek-a-boo this Poetry Friday!

"I am a cool bird.
I waddle and slide.
In the ice-cold sea,
I swim and glide.

Guess who?"

Look for Peek-A-Boo Farm as well. Happy reading!

Peek-A-Boo Zoo
by Joyce Wan
Cartwheel Books

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Top Shelf: Maybe Tomorrow?

This is my favorite picture book of 2019, so far! I place it in the "perfect picture book" category.

"I miss Little Bird," said Elba.
"I miss her, too," said Norris.
"But you didn't know her."
"No, but you are my friend, so I can help you miss her."

Elba is dragging a big block behind her while Norris dances everywhere, surrounded by butterflies. Elba's heavy block makes her slowly walk and "think darkly." The block isn't fun. Something sad is waiting to come out, according to Norris. Maybe tomorrow it will, says Elba.

As the two friends spend time together, and the butterflies help tote the block, the sadness is shared and held. The block does grow smaller, but Elba accepts she will always have it, and Norris commits to helping her carry it.

Elba's block represents the death of Little Bird, but as you explore this work with your first readers, the block might also be any loss. This gem is a blessing to our shelves and us, regardless of age. Paired with Charlotte Agell's text is Ana Ramirez Gonzalez's art which manages to carry both characters' emotions beautifully. I hope Maybe Tomorrow? is found, given the chance to comfort, and passed forward. Brilliant!

Maybe Tomorrow?
by Charlotte Agell
illustrated by Ana Ramirez Gonzalez
Scholastic Press, 2019

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Leo Lionni's Friends: First Board Books

You can introduce your totz to our beloved Leo Lionni with these board books, inspired by his body of work. Whether celebrating spring or introducing the alphabet, Leo's adorable mice will be loved by first readers. Adults will enjoy the references back to earlier books.

Spring, I know you're
here when I hear the
BUZZ of the bees in the meadow...
(From A Little Book About Spring)

W is for wide wall.
X is for x-tra special surprise.
(From A Little Book About ABCs)

Welcome your totz to the world with Leo's little mice. They help us to see, learn, and celebrate!

A Little Book About Spring
A Little Book About ABCs
illustrated by Leo Lionni and Julie Hamilton
Random House, 2019

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Hello, World: How Do Apples Grow? and Ocean Life

The series Hello, World introduces How Do Apples Grow? and Ocean Life, both written and illustrated by Jill McDonald. Readertotz will be introduced to science and nature concepts in this durable board book series.

How Do Apples Grow? walks the first reader from seed to ripe apple.

"In spring, buds on its branches open into pink and white flowers. Each flower will become an apple."

The work concludes: "Good things are worth waiting for!"

In Ocean Life, McDonald continues her bright, cheerful illustrations and invites the first reader to, "Dive in and take a look!"

"Whales are the giants of the ocean. A blue whale can grow to be as long as two school buses! Whales breathe air through a blowhole on their head."

After the overview of sea life, the reader is encouraged to choose their own underwater favorite.

Hello, World is a strong addition to the first science book category.

Hello, World
How Do Apples Grow?
Ocean Life
by Jill McDonald

Monday, March 4, 2019

Hello Honeybees: Hannah Rogge

Give a little love to our precious honeybees with Hello HoneyBees from Chronicle Books. Hannah Rogge's text introduces the life and work of the honeybee, while Emily Dove's illustrations include two puzzle piece bees, attached by ribbons, to play in pages cut in the shape of a hive.

Little fingers can speed the bees about the garden to collect pollen, mimic the wiggle dance, and build the honeycomb. Then, busy bees can begin again.

Lets share our love and appreciation for our bees with our readertotz. This is a beautiful board book that does just that and more.

Hello Honeybees
by Hannah Rogge
illustrated by Emily Dove
Chronicle Books, 2019

Friday, March 1, 2019

Poetry Friday: Wake Up, Color Pup

Wake Up, Color Pup is a gleeful, energetic look at dawn for a little white puppy. Bouncing with rhyme, the pup bounds outside into yellow, orange, red, purple, blue, and green. He meets little animals, insects, and a fish along the way as he follows a bird. The colors collect on his coat, until:


The rain falls, and all pup's color is washed away. He shivers in the dark gray until finding all the colors in a puddle. With a roll and a shake, the world is awake again with color.

Here is a beautiful introduction and celebration of colorful life. Happy Poetry Friday!

Wake Up, Color Pup
by Taia Morley
Random House Children's Books, 2019

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Touch and Explore, Construction and Who Lives Where? Stephanie Babin

Image result for touch and explore construction

Publisher Twirl is knocking it out of the park! I'm excited to share recent titles of these high quality board books. Watch for more upcoming, but today, I'll point to two written by Stephanie Babin.

Touch and Explore Construction, illustrated by Benjamin Becue, brings a new dimension to the building themed book. Inserts hold relevant textures within the scenes. Safety cones are shiny plastic, rubble feels like rubble, a crinkled paper feels like wood, and wet paint feels sticky.

Setting up, demolition, building a house and road are featured along with more. Various races, genders, and ethnicities work, walk, and play side by side. Smaller font offers further information such as: Even the repair of a streetlight is a small construction site!

Also by Stephanie Babin, illustrated by Kiko, is Who Lives Where? This is one of my favorite Twirl books. The left spread establishes a location and inhabitants who live there. i.e. In the House: a guinea pig, a cat, a spider. Each says where they live and the illustration includes the home, which may or may not be inhabited. The cat is not in her bed. The right spread shows those isolated animals and a sliding panel reveals their home. A reader might try to recall the mouse (slide the panel) lives in a hole.

I find the engineering satisfying. The panels slide easily with a nice click. The book explores the house, farm, garden, mountains, savanna, and sea. The sole lives in the sand, while the guinea fowl makes a home in a shrub.

There's an elegance and higher expectation in the tot in these two books by Babin. Brava!

Touch and Explore, Construction
by Stephanie Babin
illustrated by Benjamin Becue
Who Lives Where?
by Stephanie Babin
illustrated by Kiko
Twirl, first published in France

Monday, February 11, 2019

Open the Garage Door: Christopher Santoro

Here is a lift-the-flap which brings a freshness to the vehicle board book. A car is in the garage; a police car is behind a shrub, and a tractor is in the barn. Aside from doors, clever devices are used, like the shrub, to hide other modes of transportation: a tarp covers a motorcycle, a school bus is beyond the curtained window, and a race flag covers the winner.

Start your engines and open the 11 flaps with your readertotz.

Open the Garage Door...
illustrated by Christopher Santoro
Random House, 2019

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

More, more, more: Chicago Treasure

For those who love Chicago, or are looking for an introduction, Chicago Treasure is now available. Blending city sights, nursery rhymes, stories, fables, and art, local children are photoshopped into illustrations, art, and photography. At times, final art strongly parallel's original source material, including imagery from the Harry Potter series, Disney movies, and The Wizard of Oz film.

With diversity and inclusivity of children with differing abilities, the work is fresh for today's readers. Many students from The Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Disabled participated in the project, and each is child is credited.

Following the first section, "Just Imagine," featuring multicultural stories and rhymes, the "Now Showing!" section places children into art masterpieces. Aside from introducing paintings, the imagery may be a help as tots imagine themselves in relation to fine art.

"Sightings" includes the photoshopped children and animals within scenes of Chicago. Short place descriptions are offered.  Impalas, bears, and zebras accompany adolescents traveling through the city.

A conclusion shares how a few of the children have grown since the project first began. All proceeds are donated to nonprofit groups. You might enjoy this ambitious book of love in honor of Chicago and her children.

Chicago Treasure
Larry Broutman, Rich Green, John Rabias
Lake Claremont Press
Broutman Photography, 2019

Monday, January 28, 2019

Hug Me: Little Bunny, Little Bear

These two little board book, finger puppets will illustrate a parent's love for their tot. Whether taking the wee one dancing, tickling a belly, or sharing a treat, love is shared with a hug at the conclusion of both books.

Digital art is enhanced with soft puppet arms that are easy to manipulate to illustrate the featured spread. The interactive book will offer snuggles to bear, rabbit, and totz alike. 

Hug Me, Finger Puppet Book, Little Bear
Hug Me, Finger Puppet Book, Little Bunny
design by Lydia Ortiz
Chronicle Books, 2019

Friday, January 4, 2019

Top Shelf, Poetry Friday: Crescent Moons and Pointed Minarets

Happy Poetry Friday! Our Top Shelf pick today is Crescent Moons and Pointed Minarets. Bringing both shapes and Muslim worship to the picture book page, this work is an enriching masterpiece. From the rectangular mosque door to the octagon fountain, acts of worship and their setting in various countries are illuminated.

"Arch is the mihrab
that guides our way.
We stand and face it
each time we pray.

Relish this celebration with your readertotz! Happy Poetry Friday!

Crescent Moons and Pointed Minarets
A Muslim Book of Shapes
by Hena Khan
illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini
Chronicle Books, 2018

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Read & Ride, Magical Horses: Liz Mytinger

Welcome, newborn totz, to 2019! The world is wide and wonderful and full of books. As author/illustrators, Joan Holub and I continue to share the best board books which cross our paths. May you find joy in them with your family.

First up this year is Read & Ride Magical Horses. Four shaped board books nest inside a flat book box. When opened, the horses, pegasus, and unicorn have three scenes to meander through. Each horse additionally opens to share his/her story. Chestnut is curious. Blizzard is brave. Flicker is graceful, and Cloud is kind. Active verbs such as soar, gallop, and trot, are illustrated as well as kindness to community.

This dual book and play set will entertain and certainly be beloved by little horse enthusiasts.

Read & Ride Magical Horses
Illustrated by Liz Mytinger
Chronicle Books, March 2019