Sunday, November 14, 2021

More, more, more: On Wings of Words

On Wings of Words, the Extraordinary Life of Emily Dickinson is a beautiful presentation of the poet's life and words. Jennifer Berne captures Emily's experiences, and Becca Stadtlander's art sets a perfect tone for the setting. At times, illustrations are historically accurate, but the work flies even farther when she is free to render Emily's thoughts and emotions. 

The weaving of portions of poems with the author's text is organic and well-weighted: 

"But everywhere she looked,
she was told to obey without asking,
to believe without knowing why. 
        So she began to put her faith in
        what she could see and understand.

                    In the name of the Bee-
                    And of the Butterfly-
                    And of the Breeze-Amen!"

Add this tribute to our beloved poet to your library for your totz. 

"The World is sleeping...we must
be crowing cocks, and singing larks,
and a rising sun to awake her." 

by Jennifer Berne
illustrated by Becca Stadtlander
Chronicle Books, 2020

Monday, October 25, 2021

Readertotz Read Aloud: The Beatryce Prophecy

For the older siblings of your readertotz, you might read aloud Kate DiCamillo's latest work: The Beatryce Prophecy. Every time I begin a work of Kate's, I get first-page chills. You know you are taking her hand and journeying into a narrative, lyrical circle which will weave a community together through the eyes of an endearing, strong protagonist. You and yours will love Beatryce, Answelica the goat, Brother Edik, and Jack Dory. 

Sophie Blackall's pencil drawings illuminate the text throughout. She brings half-page images, flourishes, and spot illustrations to the reader. The two time Caldecott Medalist dedicates her work to Kate, herself.  

Listen in to NPR's Talking Volumes, 2021, interview of Kate about this new classic taking its place on our shelves and in our hearts. 

"That is not a book I would care to read. 
As if she could read.
As if such a thing were possible.
Which, of course, it was not.
But still, a shiver of wonder and fear went through him at the possibility of a girl who could read." 

by Kate DiCamillo
illustrated by Sophie Blackall
Candlewick Press, 2021

Monday, October 11, 2021

More, more, more: When We Say Black Lives Matter

Here is a must find, must purchase, must share! When We Say Black Lives Matter is the poetic, spot-on answer for our readertotz when they ask, "What does Black Lives Matter mean?" 

Maxine Beneba Clarke's direct, compassionate beauty fills this picture book as black parents speak to their black child. Clarke's watercolor pencil and collage resembles chalk drawings which glow like stained glass over the large format. Verbs illuminate what this powerful statement means, whether it is screamed, danced, or laughed. 

"When we smile
Black Lives Matter,
we're raising our spirits high.
We're saying
we are here,
and we are enough.
my child."

Let Clarke, who is speaking to her own beloved family around the world, fill your home with affirmations of truth and joy. Black Lives Matter. 

by Maxine Beneba Clarke
Candlewick Press, 2021

Friday, October 8, 2021

Happy Halloween from The Very Busy Spider: Eric Carle

Get Halloween ready with the Very Busy Spider who is looking for all of her friends. Your totz can solve riddles and lift the flaps to help her. 

"Who does she see
smiling up at the moon
hoping to join his friends
very soon? 

A kind fox!"

Of course she has to find the Very Hungry Caterpillar munching inside a pumpkin. Once everyone is gathered, it's time for fun. Trick or treat! 

Thank you, Eric Carle.  We miss you dearly! <3

by Eric Carle
World of Eric Carle, Illustrated Edition, 2020

Monday, October 4, 2021

The Wheels on the Bus at Halloween: Sarah Kieley

Just in time for Halloween, your totz can sing "The Wheels on the Bus" for magical creatures who happen to need a ride. Beginning with a map of the upcoming journey, Sarah Kieley's vivid illustration pops across the board book double spread as we anticipate who will ride the bus on Halloween. 

Riders include witches, bats, ghosts, candies, and more. 

The pumpkins on the bus go "Trick or treat!
Trick or treat! 
Trick or treat!"
The pumpkins on the bus go, "Trick or treat!"
on a spooky Halloween!

When everyone's gathered on the bus, of course the next stop is your house! Enjoy this joy-packed take on "The Wheels on the Bus!" 

by Sarah Kieley
Doubleday Books for Young Readers, 2021

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

More, more, more: Goodnight Ganesha


There is so much beauty in this work from Nadia Salomon, illustrated by Poonam Mistry. With a nod to Goodnight Moon, two children say goodnight to Ganesha, as they visit their grandparents in India. The evening includes stories and rituals which set a beautiful tone. 

Mistry's tapestry style artwork brings mystery, warmth, and awe. You can look long at the intricate patterns and stylizations which accompany Salomon's rhyming text. 

Goodnight, thali.
Goodnight, kumkum. 
Goodnight, deepam--and wafts of perfume. 

Visit this beauty with your totz before they drift to sleep. 

by Nadia Salomon
illustrated by Poonam Mistry
Philomel Books, 2021

Sunday, September 19, 2021

More, more, more: ABC of Feelings

How many of us could benefit from this new picture book? I can! Author/illustrator Bonnie Lui brings a range of emotions to young readers by walking through the alphabet. Short definitions and expressive illustrations aid in the teaching. A background painter for Dreamworks and WB, Lui has created beauty in another format for all to enjoy. 

A is for anxious. Anxious is feeling really worried about something. 

B is for brave. Brave is being nervous about something...and doing it anyway!


N is for needy. Needy is wanting someone you love to pay attention to you. 

O is for overwhelmed. Overwhelmed is having too many thoughts and feelings all at once. 

I can imagine reaching for this book over and over as your readertotz gain self-awareness and learn to identify emotions. Get ready to spot those feelings!

by Bonnie Lui
Philomel, 2021

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Celebrations: Margaret Wise Brown Board Book Award


It's official! Bank Street College of Education has decided to begin acknowledging and awarding board books! My editor just zipped me the press release as she and I talked about this need in 2010. The award will be named: the Margaret Wise Brown Board Book Award for excellence in literature for very young children. Wonderful!

Here is a press release excerpt: 

The first prize will be awarded in the spring of 2023 for board books published or picture books adapted to board book format in 2021 and 2022. The award will be given every two years to a board book for infants and toddlers (ages 0-3).

“Criteria for selection will include books that promote interplay and engagement, incorporate rich
language, demonstrate a consideration for childhood development, and are constructed to withstand multiple encounters with little hands,” said Dr. Cynthia Weill, Director, Center for Children’s Literature, Bank Street College of Education.

Joan Holub and I, both board book author/illustrators, have been calling for a recognition of the board book format since 2009. Our aim at the readertotz blog has always been to raise the profile of board books for our first readers. We make a call to authors, illustrators, and publishers to create the best possible works as they introduce reading to our youngest ones. 

We have envisioned the American Library Association creating the Dorothy Kunhardt Award for the Outstanding Board or Novelty Book. Click here to see our facebook page. We would love to see Dorothy named as the creator of the beloved, first novelty book still in print: Pat the Bunny

Joan and I are thrilled Bank Street College is lifting this important format for all to see! Here's to future award recipients, the wee ones who will hold the works, and Bank Street College for their efforts. Bravo! 

What is Fall? Genie Espinosa


What is Fall? gives a cut-out, shaped experience of the season nearly upon us. 

"The days are shorter. Summer is done.
Now FALL is here....
Let's have

Rhymes continue to accompany author/illustrator Genie Espinosa's rounded illustrations created with a soft fall palette. You might need a scarf, or want an apple, or enjoy a bright sunflower this season. Readertotz can explore the cut shapes, be introduced to autumn, and anticipate the coming rhyme. This is a delightful addition to season books for first readers. 

What is Fall?
by Genie Espinosa
Random House, 2021

Saturday, September 4, 2021

Grumpy Monkey's Little Book of Grumpiness: Suzanne Lang

Everyone tries to help Suzanne Lang's Grumpy Monkey lose the grumps. But no matter the offerings, from a rainbow to a flamingo, nothing helps. Grumpy Monkey moves through anger and sadness before finding a bit of happiness beside a friend. 

Emotions are illustrated boldly, vividly, and close-up to the reader at times. Max Lang's work pops off the page and illicits giggles from everyone. Yay for this character finding his way to the smallest hands. 

by Suzanne Lang
illustrated by Max Lang
Random House, 2020

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Ganesha's Sweet Tooth: Sanjay Patel and Emily Haynes

With two authors, Sanjay Patel and Emily Haynes, creating text, and Sanjay illustrating, the Hindu legend of Ganesha and his sweet tooth comes to the board book format with energy and beauty. Already, an Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator Honor book, an IRA Notable in picture book format from 2012, the tale is brought to size for first readers. 

When the Hindu god breaks his tusk on a laddoo, it is only Vyasa the poet who can offer a transforming solution. Ganesha can write with his tusk and record the Mahabharata with understanding. Forgetting sweets, and appearances, Ganesha writes the entire epic poem. 

The graphic illustrations pop with color and pattern. This work is a beauty. We hope you enjoy sharing the modified legend and illustrating to your readertotz how creativity can at times reframe our perceived realities.

by Sanjay Patel and Emily Haynes
illustrated by Sanjay Patel
Chronicle Books, 2021

Monday, August 16, 2021

Unicorn's School Day: Lucy Golden


Unicorn's School Day is a fun burst of color and shapes from illustrator Sophie Beer. Author Lucy Golden's text takes Unicorn off to her lessons with friends and Ms. Llama. 

Spinning the wheels on each page will bring silly solutions. What does Unicorn paint, play with, or eat for lunch? Your first reader can decide and be introduced to the corresponding words. Which option is a number, which qualifies as a fruit or flower, and which can be flown? Giggles will be shared. 

The book concludes with the sparkly mural the students have created together. You can also look for Unicorn's Birthday. Let the party begin!

by Lucy Golden
illustrated by Sophie Beer
Random House, 2021

Saturday, August 14, 2021

More, more, more: Three Little Engines

Empathy and compassion versus self-interest and personal success. Bob McKinnon's Three Little Engines brings a new perspective to The Little Engine That Could who has taught us for 90 years that the road to success is self belief. The journey isn't the same for all, and we can look about and help others forward as we have also been helped at times. 

Illustrations by Lou Fancher and Steve Johnson are unique while they echo the older picture book. Fun patterns can be found in flattened shapes in rolling landscapes. 

Three Little Engines has reached the New York Times Bestseller list! Watch the recent CBS Sunday Morning interview here. Your first readers will cheer for all the engines as they learn a life lesson in care. The illustrators dedicate the work so beautifully: 

For all people who act for greater equitable good and say, "I know we can..."

by Bob McKinnon 
illustrated by Lou Fancher and Steve Johnson

Grosset & Dunlap, 2021

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Sleep Tight, Polar Bear: Sabina Gibson

Sleep Tight, Polar Bear is a felted delight for bedtime. Artist Sabina Gibson's small, fuzzy creatures invite the reader to lean in and snuggle close. The text rhymes beautifully and provides the perfect framework for the illustrations. 

"Home is calling. The sun is setting low.
The moon is rising fast, and that means it's time to go."

Full, soft spreads bring all the animals to rest, from fox kits to narwhal who count fish and ask for one more lullaby. Only the owls wake to fly off and "search for prey." Throughout the book, the bears travel home to sleep in safety under the moon. 

Look for the entire series of Little Loves books for your readertotz' collection. Snuggle close and read. 

by Sabina Gibson
Alfred A. Knopf, 2021

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Women in Science: Rachel Ignotofsky


There's a new edition available of the New York Times bestseller, Women in Science, which has been adapted for your readertotz. The board book is perfect for little hands, and the content is aged for older toddlers. In a celebration of often overlooked scientists, the work shares facts and imagery of amazing women and their contributions throughout time. 

Beautiful muted pages feature scientists, a timeline, and lab tools. Included in the collection are Psychologist, Mamie Phipps Clark; Astronomer, Vera Rubin; and Volcanologist, Katia Krafft. The work closes with an encouragement to go out and make your own discoveries. 

Share these mighty women from ancient Greece to today, who worked through enormous obstacles for our lasting benefit. 

by Rachel Ignotofsky
Crown Books, June 2021

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

More, more, more: The Magnificent Books Series

Publisher Weldon Owen International has released two works in their The Magnificent Books Series. Oversized, the format delivers incredibly beautiful illustrations. In The Magnificent Book of Birds, written by Tom Jackson, illustrator Walerczuk's realistic imagery captivates. One expects the birds to sing and fly from the pages. A fact file gives the basics, while further bulleted text expands on habitat and behaviors. When proportions or scale warrants, the book is turned on its side, such as for the Greater Flamingo or the Resplendent Quetzal. The wide age spans are just one interesting feature to compare from bird to bird.

The same creative passion is given to The Magnificent Book of Horses. The text is by Tom Jackson and Diana Ferguson while illustrations were created by both Simon Mendez and Val Walerczuk. From the Camargue to the Brabant, horses from around the world walk, prance, stand, and run through the pages. The fact file includes the horse's character, such as the friendly Icelandic Horse, the strong-willed Mustang, and the stubborn Shetland Pony. Both books in the series give a human scale reference in silhouette. 

Enjoy these works with your entire family. I can imagine leaving the book open on a coffee table to feature one horse or bird a day. Brilliant!

by Tom Jackson
illustrated by Walerczuk
by Tom Jackson and Diana Ferguson
illustrated by Simon Mendez and Val Walerczuk
Weldon Owen International, 2021 

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

More more more: Sunny Day, A Celebration of the Sesame Street Theme Song

How has this not been created before? The Sesame Street song begs to be illustrated as a picture book. So how about eighteen illustrators sharing their views? Perfect? Yes! The diversity of imagery and artists allow this imaginary street, and the journey to it, to come alive in one more format. Permission to imagine your own setting is given by the multiplicity of illustrators. 

Be sure to peak under the dust jacket to see the illustration wrapping the cover. Roger Bradfield illustrated for Sesame Street in the 1970s and the style takes me back to my Sesame Street. Also included on the title page is an illustration from Joe Mathieu who has been illustrating Sesame Street books since 1971. 

So, celebrate Sesame Street with this treasure. Find your way with your child. With thanks to the illustrators, the music and lyrics by Joe Raposo and two other lyricists: Bruce Hart and Jon R. Stone. Enjoy your Sunny Day!

by Joe Raposo, Bruce Hart, and Jon R. Stone
illustrations by various illustrators 
Random House, 2019

Heads up! This picture book will be released in board book format, September 2021. Woohoo!

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Mamasaurus and Papasaurus: Stephan Lomp


How about a new take on P. D. Eastman's Are You My Mother? but with dinosaurs? Mamasaurus and Papasaurus are both sought after by Babysaurus in this duo of board books from Stephan Lomp. 

Wee ones will enjoy seeing all the baby dinosaurs as Babysaurus is on the hunt. Descriptions and contrasts are plentiful in a game of hide-and-seek with the father and before Mamasaurus finds her lost one. Our beloveds don't possess all the characteristics, physical features, and abilities of others, but they are wonderful, none the less.

Author/illustrator Stephan Lomp's colorful dinosaurs pop against black backgrounds. Papasaurus' environment is purple while Mama's is green. 

Enjoy these first introductions to dinosaurs and the celebration of community and being together.

by Stephan Long
Chronicle Books, 2021

Friday, April 2, 2021

Poetry Friday: Cool Cuts


Celebrate Poetry Friday with Mechal Renee Roe's Cool Cuts! There are so many ways to wear your hair. How about crisp cornrows, or a full 'fro, or a dope design? Illustrations accompany a rhyme and repeated phrase.

"Be the best,
no matter how
hard the test!

i am born to be AWESOME!


Here's a fun and beautiful representation of mini-twists, a fro-hawk, and lively locs. So glad this work has hit the board book shelf. It pairs with Happy Hair. 

by Mechal Renee Roe
Doubleday, 2020

Monday, March 29, 2021

I Am! Affirmations for Resilience: Bela Barbosa


With clear room to feel the feelings, I Am! Affirmations for Resilience gives first readers tools to help let the emotions pass through and encourages others in their place. 

"When your body feels out of control,
sit with your hands in your lap and say
I am calm. My body is quiet."

You can help your readertotz learn to scan their own bodies, assess their feelings, and choose to move forward. Note, the lingering feelings, the damage from trauma and suffering are not addressed. But autonomy and responsibility can be encouraged as healing is awaited. 

Find this practical tool in bold shapes and vibrant colors to empower your first readers to resilience!

by Bela Barbosa
illustrated by Edel Rodriguez
Rise and Penguin Workshop, 2020

Friday, March 26, 2021

Poetry Friday: Hello Hello, Brendan Wenzel

Hello Hello by Brendan Wenzel is a celebration of meeting others and enjoying differences. 

Hello Hello
Black and White
Hello Color
Hello Bright.

Hello Stripes
Hello Spots
Hello Giant
Hello Not. 

Brendan Wenzel's expressive illustrations pop against the consistent white background. Here is a lovely portion of our world in a beautiful board book. 

There is so much to see and treasure of our beloved earth. Let's dance to the poetry all around us! 

by Brendan Wenzel
Chronicle Books, 2020

Monday, March 22, 2021

Little Bug on the Move: Stéphanie Babin

Little Bug is on the Move in today's board book feature. Teaching direction and action, a little bug can be moved on each spread through sliding finger holes. They will travel up a hill, among the trees, and round and round a flower. Journeying with purpose, this little bug will emerge on the final spread as a surprise, pop up feature. 

Little fingers will enjoy manipulating the slides and moving little bug onward. Olivia Cosneau's illustrations offer colorful, simply patterned shapes and areas for the bug's environment. Gentle fear, mystery, and surprise await your readertotz as they are introduced to this wee caterpillar. 

by Stéphanie Babin
illustrated by Olivia Cosneau
Twirl, 2020

Saturday, March 20, 2021

More, more, more: I am the Shark

The great white shark enters bold as the greatest shark there is. It isn't long before he's challenged. There are other sharks who are great, as well. They swim faster, live longer, hide better, and more. The great white shark learns there will always be others who are great and greater than him. To be happy, being yourself is the way to swim. Along the way, first readers will learn fascinating, fun facts about many shark varieties. And who knows? Maybe it's your joyful smile that will set you apart in the end. Regardless, there's room for all to be admired and enjoyed for who they are. Even a bear...

Joan Holub's funny, heartwarming text bounces along with the great white's search for specialty. Laurie Keller's art amps the humor to its fullest level. What a winning combination for schools, libraries, and families who love sharks! 

by Joan Holub
illustrated by Laurie Keller
Crown Books for Young Readers

Friday, February 19, 2021

Monday, February 15, 2021

The Reading House: Mara Conn

The Reading House introduces letter recognition to first readers. Small booklets display short stories featuring uppercase and lowercase single letters. After mastering the letter, a sticker can be adhered in celebration of the accomplishment in comprehension. 

Ant like the red apple.
Ant likes the green apple.

An instructor guide is included, while illustrations are fun and friendly. This is a great way to introduce sounds and love of reading for life. 

by Marla Conn
The Reading House, 2021

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Tiny T. Rex and the Perfect Valentine: by Jonathan Stutzman

As you go to create the perfect Valentine's card, remember Tiny T. Rex and the Perfect Valentine. Sometimes our best efforts don't go as planned. But the effort itself is a gift to our beloved. 

"I am sorry, Pointy. I have nothing
to give you for Valentine's Day.
It's okay, Tiny!
I have the perfect
Valentine already.

Hugs and kisses to every little T. Rex crafting and creating for their Valentine. 

by Jonathan Stutzman
illustrated by Jay Fleck
Chronicle Books, 2020

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Love Can Come in Many Ways: Terry Pierce


How do we show love? In many ways. Terry Pierce has created A Heartfelt Book featuring flaps of felt in displays of affection. 

Nose to nose or gaze to gaze,
Love can come in many ways. 

Inside a family, safe and snug.
Within a trunk's twisty hug. 

Suzy Ultman's palette is gentle, and the line is delicate, while patterns depict creatures loving one another. On this Valentine's Day, tell your totz: "you are loved," with this snuggly board book.

written by Terry Pierce
illustrated by Suzy Ultman
Chronicle Books, 2020 

Monday, February 1, 2021

More, more, more: The Extraordinary Book That Eats Itself

This work truly is extraordinary. Every last little bit can be used in eco-friendly projects. Thirty activities will keep you and your readertotz busy. You will cut, and fold, and tear, and glue your way through fun that will benefit our earth. 

Illustrations by Pintachan are charming and Susan Hayes and Penny Arlan's text is engaging and not overly heavy. The entire work is a delight. Holding it in your hands, one is immediately inspired to action. The only difficulty is deciding where to start! 

You can rescue old clothes, build a bug hotel, chase away electricity vampires, upcycle your junk, and more. Checklists are provided for various challenges as changes are attempted and actions are taken.

Alone and together, we can make a difference as we journey forward. Bravo, Earthaware Kids!

by Susan Hayes and Penny Arlan
illustrated by Pintachan
Earthaware Kids, 2020

Monday, January 25, 2021

Eat Up, Bear! Terry Pierce

We can share our spaces. Eat Up, Bear! describes how people and bears can coexist. Campers can latch their boxes, hikers can pack their food out, coolers can be locked, and folks can throw away their trash. The repeating refrain is fun and catchy:

"There, there. Eat up, bear!
Good bear food is everywhere."

Teach your first readers good outdoor behavior as they learn to share their spaces with wildlife. Support Yosemite Conservancy with this upcoming, helpful title. 

by Terry Pierce
illustrated by Nadja Sarell
Yosemite Conservancy, April 2021

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

More, more, more: My First Day

There's so much beauty in this upcoming picture book. My First Day takes the reader down the Mekong Delta to school as a Vietnamese boy paddles alone through the waters. Similarities and differences of experiences blend in the common feelings shared for walking or boating through firsts. How can you not marvel at this hero's journey through rain, forests, and waves? 

The cover possesses the soar into the the future, but I find it doesn't fully capture the richness of other illustrations. The interior holds a stunning light you don't want to miss. This is a top pick from publisher Make Me a World, and the author and illustrator team Phung Nguyen Quang and Huynh Kim Lien. Brilliant! 

written and illustrated by 
Phung Nguyen Quang
and Huynh Kim Lien
Make Me a World, February 16, 2021

Monday, January 11, 2021

Baby Raccoon, Finger Puppet Book: Yu-Hsuan Huang


There's an absolute zoo of these titles available for your readertotz. The series is from Chronicle Books, and illustrations are by Yu-Hsuan Huang. They are adorable and sturdy and with soft faces of the featured animal. Nonfiction facts accompany the puppet and illustrations.

"When Baby Raccoon and his family have a meal,
they wash their food in the stream.

When Baby Racoon plays,
he romps and rolls with his sister."

You can introduce your first readers to wildlife with this fun series. Expect puppet hugs and kisses.

illustrated by Yu-Hsuan Huang
Chronicle Books