PICTURE BOOK FAVORITES FROM DEBUT AUTHORS

My favorites for this month are from first-time picture book authors. When I read a picture book, I also look at the author/illustrator information that is usually located just inside the back cover. In addition to learning a little about the author/illustrator and what inspired the book, I’m always happy for any author who has experienced the success of having his or her first picture book published. I hope to celebrate at some point with my own picture book debut. Until that time comes, I’ll gladly spread the word about what these three have to offer. Enjoy!

Perfect

“Perfect” written and illustrated by Max Amato (Copyright 2019, Scholastic Press) presents readers with a pink eraser and a very determined pencil who are each trying to create their own “perfect” pages. Frustration becomes friendship as their imperfections get together to reveal a new “perfect” page. Photographs and hand-drawn images were collaged in Adobe Photoshop to create the illustrations that drive this story to its perfect ending.

Bobo

“Bobo and the New Baby” written and illustrated by Rebecca Minhsuan Huang (Copyright 2018, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company) is the sweet tale of Bobo the dog, who finds his happy life turned upside down by the arrival of a new baby in the house. As the baby gets all the attention, Bobo’s sadness goes unnoticed by his owners until he tries to protect the baby from a bee. Realizing that he just wants to help and means the baby no harm, they finally introduce Bobo to the baby and Bobo finds happiness again. I love the way the digital mixed media and linocut illustrations add to the expressiveness of the story.

Too Much Glue

“Too Much Glue” written by Jason Lefebvre and illustrated in Photoshop by Zac Retz (Copyright 2013, Flashlight Press) has won multiple awards and I often recommend it to parents and teachers at the library as an all-time favorite of mine. When Matty’s love of glue has him stuck to a table in art class, everyone at school tries to help him out of his sticky mess. When the final bell rings, Dad shows up to save the day while helping Matty keep his life-sized masterpiece.

PICTURE BOOK FAVORITES FOR EASTER

Two of the picture book favorites I’ve chosen for this Easter focus on how and why it is celebrated while also highlighting some of the traditions honoring the resurrection of Jesus. I’m also sharing another sweet vintage favorite of mine that turns 45 this year.

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“The Story of Easter” written by Aileen Fisher and illustrated by Stefano Vitale (Copyright 1997, HarperCollins Publishers) is a well-told and beautifully illustrated tribute to Easter. The text was originally published as “Easter” (Copyright 1968, Crowell Holiday Book) with illustrations by Arti Forberg. The book begins with the biblical story of Christ’s resurrection and goes on to explain the origin of some of the better-known traditions of the holiday celebration. It even includes instructions for decorating eggs and a recipe for traditional Easter-morning breakfast rolls called “Hot Cross Buns.”

EASTER AT OUR HOUSE

“Easter at Our House” written and illustrated by P.K. Hallinan (2007, Ideals Children’s Books, A Guideposts Company) uses rhyming text paired with colorful illustrations to show the Easter traditions of Little P.K.’s family from sunrise to bedtime. The children have an egg hunting adventure that wraps up just in time for the Easter Sunday church service in the park. Following the songs, sermon, and special baptisms, the family visits a favorite restaurant for a feast and later reads the Easter story together, giving prayers of thanks before bed.

HUMBUG RABBIT

“Humbug Rabbit” written and illustrated by Lorna Balian (Copyright 1974, Abingdon Press) is a fascinating vintage picture book with illustrations revealing above and underground characters whose lives collide because of the antics of a mischievous cat and some hatching Easter eggs. This is not a typical Easter story, but it is a very original and fun book to read.  Enjoy!

 

PICTURE BOOK FAVORITES FOR SPRING

Just when we’re sure that winter has finally left us, another cold snap has us pulling out our jackets again. This month’s picture book favorites are a reminder that a little patience is helpful as winter eases us into the spring season of the year.

abracadabra, it's spring

“Abracadabra, It’s Spring!” written by Anne Sibley O’Brien and illustrated by Susan Gal (Copyright 2016, Abrams Appleseed) is a stunning book of rhyming verse paired with vibrant illustrations using charcoal on paper and digital collage. Each set of pages fold out to reveal the magic of nature’s springtime surprises.

when spring comes

“When Spring Comes” written by Kevin Henkes and illustrated by Laura Dronzek (Copyright 2016, Greenwillow Books imprint of HarperCollins) presents the dramatic transformation from winter to spring using simple text and colorful acrylic full-color art to reveal nature’s blooming beauty as seen through the eyes of children and animals.

and then it's spring

“And then it’s spring” written by Julie Fogliano and illustrated by Erin E. Stead  (Copyright 2012, A Neal Porter Book by Roaring Brook Press) uses a slow pace and quiet illustrations to reveal the feelings of a boy who is watchfully waiting for the seeds he planted in the winter to bloom in the spring.

PICTURE BOOK FAVORITES FOR VALENTINE’S DAY

My picture book favorites for this Valentine’s Day celebrate the love that is shared between friends, the love of a mother and child, and the invisible bond that connects us to those we love.

click clack moo ily

“Click, Clack, Moo: I LOVE YOU!” written by Doreen Cronin and illustrated by Betsy Lewin (Copyright 2017, Atheneum Books for Young Readers) is a glittering fun read that will have you laughing out loud as Little Duck and the other animals on the farm welcome a surprise visitor to their Valentine’s Day dance.

the kissing hand 2

“The Kissing Hand” written by Audrey Penn and illustrated by Ruth E. Harper and Nancy M. Leak (Copyright 1993, Scholastic Inc. by arrangement with Child Welfare League of America, Inc.) is a timeless story that brings the bond between mother and child full circle as they carry the warmth and reassurance of each other’s love in the palms of their hands.

the invisible string

“The Invisible String” written by Patrice Karst and illustrated by Geoff Stevenson (Copyright 2000, DeVorss & Company) uses a simple conversation between a mother and her children to explain the unbreakable connection that exists between people who love each other.

PICTURE BOOK FAVORITES FOR WINTER

When the winter weather forces you to stay inside, think of it as an opportunity to catch up on your reading. A few good picture books later, and you’ll be ready for some winter fun . . . or maybe a long winter’s nap.

winter is here

“Winter Is Here” written by Kevin Henkes and illustrated by Laura Dronzek (Copyright 2018, Greenwillow Books imprint of HarperCollins Publishers) uses colorful acrylic art and creative prose to beautifully illustrate the season of winter. The scenes depict memories being made in snow and ice, winter’s frozen staying power, and the familiar sights and sounds of the season.

snuggle down deep

“Snuggle Down Deep” written by Diane Ohanesian and illustrated by Emily Bornoff (Copyright 2018, Little Bee Books imprint of Bonnier Publishing USA) is about, you guessed it, sleep. The book begins with the arrival of winter or “slumber time” and uses rhyming verse to describe various animals and the many places and ways they tuck themselves in for winter hibernation. With sweet illustrations and repetitive verse, this will surely be a bedtime favorite for little ones.

the after-christmas tree

“The After-Christmas Tree” written by Linda Wagner Tyler and illustrated by Susan Davis (Copyright 1990, Penguin Group) is a favorite from my collection of vintage picture books. The story begins on New Year’s Day, stating that it’s (sadly) time to take down the Christmas tree. After remembering the fun of the Christmas season and not wanting it to end, a winter party is planned. The old Christmas tree finds new life as it is moved to the backyard, where it is decorated with treats for the birds and wild animals to eat during the winter.

PICTURE BOOK FAVORITES FOR CHRISTMAS

If you find yourself getting distracted by all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, try reading some Christ-centered picture books to put things back into perspective. I bring you these favorites with a grateful heart for the message they share about the true meaning of Christmas.

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“The Wonderful Gifts of Winter” written by Dandi Daley Mackall and illustrated by Katherine Blackmore (Copyright 2014, B&H Publishing Group) presents the many blessings of the season using rhyming text, Bible verses, and beautiful illustrations to celebrate the birth of Christ while giving thanks to God for winter.

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“Mary, Did You Know? The Story of God’s Great Plan” written by Mark Lowry and illustrated by Phil Boatwright (Copyright 1998, Waterbrook Press) uses lyrics from the popular song, Scripture references, and stunning illustrations to describe the birth, life, and miracles of Christ through the eyes of Mary as she raised God’s son.

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“The First Christmas: A Christmas Pop-Up” (Copyright 1995, Landoll, Inc.) is a favorite from my collection of vintage books.  Each page turn produces a pop-up illustration, using simple language to retell the story of Christ’s birth and the reason for the celebration of Christmas. This one will have the little ones saying, “read it again.”

PICTURE BOOK FAVORITES FOR FALL

I start each day with a cup of coffee and a picture book. I recommend my favorites to parents and grandparents who visit the library searching for books to share with their families. I’ve also decided to post some of those favorite books here from time to time and help spread the word that picture books are great entertainment for all ages.

Every Autumn Comes the Bear“Every Autumn Comes the Bear” written and illustrated by Jim Arnosky (Copyright 1993, G.P. Putnam’s Sons) is a beautifully illustrated vintage picture book that is a tribute to autumn shown through the routines of a bear as he finds a den for hibernation.

IMG_0451 “Hocus Pocus, It’s Fall!” written by Anne Sibley O’Brien and illustrated by Susan Gal (Copyright 2016, Abrams Appleseed) is a fun rhyming book with gorgeous illustrations of charcoal on paper and digital collage. Each fold-out page turn is a testament to the magical sights, sounds, and smells of the fall season.

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“A Fall Ball for All” written by Jamie A. Swenson and illustrated by Chiara Fedele (Copyright 2018, Millbrook Press) is also a rhyming book about the fall season. The beautiful illustrations were made using watercolor, colored pencils, and tempura with digital retouching. This creative story has the autumn wind inviting the forest animals to the Windfall Ball, where they’ll enjoy nature’s feast of the fall harvest.