PICTURE BOOK FAVORITES FOR GIVING THANKS

Last November, I posted my first installment of the “Picture Book Favorites” blog. It is a joy to share my favorite books each month and I always look forward to hearing your comments as well. Let’s keep it going! This month’s favorites share the theme of thankfulness. Each of them gives tribute to the Thanksgiving holiday, but the common message they send is deeper than one day can hold. These books remind us to slow down and take time to give thanks. Enjoy!

In November

“In November” written by Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Jill Kastner (Copyright 2000, Harcourt, Inc.) describes the annual November activities of creatures both great and small as cooler weather moves in. The beautiful oil on paper illustrations are a perfect complement to the telling of the story.

Thanksgiving Graces

“Thanksgiving Graces” written by Mark Kimball Moulton and illustrated by David Wenzel (Copyright 2011, Ideals Children’s Books) is a busy rhyming story about a boy who watches his family’s Thanksgiving guest list grow out of control and worries that there won’t be enough food for everyone. As the meal comes together, he learns a lesson about the grace of sharing what you have with others and the reason his family gathers for their annual Thanksgiving meal.

The Memory Cupboard

“The Memory Cupboard: A Thanksgiving Story” written by Charlotte Herman and illustrated with acrylic paint on boards by Ben F. Stahl (Copyright 2003, Albert Whitman & Company) is the story of a girl named Katie, who travels with her parents to visit her grandmother’s house for Thanksgiving. When Katie accidentally drops and breaks a special gravy boat, her grandmother takes her to a memory cupboard where she keeps the items she’s fond of that have somehow been broken over the years. Katie learns that it’s the memories that make these things special and that “people are always more important than things.”

Other Thanksgiving favorites include:

“The Night Before Thanksgiving” written by Natasha Wing and illustrated by Tammie Lyon (Copyright 2001, Grosset & Dunlap division of Penguin Young Readers) is a fun story about all the chaos that families put themselves through as they prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday meal.

“Llama Llama Gives Thanks” written by Anna Dewdney and illustrated by J. T. Morrow (Copyright 2017, Viking division of Penguin Young Readers) uses simple text and descriptive illustrations to remind us that “Thanksgiving is not just one day” and to “give thanks all year, in every way.” This board book is a quick and easy read to share with toddlers.

Happy Reading!

PICTURE BOOK FAVORITES FOR OCTOBER FUN

As the weather continues to transition from summer into autumn, October brings fall festivals, pumpkin carving, and trick-or-treating. The books I’ve chosen for this month’s favorites focus on the gifts of autumn and the fun of sharing them with others. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Countdown

“Pumpkin Countdown” written by Joan Holub and illustrated by Jan Smith (Copyright 2012, Albert Whitman & Company) is a counting book told in rhyme about a class field trip to a farmer’s pumpkin patch. Each busy, fun-filled page is colorfully illustrated with information that is sure to teach readers of any age something new about pumpkins. If you’ve ever been on a school field trip to a pumpkin patch, this book will bring back memories for you.

A Pumpkin Prayer

“A Pumpkin Prayer” written by Amy Parker and illustrated by Kirsten Richards (Copyright 2011, Tommy Nelson division of Thomas Nelson Publishers) is a board book in the “A Time to Pray” series of books. Simple verse combines with sweet illustrations for a thankful tribute to the many blessings of autumn. This is a wonderful read-aloud book to share with toddlers.

Click Clack Boo

“Click, Clack, Boo! A Tricky Treat” written by Doreen Cronin and illustrated in watercolor by Betsy Lewin (Copyright 2013, Atheneum Books for Young Readers) has Farmer Brown’s barnyard animals up to mischief again, just in time for Halloween. Since Farmer Brown doesn’t like Halloween, he decides to go to bed early. This page-turner has Farmer Brown hearing many ordinary sounds that seem spooky to him on Halloween night. When one of those sounds is a “quack, quack, quackle,” he decides it’s time to investigate and discovers a surprise in the barn.

Nate Halloween

“Nate the Great and the Halloween Hunt” written by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat and illustrated by Marc Simont (Copyright 1989, Coward-McCann; reissued 2005, Yearling imprint of Random House) is one of many vintage Nate the Great mysteries. Readers tag along as kid-detective Nate the Great and his faithful dog, Sludge follow the clues to solve a Halloween mystery about a missing cat belonging to his friend, Rosamond. This edition has added activity pages (by Emily Costello and Jody Wheeler) that are filled with jokes, facts, recipes, and other activities for Halloween.

Other favorite titles that focus on the fun of the season without being scary include “Pete the Cat: Five Little Pumpkins” and “Snowmen at Halloween.” “Pete the Cat: Five Little Pumpkins” written and illustrated by James Deen (Copyright 2015, Harper imprint of Harper Collins Publishers) presents a Pete-themed illustrated version of the well-known classic children’s song. “Snowmen at Halloween” written by Caralyn Buehner and beautifully illustrated by Mark Buehner (Copyright 2019, Dial Books for Young Readers division of Penguin Random House) is the newest of several collaborations by this husband-and-wife team presenting the antics of snowmen when no one is watching them.

Happy Reading!

PICTURE BOOK FAVORITES FOR THE FALL SEASON

It may not look or feel like it yet, but the calendar has officially moved into another season. It’s goodbye summer and hello fall! I’m hoping this month’s picture book favorites will help you get ready for the changing sights, sounds, smells, and tastes that are headed our way. Since this is my second year to blog about fall picture books, I hope you’ll look back at last year’s favorites too. Enjoy!

The Scarecrow

“The Scarecrow” written by Beth Ferry and illustrated by Eric and Terry Fan a/k/a The Fan Brothers (Copyright 2019, HARPER imprint of HarperCollins Publishers) is my new favorite book. Written in rhyming text and illustrated using pencil, ballpoint, and Photoshop, this is a heartwarming story and a true work of art. When a scared baby crow falls from the sky, old Scarecrow snaps his pole to bend down and save it. The baby Crow grows up in Scarecrow’s heart of hay and they are inseparable until Crow must fly out into the world, leaving Scarecrow alone. The following spring, Crow brings a mate and returns to his friend Scarecrow’s heart of hay to make a home for their family.

Fletcher and the Falling Leaves

“Fletcher and the Falling Leaves” written by Julia Rawlinson and illustrated by Tiphanie Beeke (Copyright 2006, Greenwillow Books imprint of HarperCollins Publishers) is the story of a worried little fox named Fletcher, who thinks his favorite tree is sick when it begins to lose its leaves. Although Fletcher is not able to stop the leaves from falling, he soon learns that his tree has a surprise waiting for him. Full-color pastel illustrations transport the words in this story to its sparkling end.

The Middle of Fall

“In the Middle of Fall” written by Kevin Henkes and illustrated by Laura Dronzek (Copyright 2017, Greenwillow Books imprint of HarperCollins Publishers) is one of several collaborations by this author/illustrator duo. A couple of my previous blog posts have put the spotlight on their other books about seasons, “When Spring Comes,” and “Winter is Here.” This month’s installment once again combines simple creative prose with gorgeous full-color acrylic art to display a wind-blown fall season being enjoyed by children, plants, and animals.

Other titles that are great for sharing during the fall season include the vintage books “Hello Mr. Scarecrow” and “The Lonely Scarecrow.” “Hello Mr. Scarecrow” written and illustrated by Rob Lewis (Copyright 1987, Farrar Straus Giroux) is an easy reader story for preschoolers about a year in the life of a scarecrow. “The Lonely Scarecrow” written by Tim Preston and illustrated by Maggie Kneen (Copyright 1999 by Dutton Children’s Books division of Penguin Putnam Books) is a beautifully illustrated story about a lonely scarecrow who finds some friends after a winter snowstorm changes him into a friendly looking snowman. The embossing of the book’s pages give them a textured effect that children are sure to find fascinating.

Happy fall reading!

PICTURE BOOK FAVORITES ABOUT FRIENDSHIP

In honor of the new school year, I’ve chosen some picture book favorites that exemplify the meaning of friendship. As an added bonus, each of these books are written by authors who are also illustrators. These well-told stories with beautiful illustrations are perfect for sharing with family and friends. Enjoy!

Goodbye Friend Hello Friend

“Goodbye, Friend! Hello, Friend!” written and illustrated by Cori Doerrfeld (Copyright 2019, Dial Books for Young Readers imprint of Penguin Random House) follows two young friends as they spend time together and discover that every time life gives us a goodbye, it leads to another hello. With text using simple phrases and art described by the author as having been “made with digital ink, Dr. Pepper, and a good dose of nostalgia,” Cori presents a sweet story about how true friendship can endure the test of time and distance.

CYRIL AND PAT

“Cyril and Pat” written and illustrated by Emily Gravett (Copyright 2018, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers) is the story of two unlikely friends. Cyril, a lonely park squirrel, finds a new best friend when he meets Pat. They share many adventures together while the other animals keep telling Cyril that Pat is not like him. Cyril eventually discovers that Pat is not a squirrel, he is a rat. Following the advice of the animals, Cyril stays away from Pat and once again becomes lonely. The two friends find each other again when a mean dog chases Cyril into the city and Pat is there to rescue him. The expressive pencil, watercolor, and acrylic ink illustrations help this funny book explain that friends can be different and that following others isn’t always the best choice.

Got to Get to Bears

“Got to Get to Bear’s” written and illustrated by Brian Lies (Copyright 2019, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) has a little chipmunk named Izzy desperately trying to make her way through a snowstorm so she can get to her friend Bear’s house. With help from several other friends along the way, Izzy gets there just in time for everyone to share a fun surprise. The gorgeous acrylic paint illustrations might make this a slower read as you stop to admire the artwork.

Rainbow Fish

“The Rainbow Fish” written and illustrated by Swiss author/illustrator Marcus Pfister, and translated by J. Alison James (Copyright 1992, North-South Books) is a vintage favorite of mine that is still widely available. After rudely refusing to share just one of his shiny scales, the beautiful and proud Rainbow Fish becomes lonely when the other fish start to avoid him. Taking the advice of a wise octopus, Rainbow Fish soon learns that sharing what he has with others is a sure path to finding friends and happiness. I can’t imagine this book without the beautiful, sparkling illustrations that children find so fascinating. A timeless classic!

PICTURE BOOK FAVORITES FOR SUMMER

In celebration of summer, this month’s picture book favorites highlight some of the ways that such a hot, busy season can create childhood memories that last a lifetime. From the joy of everyday adventures and the sharing of home-grown family dinners to the remembrance of days gone by, these books are filled with summer fun. Enjoy!

And Then Comes Summer

“And Then Comes Summer” written by Tom Brenner and illustrated by Jaime Kim (Copyright 2017, Candlewick Press) uses beautiful illustrations created in acrylic paint with digital tools to transport readers through a nostalgic tribute to the kind of outdoor summer adventures that bring out the kid in all of us.

Summer Supper

“Summer Supper” written by Rubin Pfeffer and illustrated by Mike Austin (Copyright 2018, Random House Children’s Books) uses only words beginning with the letter “s” to describe one family’s summer picnic from seed to supper. Colorful illustrations give vivid attention to each word, showing young readers the long journey that brings their food from the farm to the table.

Lullaby of Summer Things

“A Lullaby of Summer Things” written by Natalie Ziarnik, illustrated in gouache and digitally composed by Madeline Valentine (Copyright 2018, Schwartz & Wade Books) is the sweet story of a little girl who remembers the sights and sounds of a favorite summer day spent with her family at the beach. With each page-turn, the simple rhyming text pairs perfectly with heartwarming illustrations that are sure to make this one a bedtime favorite.

Need more summer titles? Try out “Pignic” written and illustrated by Matt Phelan (2018, Greenwillow Books) and “Taking a Walk: Summer at the Seashore” written by Sue Tarsky and illustrated by Claire Lordon (2019, Albert Whitman & Co.)

Happy reading!

PICTURE BOOK FAVORITES FROM LOCAL AUTHORS

This month’s picture book favorites were written by authors who are local to the North Alabama area. It is a special treat for me to share the work of these gifted authors, some of whom I have come to know personally. I admire their talent and I love their books. Each of these titles can currently be found in the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library System. Enjoy!

Maxnificent

“Maxnificent! The Polka Dot Pyrenees” written by Dianne Burch and Michael Fredrick and illustrated by Gerald Kelley (Copyright 2012, World of PawsAbilities) is the heartwarming story of a young rescue dog named Max who finds the meaning of true friendship and self-acceptance when he has to be shaved and discovers polka dots on his back. The captivating illustrations reveal six numbered paw prints that lead readers to find matching “Max Facts” in a special section that is dedicated to learning more about rescue animals like Max and his friends.

Eleanor Ann

“Eleanor Ann & The Goat Who Eats Money (Now, Isn’t That Funny!)” written by Debbi Atwood Sexton and colorfully illustrated by Tall Oak Press (Copyright 2013, Tall Oak Press) is a hilarious rhyming story about a girl named Eleanor Ann and her pet goat named Pete, whose love of eating shiny new coins lands him in tummy trouble. One gigantic burp later, and all those coins come raining down on Eleanor Ann and her friends. Pete learns his lesson, leaving Eleanor Ann so relieved that she offers the coins to her friends, who are very grateful to spend them at The Sweet Shoppe.

Bad Sheep

“Bad Sheep” written by Autumn Mott Calvert and illustrated by David Hayward (Copyright 2017, Ashman Publishing) follows a flock of friendly sheep who are playing a rhyming game about feelings that soon has everyone laughing at a joke played on them by a tricky “bad sheep.” Simple illustrations over solid backgrounds and the Open Dyslexic font style only add to the appeal of this sweet book, which was written as a tribute to the author’s autistic son, Asher.

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.