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” 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!


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!


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! 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.


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” 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 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.


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.


“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” 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” 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!



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.


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.


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.


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.


“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.


“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.


“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.”


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.


“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.