Showing posts from September, 2010

Pete the Cat written by Eirc Litwin and illustrated by James Dean

Pete the Cat, written by Eric Litwin and illustrated by the artist James Dean brings together two artists from different genres to create a really cool kid's book!  Eric Litwin, aka Mr Eric, is a multi-intrument musician and singer and creator of The Learning Groove, a child and parent music class.  James Dean and his creation, Pete, reminds me a bit of a cross between Stephen Huneck'sSally the Lab and George Rodrigue's Blue Dog.  Pete is one cool cat who really gets around.  I couldn't resist including some of Dean's artwork featuring Pete, especially his visits with The Masters, so be sure to check them out at the bottom of this review.
A great article by Helen Oliviera reveals how Litwin and Dean came together on a street corner in Atlanta, where both are based.  Pete the Cat was already a local celebrity and Litwin deicded to write a song and story about him, which he emailed to Dean after they bumped into each other.  Before Litwin came along, Pete the Cat had …

There Are No Cats in this Book written and illustrated by Viviane Schwarz

Viviane Schwarz is the author and illustrator of one of my all-time favorite picture books, Timothy and the Strong Pajamas, a tale about a pair of beloved ripped pajamas and some special repairs that mom makes on them.  With her cats books, we get a bit more play and a little less text, but a big dose of creativity and paper engineering in between the covers.  While their illustrative style is different, Schwarz's books remind me of the wonderful Emily Gravett's works, espeically Meerkat Mail and Spells.

With her cats books, Schwarz's cats talk to the reader.  Really, I could go on, but it would be much better if you watch this video of There are Cats in This Book being read out loud.

Little Owl Lost written and illustrated by Chris Haughton

Chris Haughton's debut picture book, Little Owl Lost, immediately reminded me of a favorite from my childhood, P. D. Eastman's Are You My Mother, published in 1960. is not a new one. With a palette I have never seen in a picture book before, chunky characters and lots of humor, Haughton's book feels both old and new, an instant classic.  Little Owl and Mommy Owl are napping one day when... Uh oh! A tearful Little Owl meets up with Squirrel, who ask a few questions before trying to help. What does mommy look like? Little Owl answers, "My mommy is VERY BIG. Like THIS," holding wings far apart. Squirrel exclaims, "Yes!  Yes!  I know!  I know!" and takes Little Owl to... a bear. This goes on for a few more misunderstandings until Frog steps in and takes Little Owl to Mommy Owl, who has been looking everywhere. Reunited, Mommy Owl invites Squirrel and Frog back to the nest for cookies and tea where Little Owl nods off again... Little Owl Lostis highly readable,…

Penguin written and illustrated by Polly Dunbar

Polly Dunbar'sTilly and Friends series of books by made it onto my list of Best Picture Books of 2009
She is also the author and illustrator of many wonderful stand alone titles like Dog Blue, Shoe Baby, Flyaway Katie and Penguin.
At that time, her adorable book Dog Blue had just come out in paperback.  Now, I am happy to report that her latest book, Penguin, is also now available in paperback and both share common themes. In Dog Blue, a little boy who loves the color blue and dearly wants a dog imagines a blue dog.  When the real thing comes along (and is not blue) Bertie has to alter his way of thinking, but just a little bit, to make room for this new dog. 
In Penguin, Ben is given a gift, a penguin who will not play the way Ben wants him to. Ben does everything he can to get Penguin to talk to him, including funny faces, dizzy dances and a trip to the moon on a rocket, but Penguin is not talking. Frustrated, Ben conjures up a big blue lion and tries to feed Penguin to him. The …

Mr Elephanter written and illustrated by Lark Pien

With Mr Elephanter, Lark Pien has written and illustrated one of the sweetest, gentlest (in both writing tone and color palette) books I have read in a while.  Like Polly Dunbar's gently colorful books for the under four crowd, Pien's book celebrates the joys of being little.  As Pien says in the jacket flap, "Whether you are taller than a tree or small enough to fit in the palm of a hand - or any size in between - you have the capacity to care."  This ethos is evidenced in every single page of Mr Elephanter. Mr Elephanter arrives with a smile every morning at the Elephantery to "look after the young and peppy elephanties.  With tootles and trumpet, they greet Mr Elephanter  at the door.  There are hugs and hellos all around."  
Mr Elephanter makes his three adorable charges a batch of banana pancakes.  After eating they head out to the pool to "paddle and splash and show off their tricks."  There is an interesting assortment of animals and humans …

Orlando on Thursday written and illustrated by Emma Magenta

I really, really like the idea of a picture book that shows a (very young) child's day in a realistic way.  I think it is important for children to see their days, their lives depicted in important ways.  One of my absolute (out of print) favorites is Janet and Alan Ahlberg's The Baby's Catalog, inspired by their infant daughter's love of the catalogues that came in mail.  Emily Jenkin's (Toys Go Out) wonderful What Happens on Wednesdays, illustrated by Lauren Castillo.

There's Going to Be a Baby written by John Burningham and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury

Part One: A Brief History of  John Burningham & Helen Oxenbury
John Burningham. Helen Oxenbury. They are the British equivalents of say, Maurice Sendak and Marla Frazee. Except roughly the same age. And married. For decades. Burningham and Oxenbury are royalty in the world of children's picture books in the UK. Burningham won the Kate Greenaway Medal (the British Caldecott) in 1963 for his book Borka: The Adventures of a Goose with No Feathers. The next year, he and Oxenbury married. Her first book was published in 1969. If you are American, you are probably more familiar with Oxenbury's illustrations, especially in We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rose. The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig by Eugene Trivisas, Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox and her own book, It's My Birthday are among my favorites. However, you may not know that Oxenbury illustrated a very charming edition of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and