Below are a baker’s dozen of new picture books in alphabetical order that we’ve recently added to our library collection. All were released in 2017, so brandy new. Well, except for Piggy who came in at the tail end of 2016, but really, who can resist him?
ABC Pasta an Entertaining Alphabet written and illustrated by Juana Medina—Viking. Very clever! Who knew there were so many different types of pasta–enough to match every letter of the alphabet. Illustrations are light and lively, combining real pasta with digital art. Although recommended for ages 0 to 3, I think older kids will get a kick out of this circus-themed book, too.
Bunny’s Book Club by Annie Silvestro, illustrated by Tatjana Mai-Wyss—Doubleday Books. I don’t think many will be able to resist this special book about Bunny and his friends and their love for books. Lots of funny lines (can bears really fit through book drop slots!?) Lovely soft illustrations add a cozy feel. You’ll want to dust off your library card and start your own book club after reading this one!
The Green Umbrella written by Jackie Azua Kramer, illustrated by Maral Sassouni—North South Books. Everyone Elephant meets while strolling insists his umbrella is really theirs, claiming it to be their boat, tent, flying machine, or cane. I love the generous nature of Elephant as he shares his precious umbrella with each of them. A beautiful tale of friendship. The unique illustrations are magnificent (keep an eye out for little mice with their own umbrellas). My only criticism is that commas look pretty much identical to periods in this otherwise lovely type font.
A Greyhound A Groundhog written by Emily Jenkins and illustrated by Chris Appelhans —Schwartz & Wade. Rhythmic text reads almost like a song IF you don’t get your tongue twisted. Not a whole lot of story, but vibrant illustrations add much to this rollicking fun read aloud.
Mingo the Flamingo written & illustrated by Pete Oswald and Justin K. Thompson—Harper Collins. The personable Mingo loses his whereabouts during a bad storm. After a crash landing on a farm and a bit of amnesia, it takes much work and determination to finally figure out who he is and where he belongs. Cute story and pictures!
Mr. Fuzzbuster Knows He’s the Favorite by Stacy McAnulty, illustrated by Edward Hemingway—Two Lions Press. What a fun book. Lily’s cat, Mr. Fuzzbuster is sure he must be her favorite, but what about the other four pets in the house? Hilarity ensues when Mr. Fuzzbuster goes from one emotion to the next, sometimes confident, sometimes worried, and sometimes comforting to others. Adorable illustrations make this a good read aloud book with a surprise ending!
Mouse and Hippo written and illustrated by Mike Twohy —Simon & Schuster. Another very funny book. Such a great way to show how things can look quite different from various perspectives and how art can be enjoyed on many levels. Wonderful illustrations lend much to the laugh-out-loud humor in this tale of friendship.
Piggy written and illustrated by Trevor Lai—Bloomsbury. Cute story about book-loving Piggy who’s never had time to make friends until one day he notices a special kitten who also loves to read. He tries desperately to get her attention and finally succeeds by sharing their common interest. The pictures of the already famous Piggy (popular emoticon) really make this a fun book.
The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet! written by Carmen Agra Deedy, illustrated by Eugene Yelchin —Scholastic Press. Beautiful strong message in this gorgeously designed and illustrated story. With mob mentality the villagers bring about great change and too late realize the error of their ways. Enter a brave rooster who refuses to be silenced. ❤ his steadfast refrain of “But I will sing.” Timely and timeless!
Who Ate the Cake? written and illustrated by Kate Leake—Alison Green Books (Scholastic). Things are crazy enough but when a newcomer arrives, everything spirals out of control. Lots of funny situations with colorful detailed pictures to match. This is a story about secrets, collections, mysterious packages, misunderstandings, and a bit of rivalry between a pooch and a pelican.
Wolf in the Snow written and illustrated by Matthew Cordell—Feiwel and Friends. Before you ever get to the title page, the scene is set in the opening pages as a little girl sets off for school and later gets lost in a snowstorm. At the same time, a wolf pup also loses his way. Quite an adventure awaits you in this nearly wordless tale of watercolor and ink paintings.
XO, OX A Love Story written by Adam Rex, illustrated by Scott Campbell—Roaring Brook Press. Humorous picture book romance told in letters. Through persistence Ox finds a way into the heart of the gazelle of his dreams. Nice message of respecting differences.
Yoga Bunny by Brian Russo—Harper Collins. This is a sweet book filled with yoga poses acted out by an adorable bunny and his friends. The end papers show lots more poses, too. Something about this little bunny forming the poses makes them look easy to do even for beginners who aren’t feeling flexible. Good motivation to slow down and join in.
And that’s the roundup! As usual, I’m sure I’ve missed a lot of great new titles, but these are the ones that caught my eye with their subject and visual appeal as well as their good reviews. Without even realizing it, the majority of those I ordered featured nonhuman characters. And it’s not just because I’m partial to animals. I’m thinking, along with dropping word counts, there might be a resurgence of this style book. Many also have the timeless theme of making friends. Any thoughts?
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Great Reviews for CALL ME AMY
“Well-drawn, sympathetic characters and the developing spark between Amy and Craig combine to create a pleasant, satisfying read.” –KIRKUS
“Strykowski lovingly captures seaside Maine and the travails of adolescence in her quiet, sweet-natured debut novel.”—PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
“Strykowski ably depicts Amy’s insecurity and self-doubt, Craig’s bravura and pain, and Miss Cogshell’s wisdom with a deft, convincing touch. In essence, Amy comes of age as she fights to find her voice in the outside world and shed some of her debilitating insecurity. Readers will cheer her on, and her splendid team, too.” –BOOKLIST
"The protagonist grows throughout the story, from a shy loner to having two friends and speaking her mind in front of her adversaries at school as well as to the whole town. …Amy is a reliable narrator and easily relatable.” –SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL
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“To do a good deed, we can find friendship in the most curious of locations. “Call Me Amy” is a novel from Marcia Strykowski following the struggles of Amy Henderson, who finds an injured seal and seeks to nurse it, with the help of a scorned aging woman and an unusual youth. Set in the early 70s and exploring the essence of loneliness, “Call Me Amy” is a powerful read that should prove so very hard to put down, highly recommended.”—MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW
“This is a wonderful YA tale for the simple fact that it shows one and all that the power and courage to stand up and be heard in this life comes from within. And that no matter who you are, you have that toughness inside your soul. Craig has a lovely heart that hides behind that sarcasm he aims at the world, and he will remind every small town girl about that quiet boy she fell in love with long ago. ‘Old Coot’ brings the fun and humor along with her, and Pup is the sweetest creature in the world. Having all the ingredients of first love, faith, loss and strength makes ‘Amy’ unforgettable.” —FEATHERED QUILL
“For Amy, 1973 has been a lonely year, her only friend moved away and she feels awkward around her classmates. Until one day Amy discovers that Craig, another classmate, has rescued an injured seal pup. Amy agrees to help him and together they hide the pup at Miss Cogshell’s house, the odd old lady most kids call “Old Coot.” Amy learns that people aren’t always what they seem to be, and she forms a friendship with Craig and Miss Cogshell. A great story about friendship and doing what you think is right.” —KIDSBOOKSHELF
“For those ages 8 to 12, Call Me Amy by Marcia Strykowski will resonate with familiar themes of growing up. The year is 1973 and for Amy Henderson, it has been a lonely one with too many awkward moments to count. When she finds an injured seal pup, she rescues him to rehabilitate him. In the process she forms an unlikely alliance with Craig, a boy around her age, and an older woman in town. With their help she discovers that people aren’t always what they seem despite what others may think of them. This is a story filled with many elements that will appeal to younger readers and I highly recommend it.”—BOOKVIEWS.COM
"A wounded seal pup propels 13-year-old Amy Henderson into an unlikely alliance with an unusual older woman and a mysterious boy in a small Maine fishing village. Readers will cheer for Amy as she protects Pup, gains confidence, faces challenges, and comes up with an idea that could change not only the future of her village, but also, her own life. With a skillful hand, Strykowski introduces us to a small town with memorable characters and the girl who could bring them all together." ---Anne Broyles, award-winning author of PRISCILLA AND THE HOLLYHOCKS
"In a small town in Maine in the 1970's, Amy is standing on the brink of becoming a young adult. The events that will force her to discover who she is, what she is made of and how she wants others to perceive her are sweetly told through awkward teenage moments, the triumphs and sadnesses of that age and ultimately, Amy's discovery of her own beliefs, strength and courage." ---Kathleen Benner Duble, acclaimed author of THE SACRIFICE
“Call Me Amy is exactly the type of book I love. The characters are relatable and likeable; they are individuals that the reader enjoys getting to know while watching them change and develop. The setting of the small Maine coastal town is idyllic, and the reader is quickly and completely immersed in this community. Although the novel takes place in the 1970s, it feels timeless. Young readers will readily associate with Amy’s struggles and triumphs with her relationships with family and friends, and mature readers will be gently nudged back to this period in their life. These universal qualities make this novel a perfect choice for many types of readers. As a Youth Services Librarian, I would enthusiastically recommend Call Me Amy to our young patrons as well as to a more adult audience. Because it can be enjoyed on so many levels, this novel would be an ideal source of discussion for an adult/child book group.” ---Patty Falconer, Youth Services Librarian
"I just finished CALL ME AMY and I think it is wonderful with beautiful descriptions. I love the characters and their story. It is like having seen a good play or movie and later, while you are doing other things, it comes back to you and you think about the characters again." ---Peggy Arnold, retired teacher and avid reader.
For 13-year-old Amy Henderson, 1973 has been a lonely and uneventful year in her small Maine fishing village. With the help of a wounded seal pup, she gets to know Craig, who slinks around in an oversized army jacket. A new law against handling wild marine mammals brings suspense to the story. Where can they keep Pup until he heals? Their only hope is to trust Miss Cogshell, an elderly woman keeping to herself amidst jeers from the local kids, who catches them sneaking Pup into her woodshed in the middle of the night. Throughout the book, small challenges prepare Amy for her greatest one of all. A challenge that leads her to discover that everyone, herself included, has a voice worth hearing.