Marcia Strykowski

More 2017 Picture Books!

It’s that time again and I’m happy to share another baker’s dozen of 2017 picture books. These are all recent releases from a wide variety of publishing houses. My brief first impressions are jotted down beside each cover, but I’m sure you’ll agree these thirteen books are all worth a look. Here they are in alphabetical order.

The Antlered Ship was written by Dashka Slater and illustrated by Terry Fan and Eric Fan; published by Beach Lane Books. How can you miss with a philosophical fox named Marco who is in search of answers to life’s big questions? No one else seems to share his intellectual inquisitiveness, but in the end he finds what he needs most, friendship. The Fan brothers’ dreamy illustrations are exquisitely detailed with a mix of pen and pencil and then colored digitally. You’ll definitely want to be onboard for this ship’s voyage!

Arturo and the Bienvenido Feast was written by Anne Broyles and illustrated by K. E. Lewis; published by Pelican Press. This is a lovely follow up to the first award-winning Arturo book. The complete story is told in English as well as in Spanish. I love Arturo’s determination and resourcefulness in creating a surprise for his family. His wonderful connection with his grandmother is believable and enviable. Bright cheerful illustrations bring warmth and charm to the well-written text. Illustrated recipes and glossary are a bonus!
Dogosaurus Rex was written by Anna Staniszewski and illustrated by Kevin Hawkes; published by Henry Holt & Co. At first glance this seemed like a long overdue mashup of two popular books from days gone by: Danny and the Dinosaur and Clifford the Big Red Dog. Nevertheless, this fresh take is well written with wonderful illustrations and makes a humorous read aloud. Sure to be a favorite with dinosaur fans!

Grandmother Thorn was written by Katey Howes and illustrated by Rebecca Hahn; published by Ripple Grove Press. This folktale style story is a great reminder of how unexpected beauty can sometimes rise out of a controlled situation when you let down your guard. The stunning pictures were painted, sewn, and crafted by hand with wonderful details. The main character meticulously tends her property until she finally meets her match in her battle with a stubborn root. The pages of this gorgeous book are worth studying again and again.

I Have a Balloon was written by newcomer Ariel Bernstein and illustrated by Scott Magoon; published by Paula Wiseman Books. The humorous back and forth dialogue between Owl and Monkey is reminiscent of Willems’ popular Elephant & Piggy books. I got a kick out of the inside flap which says Spoiler Alert: This is NOT a book about sharing. The expressive digitally rendered illustrations are adorable and the surprise ending to this tightly paced book of few words is surely worth a look!

The Mermaid was written and illustrated by Jan Brett; published by G. P. Putnam. This fun twist on Goldilocks and the Three bears (except this time around, a mermaid and three octopuses) will be very popular with fans of this talented author/illustrator. As always, Brett’s decorative storytelling fills up the borders of each page adding more layers to the tale. Long before I had any of my own work published I used to exchange letters with Jan (regarding her work, as did many others) and I’ll never forget her generous nature in personalizing her responses. It’s always a treat to see a new book of hers released. Paintings are done in watercolor and gouache with airbrushed backgrounds.

Not Friends is written and illustrated by Rebecca Bender; published by Pajama Press. This latest Bender book is a wonderful addition to her previous work. The delightful illustrations were created with acrylic paint on texturized illustration board and add a lot of visual pizzazz to the short text. Because of the inclusion of many funny words and situations, this is a perfect read aloud book for library story times. Check it out!

The Old Mainer and the Sea was written by Jean M. Flahive and illustrated by Mari Dieumegard; published by Islandport Press. I love this gentle tale of persistence, routine, and an unexpected exchange of gifts of kindness. Set in the late 1800s, this story honors all the fishermen who brave the deep dark sea to earn their livings. Dieumegard uses a combination of acrylic and oil pastels to create her paintings which are awash with vibrant swirling colors.

Pup and Bear was written by Kate Banks and illustrated by Naoko Stoop; published by Schwartz & Wade. Both this book and Winter Dance (reviewed below) have a similar earthy quality about their pages. Pup and Bear is a lovely story about a polar bear who takes care of an abandoned wolf pup who later pays this kindness forward. Great message of accepting those unlike yourself. Stoop’s illustrations are rendered in acrylic paint, ink, pencils, and pastels on plywood, and then digitally finished.

Red & Lulu was written and illustrated by Matt Tavares; published by Candlewick. This is a heartwarming story about a pair of cardinals who get separated when their home—a giant Norway spruce—is taken down for a special purpose. Red searches high and low for Lulu who was inside the tree’s branches at the time it was taken away by truck. Fans of New York and Christmas will especially enjoy the details of this tale. The beautiful paintings were created using watercolor and gouache.

Shelter was written by Celine Claire and illustrated by Qin Leng; published by Kids Can Press. It’s a wonderful thing to see so many new books for children that cater to the theme of generosity and kindness. Like several others on this list, this poignant story takes place in the animal world and shows how reaching out to welcome newcomers in their time of need may not only save their lives, but yours, as well. The beautiful soft artwork is rendered in pen and ink and watercolor.

Winter Dance was written by Marion Dane Bauer and illustrated by Richard Jones; published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. With a single snowflake, a fine red fox realizes winter is coming and wonders what he should do. His forest friends all tell him what they will be doing but nothing seems right for the fox until a special someone reminds him of his role. The lyrical text is accompanied by absolutely gorgeous paintings.

You Know What was written by Carol Gordon Ekster and illustrated by Nynke Mare Talsma; published by Clavis. This colorful book about a curious little boy makes a fun bedtime story. Like many children, Oliver has a lot of interesting questions, especially when asking those questions delays bedtime. His sleepy mother does her best to keep up the conversation and is rewarded by his last words. Children will enjoy finding the comical bunny in each double spread of this sweet story.So there you have it. As always, I’m sure I missed many well deserving new titles, but there’s only so much space and time. Because I’m a stickler for details, I was a little disappointed to notice a blatant typo in three different books—one a scrambled word, one a repeated word, and one with a word missing. There are only so many words in these new mostly shorter-styled picture books. Is it really that difficult a task to quickly proofread before printing?

To those who live on this side of the pond, have a wonderful Thanksgiving. And to the rest of you who pop in from various faraway locations, I wish you the best of the season, as well. Thanks for reading!

50 Comments

  1. Colleen

    LOVE Grandmother Thorn and Red and Lulu! Isn’t it fun to never grow up and enjoy illustrated children’s books all your life? You find so many lovely books for your library, Marcia. Lucky patrons to have you as their librarian!

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    • Great choices, Colleen. I agree, one is never too old for picture books! 🙂

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  2. clarehelenwelsh

    Especially love Winter Dance! Illustrated by the very talented Richard Jones 🙂

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    • I looked up Richard’s other works and you’re right—what a talented man!

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  3. Bobbi

    These look wonderful! Love the new Jan Brett and Marion Dane Bauer books! Thank you for this list!

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  4. Another wonderful collection reviewed. Thanks, Marcia!

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    • It’s refreshing to see picture books are holding their own. There are so many new ones filled with terrific stories and illustrations, with no skimping on quality paper and bindings.

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  5. Another fantastic reading list, Marcia. Thank you! You always find the gems. Your last list included Life, which is amazing and will be part of my next blog post. I can’t wait to read Red and Lulu! Keep your lists coming. Thank you!

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  6. So many cute books! I love the covers… especially the Antlered Ship. And Not Friends, which is such an important topic with little kids. Thanks for the wonderful recommendations, Marcia. 🙂

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  7. mirkabreen

    ***Stellar*** recommendations, Marcia. In addition to being an author, it shows your discernment as a librarian. I was aware of a couple of these, (Katey Howes is an agency sister, and I never not notice a book with a Giraffe on the cover…) but will check the rest.

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    • Isn’t that a cute giraffe? Definitely caught my eye, too. Thanks for your kind words, Mirka!

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  8. A lovely selection of children’s book, Marcia.

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    • Just when you think you’ve seen all the most beautiful picture books, they release a bunch more. Lucky for us!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. What a lovely selection of books, Marcia, and more titles to add to my reading list. Thank you.

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  10. Another lovely selection Marcia, I’m sure some of these are destined to become firm favourites. I know one little girl who would love Dogosaurus Rex! She is into dinosaurs and dogs at the moment with dogs being her number-one priority. She has set her heart on a poodle, and I have a feeling we will be coerced into taking her to see some next time we visit Australia.
    The mermaid, Not friends and Pup and bear all appeal to me, but then I’m a sucker for children’s books, as you know.
    Happy Thanksgiving.

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    • Aw, sweet, I hope she gets her poodle (or if not, outgrows the wish 🙂 ) I’m happy you enjoyed this selection of books. Thanks, Barbara!

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  11. Ashley

    All of these books look awesome, thanks so much!!

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  12. No one reviews picture books as well as you, Marcia (in my humble opinion). Thank you for introducing me to some I must read! Happy Thanksgiving to you as well!

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    • How nice of you. I hope you’ll enjoy some of these titles, Lynn. Thanks!

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  13. What a fabulous selection of picture books. Something for everyone!

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  14. A great collection of new books! Thanks for sharing!

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  15. Hooray Marcia!! Love you book recommendation posts! The Not Friends book looks like big fun– love love the cover illustration!! and I need to look up Red & Lulu since my sister’s name is Lulu (Christmas gift??!). thanks Marcia– you’re the best!

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    • Great idea, I bet Lulu would love that book for Christmas. 🙂 I’m glad you liked the post, Rhonda. Enjoy your family this week!

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  16. Thank you, Marcia, for all you do to spread picture book love…and of course, for including my new book in this list. I’m grateful!

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  17. Anonymous

    Dear Marcia – all of these books look wonderful. Especially am drawn to the “Shelter”. Will be visiting the library for this one. Thank you too for visiting me. You asked about the Platter – a gift from my sister-in-law several Thanksgivings ago. I just love it and serve Pumpkin Roll from it. The perfect size for these particular cakes. Hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving.

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    • I’m sure you will enjoy “Shelter”. Thanks for the update on your platter–so pretty!

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  18. Thank you! The timing is perfect. I’m currently planning what gifts to buy this holiday season. I always look forward to your curated lists of picture books.

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  19. Bette Norton

    I always enjoy your posts on picture books! Your reviews on them are wonderfully written with great attention to detail. I love the display of all the beautiful book jackets too. I have a collection of picture books with quite a few Jan Brett books. They are all about winter. It will be interesting to read her new book Mermaid! The illustrations of Grandmother Thorn sound remarkable! There is so little time to read them all but I look forward to reading a few that you have listed. A great post! 🙂

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    • I’m so glad you enjoy my picture book posts and I hope you’ll get to read many of these new selections. Thanks!

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  20. What a fabulous collection of books you have Marcia, and you’re such a great librarian and author. I love all the books but I love winter dance the most. Thanks for sharing it with us. xoxox😘😘😘

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    • Thanks so much, Lilly. I appreciate your kind comment. 🙂 Winter Dance is a lovely book! xo

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’re welcome Marcia, and looking forward to reading your next post.💓

        Liked by 1 person

  21. These look like a wonderful selection and some of the illustrations are irresistable. I think I’m going to have to do some Christmas shopping for my little nieces soon. Especially the mermaid!

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  22. These are beautiful. Some of the best artists out there are children’s books artists.

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  23. Fantastic list of books! So often I see children’s book reviews of the “same books” we see in the book store. I love that you have found special books that are unique and sound just beautiful. So little time, but I hope to read some of them! Thank you!!

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    • Hi there, thanks so much for your kind words, as well as for your contact message and follow. I hope you find some new favorite picture books from these suggestions. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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