Marcia Strykowski

Picture Book Picks!

Because so many great picture books were released over the past year or so, I feel I have to get in one more book review post. Here’s another sixteen books for your holiday gift giving and reading pleasure, in no particular order:

Sing a Song of Seasons: A Nature Poem for Each Day of the Year was illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon, poems were selected by Fiona Waters; published by Nosy Crow. This lavishly illustrated big sturdy book is filled with some of my favorite poems as well as many new ones. It’s fun to look up the birthdays of your family and friends to see what poem has been chosen for their special day. There’s a handy index of poets, titles, and first lines at the back and an attached ribbon bookmark. A coffee-table sized book that’s great for all ages with delightful illustrations of wildlife throughout.

Paul and His Ukulele was written by Rob Broder and illustrated by Jenn Kocsmiersky; published by Ripple Grove Press. I adore this tender celebration of a life well lived. The beautifully written story follows Paul, a gentle spirit and lover of music, from childhood to adulthood. His relationship with his parents is warm and loving. The watercolor and ink illustrations are gorgeous and worth looking at again and again. Possible spoiler alert: it was fun to see Paul’s future love interest appear early in the coffee shop scene. But what they accomplish together is the best surprise of all!

Potato Pants was written and illustrated by Laurie Keller; published by Henry Holt & Co. The illustrations were created with markers, colored pencils, pen & ink, acrylic paint, potato stamps, collage, and digital drawing. What a refreshing sense of humor Laurie Keller has. It shows on every page, even on the title and copyright pages. In the back matter, we get to meet Tuberto, creator of potato pants and see his “full line of potato fashions for both the active and the couch potato.” Underneath all the laughs is a good reminder that assumptions about others aren’t always accurate.

Too much, not enough! was written and illustrated by Gina Perry; published by Tundra Books. This bright, cheerful book introduces us to Moe and Peanut. When one friend always wants more, taller, bigger, messier, etc. and the other friend always wants less, smaller, softer, tidier, can they ever find a way to get along? A good story of accepting differences. The cute artwork was surprisingly created with Photoshop and the endpapers are fun, too!

A World of Cities was written and illustrated by James Brown; published by Candlewick Studio. This is a beautiful big book, and I’m talking really big as in an 11″ x 15″ format. Seeing all that takes place in the bold, graphic prints, plus the fascinating facts and huge populations of so many different parts of the world made this reader feel an enormous sense of just how huge the world really is. Wonderful for classrooms and armchair travelers of all ages.

Bears Don’t Eat Egg Sandwiches was written by Julie Fulton and illustrated by Rachel Suzanne; published by Maverick Arts Publishing. This fun book is a great choice for story time. The lyrical repetition throughout will have kids squealing in anticipation of the title line, which is the bear’s response each time Jack politely and patiently offers egg sandwiches. The big ol’ gruff bear is certainly hungry, but what DOES he eat? I have to admit I kept worrying about Jack’s safety as the bear received his large eating supplies. The suspense builds throughout, but all turns out well after Jack’s clever solution, followed by a cute punchline. Bright and cheerful illustrations are a great match for this fun story.

Fire Truck Dreams was written by Sharon Chriscoe and illustrated by Dave Mottram; published by Running Press Kids. A fun rhyming story. Beautiful pictures have the appearance of a lot of soft textures on each page. This is such a cute series, Fire Truck Dreams being a follow-up to Race Car Dreams and Bulldozer Dreams.  And the busy little fire engine even stops at a Rescue Readers Library on his way back to the station.

Lost in the Library was written by Josh Funk and illustrated by Stevie Lewis; published by Henry Holt & co. The rhyming is spot on and I love the personable lions with their big expressive faces. Beautiful digitally rendered illustrations and endpapers along with an interesting page of back matter containing fascinating facts about the New York Public Library. The muted color palette works perfectly for the luxurious rooms of the NYPL.

The Book Tree was written by Paul Czajak and illustrated by Rashin Kheiriyeh; published by Barefoot Books. A lovely work of art from the embossed title on the cover to the beautiful book-filled endpapers. The mixed media illustrations are stunning and the words are gentle and flowing–all resulting in a comfortable folktale-for-the-ages style. And the message is of course perfect, because really, where would we be without books?

Small was written and illustrated by Gina Perry; published by Little Bee Books. I love how it appears this feisty little character is all on her own on her adventures, but upon closer inspection you will discover her mother and baby sibling are always close by in almost every picture. The illustrations are clean, bright, and imaginative. Very cute story with a BIG message.

Drawn Together was written by Minh Le and illustrated by Dan Santat; published by Disney-Hyperion. This gorgeous book reaches across generations and language barriers to set a young boy and his grandfather on a magnificent adventure that, through their mutual love of drawing, brings them a lasting and close companionship. The amazing artwork was created with markers, oil-based inks, brush pens, watercolors, and colored pens and pencils.

How Rude! was written by Clare Helen Welsh and illustrated by Olivier Tallec; published by Quarto Publishing PLC. This cute story is about Dot and her friend Duck. Duck is being very rude during the nice tea party Dot has kindly spread out for him. The words are filled with humor and the expressive illustrations are adorable. This is a wonderful book that shows why it’s important to be polite and how people feel sad when others are rude to them.

Ten Horse Farm was written and illustrated by Robert Sabuda; published by Candlewick. The paper cutting and folding genius has done it again. Horse lovers in particular will love the detailed pop-up illustrations. Each beautifully constructed horse leaps right off the page. There aren’t many words, mostly just one per page, but it is definitely a treasure for gentle story-times and pop-up book fans of all ages.

All-of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah was written by Emily Jenkins and illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky; published by Schwartz & Wade. For the many fans of Sydney Taylor’s classic series, this new picture book is a great find. Based on her own childhood, Taylor, in 1951, was the first to write about Jewish children and culture. This new book is aimed at a slightly younger audience and features little Gertie who wants desperately to help prepare for Hanukkah. After being told she is too small, she finally gets to do the biggest job of all. I’ve always enjoyed Zelinsky’s illustrations and the interesting back matter includes his thoughts on technique.

Christmas ABC was written and illustrated by Jannie Ho; published by Nosy Crow. This is a very cute alphabet board book. The alphabet is clearly displayed, one letter per page, in uppercase as well as lowercase on bright checked backgrounds. Simple bold pictures match the one word text throughout. One of my favorites is Qq which stands for ‘quiet’ and shows a little gray mouse tiptoeing along with a special present. Pages are sturdy with rounded corners, perfect for little hands.

Little Christmas Tree was written and illustrated by Jessica Courtney-Tickle; published by Big Picture Press. This is another beautiful board book for a slightly older group–ages 2-5. The lyrical verse tells of a little tree waking up in the forest surrounded by woodland animals. Surprises unfold throughout Christmas day until night and snowflakes fall. This is a lift-the-flap book with at least three tabs blending into the scene on each double page spread. Descriptive words and colors are hidden on the underside of the flaps. Illustrations are filled with sparkles and other details. The lovely rhythm of the poem put me in mind of Emily Dickinson. 



  1. Colleen

    Lost in the Library! I would love to be lost in your library, Marcia. Thank you for an enchanting post once again.


  2. clarehelenwelsh

    Wooohooo! Thank you for mentioning Dot and Duck in this brilliant line up! X


  3. What a fabulous collection of picture books. The Book Tree sounds wonderful.


  4. What great books. Definitely some I need to go out and buy! Thanks for including Bears Don’t Eat Egg Sandwiches…and glad you liked it.


  5. Bobbi

    Excellent choices! These look wonderful!!


  6. A great round-up! Thanks for sharing.


  7. Great line-up from a master librarian!


    • Thanks, Mirka! I like that title, master makes me think maybe I should carry a sword or get to wear a special cap. 🙂


  8. We’ve aged out of picture books, but I loved your post. It is beautifully written, and the layout is lovely.


    • Thank you, Anne! However, I must disagree, 🙂 one can never age out of picture books. Several of these in particular are definitely for all ages. I’ll convert you yet!


      • I hope you do convert me. It would be lovely to relax with a wonderful book.

        The aging out comment was about our no longer buying picture books as gifts. You may convince me to rethink that, too.


        • Ahh, gotcha. Your comment just made me realize the wide age gap between two that I’m gifting. The nature-themed poetry book will go to a 92-year-old, and the ABC board book is for an almost-born grandbaby. Always fun to chat with you!


          • Talk about a generation gap! Wow! B it’s great that you give books as gifts.

            Liked by 1 person

  9. Ashley

    What a great list!! Poets and pop-ups and potato pants!! Love it!


  10. Bette Norton

    What a delightful post! Your picture book posts never disappoint! I agree with you picture books are for all ages! I have quite the collection myself!. You always choose such interesting varied topics and describe them beautifully! Some that I would like to read are Sing a Song of Seasons, Paul and his Ukulele, Small and Drawn Together. I think I might head down to my library and check them out. You put a lot of thought and time researching and describing these books, but sounds like an enjoyable task! 🙂


    • Thanks so much, Bette! Great choices. And if your local library doesn’t yet have these brand new books, ask for them. Librarians love to know what patrons would like to read.


  11. Thanks for the great selection, Marcia. It’s the perfect time to order for Christmas. 🙂


  12. Oh Marcia! You know I love love your picture book recommendations! That Potato Pants book pulls you in from the cover alone! But glad to have your evaluation to know it’s a good one. And Lost in the Library sounds intriguing. I’m a fan of the New York Public Library– did a tour the last time we were there– so fascinating. So I think I’d love this book. thanks thanks! How was your weekend?? Are things quieting down a bit for you?? hugs!


    • Fun choices, I’m sure you’d love both books! Things are quieting down a little, but I’ve got a school author fair next week and the holidays seem to be sneaking up fast, so things could get crazy again. 🙂 Hope you’re having a nice fall. Loved the pictures of your grandma trip!


      • Thanks Marcia– I’m getting one new book for each grand-kid for Christmas and have a couple from your list to buy! thanks. I know what you mean about the holidays looming! I love them– but it can get a little crazy. hugs hugs!


        • Great, glad you found out about some new books. 🙂 Have a wonderful Thanksgiving—less than 2 weeks away!!


          • Hope you Thanksgiving is the best Marcia– It’s the favorite holiday here– no gifts or hub bub, mostly time together! Are you traveling for Thanksgiving or staying home?? xox


            • Definitely agree about Thanksgiving! We’ll be hosting. 🙂


            • Hope it’s a marvelous day for you Marcia (and that someone else does the dishes!!) xox


  13. The timing is perfect. I’m starting to think about holiday shopping. I always appreciate your reviews of children’s books. They are very helpful.


  14. Wow! What an amazing collection of books!


  15. I love hearing about new books. I haven’t read any of the ones in your post- though I have heard of a couple of them. Lots of great books to look into. Thanks for sharing. 🙂


  16. So many gems! I’m going to take this with me on my next visit to the library–hopefully some of them will be there!


  17. Katie L. Carroll

    Great round-up! A couple were already on my radar (or we have already read) but definitely adding some news ones to our list.


  18. Oh my! I love all of these creative and quirky book choices! Especially small, I think that’s at the top of the list as I’m not quite 5 feet and my daughter is so far taking after me😉


  19. A lovely selection of great kids books, Marcia.


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