Tuesday, July 5, 2011

New Picture Book Favorites

Week of July 3—Picture Books for Your Summer Reading Enjoyment
Tuesday, July 5—New Picture Book Favorites

Recently I spent an afternoon in my local bookstore. I was grabbing stack after stack of picture books to read, study, and analyze. Yes, I am a picture book nerd! But I truly think studying picture books is key to becoming a better writer of picture books. The next three days I’ll highlight some of my favorite new books I discovered on that visit. I’m going to try to whet your appetite and hopefully entice you to go check these books out for yourself.

My Name Is Not Alexander: Just How Big Can A Little Kid Dream?
By Jennifer Fosberry
Illustrated by Mike Litwin
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky/Imprint of Sourcebooks Inc.
© 2011

I look at lots of books, I sit down and read many of them, and I buy a few of them. I bought this one (and the other book in the series or pair, My Name Is Not Isabella: Just How Big Can A Little Girl Dream? © 2008/2010).

Each time Alexander’s dad tells him it’s time for the next part of his day, Alexander says, “My name’s not Alexander, it’s _______.” Fill in the name of a historical man. When his dad calls him by that name, the boy is no longer that person, but another man from history. Alexander’s imagination takes him on a journey through history as he focuses on being one historical hero after another.

This book has it all—a unique story, surprise, suspense, a growing story, a warm-hearted father-son relationship, amusing illustrations, wit, humor, and a surprising and satisfying ending. The Isabella book is every bit as charming, too.

If you buy only one book this summer, let this be the one. It is unique beyond belief.

Tallalulah’s Tutu
By Marilyn Singer
Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger
Clarion Books
© 2011

When I saw this book with its pink cover and tutu-clad girl, I thought, Oh, great another pretty- in-pink princess book. Then I read it. What a nice surprise! Tallulah wants to be a ballet dancer, but more than that, she wants a tutu. After three dance lessons when there is no tutu in sight, Tallulah quits dance class. But she can’t quit dancing. Through a series of events she ends up back in class and eventually earns the coveted tutu. Specialized dance vocabulary, an interesting cast of supporting characters, fun illustrations (that are more than just pink and princess-y), and a story arc that builds and resolves with only a hint of the often-used three-tries-and-three-failures makes for a fun read.

The 13-year-old daughter of a family friend is spending two weeks with us as she attends a by-invitation-only ballet camp this summer. Trust me, Tallulah is just like this real live dancer who stretches, and spins, and dances everywhere she goes. Dance on!

Mitchell’s License
By Hallie Durand
Illustrated by Tony Fuelle
Candlewick Press
© 2011

This whimsical going-to-bed story is truly unique. Who in their right mind would give a 3-year-old a driver’s license? Mitchell’s dad, that’s who. But this isn’t a driver’s license for the car, but rather Mitchell’s own vehicle of choice . . . his dad's shoulders. He tests dad’s tires (feet) and his motor (heart) before beginning the ride on his shoulders. Each night Mitchell drives to bed and cleans the windshield (Dad’s glasses), puts on the brakes (pulls dad’s hair), and turns on the headlights (uses a flashlight). The text story stays true to the driving motif, while the art tells the real story of father and son. Kids will love the humor and being in on the joke.

This story does not follow a traditional picture book formula. Rather the story builds and builds and builds until Dad finally says, “No,” and drives the “car” straight to Mitchell’s bedroom. Rev up your engine for a great read!

Happy reading one and all!


tammi sauer said...

Can't wait to check these out!

My FAVORITE pb of 2011 is A Pet for Petunia by Paul Schmid. I think you will fall in love with it, too.

Rob Sanders said...

Thanks, Tammi, I'll add it to my list. And I should have called today's post Favorite Books Not Discussed Previously--because Mostly Monsterly and Mr. Duck are certainly on my favorites list!

tammi sauer said...

Hooray! :)

Leslie Gorin said...

I'm making lists as you go, too, Rob. And Chicken Dance is also on my "Favorite Books Previously Discussed" list; Tammi's "then the cows came home" line has me falling out my chair laughing every time :D


tammi sauer said...

Thanks, Leslie!
I was so excited when that line came to me. I knew the chickens couldn't win the talent show (too predictable). I knew the ducks couldn't win (too awful). For days, I wondered what to do about the situation and then one evening as my husband and I were getting ready to watch a movie I had an ah-ha moment and exclaimed, "THE COWS CAME HOME SCORING A PERFECT TEN!" Then I ran for my computer. :)

Leslie Gorin said...

You're most welcome, Tammi!

I love how those moments work. It's weird how our brains process stuff when we're not even looking. I'm still learning how to be patient enough to let it happen, when I need to, so it's encouraging to read about other people's journeys through the same terrain. Thanks for sharing that!