New Children’s Picture Book: The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors – Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Adam Rex

This is hands down the most hilarious read-aloud so far this year. Adam Rex’s illustrations give boisterous life to bestseller Daywalt’s smack down tale. Entirely fresh, it looks like another winner from the author of The Day the Crayon’s Quit. Three starred reviews.

Put on your battle pants, indeed.

 “Many challengers enter the storytime arena, but do they have the verbal dexterity, illustrative finesse, and plotline punch to captivate a crowd of voracious toddlers? Drew Daywalt and Adam Rex’s collaborative entrant The Legend of Rock, Paper, Scissors has all that it takes. Our titled trio each loves a good fight, but their constant wins amongst household foes have dulled the allure of victory. All that changes when rock, paper and scissors cross paths. Put on your battle pants, it’s time for the fight to end all fights! Gorgeously expressive and endlessly quotable, we are indeed entertained.”
— Molly Gillespie, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Cincinnati, OH

Daywalt’s text, set in a range of expressive fonts, combines the heightened verbosity of vintage action comics with the swagger of backyard scuffles (“I hope you’re wearing your battle pants, rock warrior,” warns Scissors), and Rex composes wildly dramatic battle scenes against backdrops of thunderstorms, erupting volcanoes, and missile launches. Forget reading aloud—this story demands bombastic, full-volume performances.”
Publishers Weekly (starred reviews)

“Cheeky humor and prideful asides will have listeners in stitches. A closer-to-perfect pairing couldn’t be imagined. Everyone wins!”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“The earnest gravity of the fighters’ quests paired with the mundane setting and melodramatic tone are perfectly balanced to produce a brand of purely absurd, sidesplitting humor that kids will gobble up.”
Booklist (starred review)

The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors (9780062438898) by Drew Daywalt, Drew and Adam Rex. $17.99 hardcover. 4/4/17 on sale.

New Picture Book: North, South East, West – Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Greg Pizzoli

It’s always a good time to laud the works of Margaret Wise Brown but thanks to the 75th anniversary of The Runaway Bunny and a new biography of Brown there has been some extra attention for this previously unpublished story, illustrated by a Geisel Award winner.

In her inimical style, it tells the story of a little bird who flies to the north, south, east and west before returning home again. Pizzoli’s fresh visual take will appeal to kids and parents alike. It joins the The Dead Bird, newly illustrated by Christian Robinson, in our program that matches Margaret Wise Brown stories with award-winning contemporary illustrators.

North, South, East, West was recently covered in a larger story on Brown on NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday.

The author exposes unspoken depths that make up the parent-child bond, offering nuance and complexity in measured words. Full of simple, curved shapes set in evocative alignments, Pizzoli’s illustrations complement the story well….equal parts wistful and uplifting-a small triumph.”
— Kirkus (starred review)

“Exploring both the urge to explore and the desire for the familiar, Brown’s story speaks directly to longings at the core of childhood.”
— Publishers Weekly

“Every full-color spread bursts with abundant nature and stark beauty….[a] stunning visual homage.”
— Booklist

“Pizzoli’s style is defined by a bright palette and crisp geometric forms that combine to create a Mid-century modern aesthetic befitting a story written by Brown, the mid-century master of picture-book texts.”
— Horn Book Magazine

“Pizzoli’s illustrations are bright and geometric, nearly abstract, with translucent overlays of light color and simple forms that match well with this feather-light story….In North, South, East, West, the mother bird remains wisely silent in response to her fledgling’s question about flying away. But the ending here is cozy all the same — on the final pages we see that the bird now has three babies of her own, asking ‘When we fly away, which is best, North, South, East, or West?’”
Washington Post

North, South, East, West (9780060262785) Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Greg Pizzoli. $17.99 hardcover. 1/24/17 on sale.

New Children’s Picture Book: I Used to Be a Fish – Tom Sullivan

Along with Words and I Am a Story, this debut is among the very best picture book offerings on our fall list. Simple Seussian illustrations walk small children through evolutionary history while opening kids’ eyes to our world’s past and possibilities.

And it includes a timeline and author’s note at the end for older children or parents who want material for further discussion.

Sullivan makes a strong debut with this clever, matter-of-fact, and much-needed look at humanity’s origins. The narrator is a boy who nonchalantly conflates evolutionary biology with his own backstory. He starts with his beginnings in the sea (hence the title) before moving on to his sprouting appendages and fur….Sullivan’s vignettes have a laid-back earnestness, each one a minimalist, sketchlike cartoon, boldly outlined and employing only three colors—bright red, vivid cerulean, and crisp white. An afterword respectfully delves deeper into the science of it all, but irreverence rules the day, and Sullivan proves that, in this regard, he’s a highly evolved talent.”

Publishers Weekly

I Used to Be a Fish (9780062451989) by Tom Sullivan. $17.99 hardcover. 10/11/16 on sale.

Video: I Am a Story – Dan Yaccarino

I covered this a couple weeks ago but now this supercool video has turned up. This book is well worth another shout out.

 “Yaccarino’s global scope, as well as a contemporary campfire scene that brings the book full circle, cements the idea that the stories we share are a profound source of human connection.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Yaccarino gives voice to the many ways that humans have preserved, shared, and recorded their history through words and images…a good introduction to stories, books, and reading.”
Kirkus Reviews

I Am a Story (9780062411068) by Dan Yaccarino. $17.99 hardcover. $17.99 hardcover.

New Children’s Picture Book: I Am a Story – Dan Yaccarino

OMG…If ever there was a picture book designed for Indie bookstores, this is it. It’s perfect for story time read alouds in that the message is that “story” is as old as mankind. Yaccarino shows that humans have told stories in many ways–around campfires, on cave walls, in plays, in books for rich people and then libraries for all people…and today even today on our smart phones. But the story doesn’t stop there. It closes with modern day campers listening to a story at night under stars just as our ancestors did thousands of years ago. Just lovely.

So far the book has gotten predictable raves. I hope it finds a place on bookstore and library shelves for many years to come.

“In understated words and bold cartoons, Yaccarino traces storytelling from humanity’s earliest days to the present. Writing in the voice of story itself, he portrays evolving methods of conveying stories, printed and otherwise, while illuminating the pivotal roles they have played across eras and cultures….Yaccarino’s sparse narrative avoids historical specifics while including enough details to make explicit the numerous ways stories can be told, including hieroglyphics, medieval tapestries, theater, radio, film, and other technologies….Yaccarino’s global scope, as well as a contemporary campfire scene that brings the book full circle, cements the idea that the stories we share are a profound source of human connection.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Yaccarino gives voice to the many ways that humans have preserved, shared, and recorded their history through words and images…a good introduction to stories, books, and reading.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Dan Yaccarino has done it again! I Am a Story is both beautifully illustrated and perfectly sparse in its language about centuries of storytelling. All through the book Yaccarino depicts adults around the world and through time passing along and sharing stories with children. This is a quietly powerful book that I have a feeling will soon become a classic. I, for one, cannot wait to read it at story time!”
— Claire Dingle, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Cincinnati, OH

Video: Imaginary Fred – Eoin Colfer and Oliver Jeffers

One of our most widely anticipated picture books of the fall is a collaboration by two children’s book superstars. I’ve heard nothing but bookseller raves for his unexpected twist on the tale of a boy and his imaginary friend

“In this smart collaboration, Colfer and Jeffers introduce Fred, a seasoned imaginary friend. Fred knows the drill: he keeps lonely children company until a human friend appears, then clears out (“Usually by lunchtime on the second day, Fred would be mostly invisible”). Jeffers’s spidery vignettes are perfectly synced to Colfer’s bubbly, confiding narrative, and he underscores Fred’s evanescent nature by giving him a body of half-tone aqua dots that deepen and fade. Secretly, Fred pines for a forever friend….Colfer and Jeffers show that shuffling allegiances can sometimes multiply the fun.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Imaginary Fred (9780062379559) by Eoin Colfer and Oliver Jeffers. $18.99 hardcover. $9/29/15.


New Picture Book: The Sleeper and the Spindle – Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell

Heads up, Gaiman aficionados. Here’s a picture book children will love and adults will want for their collections. This previously published story is perfectly enhanced by the drawings of frequent collaborator, Chris Riddell. In a starred review, Kirkus called it [a] spectacular art object…certainly a treasure.”

“[A] filigreed elaboration of Sleeping Beauty that, before long, reveals itself as something more. Three dwarves discover a realm in which everyone has fallen asleep, and they cross into the next country to warn its queen of the great plague that threatens her people….Traveling to the cursed kingdom, the queen and dwarves encounter threatening zombie sleepers and more, but the storyline is still recognizable underneath the new details. It isn’t until the travelers penetrate the castle that things tilt sideways. Something new is going on, and readers will be carried to the end by the whirlwind force of Gaiman’s imagination. Riddell [pours] his energy into myriad, spidery lines and delicate cross-hatching that recall Aubrey Beardsley’s eerie set pieces. It’s a genuine treat.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Riddell’s spectacularly intricate ink drawings, gilded with gold, bring Gaiman’s inventive story to life…This highly recommended visually stunning twist on two classic fairy tales will be well received by fans of graphic novels and fantasy stories.”
— School Library Journal (starred review)

The Sleeper and the Spindle (9780062398246) by Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell. $19.99 hardcover. 9/22/15 on sale.