Monday, November 26, 2012

Favorite 2012 Picture Books

We're in our final week of Picture Book Month Celebration around here. It seems like a good time to throw out an old-fashioned book list: some of my favorite 2012 picture books (most, if not all, were published in 2012). Listed in no particular order; linked where applicable to Literaritea reviews/mentions. (You can also check out some favorite Retro Reads and other 21st Century Favorites on Pinterest.)

Frost, Helen. Step Gently Out. (Poetry plus photography)
Fogliano, Julie. And Then It's Spring. (ill by Erin Stead)
Stead, Philip C. A Home for Bird.
Stead, Philip C. Bear Has a Story to Tell. (ill by Erin Stead)
Buzzeo, Tony. One Cool Friend. (ill by David Small)
Rosenthal, Amy Krouse. Chopsticks.
Willems, Mo. Listen to My Trumpet! (an easy reader)
Barnett, Mac. Extra Yarn.
Willems, Mo. The Duckling Gets a Cookie.
Stewart, Sarah. The Quiet Place. (ill by David Small)
Murray, Alison. One, Two, That's My Shoe.
Long, Ethan. Up, Tall, and High (sort of an easy reader)
Bingham, Kelly. Z is for Moose. (ill by Paul O Zelinsky)
Robinson, Fiona. What Animals Really Like.
Jeffers, Oliver. Stuck.
Coombs, Kate. Water Sings Blue.
Polacco, Patricia. Bun Bun Button.
Salas, Laura Purdie. A Leaf Can Be.

Dynamic Duo #5: Philip C. Stead and Erin E. Stead

Wow--this contemporary pair is cranking out beautiful book after beautiful book. I love it. I think between the two of them, they have three out this year alone! Winners of the Caldecott Medal for their book A Sick Day for Amos McGee, they continue to produce marvelous works. All of the books below are in my local library--even the ones just published. So, check them out. Their artistic styles are quite different from one another; I go back and forth as to whose I prefer. Erin's are quiet, detailed, and have a contemplative feel; Philip's are more boisterous and colorful. I have not read Canned Tuna Fish and Peas on Toast yet, but I will remedy that shortly!

A Sick Day for Amos McGee

Jonathan and the Big Blue Boat 

And Then It's Spring (author: Julie Fogliano)

Bear Has a Story to Tell 

A  Home for Bird

Canned Tuna Fish and Peas on Toast

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Picture Book Giveaway Winner!

Nellie is the winner of our picture book giveaway. Congratulations, Nellie!!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Dynamic Duo #4: Russell and Lillian Hoban

Oh, we do love the Frances books, Megan and I. Little Frances gets mentioned frequently in our conversations, as if she were a personal friend. We know all about her sister Gloria, how many ways little ones can delay going to bed, what it feels like to be tricked by your friend over a tea set, and all the marvelous little songs one can come up with one is feeling blue or happy or creative or mystified or... really, there is no time that is NOT right for a little snippet of a song.

We also know that it is best to parent together with our husbands, to remain firm yet loving in our mothering, to delight in our children, and that sometimes tea and cake at night with aforementioned husbands is the best way to end an evening. We know that young children love to make up songs, often have imaginary friends, and that navigating the relationships between family and friends can be tough.... Life lessons from Frances! We could wax eloquent--and Frances deserves another post, to be sure. But for Picture Book Month Celebration, we will reign ourselves in.

The creator of these delightful picture books is Russell Hoban. Sadly Hoban, like so many this past year, passed away almost a year ago. There is a nice little write up in the New York Times on his life and career (which included much more than his Frances books even though he's most well known for those).

The first Frances book, Bedtime for Frances, was illustrated by none other than Garth Williams (who also illustrated the likes of Charlotte's Web, Little  House on the Prairie, The Rescuers, The Golden Book of Fairies and Elves, and many, many others).

But the next six Frances books were illustrated by Hoban's wife, Lillian. And so we'll lavish our affections on them as a couple and celebrate their literary child, Frances, in all her delightful whimsy. If you have not met Frances, or if it's been a while since you spent some time with her, we urge you to remedy that ASAP. These are books which libraries keep on hand since they continue to delight youngsters year after year. I read Bedtime for Frances to my own three recently--first time in quite some time. They begged me to reread it as soon as I was done and laughed delightedly--and with much empathy--at Frances's bedtime dallying. These are also some of the books I delight to own instead of merely borrow. They work well with preschool children, but I think the 4-7 age range really gets the most out of Frances because they are so like her themselves....

What is YOUR favorite Frances book?

cover images from goodreads

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Dynamic Duo #3: Leo and Diane Dillon

Sadly, Leo Dillon passed away this summer, one of the many famous children's book creators who left this earth. The Dillons have a very unique style that I find fascinating and robust. Their work has a unique style all its own, but they have chosen to illustrate a wide variety of picture books. Below are some of my favorites...

Mother Goose: Numbers on the Loose

The Sorcerer's Apprentice

Why Mosquitos Buzz in People's Ears (Caldecott)

Rap a Tap Tap (about a jazz player--a fun read aloud!)

To Everything There is a Season (Ecclesiastes 3; interesting and worth perusing)

Pish, Posh, Said Hieronymus Bosch 

What is YOUR favorite work by the Dillons?

cover images from goodreads 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Dynamic Duo #2: Ruth Krauss and Crocket Johnson

Did you know Ruth Krauss and Crocket Johnson were a couple? Can you imagine the picture book landscape without their contributions?! A simple blog post is no way to pay tribute to these giants of 20th century picture books, but thankfully there is a new double biography on the scene. Julie Danielson of 7 Impossible Things Before Breakfast interviews its author and highlights some of the contributions of this truly dynamic duo.

But in case you are unaware of who these marvelous people are, I'll simply provide some book cover images below for you to browse....  (These are some of my favorites.)

The Carrot Seed

Harold and the Purple Crayon (and others!)

A Hole is to Dig

I Can Fly

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Dynamic Duo #1: Sarah Stewart and David Small

You may not realize it, but there are several amazing husband/wife teams in picture book land. The first pair we'll highlight are the wonderful Sarah Stewart and David Small. If you have not been acquainted with their picture books before now, do so immediately! I believe there's only one I haven't gotten my hands on, but the rest are discussed here (please let me know in the comments which one(s) I'm missing). I own most of these, and my children love them almost as much as I do.

Before I discuss their work, let me draw your attention to a wonderful interview on Kirkus that Julie Danielson of 7 Impossible Things Before Breakfast wrote up this fall (in addition to the material already on her blog!). When you view a couple's works as a whole, some similarities jump out. For instance, all of these titles begin with "the" and are simple titles. All feature a girl (most of them young) who is a little unique in her time and place and who is learning something very important about life in a quiet, steady manner. And each book is rich with unspoken detail. With the exception of The Money Tree, each of these books is a tall book. Three are epistolary in form. None of them feature the usual subject matter of picture books, if you assume that picture books must be about romping children and lots of activity. In fact, all are quiet stories, perfect for a snuggly fall afternoon with a cup of tea! Listed in order of my own preferences ☺.

The Gardener (1997; Caldecott Honor)
a young girl moves to live with her dour uncle and brings some joy and beauty 
to his life through her rooftop gardening

 The Library (1995)
when you love books and collect them's time to start a library!

The Quiet Place (2012)
a young girl moves to the US from Mexico in the 1950s 
and narrates her experience via letters to her auntie

The Money Tree (1991)
convicting tale of a woman who finds a money tree growing on her farm; 
she enjoys it for its beauty but passersby want it for its wealth

The Journey (2001)
a young Amish girl takes a journey to the big city and journals her experience

The Friend (2004; haven't read this one... yet!)

Also illustrated by David Small and worth reading:

Imogene's Antlers
endearing tale of Imogene who wakes up one morning to discover she's grown antlers...

The Huckabuck Family 
hilarious tale of the Huckabuck Family who raise popcorn

What's YOUR favorite Stewart/Small creation?
images from goodreads  

Monday, November 12, 2012

Picture Book Giveaway!

Ready for another giveaway? In honor of National Picture Book Month we have an AUTOGRAPHED paperback copy of Rumpelstiltskin written and illustrated by the wonderfully talented Paul O. Zelinsky available!

(cover image from goodreads)
To enter, first leave a comment on this post about your favorite picture book. Then, do one of the following:
  • please enter a second, separate comment with your email address so we can contact you if you win! (can use format like name(at)domain for spam protection); we will delete these at the end of the contest)
  • "like" our facebook page; we will contact you via facebook for contact info if you win!
  • "follow" us on twitter and send us a tweet @Literaritea; we will DM you for contact info if you win!
Contestants must live in the U.S. Entries will be accepted until 6 p.m. (EST) Friday, November 16 and the winner will be drawn from all three categories.

For bonus chances, you may enter from all directions!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Literary tins

Just for fun, here is what I did with some empty tea tins that I wanted to reuse.

Start with these.

Add these.

And here is the result!

I simply attached the paper to the tin using mod podge, then brushed four or five layers over top to seal it, letting the mod podge dry between layers.

Now I can lightly rinse the inside and it will dry without damaging the paper (but don't get it too wet otherwise). I'm considering adding further details: illustrations from damaged copies of favorite books purchased at library booksales, or memorable quotes or verses. For tea identification, I might simply use a removable label on the bottom, or put a slip of paper inside.
Fun, eh?

Hobbits and seed cake

Our family is joining Redeemed Reader for The Hobbit read-along, and the mention of seed cake in the first chapter caught my attention. The book's adventures really open and close with tea invitations, which is such a lovely, British way of doing things.

While sorting through my file of loose recipes today (including a number that Betsy has given me over the years), I discovered a recipe for seed cake that sounds like what Bilbo graciously shared with the unwelcome dwarves when they arrived at teatime, which reminded me that I ought to serve it to my boys while they listen (even though we're currently escaping goblins in the mountain and have almost reached Gollum. Don't you just LOVE how Tolkien doesn't waste any time in his adventure story?!).

Here is a fellow Hobbit fan who has put together a recipe for seed cake with photos. And now if you will excuse me, I'm going to see if I have enough caraway seed in my cupboard to try it. I'm sure it would be lovely with a cup of hot homemade chai concentrate!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Celebrate the Classics: Maurice Sendak

Maurice Sendak was a HUGE influence on children's literature in general and picture books in particular. He died earlier this year, and there was a collective moan in the children's literature world. What an impact this man had. What a gift for creating marvelous books that young children loved and grown-ups would secretly still take to bed if they thought they could get away with it. I remember Where the Wild Things Are vividly from my own childhood, and one of my children in particular is an avid fan (the others like it, too, but it seems to particularly resonate with one of my boys). We're also big fans of the Nutshell Library as well as books he illustrated which were authored by others. And could there be a more perfect marriage of talent than the collaboration between Minarik and Sendak in the Little Bear books? See below for covers of some of these marvelous works, and head straight to the library to check them out!

The Nutshell Library: 
One Was Johnny, Chicken Soup with Rice, 
Alligators All Around, and Pierre

A Hole is to Dig (by Ruth Krauss)

What Can You Do With a Shoe? 
(by Beatrice Shenk deRegniers)

Little Bear books (by Else Holmelund Minarik)

What are YOUR favorite Sendak works?
cover images from goodreads

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Celebrate the Classics: Virginia Lee Burton

We can thank Virginia Lee Burton in part for animating machines and buildings--and making them so lovable that we secretly long for the days of steam shovels, agree that country living is best as long as you're in a little house, and are so thankful San Francisco has brought back the cable car. Contemporary books like Good Night, Good Night, Construction Site and characters like Bob the Builder, while fun and charming, just aren't quite the same. Burton wrote and illustrated others than the ones pictured below, but these are the most well known and all center on her theme of beloved mechanical characters.

If you're unfamiliar with these works below, and you have young children in your life (preschool through early elementary), then make haste to the library to check these out! (Listed in order of publication)

Choo Choo: The Story of a Little Engine Who Ran Away (1937)

Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel (1938)

The Little House (1942; Caldecott Medal)
Maybelle the Cable Car (1952)

Katy and the Big Snow (1971)

What is YOUR favorite Virginia Lee Burton picture book?
cover images thanks to goodreads

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Celebrate the Classics: Robert McCloskey

It would be impossible to do justice to the many classics that have influenced contemporary children's literature, but some illustrators really stand out. One that comes to mind is Robert McCloskey whose work is just as cherished today as it was decades ago. McCloskey's books can grow with your children; Sal herself grows up in a couple of them, starting off with blueberry picking, losing her first tooth one morning in Maine, and then, while not named, looking suspiciously like an older self in Time of Wonder. If you're inspired to learn more about McCloskey and his peers in the early part of the 20th century, check out this terrific essay, published by Horn Book back in the '50s, on What Is a Picture Book.

McCloskey's books are presented in order of age-appeal (youngest to oldest, but there is definite overlap). Every library should have a copy of these books, so ask next time you're in! I don't buy every book we enjoy, but our copies of Blueberries for Sal and Make Way for Ducklings are QUITE worn....Enjoy.

Blueberries for Sal (1948)

Make Way for Ducklings (1941; Caldecott Medal)

One Morning in Maine (1952)

Time of Wonder (1957; Caldecott Medal)

Lentil (1940)

Homer Price (1943; not really a picture book...)

What's YOUR favorite McCloskey book?
cover images from goodreads