Tag Archives: debut picture book

Groundhog’s Dilemma

19 Jan

25508197 Groundhog’s Dilemma

written by Kristen Remenar

illustrated by Matt Faulker

Charlesbridge, 2015


Groundhog has one job. And he does it well. Every year on his special day, Groundhog leaves his home and checks the weather. If he sees his shadow there will be six more weeks of winter, if he doesn’t there will be an early spring. Every year Groundhog’s friends gather around to hear his weather prediction. Every year, half of them are happy and the other half are not. But Groundhog calls it like he sees it.  Then one year his friends each decide to try to influence his prediction with gifts and bribes.

No celebration of Groundhog’s Day would be complete without Groundhog’s prediction. Every kid (around here at least) wants to know if he should trade in his sled for a skateboard or if he should leave out his hats and mittens for another six weeks.

Can the groundhog really predict the weather? How will Groundhog keep all his friends happy. A little dose of honesty goes a long way, and Groundhog learns that calling it like he sees it has its advantages.

This is Kristen Remenar’s first picture book and her husband, Matt Faulker’s thirty-ninth picture book. Together they have produced a pretty good one here. Like Groundhog says, “I just call it like I see it”!

Early Bird

20 May

18005275Early Bird written and illustrated by Toni Yuly (2014)

This is Toni Yuly’s first picture book. It is a very simple story for preschool readers with a funny and heartwarming twist at the end. Early Bird gets up early. She hurries on her way to find the Early Worm. After her long journey, picks him up with her beak and lays him across the top of a big ripe strawberry so they can have breakfast together!

The story and the illustrations are pure and clean. Bright colors follow the Early Bird as she begins her day, and lead the reader into a wonderful expression of friendship.

Toni Yuly is an artist who must have the heart of a child. I hope to see more of her work to share with my grandchildren.


20 May


Maple written and illustrated by Lori Nichols (2014)

This story is quiet and funny and honors children and their families. Maple’s parents planted a tree ‘while she was still a whisper’. And as Maple grew so did her tree. She played with her tree, she pretended to be a tree, and she took care of her tree. But sometimes Maple wished she had someone else to play with and she wondered if her tree felt the same way. Then one day Maple notices a seedling growing near her tree and soon she became a big sister to Willow. Maple and Willow played together under the shade of their trees.

Lori Nichols tells a story of growing families with the natural analogy of growing trees. The text is short and simple, but the ideas are deep and powerful. And like her text, her illustrations are also pure and simple. The innocence of the child is a wonder!

This is Lori Nichols first picture book, and I hope she has many more to come. I would love to see Maple and Willow grow up and experience lots of life’s little ups and downs.

When a Dragon Moves In

20 May


When a Dragon Moves In written by Jodi Moore and illustrated by Howard McWilliam (2011)

This is an imaginative story of a young boy and his dragon. As he tells us the story, the narrator guides the reader down the path of possibilities. It all begins with building the perfect sandcastle, because ‘If you build a perfect sandcastle, a dragon will move in.’ This of course has its advantages… the dragon will undoubtably be an asset on the beach. However, the downside is that your family is unlikely to believe you. The more they ignore your dragon, the more mayhem the dragon causes, and the more trouble you will be in until your parents insist that they’ve ‘had enough of this dragon business’. So you ‘vow never to build a perfect sandcastle again’ until tomorrow!

This is Jodi Moore’s debut picture book, but not her last. As a matter of fact, her second book When a Dragon Moves In Again is scheduled for release in the fall 2015. Jodi Moore’s lyrical language and magical story will have you wishing you had your own dragon adventure this summer.

The illustrations by Howard McWilliam are enchanting. There’s no place you’d rather be than on the beach with a dragon while reading this story, and Howard McWilliam makes sure you are transported there instantaneously. Every little detail is perfectly placed for a fun-filled day at the beach.

My advice… pick up a copy today and take a mini-vacation with your little readers. I guarantee you’ll love it and I’m pretty sure you’ll be tempted to build your own sandcastle, even if it’s just in a sandbox, because you know ‘if you build a perfect sandcastle, a dragon will move in’.

Note about me: I adore the beach! And my husband, who is an artist with sand can spend hours creating sculptures in the sand. While I’m busy trying to read or watch the people go by, he is attracting a crowd with his artwork. Here’s a photo of one of his sculptures, a little more crocodile than dragon, but it’s the closest I could find to one that matches the book selection today.


Lost Cat

19 May


Lost Cat written and illustrated by C.Roger Mader (2013)

This is a simple loving story about a little cat named Slipper. The story is told through Slipper’s eyes and therefore the reader only gets a glimpse of what the cat sees, mostly footwear. Slipper lives with a little old lady named Mrs. Fluffy Slippers. But when Mrs. Fluffy Slippers moves to live with her daughter, Slippers gets left behind. She tries following the moving van but it soon disappears from sight and by the time Mrs. Fluffy Slippers and her daughter realize they forgot the cat and turn around to go back, Slippers is lost. She travels alone looking for a new home. All of the potential adoptees are identified by their footwear. She meets Ms. Muddy Boots, Mrs. Iron Shoes, Mr. Cowboy Boots, and many others, but none of them is just right for the cat. Then on a crowded sidewalk, she notices Miss Shiny Shoes and decides to follow her home. When Miss Shiny Shoes gets home she announces, “Grandma, look who followed me home!”.  It was Mrs. Fluffy Slippers. Slippers is not a lost cat anymore.

This is a sweet sweet story! C.Roger Mader shows us exactly what the world would look like through the eyes of the cat. And in the cat’s dark eyes, the readers sees love, despair, hope, and contentment. It is truly a journey children and adults will identify with, whether they have ever been a cat or not.  Purrrfect!

The Watermelon Seed

6 May

16650268The Watermelon Seed written and illustrated by Greg Pizzoli (2013)

Winner of the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award, The Watermelon Seed is bound to be an instant classic. There’s nothing more this crocodile loves more than watermelon. He eats it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert. Then one day he accidentally swallows a seed. Yikes! He imagines what might happen if the seed starts to grow inside his stomach. Just when he thinks he might end up in someone’s fruit salad, he expels the seed with a very long and loud BUUUUUURRRRRRPPPPP!!!! He vows to give up watermelon forever… well, maybe after just one more teeny tiny bite. CHOMP! CHOMP! CHOMP!  Uh-oh….

Greg Pizzoli has written a simple and funny story that will leave kids and adults alike craving watermelon, but not the seeds! I especially love the picture spread where the crocodile imagines he will turn into a watermelon, his green stomach will stretch and be all pink and juicy inside!

This is Greg Pizzoli’s first picture book. It’s a great summertime – anytime read!

Look for his next book too. Number One Sam


The Day the Crayons Quit

31 Mar

16101018Drew Daywalt gives the reader a unique perspective on crayons in his debut picture book, The Day the Crayons Quit. Each crayon has its own voice, and uses it to express his or her own feelings in its own color.  One day Duncan opens his crayon box and instead of crayons, he finds letters written to him by each crayon.  The crayons are fed up with traditional color stereotypes.  Why do apples have to be red, and water blue? Is the sun yellow or orange? Pink is upset that Duncan doesn’t use her at all because he thinks she’s a girl’s color. And what about the almost invisible white and poor naked beige? They all have feelings and they’re all tired of being taken for granted. By the end of the story, Duncan decides to rethink the color possibilities and draws an orange whale and a blue dinosaur in a green sea,  a purple dragon under a black rainbow, a green monkey and a pink airplane, just to name a few.  His teacher gives him an A+ for creativity.

I give Drew Daywalt an A+ for his debut picture book!  In addition to being fun, it also has deeper layers of stereotypes, prejudices, and personality for the more sophisticated reader to explore.

And, of course it never hurts to have an awesome illustrator like the renown Oliver Jeffers bringing your words to life. Based on the sales so far, The Day the Crayons Quit has become an instant success and destined to be a classic picture book.

To see a video of The Day the Crayons Quit, go here.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VDBTwtEuY24

To read about Crayola Crayon Day go here.


%d bloggers like this: