Hot Off The Press! New Picture Books

On Sundays, I have been heading over to Vroman's Bookstore and checking out their wall of new picture books. I started doing this the day after Christmas when my flight back east was canceled and I needed something to cheer me up. Now my weekly treks have become something that I look forward to and hate when I have to miss them. It hit me today that I should blog about my favorite new picture book releases. Here are 5 from today that stood out from the pile:

A Pet For Petunia
Author/Illustrator: Paul Schmid
Publisher: Harper Collins (January 25, 2011)
Audience: Ages 3 to 7 years

Out of all of the books, this was probably my favorite book in the stack.  Petunia has a stuffed skunk and wants a real skunk for a pet.  She does her best to convince her parents that she should have one.  What happens when Petunia encounters a real skunk?

This is a perfect read aloud for young children.  Simple illustrations beautifully support the text.  If I was giving a starred review, then this would be one of them.

To watch the book trailer, click here.

Giant Steps to Change the World
Authors: Spike Lee & Tonya Lewis Lee
Illustrators: Sean Qualls
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (January 4, 2011)
Audience: 2nd to 5th grade

I was a little skeptical when I saw that this book was written by husband and wife team Spike and Tonya Lee.  Celebrity picture books may sell because of a name, but what about quality?  The book starts off with the narrator encouraging a boy to "Listen to the voices of those who came before..."  There follows quotes from famous people but minus their names or images.  Qualls mixed media illustrations provide just enough to help make a guess at where the quotes come from.  I had fun trying to guess who said each quote but a child will need much more instruction to make the connection.  On the inside covers, each quote is listed with who said it.  This would be a fun discussion starter with older children. 

To watch Spike Lee & Tonya Lewis Lee speak about the book, click here.

Look! A Book!
Author/Creator: Bob Staake
Publisher: Little Brown Book For Young Readers (February 1, 2011)
Audience: Ages 4 to 8 years old

Children will enjoy searching for a special item on each two page spread.  The sparse text uses rhyming clues to direct children to the item that they will search for.  Die-cuts on each page provide sneak peaks to upcoming pages.  At the end, the page flips up and encourages children to return and search for more items beginning with 1 cow, and ending with 12 red books.  The colorful sturdy pages will likely hold up in a home but frequent check outs from a school library and serious handling from small sticky hands may provide a challenge in a school setting.

To watch the book trailer for Look! A Book!, click here.

When I Grow Up
Author: Al Yankovic
Illustrator: Wes Hargis
Publisher: HarperCollins (February 1, 2011)
Audience: Ages 4 to 7 years

This one made my top picks for the week partially because it made me chuckle, and partially because I really wasn't sure what to expect from Weird Al.  A little boy is eager to share about what he wants to be when he grows up.  However, his list is quite creative.  I liked the tie in to the child's grandfather, and the tribute to the teacher.  Hargis' watercolor illustrations are lovely and young children will also get a chuckle out of some of the career choices.

To watch the book trailer for When I Grow Up, click here.

Dear Tabby
Author: Carolyn Crimi
Illustrator: David Roberts
Publisher: HarperCollins (February 8, 2011)

Tabby D. Cat is an alley cat.  The various animals of Critterville send him letters seeking advice.  Each letter was formatted in a variety of styles/fonts.  Tabby in his own way provides just the right creative solutions to everyone's concerns.  Boots Whitepaw, a house cat, sends multiple letters about an over attentive owner.  Tabby dishes back a great response.  The twist at the end is cute.

Though I got a chuckle out this book and loved the ending, I imagine that this will be a tough book to do as a read aloud.  There is a lot on the pages that is essential to the story and the illustrations support the text well.  Recommend reading this in smaller groups.