Hot Off The Press! New Picture Books (12)

This is a feature that I try to do weekly called Hot Off The Press! based on my visits to Vroman's Bookstore and checking out their wall of new picture books.  Here are the 5 new releases that stood out from the pile this week:

Author/Illustrator: John Rocco
Publisher: Hyperion (May 24, 2011)
Audience: Ages 4 to 7 (and the adults who will read it to them)

As soon as I saw the book trailer, I knew I had to see this book.  I was so excited to find it on the display shelf this week and immediately sat down to look at it.  Based on a 2003 New York neighborhood blackout, Rocco tells the story how one community learned something new about family and friends and neighbors from an unexpected event.  I have included the book trailer below for readers to check out.

Are You Awake?
Author/Illustrator: Sophie Blackall
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. BYR (May 10, 2011)
Audience:  Ages 3 to 6 years

Though I indicated that the audience was for children ages 3 to 6 years, I want to say that this one may more likely be for every parent who has been awaken in the middle of the night or way to early in the morning by a small child who is all too eager to chat.  The dialogue was so real and I had to chuckle to myself as I read this one.  I love Blackall's illustrations as well.  My only complaint - Why did the publisher not release this one a few weeks earlier?  This would have been a lovely picture book to gift to a mother of a toddler for Mother's Day.

Here is a link to a blogpost that Sophie Blackall wrote about how she came up with the concept for the book, click here to read.

Here is a video of Sophie Blackall talking about her illustrations:

Earth to Clunk
Author: Pam Smallcomb
Illustrator: Joe Berger
Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers (May 12, 2011)
Audience: Ages 4 to 7 (and the adults who will be reading it)

I looked all over the place for a book trailer or some inside peeks or other information on this book and I found so little which is a shame since this book deserves at least a fun book trailer.  I have to admit that when I looked at the cover I didn't have the highest expectations (Yes, I know - shouldn't judge a book by it's cover. Shame on me!).  But by the time I got to the part where the main character mails his older sister to his alien pen pal, I was giggling aloud.  This book takes the concept of pen pals to a whole new place and I found myself loving the quirky illustrations and how they worked perfectly with the text which completely changed my attitude about the cover by the end of the book.

Hopper and Wilson
Author/Illustrator: Maria Van Lieshout
Publisher: Philomel (June 9, 2011)
Audience: Ages 4 to 7 years old

There are some friendship books that are charming and delightful, and Van Lieshout's Hopper and Wilson fit that description.  I hunted for a book trailer for this one as well and was disappointed not to find one.  I can truly imagine these two friends in their paper sailboat bobbing along with just the right musical accompaniment.  One blue elephant in search of a staircase to the moon, and a yellow mouse in search of an endless supply of lemonade set out in a paper sailboat.  Yet, as typical in life, the two friends find something more important.  If you are a fan of Oliver Jeffer's books, then I would strongly encourage you to check this one out.

Tweak, Tweak
Author: Eve Bunting
Illustrator: Sergio Ruzzier
Publisher: Clarion Books (May 23, 2011)
Audience: Ages 2 to 6 years old

I adore Eve Bunting.  She has created so many wonderful picture books that I have used over and over again in my years as a teacher.  So, I am always excited to see what new book she has released.  After reading this one, I was bummed that Clarion hadn't chosen to release it earlier in the year.  It falls in that perfect "mommy & toddler" book category but with a release nearly two weeks after Mother's Day, there was a lost marketing/gift-giving opportunity.

I will say that I loved how this Mother and Baby Elephant's excursion is well told.  When Baby Elephant wants to fly like the birds, or hop like a frog, Mother Elephant has just the right response. The illustrations are whimsical and gentle and compliment the text.

Reading Rockets did an interview with author, Eve Bunting.