It's Monday! What are you reading? From Picture Books to YA - 12/30/13

It's Monday! What are you reading? is hosted by Sheila of Book Journey.  Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee from Unleashing Readers have adapted it to focus on Picture Books to Young Adult Books.

I love when I have time to hang out in a bookstore and read a stack of picture books.  It only takes an hour or two to decompress from a crazy week if I can sit down and leisurely go through a pile of books.  For the past several months, I haven't had the luxury to even make it to the bookstore to look through books or to check out new releases like I usually do.  My first week of winter break has been wonderful and I have been trying to search out as many new picture books as I can. Just this weekend alone has uncovered some amazing gems.  I have listed my favorites below. 

Here's what jumped out of the stack this past week...

Please Bring Balloons by Lindsay Ward (Dial, October 17, 2013) - I think this is my new favorite picture book.  Last year, Ward's When Blue Met Egg ended up on my Best Picture Books for 2012.  If I had found this one sooner, it certainly would have made my list for this year.  Ward is a very talented cut-paper artist and her stories are charming.  Go out and find this one immediately and take time looking carefully at each page, especially the fold-out.  I need to thank the wonderful Bookseller at RJ Julia's who shared this one with me.

Herman and Rosie by Gus Gordon (Roaring Brook Press, October 15, 2013) - Carrie Gelson shared this book in her End of the Year post, but I loved the review by her students.  Click here to read what they had to say.  I have a feeling Herman and Rosie would have ended up in my top picks if I read it earlier.

Love Monster by Rachel Bright (HarperCollins, May 25, 2012) - This one was recommended to me by one of the Booksellers at Books of Wonder.  It is a fun book and will be great at Valentine's. 

Building Our House by Jonathan Bean (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, January 8, 2013) - I have been looking for this one for months and Books of Wonder had it on display. I enjoyed this story of a young family that builds their own home.

Big Snow by Jonathan Bean (Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, September 24, 2013) - I enjoyed reading several of Jonathan Bean's books while hanging out at Books of Wonder.  This one would be a fun read aloud about an impatient child, a very patient and understanding mom, and a snow storm.

Fraidyzoo by Thyra Heder (Abrams, November 5, 2013) - I discovered this one on the display shelves at RJ Julia's.  It's a fun story about how a family tries to help a young girl identify what she is afraid of at the zoo.  The illustrations are wonderful and it would be great for encouraging language as young children talk about the various animals.

The Man With the Violin by Kathy Stinson; Illustrated by Dusan Petricic (Annick Press, August 8, 2013) - Thank you Carrie Gelson for sharing this one is your End of the Year post.  I think Beth Shaum's review does a great job summing this one up.  Click here to read it and here to read her full review.  And click here for the book trailer.

How to Hide a Lion by Helen Stephens (Henry Holt and Co., October 1, 2013) - I love finding books that can be used for read alouds.  This one is definitely adorable and would be great for a kindergarten read aloud.

So, what are you reading?