Top Ten Picture Books for the First Half of 2013

We have just moved beyond the half-way mark in the year and I thought it would be fun to list my favorite picture books for the first half of the year.   Books selected had to be released by June 30, 2013.  Last year, two of my 10 went on to win Caldecott Honors.  Will there by any award winners in this group?! Not sure, but certainly hope so.

Bluebird by Bob Staake (Schwartz & Wade)

Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle (Chronicle Books)

Exclamation Mark! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal; Illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld (Scholastic Press)

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt; Illustrated by Oliver Jeffers (Philomel)

Miss Maple's Seeds by Eliza Wheeler (Nancy Paulsen Books)

No Fits, Nilson! by Zachariah Ohora (Dial)

The Story of Fish and Snail by Deborah Freedman (Viking Juvenile)

The Mighty Lalouche by Matthew Olshan; Illustrated by Sophie Blackall (Schwartz & Wade)

The Beatles Were Fab (and They Were Funny) by Kathleen Krull, Paul Brewer; 
Illustrated by Stacy Innerst (HMH Books for Young Readers)

Illustrated by Melissa Sweet (Balzer & Bray)

How a visit to an Indie Bookstore brings me to a picture book post on Chronicle Books...

Recently, I have been to a couple of author events at Skylight Books in Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles.  It is a quirky, artsy, independent bookstore in a quirky, diverse, artsy neighborhood.  I would spend more time visiting the store if it wasn't such an annoying drive to get there. 

However, while I was there yesterday waiting for Elizabeth Ross' book launch to begin, I spent some time browsing in the children's corner.  It made me realize that Chronicle Books is a perfect match with Skylight Books.  Both have the same quirky, artsy, indie feel that I have come to love and appreciate, which made me realize that I have a stack of picture books from Chronicle that I was trying to figure out how to feature.

Out of the stack of Chronicle Picture books here are some of my favorites that are sure to delight your youngest readers....

Upcoming Releases:

WIGGLE! and HIDE AND SEEK by Taro Gomi
Ages Infant to 2; Board Books - August 2013

DIGGERS GO by Steve Light
Ages 2 to 5; Board Book - August 2013

Sea Monster and Bossy Fish by Kate Messner; Illustrated by Andy Rash
Ages 3 to 6; Hardcover - August 2013

Ah Ha! by Jeff Mack
Ages 2 to 5; Hardcover - September 2013

Yeti Turn Out the Light by Greg Long and Chris Edmundson; Illustrated by Wednesday Kirwan
Ages 3 to 6; Hardcover - September 2013

The Bear's Song by Benjamin Chaud
Agues 3 to 6; Hardcover - October 2013

Picture Book Blog Tour - Ann Redisch Stampler

Kid Lit Frenzy is honored to be kicking off the Picture Book Blog Tour for Ann Redisch Stampler.  Ann has written numerous picture books over the years and last year entered the scene as a debut Young Adult author with her book, Where It Began (Simon Pulse, 2012).

The Picture Book Blog Tour is featuring Ann's newest picture book The Cats on Ben Yehuda Street that was released in January of this year and The Wooden Sword which was released in 2012.  There will be 10 stops in this blog tour and you can get more information from Read Now Sleep Later where Ann's books will be featured tomorrow (March 19, 2013).  Scroll down to read my thoughts on each of the books.   

The Cats on Ben Yehuda Street written by Ann Stampler; Illustrated by Francesca Carabelli (Kar-Ben Publishing, January 1, 2013)

This book is absolutely charming, and cat lovers will adore it.  Mr. Modiano owns a Fish Shop on Ben Yehuda Street in Tel Avi.  Mrs. Spiegel is his neighbor and the owner of two cats.  Each day, Mr. Modiano brings a fish up to Mrs. Spiegel and each day, after he leaves, she gives the fish to her cats to enjoy.  Then one day, her dear Ketzie goes missing.

The writing in this book is both perfect for the story and for young readers who will enjoy the humor and seriousness of the tale.  The repetitive format of the text will provide readers with the ability to join in on guessing what will happen next.  Both Mr. Modiano and Mrs. Spiegel are quirky in their own way.  The two cats, Ketzie and Gatito are unique as well.  Though, I wasn't surprised by the ending of the story, I was certainly pleased with how things work out when Ketzie disappears.

Francesca Carabelli's illustrations work well in complimenting the tone of this book.  There is a certain sense of fun and humor that is conveyed by her depiction of each of the characters.  This story works on several levels because of how well Stampler's text works with Carabelli's pictures.   

The Wooden Sword by Ann Stampler; Illustrated by Carol Liddiment (Albert Whitman & Co, March 1, 2012)

Whereas, there is a certain sense of fun and humor in The Cats on Ben Yehuda Street, Stampler displays a more serious note in The Wooden Sword.  Her retelling of the classic Afghani Jewish folktale is pitch perfect.  I have spoken with Ann several times about this book and have always been struck about her desire to get this one "just right" from both the text to the illustrations.  I have admired her diligent efforts in capturing the cultural setting for this folktale too.

As I read, The Wooden Sword, I was drawn to the faith of the poor Jewish shoemaker in the face of the challenges presented by the Afghani Shah.  The folktale works perfectly in our world today.  For many, challenges come constantly in the decisions that we face each day and in wondering how to deal with loss of jobs or other things.  The Jewish shoemaker remains faithful and optimistic through it all and shows great wisdom in how he deals with some difficult decisions.

Carol Liddiment's illustrations work to compliment and highlight Ann's storytelling.  Readers will find this story fulfilling and an excellent addition to classroom and school collections on folktales. 

Information about Ann Redisch Stampler:
Ann Redisch Stampler loves folk tales! She is an award-winning picture book writer, most recently receiving the National Jewish Book Award for The Rooster Prince of Breslov. She also writes for young adults.

From her website: In terms of the facts of my life, I was born on the East coast and raised mostly in the West, and live in Los Angeles where my husband, Rick, and I raised our two children. I studied English literature, psychology, and law, all of which still interest me. But I have always wanted to be a writer, and I feel extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to fulfill that dream.

Where to find her: Picture Book Website | YA Website | Twitter | Facebook

Blog Tour Stops:

Tue - March 19 - Alethea at Read Now Sleep Later 
Wed - March 20 - Gail at Nightengail Art 
Thu - March 21 - Danielle at There's a Book
Fri - March 22 - Wendy at Noodling with Words 
Sat - March 23 - The Cats on Ben Yehuda Launch Party at Children's Book World, Los Angeles
Mon - March 25 - Julie Rowan-Zoch 
Tue - March 26 - Joanna at Miss Marple's Musings 
Wed - March 27 - Niki at Daydream Reader 
Thu - March 28 - Cynthia at Teaching in Cute Shoes 
Fri - March 29 - Colby at Sharpread

The Yuckiest, Stinkiest, Best Valentine Ever

Author: Brenda A. Ferber
Illustrator: Tedd Arnold
Publisher: Dial Books for Young Children (December 6, 2012)
Audience: Ages 4 to 8
Source: Copy for Review
Valentine's Day * Friendship * Fiction

Description from GoodReads:
Even boys will fall in love with this valentine!

Leon has a crush. A let-her-cut-in-line-at-the-water-fountain kind of crush. And he's got the perfect valentine. But this valentine has no intention of getting caught up in any romantic conspiracy. "Love is yucky, kid! Valentine's Day is all about CANDY!" the card yells at Leon, before leaping out the window and running away, leaving Leon to chase it across town, collecting interested kids along the way.

Here is a hilarious take on the holiday that boys love to hate, the most complex holiday of them all. Saying "I love you" has never been so yucky or so sweet

Thoughts on this book:
If you are looking for some humor on Valentine's Day, Ferber's book The Yuckiest, Stinkiest, Best Valentine Ever will provide you with a chuckle and leave you with a sweet feeling.  Leon has a crush on Zoey Maloney and proceeds to create a Valentine for her.  With a nod to the Gingerbread Man, what happens next mixes humor and excitement as the neighborhood boys, and girls and teens run after Leon in an attempt to capture the Valentine who seems to be opposed to being a valentine.  I love when Leon and the Valentine finally meet up with Zoey Maloney.  Maybe there is more than one match about to happen in the end.

Tedd Arnold's illustrations are the perfect partner for the text and adds just the right amount of fun and sass to the story.  I don't often add too many new books to my Valentine's collection because most do not add anything new to the vast number of books out there.  However, this one definitely has a place in a classroom or school library.

For additional resources, check out Brenda Ferber's website for an activity kit for the book.

Favorite Picture Books of 2012

It is that time of year.  Time to decide which books made the top of my list.  I have poured over my GoodReads picture book shelf. I have debated over books that were on my earlier lists.  And I finally narrowed it down to 12 top picture books for 2012.  Some of my previous choices made the final cut but I still love those early favorites too.  

Here are my choices for 2012 in no particular order.  Will one of them receive a shiny sticker to adorn the cover of the book? Maybe.  Maybe not! I really selected each of them because I just really liked them. Enjoy!  

Laundry Day by Maurie J. Manning (Clarion Books) - Thanks Nerdy Book Club for putting this one on my radar.  I really love the illustrations and sense of adventure in this one.

Oliver by Birgitta Sif (Candlewick Press) - Quirky, sweet, and just a special book and one that I felt never received the attention that it should have.

Squid and Octopus: Friends Forever by Tao Nyeu (Penguin) - Well, you know my undying love for this book.  I have been talking about this one from the beginning of the year before it even came out.

Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger (Roaring Brook Press) - What a beautifully constructed concept book.  Every page is perfect.

When Blue Met Egg by Lindsay Ward (Penguin) - The cut-paper art in this one is phenomenal.  And the story is sweet and wonderful.

Bear Has a Story to Tell by Philip C. Stead; Illustrated by Erin E. Stead (Roaring Brook Press) - I'm partial to bears and I am partial to the work of husband and wife team Philip and Erin Stead.  Charming, quiet, and wonderful!

I'm Bored by Michael Ian Black; Illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi (Simon & Schuster) - This one makes me laugh again and again.  And the illustrations knock it out of the park for me.


Hello! Hello! by Matthew Cordell (Hyperion) - A message that we all need to be reminded of. 

And Then It's Spring by Julie Fogliano; Illustrated by Erin E. Stead (Roaring Brook Press) - You already know my love of Erin Stead's work and this one is beautifully illustrated.

Bot and Boy by Ame Dyckman; Illustrated by Dan Yaccarino (Knopf Books) - One of my favorite stories of friendship.

Penguin and Pinecone by Salina Yoon (Walker Children's) - And another special story of friendship that I had to include in this list.

What were your favorite picture books in 2012?