Tag Archives: picture books

Wild and Windy Reads for Spring

Welcome to April, friends! You’ve probably heard that “April showers bring May flowers,” and if you’re at all like me, you are looking forward to the warmer weather and flowers May promises. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy those April showers!

This time of year can be a lot of fun, especially if you have little ones at home who are just learning to understand the cycle of the seasons. Every rainy day offers a new chance to explore, whether the day’s adventure will be jumping in puddles, making mud pies, floating homemade boats across puddles, or going for a walk to see  how different the world looks when it isn’t covered in snow and ice.

Here are just a few rainy day books you can share with your kids when it’s time to come in and dry off:

Are you ready to play outside? By Mo Willems

Although Gerald the Elephant and Piggie have their big plans interrupted by a rainy day, they prove that a bit of rain can’t stop good friends from having fun!


The Rain Train by Elena De Roo

This is a lovely book to read on a rainy night before bed! Listen to the sound of the rain on the roof while you join a young boy as he rides the Rain Train “past city lights, over rivers, through tunnels, and straight on to morning,” safe and dry.


Windblown by Édouard Manceau

When pieces of paper get caught in a gust of wind, the chicken, fish, bird, snail and frog are all sure that the paper belongs to them. Each one uses the pieces to create a new animal, but who do the pieces of paper actually belong to?

This is a fun book encourage creativity, and you could find yourself piecing together all kinds of fantastical things with scrap pieces of paper after you read it!

Cloudette by Tom Lichtenheld

This cute story just goes to show that size doesn’t matter. Cloudette is a little cloud, and even though she wants to, she can’t join the big clouds when they do helpful things like water the big gardens on the earth below. However, when a storm blows her to a new area, Cloudette’s determination helps her figure out a way she can help. The illustrations are an excellent supplement to the text.

The Bears in the Bed and the Great Big Storm by Paul Bright

When the rainy, story nights get a little scary, this is a great book to pull out to reassure everyone that there is nothing to be afraid of in the dark, especially when you’re all snuggled up in a comfy, cozy bed!

Baby Bear, Little Bear, and Young Bear all crawl into bed with their parents when the wind and the thunder get to be too scary.  Although Daddy Bear insists that there is “no such thing as monsters,” when the lights suddenly go out and there’s a noise at the door, he isn’t quite so sure.

Little Cloud by Eric Carle

Little Cloud likes to do his own thing, transforming into all kinds of different shapes as he floats through the sky. Sometimes, though, Little Cloud and his friends all play together, they become one great big cloud, and the rain begins to fall.


Float by Daniel Miyares

In this wordless picture book, a small boy in a bright raincoat makes the most of a rainy day, playing with a boat made of newspaper. However, when the boat gets away from him, the hunt is on, and when the rain lets up, he finds himself on a new adventure altogether.

Mud Puddle by Robert Munsch

No one makes you appreciate the fun of getting dirty the way Robert Munsch does! When Jule Ann becomes the victim of an over-excited Mud Puddle, she has to think of a way to outsmart it. Enter two bars of smelly yellow soap. This is a great one to read aloud with funny sound effects and voices, just like Munsch himself would do!

Photography in Picture Books

A picture is worth a thousand words — or so the saying goes.

Photography has always had the ability to convey stories, but it seems as though in the modern era of Facebook, Flickr, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, (and the list goes on)….we’ve taken visual storytelling to a whole new level.  Your niece’s first ever snowman.  Your best friend’s failed attempt at lemon meringue pie.  Your brother buried in sand up to his neck while on vacation in the Bahamas.  Everyone’s got a camera in their pocket, and even the smallest of moments are captured for everyone to see.

We’re all a bit photography obsessed, which is why it’s no surprise that the latest trend in children’s picture books seems to be photography illustration.  Sure, photographs have dominated the nonfiction scene for decades, but only recently has the art form moved into the world of fiction in a big way.

Check out these amazing picture books that feature real-world photography in very creative ways!

The Secret Life of Squirrels by Nancy Rose
You may think you know what squirrels do all day…but Mr. Peanuts is no ordinary squirrel. Instead of climbing tress, he plays the piano.  Instead of scurrying through the woods, he reads books; but everything is more fun with company, so Mr. Peanuts writes a letter to Cousin Squirrel and invites him for a visit!  Featuring candid photographs of wild squirrels in handcrafted, homemade miniature settings.

Peanut Butter and Cupcake by Terry Border
What’s a little piece of bread to do when he’s feeling lonely? Find a friend, of course!  And that’s exactly what Peanut Butter tries to do. But sometimes friends are hard to come by, especially when Hamburger has to walk his (hot) dogs, Cupcake is too busy building castles in her sprinkle box, and Egg laughs so hard he starts to crack up! Does Peanut Butter have a soul mate? Young readers will know the answer long before Peanut Butter does and laugh along with each mismatched pairing.

Flo & Wendell Explore by William Wegman
Flo thinks the family’s last vacation together was just grand. Her little brother, Wendell, thinks it was absolutely terrible. So, being the good big sister that she can sometimes be, Flo has agreed to take Wendell on his very own camping adventure. They’re going to go canoeing, fishing, and hiking—well, as best they can in the comfort of their neighborhood.  Wegman has become well known for his dog photography, and in this creative follow-up to Flo & Wendell, he starts with dogs and creates worlds around them.

Nancy Knows by Cybèle Young
Nancy knows she’s forgotten something. Something important. When she tries to remember, she thinks of all kinds of other things instead. She remembers things she knows and things she doesn’t quite know. She remembers things one way, then another. Sometimes she remembers with her ears or her stomach or even her heart. But Nancy knows she’s still forgetting something. It’s only when Nancy stops thinking altogether that she finally remembers the very important thing she’s forgotten. Nancy Knows is the charming story of an elephant who remember lots of things, except the very thing she is trying to remember. Each spread of this whimsical picture book features fantastic miniature paper sculptures within expressive outlines of a puzzled elephant.

Swim Duck Swim by Susan Lurie
It’s time for Duckling to jump in the water and do what ducks do—swim! But he doesn’t want to get wet. He’d rather take a nap. And he’s really, really mad that everyone keeps telling him what to do!  Luckily, Mama and Papa Duck are very, very patient, and soon, Duckling will join his siblings in the pond. Here is a charming story, illustrated with exquisite, up-close photos, that will help young readers learn to swim—or try anything new.

I Wish I Had a Pet by Maggie Rudy
Who hasn’t yearned for the perfect pet? The mice in this book–hand-sewn and inhabiting enchanting, diorama-style scenes–know all about critter care, and they’re here to share wise words about choosing and keeping animal companions.  Whimsical images of the mice with their own petite pets, including bumblebees, ladybugs, and butterflies, complement the warm humor of this extraordinary picture book that’s like no other!


Top 10 Picture Books of 2014

December is a time of reflection.  An opportunity to look back at the year that was.  For some, it’s a wake-up call.  (Next year, I am definitely going to spend less time on Facebook, and more time drinking coffee with my friends.)  For others, it’s a time to be proud.  (I can’t believe I finally organized my closet!) And for book lovers, it’s a chance to replenish that stack of books on your bedside table, and read the best of the best from the year past.  Of course, if you’re a book lover parent, like me, that means picture books.  Here’s a look at the best picture books of 2014, as chosen by your resident Children’s Librarian, and bedtime book connoisseur.  Be sure to check out these sure-fire hits!

samSam & Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett
Sam and Dave are on a mission. A mission to find something spectacular. So they dig a hole. And they keep digging. And they find . . . nothing. Yet the day turns out to be pretty spectacular after all. Attentive readers will be rewarded with a rare treasure in this witty story of looking for the extraordinary — and finding it in a manner you’d never expect.

The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak
You might think a book with no pictures seems boring and serious. Except . . . here’s how books work. Everything written on the page has to be said by the person reading it aloud. Even if the words say . . .BLORK. Or BLUURF.  Cleverly irreverent and irresistibly silly, The Book with No Pictures is one that kids will beg to hear again and again (and parents will be happy to oblige).

mixMix It Up by Hervé Tullet
Accept Hervé Tullet’s irresistible invitation to mix it up in a dazzling adventure of whimsy and wonder. Follow the artist’s simple instructions, and suddenly colors appear, mix, splatter, and vanish in a world powered only by the reader’s imagination. Tullet—who joins such greats as Eric Carle and Leo Lionni as a master of his craft—sets readers on an extraordinary interactive journey all within the printed page.

dinosaurIf You Happen to Have a Dinosaur by Linda Bailey
If you happen to have a dinosaur, lying around your living room, and you don’t know what to do with it … why don’t you use it as a can opener? It will make a terrific nutcracker too! There are oodles of uses for a dinosaur — from a fine umbrella to an excellent kite and a dandy pillow, not to mention a reliable burglar alarm and the perfect excuse to forget your homework. This delightfully absurd exploration of the domestic uses of dinosaurs — and the things dinos just aren’t good for at all — is guaranteed to tickle funny bones and spark imaginations.

hugHug Machine by Scott Campbell
Watch out world, here he comes The Hug Machine! Whether you are big, or small, or square, or long, or spikey, or soft, no one can resist his unbelievable hugs! HUG ACCOMPLISHED!  This endearing story encourages a warm, caring, and buoyantly affectionate approach to life. Everyone deserves a hug – and this book!

humansLittle Humans by Brandon Stanton
Little humans are helpful and playful, friendly and loving, flexible and resourceful.  They love their brothers and sisters, their moms and dads, and their friends.  Little humans are growing each day. They won’t be little for long. Soon they will be… BIG!  Street photographer and storyteller extraordinaire Brandon Stanton is the creator of the #1 New York Times bestselling book Humans of New York as well as the wildly popular Humans of New York blog. To create Little Humans he combined some of his favorite children’s photos with a heartwarming ode to little humans everywhere.

mooseThis is a Moose by Richard Morris
When a movie director tries to capture the life of a moose on film, he’s in for a big surprise. It turns out the moose has a dream bigger then just being a moose–he wants to be an astronaut and go to the moon.  His forest friends step in to help him, and action ensues. Lots of action. Like a lacrosse-playing grandma, a gigantic slingshot into space, and a flying, superhero chipmunk.

libraryA Library Book for Bear by Bonny Becker
Bear does not want to go to the library. He is quite sure he already has all the books he will ever need. Yet the relentlessly cheery Mouse, small and gray and bright-eyed, thinks different. When Bear reluctantly agrees to go with his friend to the big library, neither rocket ships nor wooden canoes are enough for Bear’s picky tastes. How will Mouse ever find the perfect book for Bear? Children will giggle themselves silly as Bear’s arguments give way to his inevitable curiosity, leading up to a satisfying story hour and a humorously just-right library book.

pigeonThe Pigeon Needs a Bath by Mo Willems
The Pigeon really needs a bath! Except, the Pigeon’s not so sure about that. Besides, he took a bath last month! Maybe. It’s going to take some serious convincing to try and get the Pigeon to take the plunge.

onceOnce Upon an Alphabet by Oliver Jeffers
From an Astronaut who’s afraid of heights, to a Bridge that ends up burned between friends, to a Cup stuck in a cupboard and longing for freedom, Once Upon an Alphabet is a creative tour de force from A through Z. Slyly funny in a way kids can’t resist, and gorgeously illustrated in a way readers of all ages will pour over, this series of interconnected stories and characters explores the alphabet in a way that will forever raise the bar.


Red Carpets for Writers and Readers

The Grammies have just wound up and buzz about this spring’s Oscar Awards has been in the air for months (or maybe it just feels like months?). But the red carpet treatment at this time of year isn’t just for the singing and acting sets; we are also smack-dab in the middle of book award season.

Two of the most well-known book awards were recently presented at the American Library Association’s mid-winter conference in Seattle, Washington.

THis is Not My HatThe Caldecott Medal (named for nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott) has been presented by the ALA since 1938 to the “most distinguished American picture book for children.” (To find out what was hot in children’s lit near the end of the Dust Bowl years, check out this list.) This year’s winner is This Is Not My Hat, written and illustrated by Jon Klassen. Like the best fiction of any kind, Klassen draws out the imaginations of his young readers as they follow the actions of a small fish who, against his best judgment, steals the hat of another. The book has been described as “darkly humorous” – and it is – but both the storytelling and terrific illustrations balance things out with plenty of charm.

The One and Only IvanAlong with the Caldecott the ALA also presented its annual Newbery Medal (named for eighteenth-century British bookseller John Newbery). The Newbery honours “the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children,” and has been around since 1922. This year’s winner is The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate, illustrations by Patricia Castelao. The book tells the story of “show” gorilla Ivan (his home is the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade) – who happens to have a penchant for art-making – and the way his life changes with the arrival of Ruby, a baby elephant. Themes of friendship and hope weave their way through this touching story, which is also not without a giggle or two.

Canadian libraries present their own awards for children’s books as well. We’ll find out this year’s winners at the 2013 Canadian Library Association conference (May/June) – held in Winnipeg this year! Stay tuned to learn the winner of the Book of the Year for Children Award and the Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Illustrator’s Award for outstanding illustrator of a children’s book.

Winnipeg Public Library makes it easy for you to get your hands on these and other award-winning titles. Just head on over to our catalogue and check out the Good Reads link for our holdings of local, national and international award-winners for all ages.

Happy reading!


Best Picture Books of 2012

The smell of gingerbread cookies baking in the oven… quiet and gentle snowflakes falling from the sky… the Christmas lights… the carols… the turkey! There is so much to love about the month of December. But when it comes to the world of books, the thing I love most is the annual “best books” lists that pop up everywhere — which is why I thought I would get in on the action and make a little list of my own!

2012 was an amazing year for children’s picture books, and although it was hard to narrow down the list, I’ve selected 10 top picks that you absolutely must read:

notmyhatThis is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen
When a tiny fish shoots into view wearing a round blue bowler hat, trouble could be following close behind. So it’s a good thing that enormous fish won’t wake up. And even if he does, it’s not like he’ll ever know what happened. . .

homeforbirdA Home for Bird by Philip C. Stead
While out foraging for interesting things, Vernon the toad finds a new friend – a small blue bird who is curiously silent.  Vernon worries that Bird is silent because he misses his home, so the two set off on a journey to help find a home for Bird.

goldilocksGoldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs by Mo Willems
When three hungry dinosaurs lay a trap hoping to catch something to eat, Goldilocks who never listens to warnings, walks into their house and springs the trap.  A funny and original take on a classic fairy-tale!

Extra Yarn by Mac Barnettextrayarn
With a supply of yarn that never runs out, Annabelle knits for everyone and everything in town until an evil archduke decides he wants the yarn for himself.

oliviaOlivia and the Fairy Princesses by Ian Falconer
Olivia is having an identity crisis! There are too many ruffly, sparkly princesses around these days, and Olivia has had quite enough. She needs to stand out! She has to be special! She wants to do more than just fit in! So what will she be?

nighttimeninjaNighttime Ninja by Barbara DaCosta 
Late at night, when all is quiet and everyone is asleep, a ninja creeps silently through the house in search of treasure. Soon he reaches his ultimate goal…and gets a big surprise! Will the nighttime ninja complete his mission?

bearBear Has a Story to Tell by Philip C. Stead
Bear found his friend Mouse, but Mouse was busy gathering seeds and didn’t have time to listen to a story. Then Bear saw his friend Duck, but Duck was getting ready to fly south. What about his friend Toad? He was busy looking for a warm place to sleep. By the time Bear was through helping his friends get ready for winter, would anyone still be awake to hear his story?

whompSqueak, Rumble, Whomp! Whomp! Whomp! by Wynton Marsalis
Ringing with exuberance and auditory delights, this second collaboration by world-renowned jazz musician and composer Wynton Marsalis and acclaimed illustrator Paul Rogers takes readers (and listeners) on a rollicking, clanging, clapping tour through the many sounds that fill a neighborhood.

mooseZ is for Moose by Kelly Bingham
Moose, terribly eager to play his part in the alphabet book his friend Zebra is putting together, then awfully disappointed when his letter passes, behaves rather badly until Zebra finds a spot for him.

boyBoy + Bot by Ame Dyckman
One day, a boy and a robot meet in the woods. They play. They have fun.  But when Bot gets switched off, Boy thinks he’s sick. The usual remedies—applesauce, reading a story—don’t help, so Boy tucks the sick Bot in, then falls asleep.  Bot is worried when he powers on and finds his friend powered off. He takes Boy home with him and tries all his remedies: oil, reading an instruction manual. Nothing revives the malfunctioning Boy! Can the Inventor help fix him?

If you haven’t had a chance to read any of these books with your kids this year, I would definitely check ’em out over the winter break. Everyone needs a bit of down time during the holidays – especially after the many hours spent putting together new gadgets, zipping around from party to party, and eating all that food.  So take some time to cozy up with your little ones, and indulge in the simple joy of books!