Tuesday, March 29, 2011

New picture books: from moon dazed piggies to family farms' tractors

Is there anything more fun than getting a brace of new picture books, with staff members all crowding around book crates exclaiming over long-awaited titles, and customers peering into the pile to get a jump ahead on exciting books? This week has brought in some real crowd-pleasers.

Deborah Underwood had a fabulous spring last year with the popular Quiet Book, illustrated by Renata Liwska (Who wrote and illustrated a title I blogged about a few weeks ago, Red Wagon), and the graduation book, A Balloon for Isabel, illustrated by Laura Rankin. This season, Underwood and Liwska are back together for The LOUD Book, another endearing romp through the various sounds and reactions both kids and adults can relate to: "fireworks loud", "dropping your lunch tray loud," and the last page's heart-squeezing homage to summer, a lone bunny lying in a moonlit field to "crickets loud."

There are many truck and tractor books out there, as many a toddler-toting parent can affirm, but not all vehicles books have the soul and love that Grandpa's Tractor by Michael Garland contains. Grandpa Joe takes Timmy back to his childhood's farm, and while they walk by the abandoned barn to see the rusting tractor, Grandpa Joe tells him about planting alfalfa seeds, picking apples, and hauling firewood for their wood stove.

This next title, Ten Moonstruck Piglets by Lindsay Lee Johnson, I am going to beg Jess to read during story-time, it has such engaging rhymes. Just imagine the sounds you can make to this page: "They squeal! They snort!/On legs so short,/rollicking piglets/gaily cavort." I love the illustrations just as much, the black-on-blue scenery and piglet characters are so detailed that they deserve the kind of poring over that Richard Scarry and Don and Audrey Wood require.

We are a very animal friendly store - pets are very welcome (and welcome to the treats at the front door!) and our book buyer has been known to come upstairs to see any particularly adorable puppies. Which is why when such an adorable picture book as Say Hello to Zorro! by Carter Goodrich came in, we all pretty much melted. Mister Bud (with an hilarious large snout to stick over bedspreads and couches) is very set in his canine schedule, until a wee grumpy bull dog joins the family. Fans of Emily Gravett's Dogs will rejoice at another pup picture book that captures dog characters so very well.

My last pick of new picture books is the lush, lyrical and socially aware Migrant, written by Maxine Trottier and illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault (who happened to illustrate the Emily Dickinson installment of the Visions in Poetry series. Delicious.). Every year, Anna and her large family move with the seasons following the work from Mexico to Canada and back. The beauty in this potentially heavy story is the lightness and sweetness of the language: Anna's family is continually compared to geese flying, bees working, kittens sleeping, and the families that stay in one place are like trees rooted deeply: "But fall is here, and the geese are flying away. /And with them goes Anna, like a monarch, like a robin, like a feather in the wind."

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