Picture Book Reviews

In my other job, I’m a cataloger for the Arlington Public Library. Ever since I started writing picture books, I’ve also tried to catalog the lion’s share of the picture books we get. (Why does the lion get any of our picture books? Can lions even read?)

Recently-ish, I started reviewing a few. I used to do it on Twitter, but then I decided that a great way to rack up my yearly community connections hours without actually having to contact the community was to write a reviews column for the library’s web team.

I think what they’re actually doing is putting my reviews on our Goodreads account, so nobody gets to read the paragraphs of introduction that I slave for long, laborious minutes writing. What a pittyboozle.

But wait! I’m an author. I have a web page! I can put them right here! I can also stop using exclamation points to indicate faux excitement and surprise!

So anyway, here’s the first one I wrote. I think it was back in April.

Hi Arlington (and whoever else might pop in to read this),

Besides being a cataloger here, I’m also a picture book author. For a couple years now I’ve been combining my two jobs by writing short reviews of books I like on Twitter. I usually catalog the picture books anyway, and I like to give a shout out to other authors and illustrators whose work I like. But that was a sporadic effort. Recently, I decided to go about it in a more organized way. The APLS web development team was happy to offer me a place to post slightly longer reviews.

What you’re going to see here is very brief reviews of books I like. I’m not trying to do deep literary criticism, and I’m not going to drag anybody down. I just like to share cool stuff with other people.

When you’re going to see it is “occasionally.” I don’t always get to do picture books, and there won’t always be any that I want to promote.

What you might see here is any other stuff I think if fun to review. I catalog a lot of other children’s books, too, but those both take longer to read, so it’s harder to find time to review them.

So… let’s get started.


Disney Dumbo (ISBN 9781368027649)

Written by Calliope Glass ; illustrated by Dominic Carola and Ryan Feltman.


Cute, with solid art, but not particularly innovative or engaging. Then again, that's all it's meant to be. 


I wonder if we'll see an animated The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes once Disney runs out of animated movies to do live-action versions of.


Hats off to Mr. Pockles! (ISBN 9780399558153)

Written by Sally Lloyd-Jones ; illustrated by David Litchfield.


This book was fun. I envy Mr. Pockles some of his hats. This is the kind of book my neice would have wanted me to read every time I visited.


Wordy Birdy meets Mr. Cougarpants (ISBN 9781524719333)

Written by Tammi Sauer ; illustrated by David Mottram.


Wordy Birdy talks too much sometimes, which annoys her friends. Until the night of their camping trip, where Mr. Cougarpants makes an unewlcome appearance.


I love meta stories where the book interacts with the reader, because most picture books are a shared experience between an adult and a child anyway. I love whenever someone turns the "manners story" on its head because trite endings bore me.


I don't particularly love pickles, but I do like bean burritos. So all in all this book is a winner.


When sadness is at your door (ISBN 9780525707189)

By Eva Eland.


This book was sweet. It reminds me of Mr. Rogers, and therefore makes me sad. But it's a happy kind of sad. I appreciate it when authors present difficult topics to kids and don't pull the punches.


Turkey's eggcellent Easter (ISBN 9781542040372)

By Wendi Silvano ; illustrated by Lee Harper.


This book relentlessly avoids having any kind of message or moral. It's just a funny story about a turkey who REALLY wants to go on an easter egg hunt. And it's just about perfect.



Perfect (ISBN 9780545829311)

By Max Amato.


Perfect is really cute. It's a great transitional reader because you can totally follow the story without reading a word, and there aren't many words to read anyway. It tells a touching story of mutual dependency and finding common ground despite our differences in the form of a totally silly romp.


For people who know how erasers work, there's even some scary suspense.


Hush hush, forest (ISBN 9780816694259)

By Mary Casanova ; woodcuts by Nick Wroblewski.


Lovely woodcuts. The poetry isn't particularly my thing, but this is a sweet book.


How do you do? (ISBN 9781619638075)

By Larissa Theule ; illustrated by Gianna Marino.


This is a lovely book with great use of language, but I'm left wondering if Larissa Theule has ever been REALLY hot.


(That's a joke. She probably has. As hard as it is to believe, there are places hotter than Texas in the summer.)


Harold Phillip Snipperpot's best disaster ever (ISBN 9780062498823)

Words and pictures by Beatrice Alemagna ; English translation by Edward Gauvin.


A wonderfully ridiculous premise backed up by fun art, and a powerful lesson on how important it is to only use a birthday party planner who can provide references.


Dust bunny wants a friend (ISBN 9781524765699)

By Amy Hevron.


I swear I've seen this before. Maybe a cover reveal on Twitter. In any case, it gives me a sense of deja vu. It's also cute. Dust Bunny would find lots of friends at my house.


Dragon night (ISBN 9780525514244)

By J.R. Krause.


A sweet little story about facing one's fears, clever wordplay, and beautiful art.


Chicken talk (ISBN 9780062398642)

Words by Patricia MacLachlan ; pictures by Jarrett J. Krosoczka.


Chicken Talk is cute and sweet and weird and probably the most fun thing I've read today.