In the Stacks: new picture books

Lots of new picture books are on the shelves at the public libraries that will liven up the last few days before school starts again.


“Chicken Cheeks,” written by Michael Ian Black, illustrated by Keven Hawkes.

How many ways do you know to say “bottom?” You’re guaranteed to learn a new term or two as an enterprising bear convinces the other animals nearby to balance on top one another. Gnu upon turkey, rhino on flamingo, the stack grows taller and taller, but – to what end? This laugh-out-loud book of ridiculously balanced animals finally falls, but not before two uninvited guests reach their unexpected goal. (Keep your eyes out and you might spot them the first time through.)

“Pirate vs. Pirate,” written by Mary Quattlebaum, illustrated by Alexandra Boiger.

When Bad Bart, the burliest pirate in the Atlantic, meets Mad Mo, the mightiest pirate in the Pacific, their crews know there’s about to be big trouble. Which one is best at pirating? Well, the one who can outswim sharks, throw the most cannonballs and eat the most hardtack! But when they find themselves tied after many days of competition, it’s time to bring out the treasure chests. Let the richest pirate win! Illustrated with energetic pictures and text that practically reads itself, this rollicking tale of the high seas will have even the lowliest landlubber giggling.

“Mitchell’s License,” written by Hallie Durand, illustrated by Tony Fucile.

At the ripe old age of three years, nine months, and five days, Mitchell got his Remote-control Dad Driver’s license, and years of not wanting to go to bed fly out the window. He learns how to take good care of his new car, inspecting the tires and engine and making sure the windshield is clean, but he forgets to look both ways. Oops! Soon, he’s mastered the hairpin turn, lane changes, and emergency brakes. But one night he decides it needs gas – and his car talks back. Is this the end of the road for Mitchell?

“Six Sheep Sip Thick Shakes,” written by Brian P. Cleary, illustrated by Steve Mack.

These amusingly-illustrated tongue twisters will encourage you to take some time for a friendly contest with friends and family. Whether you’re a beginner or an old hand at tricky sayings, you’ll find something here to trip you up. Warm up with thieves on Christmas Eve, move on to stray dogs in sleighs, and finish up with the titular sheep (who happen to be sick). There’s even a nice explanation of the two kinds of tongue twisters (with beginning or ending tricks) and hints for creating your own.

“This Plus That,” written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Jen Corace.

Rosenthal’s quirky way of squinting at life has made her one of my favorite picture book authors (see: Duck! Rabbit! and It’s Not Fair!). In her world, chores divided by everyone equals family and popcorn plus dark equals movies. Rosenthal adds, subtracts, divides, and multiplies concepts together to create new ideas, each accompanied by colorful illustrations of two girls and their families and friends. There’s no real plot – it’s the idea that takes center stage. And – watch out! Inspiration plus imagination equals outside-the-book-fun!

“At This Very Moment,” by Jim Arnosky.

Serious kids who eschew stories with mice in dresses and cows playing drums will enjoy this pairing of their world plus the lives of real animals. In rhyming couplets, Arnosky describes what could be going on in other parts of the world: while you’re brushing your teeth, for example, a big-toothed shark is circling a reef. Devoid of humans, but full of animals, this is a beautifully-drawn, dreamy-but-real world where desert owls shelter from the heat in cactuses, and puffins slurp sand eels while the reader leads a parallel life. Be sure to read Arnosky’s notes on the last page for more facts about the animals he draws.

Come hear your favorite library storytellers at the JACC Putt miniature golf this afternoon (Thursday, Dec. 27) at 2 p.m. We’ll be having fun with fairytales – join us.

Please note: Toddler and Storytimes are on hiatus. They will start up again on Monday, Jan. 7.

For information about upcoming programs, or to place a holdl, visit or call 586-5249.


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