A Spectacular Selection of Sea Critters is a collection of concrete poems, which are poems that take the shape of the object they describe. The author is Betsy Franco, who has written a number of wonderful children's books. Some of you may also know her as the mother of actor and poet James Franco. The eye-catching illustrations and hand-lettered text are from Michael Wertz, who draws much of his inspiration from screen printing. Betsy and Michael have worked together on two previous books of poetry, A Curious Collection of Cats and A Dazzling Display of Dogs. A lovely review in Kirkus concluded with, "At once light, visually playful, and educational, Franco and Wertz's latest collaboration proves the third time's a charm."
Ever since I started in book publishing, I’ve wanted to work on a book about ballet, and my dream has finally come true! The Nutcracker Comes to America is by Chris Barton, who won a Sibert Honor for his book The Day-Glo Brothers. Chris is an excellent writer and researcher, and in this book he tells the story of how three brothers from Utah got hooked on ballet in the early part of the twentieth century and ultimately brought The Nutcracker to the stage in this country. The first full performance was in San Francisco in 1944. It was no easy feat, and the story is one of of artistic collaboration and hard work.
Speaking of collaboration, the incredible illustrations are from Cathy Gendron. She immersed herself in ballet and Nutcracker history, spending up to 12 hours a day on the oil paintings for this book. Here's a photo of the art before Cathy packed it up and mailed it to us.
The book has received starred reviews from both Booklist and Publishers Weekly, and you can also read more about it in this Huffington Post article.
Last but definitely not least is a goofy new picture book from Brian P. Cleary, who you may know as the author of the long-running Words Are CATegorical series. They’re There on Their Vacation is all about the Huckabee family and their penchant for visiting unusual tourist attractions. But wait . . . there’s more! The book also provides oodles of examples of how to correctly use the words there, their, and they're. The illustrations are from Jim Paillot, and they're a perfect fit for Brian's wacky sensibility. The narwhal petting zoo must be seen to be believed!