2016 in [Book] Review Books Books about Books It's Monday What Are You Reading Picture Books Reading Themes

[Monday Reading] Seven Picturebooks about Books Published in 2016


It's Monday! What Are You Reading

Myra here.

It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (new host of Monday reading: Kathryn T at Book Date). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community.


As I borrowed quite a number of picturebook titles published in 2016, I noticed a curious thing. There are so many picturebooks about books! Here’s a quick round up of seven fabulous titles that celebrate one’s relationship with books and reading. If you know of any other 2016 titles I may have missed, do drop me a note so that I can hunt them down.

Hug This Book!img_9206

Written by: Barney Saltzberg Illustrated by: Fred Benaglia
Published by: Phaidon Press Limited, 2016 ISBN:0714872849 (ISBN13: 9780714872841)
Borrowed a copy from Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me. 

Told in rhyming text, this book invites the reader to do quite a number of things with “this book” from reading it to a hippo or reading it in the bath:


The message of the book conveys how reading can provide this sense of community as you can even “read this book up in the air, to everyone in town” or simply hug it close to you, smell it and kiss it, or you can also come up with your “story to tell to this book.”


The bright colours, minimalist nature of the artwork, very clear typography and the lilting voice of the text would resonate with a lot of young readers and would make them fall in love with the act of reading, and would most likely make them want to “hug this book!”

The Happiest Book Ever!img_9194

Written and Illustrated by: Bob Shea
Published by: Disney Hyperion, 2016 ISBN: 1484730453 (ISBN13: 9781484730454)
Borrowed a copy from Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me. 

I am always on the lookout for titles that would demonstrate identification and recognition of emotions for children – yet manage to do it in a non-didactic, non-preachy, or prescriptive manner. I am so glad that I found Bob Shea’s happiest book that managed to explore different facets of emotions, while playing around with colour, typography, and book design – and not appearing like an emotion-manual in the least.


In this ingeniously-designed title, the narrator is determined to come up with “the happiest book ever.” Yet, increasingly, you sense the growing frustration of the narrator as the frog here simply refuses to cooperate.


The narrator has done everything from asking the reader to shake the book, has come up with a lot of good froggie jokes, and mobilized waffle turtles and syrup, a sun with snazzy glasses, and set up clouds with faces to transform this to the happiest book ever. But still, no go – because of this obstinate, grouchy frog that he was forced to eventually come up with a not-too-pleasant solution – what it is, I shall leave for you to discover.


Bob Shea has made full use of colours to convey the changing hues of emotions which I found to be particularly effective, not to mention, fun! I now have a new go-to book when it comes to talking about emotions with young children.

img_9357This Is My Book!

Written and Illustrated by: Mark Pett (and no one else)
Published by: Alfred A. Knopf, 2016 ISBN: 1101937912 (ISBN13: 9781101937914)
Borrowed through inter-library loan from Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me. 

If you are to observe the titles of the seven books here, five out of the seven end in exclamation point. This is really just an aside, but one that I thought is worth noting. 


This fun book by Mark Pett reminded me a little bit of Mac Barnett and Adam Rex’s Chloe and the Lionespecially the first few pages when Pett established who he is in the book, and the important role he plays as both author and illustrator.


However, things become a wee bit complicated when he drew a panda who happens to be quite opinionated, a veritable character who knows his own mind and preferences – and acts on it, driving our hapless author/illustrator a little crazy as he focuses on establishing his own rules for what he thought was his book. The image above reminded me a little bit of Chris Van Allsburg’s Bad Day At Riverbend and revealed the postmodern nature of this book that directly addresses a reader-audience.


I would say that among all the titles here, this one would be a definite hit with a younger audience, given its interactive nature. I could also imagine this being very popular when it comes to read-alouds: so much potential really in voice changes, not to mention Pett’s growing exasperation (the flip-table, teeth-gnashing, hair-pulling kind) as the story progresses. Definitely a book that you should find, read, and experience with your young readers.

img_9199Books Do Not Have Wings

Written by: Brynne Barnes Illustrated by: Rogerio Coelho
Published by: Sleeping Bear Press, 2016 ISBN: 1634718747 (ISBN13: 9781634718745)
Borrowed a copy from Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me. 

Told once again in rhyming text, this book is a celebration of the many things that can be found within the pages of a book.


For me, the star of this book is more the art/illustration rather than the text itself. The title may be a play in words of traveling in the wings of one’s imagination through the pages of a book, hence I would much rather that the book creators claim that books indeed do have wings, or something to that effect, but I suppose it’s trying to provide a variant of that idea – that books need to be picked up and read for it to come alive.


As you can see in the images taken here, the wondrous illustrations inside do show books and reading at its very core, making this a must-read for all bibliophiles. The narrator also often makes reference to the reader, inviting them to come closer and “see the unseen – this thing that’s not just a book.”


The entire idea here is that books are filled with creatures that are living and breathing, “singing together in twos and in threes” as you can see above. The dryad and faery in me makes this my favourite art from the book. Truly a fantastical journey through the pages of a book.

Don’t Cross The Line!img_9214

Written by: Isabel Minhos Martins Illustrated by: Bernardo P. Carvalho Translated by: Daniel Hahn
Published by: Gecko Press, 2016 ISBN: 177657074X (ISBN13: 9781776570744)
Borrowed a copy from Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me. 

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: European picturebooks do stretch the boundaries much further when it comes to themes, art, and the multiple layers that can be unpacked from the visual narrative in storytelling.


In this story, a soldier was told unceremoniously by a commanding officer that he gives the orders around here, and that no one, absolutely no one, is allowed to cross the line – the line, being the book gutter of course. Reminiscent of Suzy Lee’s wordless picturebooks Shadow, Mirror, and Wave that play around with the anatomy of the book (such as the gutter) and including it as part of the narrative, Martins and Carvalho take it a step further by making this a clever commentary on dictatorship and the dutiful soldier simply following orders, as can be seen below.


But what can one soldier do in the face of growing, antsy, restless natives who demand to cross to the other side; especially since this rule appears rather capricious or arbitrary at best. How do you soothe an agitated crowd who demands something perfectly reasonable, and your job is to say no to them:


As you can see in the image above, all the soldier can say is “I’m sorry, I’m only obeying orders.” One other thing you should know: all these characters, these townsfolk – they are all seen in the end papers with their names and peculiarities.


Thus, a reader can take multiple reads of this book and just focus on one or two or ten characters and their reasons for demanding to go to the other side, and their reactions after being told they can not.

The plot thickens when a ball accidentally rolls over to the other side. What should be done under those unforeseen circumstances?


A brilliant book that shows the power of the collective voice, how social consensus is formed and the boundaries and flexibility of what is deemed socially acceptable, the limits of following the rules, and the incipient formation of social movements. Now that’s quite a mouthful for a picturebook – don’t you think?

fullsizerender-5The Highest Mountain Of Books In The World

Written and Illustrated by: Rocio Bonilla
Published by: Peter Pauper Press, Inc. 2016 ISBN: 1441319999 (ISBN13: 9781441319999)
Bought a copy of the book. Book photos taken by me. 

This is one of the best titles here in this list. A young boy named Lucas is obsessed about learning how to fly. He tried absolutely everything, experimented with feathers and came up with inventions just so he could float, glide, and fly – but to no avail. Until the day that his mother put a book in his hands on his birthday, telling him that “There are other ways to fly, Lucas.” At first he didn’t understand what it meant, then he read a book in one sitting – then another, until he cried out:


What I especially enjoyed here is how the art indicates a casual nod to wondrous titles that a lot of avid bibliophiles would be sure to recognize – a case in point would be the image as seen below:


Very subtle and gorgeously done. Lucas has done so much reading, stacking books he has read from the library, from gifts given to him by relatives and neighbours, that he actually became very famous, so much so that people travel around the city to find him, and ogle at the highest mountain of books in the world.


This is an exquisitely crafted book about books that celebrate the full absorption, total focus, and the absolute cone of silence created by a truly absorbing book, and the heights it can take any reader. One title you should definitely add to your list.

fullsizerender-3Let Me Finish!

Written by: Minh Lê Illustrated by: Isabel Roxas
Published by: Compendium, Inc. 2016 ISBN: 1938298993 (ISBN13: 9781938298998)
Borrowed a copy from Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me. 

I saved the best for last. I received a copy of this book a few months back – sent to me by Isabel Roxas, whom we have featured here at GatheringBooks.


The greatest thing about having illustrators as friends is that you get personalized notes such as this one, which I must say, is downright fabulous.


So we have this young boy who is excited to sink his teeth into a new book – except that he keeps getting interrupted by creatures who make it their life’s purpose to spoil the ending for him.


So this young voracious reader makes an effort to find the most unusual of places to read his book – except that it never seems private enough. There is always always someone or something, or somehugething that disrupts his reading flow, making him cry out at the top of his lungs to:


There are way too few humorous stories created by diverse authors that I find riveting – most of the themes are usually heavy-going. So this is a refreshingly-funny, gorgeously designed book that is bound to be a hit among so many readers, young and old. Make sure that you finish this book once you start reading it. No spoilers please.

11 comments on “[Monday Reading] Seven Picturebooks about Books Published in 2016

  1. This is My Book! reminds me a bit of an older Canadian title, Chester by Melanie Watt, in which a character and the author have creative disagreements.

    So fun to see so many picture books celebrating the creation and potential of books!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The Happiest Book Ever looks adorable! I hope you enjoy your books this week.

    My It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? post for this week.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a great theme this week! I have a few new to me books to go find now!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You’ve got some great books! I’ve added The Happiest Book Ever to my to read list. The Highest Mountain of Books in the World looks really good as well. Thanks for sharing.


  5. Your theme is joyous this week, Myra – how to resist The Happiest Book Ever? I am going to have to find it!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great set of picture books you’ve read this week! I’m really interested in Books do not have wings as the illustrations look pretty interesting! I need to check all of these books out! Have you heard of The Fool and the Flying Ship by Eric Metaxas?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I stopped reading after This is My Book to go see if it was available at our library! It is, and it’s in! I wasn’t so lucky with Don’t Cross The Line. I notice that even picture books published In Quebec push boundaries compared to English publications. It’s one of the reasons that the I am pondering what to write about The Last Tree, a picture book I read last week from netgalley.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh my gosh. Hug This Book looks charming! Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. These sound fabulous! 😀


  10. Pingback: [Saturday Reads] Favourite Titles Across GatheringBooks’ 2017 Reading Themes – Gathering Books

  11. Pingback: [Monday Reading] Portrayal of Kids Distracted by (Or Looking For Their) Books in Picturebooks – Gathering Books

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