Tuesday, February 13, 2018

The Little Crooked Bookshelf on #ReviewsDay

by Pat Zietlow Miller
illustrated by Jen Hill

(This week's #ReviewsDay pick is from cottager Kara LaReau.)

What it's all about...
A girl watches her classmate, Tanisha, spill grape juice on her dress. How can she make Tanisha feel better?

Why I love it...
This pick was a no-brainer for me — a story celebrating kindness in all its forms, sensitively portrayed by the talented Pat Zietlow Miller, with lovely art from Jen Hill (otherwise known as the illustrator of The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters!).

Favorite lines...
Maybe I can only do small things.
But my small things might join small things other people do.
An together, they could grow into something big.

Sample illustration...

What's the kid-appeal?
The emotions in the story are pitch-perfect for young readers, who will be happy to learn how anyone at any age can make the world better.

What's the grownup appeal?
It's a wonderful read-aloud — and of course, we need engaging stories about kindness and empathy now more than ever.

Where to find/buy BE KIND
Indie Booksellers
Barnes & Noble

Or at a school or library near you!

Pat Zietlow Miller is the creative force behind the blog Read, Write, Repeat, where she reviews books for young readers. Her picture books include Sophie's SquashSophie's Squash Go To School, Wherever You GoSharing the Bread, and The Quickest Kid in Clarksville. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin with her husband, two daughters, and two pampered cats.

Jen Hill is the illustrator of several picture books, including Diana's White House Garden by Elisa Carbone, Spring for Sophie by Yael Werber, and Doing Her Bit by Erin Hagar; and is also the author and illustrator of Percy and Tumtum: A Tale of Two Dogs. She is a graduate from the Rhode Island School of Design and lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband and her intern, Little Bee, who is very helpful for a cat.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

The Little Crooked Bookshelf

by Laura Gehl
illustrated by Christopher Weyant

(This week's #ReviewsDay pick is from cottager Anika Denise.)

What it's all about...
A puppy sneaks into a store and impersonates a pillow for sale... and then a footstool... and then a jacket.

Why I love it...
Um... because a PUPPY sneaks into a STORE and impersonates a PILLOW FOR SALE!! And then a footstool!! And. Then. A. Jacket.

Favorite lines...
I bought a pillow here and I think it is broken.
What seems to be the problem, sir?
My pillow keeps MOVING!
Sir, is your pillow soft?
Is your pillow fluffy?
Well, yes...
Then your pillow is not broken, sir.
Would you like a sticker?

Favorite illustrations...
(c) 2018 Christopher Weyant

(c) 2018 Christopher Weyant
(c) 2018 Christopher Weyant

What's the kid-appeal?
Sweet and increasingly silly, this story will have kids giggling the whole way through. Laura Gehl (Peep and Egg) hits a humor home run with fuzzy pets, funny banter, a few poof-toot-burps, and lots of feel-good doggy love. New Yorker cartoonist Christopher Weyant's illustrations pair perfectly with Gehl's giddy text.

What's the grownup appeal?
It's a super-fun book to read again and again, and trust me — you will get repeat requests.

Where to find/ buy My Pillow Keeps Moving!

Indie Booksellers
Barnes & Noble
Or at a school or library near you!

Laura Gehl’s previous books include One Big Pair of Underwear, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld, and the Peep and Egg series, illustrated by Joyce Wan. Laura lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland with her husband and four children. Visit her online at www.lauragehl.com.

(c) 2018 Christopher Weyant
A cartoonist for The New Yorker, Christopher Weyant's work has been published worldwide in newspapers, magazines, books, and online. His cartoons are in permanent collection at The Whitney Museum of American Art and The Morgan Library & Museum in New York City. In 2015, he won the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for his first illustrated children's book, You Are (Not) Small, written by his wife, Anna Kang. Chris lives outside New York City with his wife and their two daughters. Find more of his work at http://christopherweyant.com.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The Little Crooked Bookshelf

by Carter Higgins
Illustrated by Lucy Ruth Cummins

(This week's pick is from cottager Jamie Michalak.)

What it's all about...
A little boy gives his friend a series of small gifts--a lucky rock, a ring from the gumball machine, and more. But make no mistake: these are NOT Valentines. Or are they?

Why I love it...
This ode to a best friend is full of love, but in the most un-cornball of ways. The specific details the boys shares about his friend, from the color of her best shoelaces to her favorite hiding place, shows how much he's smitten.

Favorite lines...
This is not a valentine,
since those things have
fancy cursive and swoopy spins
on words that sounds like mush.

This one is scraps and rips
and drippy glue that dried funny
and the green marker that was the
only one that worked.

the teacher
made us
make these.

Sample illustration...

From This is Not a Valentine by Carter Higgins. Illustration copyright 2017 by  Lucy Ruth Cummins. Published by Chronicle Books. 

What's the kid-appeal?
Most kids are not huge fans of "words that sound like mush," so this clever and sweet twist on Valentine's Day hits just the right note.

What's the grownup appeal?
This Is Not a Valentine is actually the perfect Valentine's gift for friends and crushes of any age.

Where to find/buy This is Not a Valentine:

Or at a school or library near you!

Carter Higgins is an elementary school librarian, book blogger, and graphic designer. She is the creator of the Design of the Picture Book blog. This is her first picture book. She lives in Los Angeles, California.

Lucy Ruth Cummins is an author and illustrator, and also and art director of children's books. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Little Crooked Bookshelf on #ReviewsDay

Tilly & Tank
by Jay Fleck

(This week's #ReviewsDay pick is from cottager Kara LaReau.)

What it's all about...
At first, Tilly thinks Tank is an elephant. Tank thinks Tilly is a tank. After a series of BOOM-ing encounters, the two embark on a blooming friendship.

Why I love it...
I LOVE Jay Fleck's artwork, and my little one loves elephants, so this was a no-brainer — plus, the themes of peace and friendship here are universal and timely.

Favorite lines...
Slowly and carefully,
Tilly tiptoed closer...
and closer...
until she was close enough to...
...give the green elephant a friendly tap.

Sample illustration...

What's the kid-appeal?
Fans of animals and big machines (and loud noises!) will find a lot of crossover appeal here.

What's the grownup appeal?
A sweet, gentle story with a lovely lesson: Sometimes our enemies are merely friendships waiting to blossom.

Where to find/buy Tilly & Tank
Indie Booksellers
Barnes & Noble

Or at a school or library near you!

Jay Fleck is a designer and illustrator based in Shorewood, IL. He is the illustrator of the picture books Double Take!Black Belt Bunny, and Everything You. His artwork has been featured on products at the GAP, on Threadless and on the front page of Society6.com, as well as a number of other brick-and-mortar and internet stores. Tilly and Tank is the first picture book he has both written and illustrated.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Little Crooked Bookshelf on #ReviewsDay + The Uncanny Giveaway Winner!

Don't Forget Dexter
by Lindsay Ward

(This week's #ReviewsDay pick is from cottager Anika Denise.)

What it's all about...
When Dexter T. Rexter's best friend, Jack, leaves him behind at the doctor's office, he panics. What if Jack never comes back? What if  Dexter is replaced by another toy? Can anybody help him?

Why I love it...
Dexter is hilariously neurotic. Ward's adorable cut-paper, pencil, and ink illustrations further amp up the comedy.

My favorite lines...
Nope. This isn't happening to me,
I'm Dexter T. Rexter.
The toughest, strongest, coolest dinosaur 
there has ever been.
I mean, look at my tail.
See how swishy it is?

My favorite illustrations...

(All images courtesy of Two Lions; (c) 2018 Lindsay Ward)

What's the kid-appeal?
Kids are sure to find Dexter's separation anxiety and neurotic chatter riotously funny and familiar.

What's the grownup appeal?
Parents and educators, too, will relate to Ward's toy's-eye-view tale of abandon and rescue. Plus it's a nice pivot to a reassuring discussion about being apart—but never left behind.

Where to find/ buy Don't Forget Dexter
Indie Booksellers
Barnes & Noble

Or at a school or library near you!

Photo courtesy of Michael Haley
Born and raised in sunny California, Lindsay decided to try snow and moved to upstate New York where she received her BFA in Illustration from Syracuse University. Lindsay Ward was inspired to write this book after her husband texted her a photo of a toy dinosaur abandoned at a doctor’s office. The caption read: “Well, they left me here.” Lindsay thought it was so funny that she sat down to write Dexter’s story immediately. She is also the author and illustrator of Brobarians, Henry Finds His Word, and When Blue Met Egg. Her book Please Bring Balloons was also made into a play. Most days you can find Lindsay writing and sketching at her home in Peninsula, Ohio, where she lives with her family. Learn more about her online at www.LindsayMWard.com.

The prize includes signed copies of The Uncanny Express and the new paperback of The Jolly Regina with snazzy bookmarks, a pack of Jolly Regina postcards, and an official Hugo Fromage mustache! We put all who commented or retweeted into Mr. Pig's official prize teacup and pulled a name!

And the winner is...


Congratulations! Please email your mailing info to littlecrookedcottage@gmail.com
or send us a direct message on Instagram or Twitter @CottageCrooked!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Mr. Pig Live ... with Magique & Hugo Fromage! PLUS AN UNCANNY GIVEAWAY!*

Hello, friends! It's time for an all-new episode of MR. PIG LIVE -- a talk show of scintillating interviews with your favorite children's book characters, hosted by me, MR. PIG!

Today, we have TWO special guests joining us. Please give a warm welcome to the colorful characters of Kara LaReau's latest Bland sisters adventure (out today!!!), The Uncanny Express . . .

Magique and Hugo Fromage!

Thanks for visiting! I must say, you two are my most mysterious guests. Will you reveal your full names? 
M: Magique, darling! Or, if you like, you can call me the Queen of Magic.
H: I am the great detective, Hugo Fromage. *bows* So pleased to make your acquaintance, Monsieur Pig.

What three words best describe you?
H: Brilliant, perceptive, and of course, humble.
M: Mysterious, marvelous, and of course, MAGICAL. 

I hope this isn't too personal, but ... do you have a belly button?
M: I prefer to leave that a mystery, like just about everything else about me.
H: Excuse moi?
All images copyright Jen Hill.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what would you bring?
M: My Disappearing Cabinet, in case I need a change of scenery.
H: A magnifying glass. Hugo Fromage is always on the case!

When do you feel the happiest?
M: When I’m pulling off a really good illusion. And of course, when I’m hearing applause.
H: When I am able to bring the guilty to justice!

Would you rather be able to fly or be invisible? (Or can you already fly or be invisible?)
H: I would prefer to be a fly…on the wall, to truly observe my suspects.
M: I can do both, darling. I am a magician, you know!
All images copyright Jen Hill.

If you have a pocket, what is in it right now? 
M: Magicians never reveal what’s in their pockets, or up their sleeves!
H: I do not carry anything in my pocket, mon petit lardon. Everything I need is up here, in what I call my brain stew. *taps a gloved finger against exceedingly-round head*

Do you have any siblings?
H: There is no other Fromage but Hugo. When they made me, they broke the mold, as they say.
M: Hmm…I don’t like to reveal spoilers, so you’ll have to read THE UNCANNY EXPRESS to learn more!
All images copyright Jen Hill.

What was it like working with Jaundice and Kale Bland?
M: I’m afraid they don’t have a dramatic bone in their bodies, the poor dears. But they were surprisingly effective as my assistants.
H: I must agree with you, Mademoiselle, Magique. In the end, they proved themselves worthy of my esteemed company.

What was it like working with my cottager roomie Kara LaReau?
M: Talk about a magician — she conjures characters and stories out of thin air! Though she really could use some flair in her wardrobe. I’d suggest more capes, caftans, and turbans.
H: Much like a good detective, Mademoiselle LaReau keeps her eyes and ears open. 
M: And she was the one who brought you and me together. Let’s not forget that. 
H: Her instincts are, as they say…uncanny.
M: I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Thank you for making us the first stop on your tour, Magique and Detective Fromage! And for those of you at home, the fun doesn't end here. Add a comment below to enter to win an uncanny . . .

* GIVEAWAY!!! The prize includes signed copies of The Uncanny Express and the new paperback of The Jolly Regina with snazzy bookmarks, a pack of Jolly Regina postcards, and an official Hugo Fromage mustache!
Winner announced on Tuesday, January 16.


The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters
The Uncanny Express

by Kara LaReau
illustrated by Jen Hill
(Amulet, 2018)

An inventive story in the tradition of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient ExpressThe Uncanny Express has all the whimsy and humor that readers who are looking for an anything-but-bland adventure will love.

"Fans of Dame Agatha’s whodunits will enjoy catching the sly riffs." -- Booklist

"LaReau has a lot of fun with her Agatha Christie homage, filling her book to the brim with requisite gags and puns...Move over, Holmes and Watson. There's a new detecting pair in town, and the name's Bland." -- Kirkus

The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters
The Jolly Regina 
(Amulet, 2017)

In the spirit of A Series of Unfortunate Events and the Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series, The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters will captivate middle-grade readers looking for humor, hijinks, and a swashbuckling good time. Meet Jaundice and Kale Bland, two sisters who avoid excitement at any cost. Together, they patiently await the return of their parents, who left on an errand years ago and have never returned.

"LaReau serves her humor dry, adding some serious swashbuckling for good measure...Meanwhile Hill's pen-and-ink cartoons give the book precisely the right strange and silly tone." -- Kirkus

"Filled with puns, intrigue, and ample evidence that women make excellent—and ruthless—pirates, it’s a promising introduction to the Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters series." -- Publishers Weekly

"Replete with puns, gags, and life lessons, this transgressive voyage may “ketch” fans of envelope pushers like Barry Yourgrau, Alan Katz, or Roald Dahl." -- Booklist

Kara LaReau was born and raised in Connecticut. She received her Masters in Fine Arts in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts and later worked as an editor at Candlewick Press and at Scholastic Press. She is the author of picture books such as UGLY FISH, illustrated by Scott Magoon, and NO SLURPING, NO BURPING! A Tale of Table Manners, illustrated by Lorelay BovĂ©; an award-winning chapter book series called The Infamous Ratsos, illustrated by Matt Myers; and a middle-grade trilogy called The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters, illustrated by Jen Hill.  Kara lives in Providence, Rhode Island with her husband and son and their cat.


Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The Little Crooked Cottage Bookshelf on #ReviewsDay

by Suzy Lee

(This week's #ReviewsDay pick is from cottager Jamie Michalak.)

What it's all about...

It starts with a line -- a tip of a pencil and a blade of a skate. At first, this seems to be a simple wordless picture book about an ice skater. But then the real and imagined blur to create magic!

Why I love it...

The art! Whoa. Exquisite. You'll wonder if the pages are made of ice.

Sample illustration...

From LINES. Illustration copyright 2017 by Suzy Lee. Published by Chronicle Books.

What's the kid-appeal?

They'll gasp at the surprising turn the story takes when the skater falls, and -- well, I don't want to give too much away. But they won't see it coming.

What's the grownup appeal?

Beyond the gorgeous visual poetry, Line is a story about picking yourself up when you fall, trying again, and helping others out when they need a hand. This book might also inspire a drawing lesson --- start with a line.

Where to find/buy LINES

Indie Booksellers
Barnes & Noble

Or at a school or library near you!

Suzy Lee is the author-illustrator of Wave, Shadow, and Open This Little Book. Her books have been published and lauded around the world. She was nominated for the Hans Christian Andersen medal, and Wave and Shadow were selected as New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Books of the year. Suzy lives in Seoul, Korea. Learn more about her at www.suzylee.com.