House Held Up by Trees by Ted Kooser, illustrated by Jon Klassen

From Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Ted Kooser and Kate Greenaway winner Jon Klassen comes a poignant tale of loss, change and nature’s quiet triumph.

From Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Ted Kooser and Jon Klassen, author-illustrator of the first ever title to win both the Kate Greenaway and Caldecott Medal, comes a lovely, lyrical exploration of loss, change and the natural world, and a story about a house over the passage of time. When the house was new, not a single tree remained on its perfect lawn to give shade from the sun. The children in the house trailed the scent of wild trees to neighbouring lots, where thick bushes offered secret places to play. When the children grew up and moved away, their father, alone in the house, continued his battle against blowing seeds, plucking out sprouting trees – until one day he, too, moved away. Then, as the empty house began its decline, the trees began to take over. At once wistful and exhilarating, this moving story evokes the awe-inspiring power of nature to lift us up.

Walker Books

Check out Ted Kooser’s website to read his poems.

Over the Hills and Far Away – Nursery Rhymes collected by Elizabeth Hammill

Elizabeth Hammill has collected nursery rhymes from around the world and has had them illustrated by 77 international artists in this gorgeous children’s book, published by Seven Stories, ‘Over the Hills and Far Away’.

Seven Stories was founded as a charity in 1996 by Elizabeth Hammill OBE and Mary Briggs OBE. They recognised that Britain needed an institution whose mission was to collect, champion and celebrate its children’s literature. They believed that it should be founded in a place where it could make a real difference to the children and families living nearby, knowing that early experience of books and stories is vital to childhood development and raising aspiration.

Seven Stories

This picture book contains work by some of my favourite illustrators; Jon Klassen, Yasmeen Ismail, Gus Gordon to name a few. Each turn of the page is a work of art in a different style, with different media, with different cultural influences. It’s a beautiful book, one that I will treasure dearly.

Mac Barnett

 President Taft Is Stuck in the Bath – Mac Barnett & Chris Van Dusen

George Washington crossed the Delaware in the dead of night. Abraham Lincoln saved the Union. And President William Howard Taft got stuck in a bathtub, and then got unstuck. This is his story.

– Mac Barnett

“Although there’s considerably more naked flesh on display then in the average picture book, there’s no denying the riveting spectacle of Taft’s struggle.”

Publishers Weekly

Oh No! Or How My Science Project Destroyed the World – Mac Barnett & Dan Santat

Santat and Barnett collaborate seamlessly on this slapstick adventure about a pigtailed, bespectacled science fair entrant trying unsuccessfully to control her prize-winning robot… Barnett’s telegraphic text packs wicked humor into economical, comic book-style lines, while Santat’s skylines pay homage to old monster movies… Blueprints for the robot and the genetically altered toad she deploys to defeat it are included on the endpapers, but, kids, don’t try this at home!” — Publishers Weekly

Chloe & the LionMac Barnett & Adam Rex

“[Combines] twisty plotting, irreverent dialogue, visual hilarity, and sophisticated book design into an arch package. But beneath the silly surface, children will find a meaningful exposition of just what goes into a successful picture book, and how author, illustrator, and character must collaborate and compromise.” — Booklist


Billy Twitters and his Blue Whale Problem – Mac Barnett & Adam Rex

A headlong plunge into surrealism ensues when Billy Twitters’s parents punish him by giving him a blue whale. The cleverness is in the idea’s literal-mindedness — Billy thinking “I feel like something’s watching me” as he eats his cereal, one very large eye visible behind him, and then hauling the whale to school on his bicycle. It’s not supposed to make sense, and, amusingly, it doesn’t.” —The New York Times


Guess Again! – Mac Barnett & Adam Rex

“A funny, absurdist take on guessing books….Twisted good fun.” — Publishers Weekly

Count the Monkeys – Mac Barnett & Kevin Cornell

Cornell (who previously teamed up with Barnett for Mustache!) is an artist in the modern-day Disney animation tradition, effortlessly juggling funny chaos, irreverent characterizations, and visual winks and nudges. Barnett’s narrator may be increasingly frustrated (“We’re never going to count the monkeys!”) but he also has expert comic timing…. This spot-on spoof of counting books is the perfect reward for anyone who’s put in a hard day’s work with numbers, big or small.”
Publishers Weekly

Battle Bunny – Mac Barnett, Jon Scieszka & Matthew Myers

An honest reflection of the ways kids interact with books—in a way that’s accessible to kids themselves—as well as a complexly layered work of comic genius….This is an example of exactly how kids are told not to interact with their books—and that’s what makes it so effective. Alex’s gleeful disregard for the inanity of Birthday Bunny belies a deep engagement with the words in the book, an active participation with the structures of literacy that acts as a rebellious model for kids just starting to read on their own. And who can’t help but giggle at a cry of “Time to get it on, carrot breath!”? This is, then, sure to be an early reader that’s also endlessly entertaining and that will stand up to multiple readings as viewers find more of Alex’s hidden gems.”

The Bulletin for the Center of the Children’s Book

Extra Yarn – Mac Barnett & Jon Klassen

“Understated illustrations and prose seamlessly construct an enchanting and mysterious tale.” — Publishers Weekly

Sam & Dave Dig a Hole – Mac Barnett & Jon Klassen

When Sam and Dave dig a hole, readers get “something spectacular.” The boys, on the other hand, do not. Their quest to find the spectacular brings them painfully and humorously close to buried jewels as they spade their way into the ground, accompanied by an intrepid canine companion. Readers occupy a superior position as cross-section illustrations reveal those jewels buried just out of the shovels’ reach. Each time they near one, the increasingly grubby boys maddeningly change course. On they dig, tunneling in different directions, and each effort reveals (to readers) yet larger jewels evading them. Exhausted, they fall asleep, but the dog digs after a bone it senses below. In an unexpected turn, the ground gives way to nothingness, and the trio falls through empty space “until they landed in the soft dirt.” At first glance, it seems they’ve ended up where they began: A small tree stands on the recto, and a house with a porch is on the verso, as before. But careful readers will notice that the tree here bears pears, while the tree at the story’s start had apples.




Sam & Dave Dig A Hole by Mac Barnett & Jon Klassen

If you follow my blog you’ll know I’m a huge fan of both Mac Barnett & Jon Klassen. Both are incredible talents who have made outstanding contributions to the picture book form.

Jon Klassen has written & illustrated bestselling and award-winning picture books such as the brilliant I Want My hat Back & the 2013 Caldecott medal winning This Is Not My Hat.

Mac Barnett, a writer not an illustrator is the author of brilliant picture books, such as; Chloe & the Lion, President Taft Is Stuck in the Bath, Battle Bunny, Count the Monkeys, Billy Twitters & the Blue Whale Problem & many more.

Together they made the wonderful picture book Extra Yarn, which won a Boston Globe-Horn Book award and a Caldecott Honor.

I saw the cover art for their latest picture book Sam & Dave Dig a Hole some time ago on twitter and I have been eagerly awaiting it ever since.

Mac & Jon are clearly good friends, who create magic when they put their heads together. They complement each other like Milk & Cookies.

Here’s what they had to say about their working relationship taken from a transcript to Walker Books.

This is the second picture book you’ve collaborated on. What do you enjoy about working together? Why do you think you make a good team?

Mac: I’ll let you go first and say something nice about me.

Jon: Ok.

Mac: And if you decide not to say something nice about me, will be able to deal with that in my response.

Jon: No no, I will do it.

Mac: I think you mean “Okay!”

Jon: Ok.

Jon: On my end, you seem to enjoy premises for these books that are as much visually driven as they are text driven, and so the story ends up happening in both areas. I think even though we are both left to do the things we like to do on a book we make together, the ideas we come up with in conversation at the beginning are never either purely visual or verbal.

Mac: Yeah, even though I can’t draw I think that writing a picture book is a visual act, and one of my main jobs is to provide a space for illustrators to do their own storytelling.

Jon: You for sure can’t draw.

Mac: Aw man, and I was just typing something nice about you: There’s nobody I like talking about books with more than Jon, and working together gives us a chance to talk about books and try out ideas that feel exciting to us both. I guess that we talk about books a lot anyway though. This is a way to do it that feels more immediately productive. We also talk a lot about TV shows. And lunch.

Jon: I just had soup.

Mac: I just had two handfuls of cereal.

Their new book Sam & Dave Dig A Hole is full of visual humour. The two boys are determined to find something spectacular. They embark on their plan to dig a hole, a hole they plan to keep digging until they find that something spectacular, which they eventually find, in a much unexpected way.

Cats Night Out by Caroline Stutson, illustrated by Jon Klassen (Books I like)

From two cats waltzing to twenty cats in a conga line, dancing felines take to the streets, the fire escapes, and the rooftops in this charming concept picture book that is part counting and part introduction to music, dance, and rhythm. The short rhyming text makes it a perfect read-aloud treat, and with vivid illustrations from Jon Klassen, readers and listeners alike will be thrilled to see what happens one night on Easy Street when a pair of cats start to groove to the beat.

Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett & Jon Klassen

An extraordinary new picture book about a little girl who cocoons her cold, grey town in joy and warmth … and brightly coloured yarn!

On a cold, dark day in a dull, grey town, little Annabelle discovers a box of brightly coloured yarn. She knits a cosy jumper to keep herself nice and toasty warm and finds, to her surprise, that she still has yarn left over. So she decides to knit her dog a jumper too but – hang on a second – she STILL has extra yarn! Annabelle knits and knits and, soon, she’s blanketed the entire town in a rainbow of colour, knitting away the dreary iciness that grips it. Her prodigious status spreads far and wide. It doesn’t take long for the evil Archduke to set his beady eyes upon Annabelle’s magical box of yarn but, little does he know, you have to have a little bit of magic inside your heart for it to work…

Walker Books

Mac Barnett & Jon Klassen

Illustrator Jon Klassen and author Mac Barnett accept the 2012 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Picture Book for Extra Yarn, at the September 28, 2012 BGHB award ceremony at Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts.

It’s just over 20 mins long, but hearing them talk so passionately and eloquently about the picture book form is truely inspiring.

Also Mac Barnett is really funny.