A Closer Look: Covers by Jon Klassen

Canadian writer, illustrator, and animator Jon Klassen was very recently (just a few days ago!) appointed to the Order of Canada! Known and beloved for I Want My Hat Back, This Is Not My Hat, multiple collaborations with Mac Barnett (Square, Extra Yarn), in addition to numerous other acclaimed works and memorable illustrative contributions, Klassen has also been the recipient of the Caldecott Medal and the Kate Greenaway Medal. As a gentle tie-in to this Canada Day weekend and celebrating a Canadian artist, I wanted to present a collage of Klassen‘s fabulous works here (including all collaborations and titles Klassen provided cover art for). I am truly such an avid admirer of his work- writing and art- and my three year old is already quite in love with his work as well. Enjoy this feast for the eyes!






Picture Book Review: The Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse by Mac Barnett & Jon Klassen

Review: The Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse by Mac Barnett, illus. Jon Klassen
Source: Hardcopy courtesy of Penguin Random House Canada and Candlewick Press. Thank you!
Publication: October 10, 2017 by Candlewick Press
Book Description:

Early one morning a mouse met a wolf and was quickly gobbled up.

When a woeful mouse is swallowed by a wolf, he quickly learns he is not alone: a duck has already set up digs, and, boy, has that duck got it figured out! Turns out it’s pretty nice in there, with delicious food and elegant table settings, courtesy of the wolf’s unchecked gluttony. And there’s something even better: no more fear of being eaten by a wolf! In fact, life is pretty good, until a hunter shows up. . . . With a nod to traditional fables and a wink to the reader, the award-winning Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen offer a tale of cooperation and creative cuisine that is sure to go down easy.

“I may have been swallowed,” says the duck, “but I have no intention of being eaten.”

Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen have, together and separately, published some of my favourite picture books…From their joint work in Extra Yarn to Sam and Dave Dig a Hole; from Barnett’s Leo: A Ghost Story (illustrated by Christian Robinson), to Klassen’s The Dark (written by Lemony Snicket), Barnett and Klassen are a decorated and first-rate duo. Joining their roster of works is their latest effort, The Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse, a darkly funny, peculiar fable that takes on some familiar fairy tale tropes and twists them in successful (and surprising) ways.

We have likely read a fairy or folk tale in which a villainous animal gobbles up a meeker or smaller animal of sorts. But what happens when two bedfellows meet in the belly of the beast? In The Wolf, the Duck and the Mouse, readers meet a wolf who happens upon little mouse in the woods and greedily eats him up. As mouse ponders his existence in the caverns of Wolf’s spacious insides, he discovers he is not alone in there…for a duck has made rather comfortable quarters for himself inside of Wolf. As the duck and mouse forge their new, unexpected- and safe, protected– life together in wolf’s insides, they find that the outside world still poses a threat to their existence. As wolf finds himself in throws of a terrible bellyache (as mouse and duck party on rather lavishly), a hunter sees the chance for himself to take down the wolf. But alas, what the hunter has not prepared for- and how could he, really?- is the measures that duck and mouse will now take to defend their new home.

Wonderfully disquieting, macabre and funny- think a multiplication of I Want My Hat Back– but told in the style of a unusual folk tale, The Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse is another terrific read from Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen. The New York Times Book Review noted, in their review of this title, that ‘no one does perturbed animals better’ than Klassen, and I wholeheartedly agree. I would also add that Klassen’s expertise of shifty-eyed animals in tandem with Barnett’s ability for ingenious, crafty, malleable storytelling style make for a sublime experience here in The Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse.

I received a copy of this title courtesy of Penguin Random House Canada and Candlewick Press in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and comments are my own.

Must Read Monday (61): New from Laurel Snyder, Ben Clanton, Jonathan Fenske & more!

Welcome to another edition of Must Read Monday!

This feature is where I spotlight older, recent, or upcoming releases I am looking forward to. The lists will include all genres I like to read, everything from picture books to comics, children’s lit to adult fiction!

This week, we’re talking picture books and a few early reader books! Some of my all-time favourite authors and illustrators are on the roster this week, including the following: Laurel Snyder, who has the first of a new readers series coming out called Charlie & Mouse (with illustrations by Emily Hughes!); Goldfish Ghost by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Lisa Brown, which looks awesomely strange and touching; and Triangle by the terrific duo of Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen. Plus a new Narwhal and Jelly, Jonathan Fenske’s latest- a follow-up to Barnacle is Bored!- and what looks to be a gorgeous and funny picture book called I Don’t Know What to Call My Cat.

I Don’t Know What to Call My Cat by Simon Philip, illus. Ella Bailey
Publication: January 12, 2017 by Simon & Schuster Children’s Books
Book Description:

Every cat needs a name. One name, one word, just a sound… It should be easy to choose one, right? WRONG!!! I just don’t know what to call my cat!

Choosing the right name for a new pet is very important! Find out just what this cat’s name turns out to be in this clever and witty story from an exciting debut author and talented young illustrator.

Triangle by Mac Barnett, illus. Jon Klassen
Expected publication: March 14, 2017 by Candlewick Press
Book Description:

Multi-award-winning, “New York Times “best-selling duo Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen conspire again on a slyly funny tale about some very sneaky shapes.

Meet Triangle. He is going to play a sneaky trick on his friend, Square. Or so Triangle thinks. . . . With this first tale in a new trilogy, partners in crime Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen upend the traditional concept book and approach it from a new angle. Visually stunning and full of wry humor, here is a perfectly paced treat that could come only from the minds of two of today s most irreverent and talented picture book creators.

Charlie & Mouse (Charlie & Mouse #1) by Laurel Snyder, illus. Emily Hughes
Expected publication: April 11, 2017 by Chronicle Books
Book Description:

Four hilarious stories, two inventive brothers, one irresistible book! Join Charlie and Mouse as they talk to lumps, take the neighborhood to a party, sell some rocks, and invent the bedtime banana. With imagination and humor, Laurel Snyder and Emily Hughes paint a lively picture of brotherhood that children will relish in a format perfect for children not quite ready for chapter books.

Plankton is Pushy by Jonathan Fenske
Expected publication: April 25, 2017 by Scholastic Press
Book Description:

In this funny, underwater picture book, Plankton says hello to Mussel, but Mussel doesn’t say anything back. Plankton tries everything to get quiet Mussel to talk. In fact, Plankton gets VERY pushy about it! Will Mussel ever open his mouth? Kids will relate to Plankton’s frustration with Mussel, and they will be anxious to see what happens when Mussel finally does open his mouth… Geisel Award Honoree Jonathan Fenske delivers a laugh-out-loud ocean story, and this is the perfect follow-up to Barnacle is Bored.

Goldfish Ghost by Lemony Snicket, illus. Lisa Brown
Expected publication: May 2, 2017 by Roaring Brook Press
Book Description:

Goldfish Ghost was born on the surface of the water in the bowl on a dresser in a boy’s room. The boy’s room was pleasant and familiar, but Goldfish Ghost wanted company, so he set out to find a friend. He floats over the neighborhood, past the pier, and let the breeze carry him into town where he discovers that not many people pay attention to goldfish ghosts.

Off he floats, searching for the perfect home and the perfect friend and then he hears a voice…

Super Narwhal and Jelly Jolt (Narwhal and Jelly) by Ben Clanton
Expected publication: May 2, 2017 by Tundra Books
Book Description:

Happy-go-lucky Narwhal and no-nonsense Jelly find their inner superheroes in three new under-the-sea adventures. In the first story, Narwhal reveals his superhero alter-ego and enlists Jelly to help him figure out what his superpower is. Next, Narwhal uses his superpower to help a friend find his way back home. In the third story, Jelly is feeling blue and Narwhal comes to …more

Picture Books Make Perfect Presents…Titles from Carson Ellis, Jon Klassen & more!

Ahh, the world of picture books is a marvelous, incredible one. I have read over one hundred picture books this year- and counting- and it’s been another STELLAR year. Innovative, hysterical, meaningful, and all around excellent, picture books authors and illustrators continue to amaze.

As holiday season is almost upon us and many of us- myself included!- are in the midst of searching high and low for standout gifts and surprises, I wanted to feature the following three wonderful picture books as possible ideas for the book (or art!) lover- young or old- in your life.


duiztak28250952Du Iz Tak? by Carson Ellis
Publication: October 18, 201 by Candlewick Press
Book Description:

Du iz tak? What is that? As a tiny shoot unfurls, two damselflies peer at it in wonder. When the plant grows taller and sprouts leaves, some young beetles arrive to gander, and soon—with the help of a pill bug named Icky—they wrangle a ladder and build a tree fort. But this is the wild world, after all, and something horrible is waiting to swoop down—booby voobeck!—only to be carried off in turn. Su! With exquisitely detailed illustrations and tragicomic flair, Carson Ellis invites readers to imagine the dramatic possibilities to be found in even the humblest backyard. Su!

THIS BOOK. Du Iz Tak? is up there as one of my surprise favourites of the year. I became familiar with Carson Ellis’ gorgeous illustrative work after reading her picture book Home, and poring over her illustrations for The Mysterious Benedict Society and The Wildwood Chronicles. Du Iz Tak? is an entire world- and another level- of wow. Written entirely in imagined insect-speak- beginning with the seemingly innocuous ‘Du iz tak?’, readers are taken on a fantastical, thrilling and wondrous journey with beautiful, elegant insects. From their discovery of a tiny shoot which then grows and grows through the seasons, the insects adapt and impress with every change- or danger- thrust upon them. With Ellis’ stunning illustrations as the readers’ guide, much of the delight of Du Iz Tak? resides with deciphering the language of the insects…and even more delight rests in coming to some revelations about their language!

There are so many ways that this book can be enjoyed and shared- and it really is one of those picture books that has something for all ages. Whether cherished as a work of illustrative excellence, kept as a coffee table book, as a child’s foray into insects, or even used as an unexpected read aloud, Du Iz Tak? is phenomenal. You can take a look here to peak inside the book a bit more!


wefoundahat28473874We Found a Hat by Jon Klassen
Publication: October 11, 2016 by Candlewick Press
Book Description:

Hold on to your hats for the conclusion of the celebrated hat trilogy by Caldecott Medalist Jon Klassen, who gives his deadpan finale a surprising new twist.

Two turtles have found a hat. The hat looks good on both of them. But there are two turtles. And there is only one hat. . . . Evoking hilarity and sympathy, the shifting eyes tell the tale in this brilliantly paced story in three parts, highlighting Jon Klassen’s visual comedy and deceptive simplicity. The delicious buildup takes an unexpected turn that is sure to please loyal fans and newcomers alike.

The Hat trilogy has come to an end! Beginning with the acclaimed I Want My Hat Back, and on to the also much-acclaimed This Is Not My Hat, Klassen’s series revolving around some not-so-innocent animals has been massively popular. In his wonderfully distinctive, roguish approach in text and artwork, the Hat trilogy comes to an unforeseen conclusion in We Found a Hat. With two wide-eyed (and perhaps shifty-eyed…) and intriguing turtles as our protagonists, readers are in for more delights.

Confession time: I must admit here that it took me a second read to click into the first book of the series, I Want My Hat Back. It is deceptively simple and I think that threw me off at first read! I was smitten with Klassen’s artwork pretty much from the first time I saw his illustrations, but it took a second look for me to fall in major book love with I Want My Hat Back. Now though, I cannot even imagine the picture book world- or storytime- without his wry, quietly subversive, brilliantly comical series. We Found a Hat is indeed a worthy, wonderfully bold and funny conclusion to the series. And while I cannot give away the ending here or spoil what befalls our two turtles in the challenge over one hat, I will say that Klassen surprises yet again!

Any readers who have adored the previous Hat titles, or who have loved any of Klassen’s picture books will undoubtedly appreciate We Found a Hat. Jon Klassen’s artwork is truly marvelous and as with Carson Ellis’ Du Iz Tak?, We Found a Hat is a picture book which is a joy to have not only as a great piece of children’s lit, but also because it is so beautiful.


ACHILDOFBOOKS28686931A Child of Books by Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston
Publication: September 6, 2016 by Candlewick Press
Book Description:

A little girl sails her raft across a sea of words, arriving at the house of a small boy and calling him away on an adventure. Through forests of fairy tales and across mountains of make-believe, the two travel together on a fantastical journey that unlocks the boy’s imagination. Now a lifetime of magic and adventure lies ahead of him . . . but who will be next? Combining elegant images by Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston’s typographical landscapes shaped from excerpts of children’s classics and lullabies, A Child of Books is a stunning prose poem on the rewards of reading and sharing stories—an immersive and unforgettable reading experience that readers will want to pass on to others.

I have talked about the incredible A Child of Books in a previous review post, so I don’t wish to repeat myself too much here! Since my first reading of it a few months back, it has remained another standout- a favourite of my reading year. As with the Carson Ellis and Jon Klassen titles mentioned above, A Child of Books is art, exemplary children’s lit, and a treat for book lovers all at once. I thought it might be fun to share the trailer for A Child of Books so you can take an even better look at the book- from the creators themselves!

I received copies of We Found a Hat and A Child of Books courtesy of Penguin Random House Canada/Candlewick Press in exchange for honest reviews and for the purposes of this blog post. All opinions and comments are my own.

Top Ten Tuesday: Spooooooky (or Not-So Spooky!) Picture Books

toptentuesday2Welcome to another Top Ten Tuesday! Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week’s focus is all about our top ten Halloween favourites! Here is my selection of top…eleven…not-so-scary picture books. Some are funny, some are gently spooky, some are more contemplative, some surprising, all are (in my opinion!) terrific reads.

The Dark by Lemony Snicket, illus. Jon Klassen
The Black Rabbit by Philippa Leathers
Creepy Carrots! by Aaron Reynolds, illus. Peter Brown
Night Animals by Gianna Marino
The Doghouse by Jan Thomas
The Monster at the End of This Book by Jon Stone, illus. Michael Smollin
The Boy Who Cried Bigfoot! by Scott Magoon
Bedtime for Monsters by Ed Vere
That Is Not a Good Idea! by Mo Willems
The Monsters’ Monster by Patrick McDonell
Black Dog by Levi Pinfold

Be sure to check out some of the other Top Ten Lists!

From Cover to Covet (1): Shadow, The Dark, The Insomniacs, Josephine & Ten Birds Meet a Monster

New feature time! I will be trying out a new series called ‘From Cover to Covet’, featuring…covers! There are so many gloriously designed, stunning, moving, unique, eye-catching covers I see in my library work and in my personal reading, and I want to give them (and their creators!) a little bookish love here.

These posts will show a mixture of newer and older titles, titles I’ve read, titles I haven’t, and everything from picture books to young adult lit, adult fiction to comics.

Here we go…



Must Read Monday (24): The Tiara on the Terrace & Pax

Just squeaking in a new Must Read Monday post in time!

Welcome to another edition of Must Read Monday! This feature is where I spotlight older, recent, or upcoming releases I am looking forward to. The lists will include all genres I like to read, everything from picture books to comics, children’s lit to adult fiction!

This week: two new middle grade titles I’m extremely excited to read. First up is Tiara on the Terrace, the second novel in the Young & Yang mystery series by Kristen Kittscher. I really enjoyed the author’s debut, The Wig in the Window: entertaining and surprising, with likable and well-developed heroines to root for. Second up is Pax, the latest from popular children’s author Sara Pennypacker. With illustrations by the award-winning Jon Klassen, and a story centered on a friendship between a young boy and a wild animal, Pax looks to be another terrific read.


The Tiara on the Terrace (Young & Yang #2) by Kristen Kittscher
Publication: January 5, 2016 by HarperCollins

Sophie Young and Grace Yang have been taking it easy ever since they solved the crime of the century…well, at least the biggest crime Luna Vista has ever seen. But things are getting exciting again now that everyone is gearing up for the 125th annual Winter Sun Festival—a town tradition that involves floats, a parade, and a “royal” court made up of local high school girls.
When Festival president Jim Steptoe turns up dead on the first day of parade preparations, police blame a malfunctioning giant s’more feature on the campfire-themed float. But the two sleuths are sure the mysterious death wasn’t an accident. Teaming up with their ever-resourceful friend, Trista Bottoms, the girls trade their high tops for high heels and go undercover as helpers to the snooty Royal Court girls. But as the girls go deeper into the world of the Winter Sun Festival, their friendship is tested—and as they get closer to solving the case, their search for the truth becomes more dangerous than they ever could have imagined…




Pax by Sara Pennypacker, illus. Jon Klassen
Expected publication: February 2, 2016 by Balzer + Bray

Pax was only a kit when his family was killed, and “his boy” Peter rescued him from abandonment and certain death. Now the war front approaches, and when Peter’s father enlists, Peter has to move in with his grandpa. Far worse than being forced to leave home is the fact that Pax can’t go. Peter listens to his stern father—as he usually does—and throws Pax’s favorite toy soldier into the woods. When the fox runs to retrieve it, Peter and his dad get back in the car and leave him there—alone. But before Peter makes it through even one night under his grandfather’s roof, regret and duty spur him to action; he packs for a trek to get his best friend back and sneaks into the night. This is the story of Peter, Pax, and their independent struggles to return to one another against all odds.

Must Read Monday (14): The Nest & The Doldrums

Welcome to another edition of Must Read Monday! This feature is where I spotlight current and/or upcoming releases I am looking forward to. The lists will include all genres I like to read, everything from picture books to comics, children’s lit to adult fiction!

This week I am featuring upcoming middle-grade titles by Kenneth Oppel and Nicholas Gannon:

THENES23271637The Nest by Kenneth Oppel, illus. Jon Klassen
Expected publication: October 6, 2015 by Simon & Schuster
I don’t really have too much to say to sell this as a must read other than: a) I really enjoy the work of Canadian author Kenneth Oppel and b) I really, really enjoy the work of Jon Klassen. I am so intrigued by the book’s description and this pairing of author-illustrator. Can’t wait to read this one!

Steve just wants to save his baby brother—but what will he lose in the bargain? This is a haunting gothic tale for fans of Coraline, from acclaimed author Kenneth Oppel (Silverwing, The Boundless) with illustrations from Caldecott Medalist Jon Klassen. For some kids summer is a sun-soaked season of fun. But for Steve, it’s just another season of worries. Worries about his sick newborn baby brother who is fighting to survive, worries about his parents who are struggling to cope, even worries about the wasp’s nest looming ominously from the eaves. So when a mysterious wasp queen invades his dreams, offering to “fix” the baby, Steve thinks his prayers have been answered. All he has to do is say “Yes.” But “yes” is a powerful word. It is also a dangerous one. And once it is uttered, can it be taken back?

THEDOLDRUMS24515541The Doldrums by Nicholas Gannon
Expected publication: September 29, 2015 by Greenwillow Books
This middle-grade title caught my eye for the triumvirate of reasons: cover, description and praise from authors/reviewers I follow. The Doldrums sounds like it has the ingredients of a classic children’s title; full of whimsy and cleverness. I’ve read a review noting that it’s perfect for fans of The Mysterious Benedict Society– which I loved- so needless to say, I’m looking forward to Gannon’s debut!

Have you ever wanted to hold a little piece of the impossible? Lavishly illustrated in full color, The Doldrums is an extraordinary debut about friendship, imagination, and the yearning for adventure from author-artist Nicholas Gannon. A modern classic in the making. A modern classic in the making, The Doldrums is for readers of inventive and timeless authors such as Brian Selznick and Lemony Snicket. Archer B. Helmsley wants an adventure. No, he needs an adventure. His grandparents were famous explorers . . . until they got stuck on an iceberg. Now Archer’s mother barely lets him out of the house. As if that would stop a true Helmsley. Archer enlists Adelaide—the girl who, according to rumor, lost her leg to a crocodile—and Oliver—the boy next door—to help him rescue his grandparents. The Doldrums whisks us off on an adventure full of sly humor, incredible detail, and enormous heart.

Recently Read: Great Picture Books


From: Shh! We Have a Plan by Chris Haughton

There is a lot of awesomeness in the picture book genre; so much so that I have a hard time keeping up with all the great new titles coming out! Here, in no particular order, are picture book titles that I have recently read and would recommend:

misterbudconeMister Bud Wears the Cone by Carter Goodrich. I fell in love with Mister Bud and Zorro- the two canine lead characters- in their first story. This third entry is also delightful, with a zippy story and lively illustrations. I especially love how- in all three of the books- the two dogs are illustrated with such fantastic expressiveness that one can’t help but adore them.


Once Upon An Alphabet: Short Stories for All the Letters by Oliver Jeffers. Ah, the work of Oliver Jeffers! One of my favourite illustrators and storytellers (The Heart and the Bottle, Lost and Found, etc.). Longer than a typical picture book and more cheekily devious, Once Upon An Alphabet is,  I think, Jeffers’ most intriguing and shrewd work yet.


mixitupMix It Up! by Herve Tullet. While I personally did not find this book as magical or streamlined as the wonderfully interactive Press Here, Mix It Up! is still pretty terrific and will likely be a monster hit at story times.



shhcover1Shh! We Have a Plan by Chris Haughton. Haughton, author and illustrator of Oh No, George! and Little Owl Lost brings us another comical and thoughtful story. The bold and unusual colour palette is appealing and the use of utterly delightful repetitive lines will likely (and hopefully) encourage many readings. I LOVE this one!


myteachermonsterMy Teacher Is a Monster! (No, I Am Not.) by Peter Brown. Oh this is a good one! Brown consistently brings out uniquely illustrated picture books with slyly meaningful stories. This one- about a boy seeing his scary teacher outside of the classroom- delivers on all fronts, a real treat of a picture book that combines genuine humour and heart.



samanddavedigSam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett, illus. by Jon Klassen. The author-illustrator team of Barnett and Klassen is marvelous- just take a look at Extra Yarn (a favourite of mine!). Sam and Dave Dig a Hole is a book that begs for multiple readings and plenty of time to examine and compare illustrations and ponder that ending.