Expressive characters: some of my favorite images (so far) from the Candlewick Press fall catalog

It's one of my favorite times of the year – I'm in the middle of reading through all the new picture books that I'll be selling for the upcoming season. My publishers have two seasons each year, so this is a "favorite time" I get to experience twice a year!  

While I was reading through the Candlewick "F&Gs" (a publishing-insider term that used to just mean "folded & gathered sets of proof pages" but now more frequently stands for staple-bound color prints) today, I was struck by the abundance of charming characters I kept coming across. I started taking pictures of the pages that I liked best to share with you here in this gallery.

There's nothing methodical or high tech about this. The colors are a bit off, thanks to today's cloudy weather. I snapped pictures and cropped them to capture some of the personality that charmed me.

And I'm not even done with Candlewick! I read about 40 picture books today – the box holding the rest still looks half-full from here.

So here's a sneak peek at some of the liveliest characters I found today:

Dinosaur Kisses
by David Ezra Stein
Candlewick Press | 9780763661045 | $15.99 | Aug 2013

From the illustrator who brought us Interrupting Chicken (a 2011 Caldecott Honor book!) comes a tale of a newly-hatched dinosaur, Dinah, who really wants to learn how to share her love. She's not very good at it at first – figuring out how to safely kiss the people you love when you are a dinosaur takes some practice!

Peck, Peck, Peck
by Lucy Cousins
Candlewick Press | 9780763666217 | $15.99 | Aug 2013

The creator of the beloved Maisy tells a new story, about a young woodpecker, learning to peck. And that little woodpecker goes to TOWN. The novel feature of this book are the 108 die-cut holes throughout the pages, showing where the little bird has been.

Ike's Incredible Ink
by Brianne Farley
Candlewick Press | 9780763662967 | $16.99 | Aug 2013

Ike is a hero who stands in for everyone who has ever gotten out a blank sheet of paper and sat down to write a story – the feeling of not quite being ready to tell the story. Something's missing! After locating his favorite pen, chatting with his best friend, and tidying up, he realized that maybe what he needs is some special ink!  Ike's quest to find the perfect ingredients for an ink worthy of the story he wants to write becomes an epic journey ... a journey worthy of a story?

by Andy Pritchett
Candlewick Press | 9780763666163 | $15.99 | Aug 2013

This picture captures the sweet style of the book, but I took grabbed part of the greyest page in the book. The rest is SO bright, the colors pop off the page. But I loved the thundercloud thought bubble because it paired nicely with the grouchy thought bubble of Ike in the previous book. This is the story of a little dog and his stick, trying to find someone, anyone who'll play catch or fetch with him!

Maude the Not-So-Noticeable Shrimpton
by Lauren Child
illustrated by Trisha Krauss
Candlewick Press | 9780763665159 | $16.99 | Aug 2013

Written by Lauren Child (Charlie & Lola! Clarice Bean! Ruby Redfort!) and illustrated by Trisha Krauss, this darkly humorous picture book for slightly older readers will also strike a chord with their Wes Anderson and Edward Gorey loving parents. Maude is the middle-of-five-children of the outrageously noticeable Shrimpton clan. All of the other Shrimptons have talents and habits that make them stand out in a crowd, but not Maude. She positively disappears into the background. Her family is always trying to get Maude to change her ways, but on the day when her family's habits and possessions catch up with them in a way that would not be out of place in a Jon Klassen story (if you know what I mean, hint hint), Maude's quiet ways might be best after all.

When Charley Met Grampa
by Amy Hest
illustrated by Helen Oxenbury
Candlewick Press | 9780763653149 | $15.99 | Sept 2013

Sequel to last fall's Charley's First Night, this incredibly sweet story continues the tale of young Henry learning the ropes of pet ownership. This time, Henry invites his grampa to come visit, especially so he can meet Henry's new dog Charley. But Grampa has never been a dog person before. Henry and Grampa and Charley all seem to be a bit nervous about the meeting. In the hands of Amy Hest and Helen Oxenbury, though, no one should worry. A happy ending is assured.

by Aaron Becker
Candlewick Press | 9780763660536 | $15.99 | Aug 2013

Debut writer/illustrator Aaron Becker has worked on animated films at Lucasfilm, Disney, and Pixar – and his sense of adventure, his clarity of story, and his expressive lines really show that history in Journey. In this magical, wordless picture book, we travel along as a lonely girl with a red crayon learns that her imagination can take her places she had never guessed possible. With her red crayon, she draws herself into a magical world, into adventure, into trouble and out again, and right back to her more mundane world again. The starred review in PW says "his wordless picture book debut reads like a cinematic tribute to Harold and the Purple Crayon." Anyone who has spent time with Crockett Johnson's small hero and his purple crayon will feel an instant kinship with the heroine of Journey ... and a sense of triumphant payoff at the very end.

Mitchell Goes Bowling
by Hallie Durand
illustrated by Tony Fucile
Candlewick Press | 9780763660499 | $15.99 | Sept 2013

In 2011, Candlewick published the first collaboration between Hallie Durand and Tony Fucile, the first story of Mitchell and his incredibly patient parents. It was called Mitchell's License when it was published in hardcover – and now that we have the second book about Mitchell, called Mitchell Goes Bowling, the paperback of Mitchell's License will be coming out with a new title: Mitchell Goes Driving. Both books tell the story of his parents working around and with Mitchell's HIGH ENERGY lifestyle! Tony Fucile's illustrations pop with life.

How to Train a Train
by Jason Carter Eaton
illustrated by John Rocco
Candlewick Press | 9780763663070 | $16.99 | Sept 2013

Presented as a pet training manual for those who would like to have a full-grown train as their pet, this book is full of helpful advice on where to go to find the trains in the wild, how to win over the nervous beasts and gain their trust, how to treat them properly in the home, and what you might be able to do with your trained train. I detect a hint of William Joyce's Art Deco influence (A Day With Wilbur Robinson era) and that's not a bad thing.

Captain Cat
by Inga Moore
Candlewick Press | 9780763661519 | $15.99 | Oct 2013

One of my regular treats is getting to sell the charming and beautifully illustrated tales of Inga Moore. And this fall, readers of picture books who live for books with lots of cats in them will find a new hero in Captain Cat – the tale of a clever sailing captain who loved his cats more than the cargo he carried from port to port and how he won his ultimate reward.

The Nowhere Box
by Sam Zuppardi
Candlewick Press | 9780763663674 | $15.99 | Nov 2013

George is your typical young boy with two younger brothers who LOVE him and LOVE to play with him. Sometimes he's had enough and has to get away from his pesky younger siblings to have some alone time. Sometimes he just has to go NOWHERE – and the big box from the new washing machine will do nicely. A little renovation, a little imagination, and ZOOM!, he's off on his own for a set of adventures NOWHERE.

Welcome to Mamoko
by Aleksandra Mizielinska & Daniel Mizielinski
Big Picture Press / Candlewick Press | 9780763668914 | $17.99 | Sept 2013

One of two new books this fall from Aleksandra Mizielinska & Daniel Mizielinski, Welcome to Mamoko is a modern mashup of Richard Scarry's Busytown books and Where's Waldo. On the opening pages, you'll meet a number of characters – Lionel Mane, Magical Miss Chubb, David Hop and the Hop Family, Ada Chirp, Cosmo Lens, Otto Trump and many more – who are all on their way through town on a series of errands. Even though the book is wordless, every character's journey carries along through every page, and their adventures will make for hours of repeated page flips and invented storylines. (In the three pictures above from Welcome to Mamoko, I've focused in on Cosmo Lens, to show some of his adventure.)

Candlewick Press' Fall 2013 catalog on Edelweiss.