At Last: More Brand New 2015 Picture Books for Kids of All Ages

8 fun new picture books a book long enough

It's been a long summer dear readers, one that seems to finally be drawing to a close, at least calendar-wise. (I live at the "bottom of the world," so we have at least three more months of heat to go!) 

While I've been too busy and distracted to post, my family and I have been reading like gonzos, and I've been taking notes in anticipation of finally finding the time to share some noteworthy, fun, cool brand new picture books with you. Hope you enjoy!

Roger is Reading A Book by Koen Van Biesen

ages 3-9

When I first began studying children’s literature in graduate school in the early 2000s (dating myself, I know), modern international children’s literature was just starting to be taken seriously by librarians and educators. Fast forward a decade plus, and the number of books first published in another country, and then brought to the United States for American children to appreciate and enjoy, has grown exponentially. We’re not only experiencing a golden age of children’s books, our children have access to voices, perspectives, and styles like never before. To make a long story short, it’s a super exciting time not just to be a reading child, but also to be a teacher/parent/grandparent/etcetera sharing picture books with kids! 

Roger is Reading a Book was translated to English, then published in America in 2015, after first being released in Belgium in 2013. Van Biesen is not new to the picture book scene, having illustrated more than 20 books. In this droll, quirky title, the adult Roger keeps trying to get some peace and quiet to read his book, while young Emily, who lives in an adjacent apartment, is determined to disturb the peace. How the neighbors work out their quandary is both funny and touching: Emily learns the joys of reading, while Roger’s normally quiet (and hilariously expressive) bassett hound has the last laugh/bark.

The simple text in this book makes it quite accessible to young readers. The exaggerated mixed media illustrations, however, are what makes this import stand out for kids of all ages, as well as any adult who likes to laugh. 

The Bus is for Us! by Michael Rosen and Gillian Taylor

ages 2-5

This charming picture book makes me want to find a warm toddler to curl up with and read to. (Time to borrow my nephew!) I think it would also be ideal for sharing with large groups of preschoolers. You might remember Rosen as the author of this iconic picture book for toddlers and preschoolers, published back in 1989. With The Bus is for Us!, he’s back in top form.

This time around the topic is transportation, which little ones generally love (especially buses!), and the story is told in accessible language, with a gentle rhythm:

I really like to ride my bike.

I like going far in our car.

When it starts to rain, 

I like the train.

But the best is the bus.

The bus is for us!

As the story progresses the means of transportation become whimsically imaginative (a sleigh, a cloud, a kite, the back of a bear). But the refrain always comes back to that “best” bus. I love the seamless transition between “real” modes of getting around and more magical ones, which seem to reflect the average preschooler’s ease at switching from concrete to fanciful, often not even bothering to delineate between the two. 

Now that I’ve gone on and on about how much I like the written portion of The Bus is for Us!, I would be completely remiss if I didn’t finish up with mention of Gillian Rosen's fabulous double-spread, full-page watercolor illustrations, which are crucial to the book’s appeal. They're soft, lovely, multicultural, and bridge imagination and reality with aplomb.

Pool by JiHyeon Lee 

ages 5-10

A boy and a girl meet in a swimming pool and find that the objects of their imagination are bigger than anything concrete could possibly contain. 

My ten year old very much enjoyed the imaginary aspects of this beautiful wordless picture book, with specific mention of what the kids imagined at the bottom of the pool, as well as the fact that Lee created underwater animals that are generally recognizable as fish or whales, but still completely fictitious. 

Published first in South Korea, this is yet another international picture book that has come to the U.S. in 2015.  The large format of Pool and Lee’s colored pencil and oil pastel artwork pull readers into a half real-half fantastical world. Lee’s rendering of the girl and boy changes from black and white to color as they move further into their adventure, which is symbolic of both embracing the fun of fantasy, and moving from timidity and hesitation to friendship and courage. 

On the back cover of Pool are its only words: “For Those Who Want to Swim Freely in the World.” Children will want to dive in deeply.

Trapped! A Whale’s Rescue by Robert Burleigh and Wendell Minor

ages 5-12

When a humpback whale is caught in a fishing net, a team of divers works to save her in this story based on a real-life occurrence. 

Trapped! teaches kids to respect earth’s creatures and touches on the potential effects of littering, problems with the use of non-biodegradable materials, and how we work to right environmental wrongs when we’re unable or fail to prevent them ahead of time. Burleigh’s text is minimal, so that kids of a wide age range can savor this book.  Stunning full-page oil paintings are typical of Minor’s well-known picture book art. Additional information on the true-life story, whale rescues, humpback whales, and a bibliography of books and websites, are also included. Kids (and adults) who read Trapped! will be struck by the human ability to both destroy and preserve our world. Ultimately, my daughters and I left this book feeling moved by the potential love involved in human/animal relationships.  

You Can Do It, Bert! by Ole Könnecke

ages 2-6

Such an unexpectedly adorable book! Very simple text makes it appropriate for tiny lap listeners, but subtle humor will draw in kids who are slightly older. 

Be prepared for this quirky tale to surprise you. Tiny red bird Bert looks like he’s gathering all his courage to take his first flight, but he’s actually gearing up for something unexpected, and just as brave. Kids will identify with Bert’s efforts as he takes on a new, somewhat intimidating, adventure. They will also laugh, loudly.

Oh, and try this on for size: You Can Do It, Bert! was written by a native Swedish freelance illustrator, living and working in Germany. The book was first published in New Zealand in 2007 in German, and then translated to English and distributed to the United States and other countries last year. Talk about international!

Everybody Sleeps (But Not Fred) by Josh Schneider

ages 5-8

When I first heard of this one, my honest reaction was “Meh, not another book about a kid who doesn’t want to go to bed.” Then I read it to my six year old one night. And then another time the next night. And another.

And of course this book appeals to my child because he lives to avoid bedtime. (Who knows what he might miss while he’s sleeping, right?) But Everybody Sleeps (But Not Fred) offers more than just that base story. First off, it’s super quirky. It’s hilariously funny. It must be read repeat times to get each joke. And it’s written and illustrated by the award-winning Josh Schneider. Published in April, “But Not Fred” is one of my absolute favorites of this past summer. 

Orangutanka: A Story in Poems by Margarita Engle and Renée Kurilla

ages 4-9

Cuban-American Margarita Engle is one of those rare talents who writes across genres and ages, with beautiful results. (I wrote about another one of her new titles here.) Lately, her chapter and picture books have been so perfectly executed, each time a new one is published (four books this year!) it seems hard to believe it could possibly be as good as the last. With Orangutanka: A Story in Poems, Engle not only lives up to her well-earned reputation — she exceeds it.

Try to put all this together in your mind: This is a book of Japanese-style “tanka” poems. (Previous to this book, I was ignorant of this five-line form of 5-7-5-7-7 syllable count per line, much like haiku, but different.) Each poem is linked to tell the story of a young, feisty, adorable orangutan who longs to dance. “Big sister” lives in a wildlife preserve in Borneo, and interacts with her family, a park ranger, and curious onlookers. (The young orangutan’s free-spirited nature even inspires a group of multi-ethnic children to cut a rug.)

Author Engle has pulled off something quite complicated: She’s married Asian-inspired word art, which she studied in Singapore, with her memories of a trip to Borneo and her love for wild animals. Yet the magic in this book is the utterly simple way it will beguile children. (Kurilla’s pencil, ink, and watercolor illustrations, which capture “big sister” in all the joy of irreverent dance, are key to this success.) Orangutanka is an ideal book for preschoolers and kindergartners. And with an extension activity (an “orangudance”), in which kids use their imaginations to move like big sister through the rain forest, Orangutanka is also custom made for sharing with groups. 

For older kids, or curious readers who want to understand more, notes are provided that explain tanka poetry, orangutan facts, websites, and books. That means Orangutanka works well for kids studying units on poetry, the rainforest, orangutans, and more. It's truly a book with a wide appeal.

Ice Cream Summer by Peter Sís

ages 5-8

Globe-trotting Peter Sís has been writing award-winning children’s literature for decades. He ardently researches his picture books (this one is no exception), and many of them are rendered in a very detailed manner appropriate for upper elementary readers. With Ice Cream Summer, Sís takes a sweeter, simpler turn. Well — at least at first glance. 

Young Joe writes a letter to Grandpa filled with simple sentences about his summer activities. As the story progresses, it becomes clearer and clearer, through word play and the illustrations, that Joe has one thing on his mind … convincing Grandpa he’s earned a “special trip” for ice cream. This book will have wide appeal: Its undemanding main text works for young kids, who will enjoy the summery pastel color scheme and delicious ending. Older kids will be drawn into Ice Cream Summer due to Sis’ clever injection of global ice cream history into intricate illustrations. Minds and tummies will be filled with this superb story!

Link disclosure: A Book Long Enough is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. That means if you purchase a book through an Amazon link that appears on my site, I receive a commission.

Forget the Kids: 8 Summer 2015 Adult Reads You Don't Want to Miss

summer 2015 adult books a book long enough

Okay, okay, so maybe not the nicest header I've ever come up with, but seriously, if you're a mama at home this summer with your kiddos (three to be exact), you need at least one or two good books to take you away. Right? Maybe you are one of those moms who are lining up the Pinterest projects and making sure little Dick and Jane are occupied every minute with brain-edifying activities. Or perhaps you're going to be relying on waaaaaay too much Spongebob and Animal Jams, and kicking them all out in the back yard when the fighting starts. I bet you can guess which scenario I lean more toward ... In the meantime, take a look at these eight new hardcover releases that you can use to shut the world out and dive into something good. Cheers!

disclaimer summer 2015 adult novels a book long enough

Disclaimer: A Novel by Renée Knight 

All right, fellow psychological suspense junkies, we have a new book to try! And it's British. Because we know all the best creepy stuff comes from across the pond! Publishers Weekly and Library Journal both gave this brand new novel starred reviews. Here's the book blurb:

When a mysterious novel appears at Catherine Ravenscroft's bedside, she is curious. She has no idea who might have sent her The Perfect Stranger—or how it ended up on her nightstand. At first, she is intrigued by the suspenseful story that unfolds.

And then she realizes.

This isn't fiction.

The Perfect Stranger re-creates in vivid, unmistakable detail the day Catherine became hostage to a dark secret, a secret that only one other person knew—and that person is dead.

Now that the past Catherine so desperately wants to forget is catching up with her, her world is falling apart. Plunged into a living nightmare, she knows that her only hope is to confront what really happened on that terrible day . . . even if the shocking truth may destroy her.

Cue the spooky music. And run to the library or your Amazon cart!

dead wake summer 2015 adult reads books a book long enough

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson

So you think you don't like non-fiction? Well, Erik Larson has more than proven himself by penning several non-fiction titles, like the highly-acclaimed, uber-popular Devil in the White City, that are impossible to put down. And he's back with another riveting read in 2015. As the book flap tells us, the sinking of the Lusitania

is a story that many of us think we know but don’t, and Erik Larson tells it thrillingly, switching between hunter and hunted while painting a larger portrait of America at the height of the Progressive Era. Full of glamour and suspense, Dead Wake brings to life a cast of evocative characters, from famed Boston bookseller Charles Lauriat to pioneering female architect Theodate Pope to President Woodrow Wilson, a man lost to grief, dreading the widening war but also captivated by the prospect of new love. 

Eric Larson not only does his homework, his writing is so engrossing you'll forget that he didn't have to make up this enthralling tale.

the rocks summer 2015 adult novels a book long enough

The Rocks: A Novel by Peter Nichols

I'm a huge fan of romance-tinged historical fiction, especially when the author brings a far-flung locale to life. The Rocks sounds like its going to fit the bill perfectly:

Set against dramatic Mediterranean Sea views and lush olive groves, The Rocks opens with a confrontation and a secret: What was the mysterious, catastrophic event that drove two honeymooners apart so suddenly and absolutely in 1948 that they never spoke again despite living on the same island for sixty more years? And how did their history shape the Romeo and Juliet–like romance of their (unrelated) children decades later? Centered around a popular seaside resort club and its community, The Rocks is a double love story that begins with a mystery, then moves backward in time, era by era, to unravel what really happened decades earlier.

And did I mention it's received three starred reviews from major book journals? If you enjoy Kate Morton, The Perfume Collector, or Beautiful Ruins, put Nichols' novel next on your list. 

a god in ruins summer 2015 adult novels a book long enough

A God in Ruins: A Novel by Kate Atkinson

Oh man, oh man, I am SO EXCITED about this novel! I simply adore every.single.thing Kate Atkinson has penned. She loves to bust genres and she's such a talented writer. You need to first read this, perhaps my all-time favorite novel of the last five years or so, and then move on to A God in Ruins. Here's the publisher blurb:

Kate Atkinson's dazzling Life After Life explored the possibility of infinite chances and the power of choices, following Ursula Todd as she lived through the turbulent events of the last century over and over again. 

A God in Ruins tells the dramatic story of the 20th Century through Ursula's beloved younger brother Teddy--would-be poet, heroic pilot, husband, father, and grandfather-as he navigates the perils and progress of a rapidly changing world. After all that Teddy endures in battle, his greatest challenge is living in a future he never expected to have. 

And this quote from the Publisher's Weekly review beautifully summarizes why Atkinson's books are impossible to put down: 

Atkinson isn't just telling a story: she's deconstructing, taking apart the notion of how we believe stories are told. Using narrative tricks that range from the subtlest sleight of hand to direct address, she makes us feel the power of storytelling not as an intellectual conceit, but as a punch in the gut. 

If that sounds intimidating, keep in mind that Atkinson's books are compulsively readable, which makes them perfect summer novels.

luckiest girl alive summer 2015 adult novels a book long enough

Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll

Can I just mention that I am sick to death of the comparisons of every new suspense novel to Gone Girl? It doesn't have to be just like Gone Girl to be worth reading. And in fact, it probably isn't! (I loved GG, by the way. And I wonder what the going rate for a Gillian Flynn book jacket blurb is these days.) Anyway, Luckiest Girl Alive sounds like a perfect beach read, according to the cover:

As a teenager at the prestigious Bradley School, Ani FaNelli endured a shocking, public humiliation that left her desperate to reinvent herself. Now, with a glamorous job, expensive wardrobe, and handsome blue blood fiancé, she’s this close to living the perfect life she’s worked so hard to achieve.

But Ani has a secret.

There’s something else buried in her past that still haunts her, something private and painful that threatens to bubble to the surface and destroy everything.

Also, I think Reese Witherspoon is a multi-talented actress, and I really enjoy her movies, but I could care less what she thinks about this novel, so I'm disappointed to see her chosen as the top quote on Amazon. Come on, editors. 

At any rate, I do care A LOT what Publishers Weekly says and they call this one “A knockout debut novel ... completely enthralling ... devilishly dark and fun.” Dark and fun are just what I like in my summer suspense novels! Added to list.

dietland summer 2015 adult novels a book long enough

Dietland: A Novel by Sarai Walker

I'm really looking forward to reading this debut novel, which takes chick lit to an edgier level, with a combination of dark humor, satire, feminism, mystery, and an indie vibe. There's a been a lot of buzz in library land about this book the past few months, too. In a starred review Library Journal raved: 

This novel is like a roller coaster. Before you know it, you’re racing through an edgy and exciting mix of mystery, crime, and social critique of gender and beauty standards at breakneck speed. Vivid characters and sometimes surprising acts of violence make the story pop. Ideal for readers seeking something more socially aware and gender-conscious in their women's fiction; book groups will find lots to discuss.

Here's what Amazon editor Sarah Nelson had to say about Dietland: 

Warning: this debut novel from a onetime writer for Seventeen and Mademoiselle is not what it might at first seem to be: a funny send-up of the beauty industry and the media that support it. Well, ok, it is that, at least for the first 50 pages or so, but it soon becomes one of the more intelligent, and not a little subversive, depictions of women in our society. Oh, drat: that makes it sound brainy and Feminism 101-y, which is not right, either. So... trying again. Read Dietland, the tale of a young, overweight woman who hides behind a skinny-girl persona to write an advice column for a women’s magazine – and is soon drawn into an underground community of women who forthrightly and fabulously reject that culture. Read it not only because it’s smart and timely (and shocking: it explicitly takes on the adult film culture as well), but because it’s heartbreaking and tragic and very very comic (as long as you like your laughs dark) and because it will guarantee that you never look at a lipstick or a pair of stilettos or a bathroom scale the same way again. Sarai Walker is some kind of twisted sister. And of course I mean that as the highest possible compliment.

I like books that defy categorization.

dream lover summer 2015 novels a book long enough

The Dream Lover by Elizabeth Berg

Elizabeth Berg has penned many, many lovely novels that are easy to dive into and difficult to break away from. At the same time, I'm a big fan of the "historical figure" novel, a recently popular sub-genre in which a real person's life is reimagined through fiction. Examples of these (which you should immediately buy if you haven't already read!) are The Paris Wife, Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, Loving Frank, and the forthcoming The Marriage of Opposites

Berg's latest novel takes on the pseudonymous George Sands, a 19th-century woman who escaped a loveless marriage in the French countryside to become a romantic novelist who lived an unconventional life. Among her lovers and associates were Hugo, Liszt, Flaubert, and Chopin. An excerpt from the Boston Globe review of Dream Lover caught my eye:

Fantastic ... a provocative and dazzling portrait ... Berg tells a terrific story, while simultaneously exploring sexuality, art, and the difficult personal choices women artists in particular made — then and now — in order to succeed. The book, imagistic and perfectly paced, full of dialogue that clips along, is a reader’s dream.

I am so looking forward to an adventure in armchair travel to 19th-century Paris, with Berg as my guide.

go set a watchman summer 2015 adult novels a book long enough

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

I'm guessing I really don't need to explain why this book is on my list. Unless you've been living completely off the grid, I'm pretty positive you've heard of it, too. I'm actually a little nervous about it, as To Kill a Mockingbird is darn near impossible to eclipse. Or even be half as good as. I think I'm going to re-read TKAM first. 

This is the book everybody will be reading this summer. I love the cover already. And I can't wait to get my hot little hands on a copy of this half-century-awaited sequel.

Link disclosure: A Book Long Enough is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. That means if you purchase a book through an Amazon link that appears on my site, I receive a commission.