2016 Picture Books Preview!

Holy guacamole, folks. You all know I love writing book round-up posts. Evidence can be seen here, here, here, and here. But this is the first time I’ve been able to write a post about books that haven’t even been published yet in Canada! A few weeks ago I attended a Library Bound book preview event where I learned all about 2016 picture book releases.  I’ve also been avidly scouting Twitter for news of upcoming publications.  Put the two together and presto!

Because I work in a large library system with centralized purchasing it can be hard to stay on top of forthcoming titles. If you’re like me, I hope this post is a collection development resource for you.  I’ve chosen to highlight fiction.  The maple leaves indicate a Canadian author, illustrator, or publisher.

I’ve organized them into (very scientific) categories.  I hope you enjoy!  Please leave a comment with any I missed or don’t know about yet.


the bear and the pianoThe Bear and the Piano by David Litchfield. A British import from a debut author/illustrator. Stunning illustrations and a touching story of a bear who travels to New York to play the piano.

Bears in a bandBears in a Band by Shirley Parenteau; illustrated by David Walker. Part of a lively series including Bears on Chairs and Bears in the Bath. Super adorbs bears form a noisy orchestra that threatens to wake up Big Brown Bear.

A beginner's guide to bear spottingThe Beginner’s Guide to Bear Spotting by Michelle Robinson; illustrated by David Roberts. Author of Rosie Revere, Engineer is back with what Kirkus calls a quirky, appealing title about a child who braves the great outdoors to find some bears. The child has brown skin and is of ambiguous gender.

horrible bearHorrible Bear! by Ame Dyckman; illustrated by Zachariah OHora.  The duo behind Wolfie the Bunny brings us a tale of the power of words and the nature of forgiveness.

Bedtime and Sleeping

Cat NapCat Nap by Toni Yuly. This one will be great for storytime. Cat is ready for a nap, but Kitten has other ideas! Lots of opposites and a mouse that hides on every page. A definite buy if you like Yuly’s other books.

cricket songCricket Song by Anne Hunter. I loved the illustrations in this bedtime story that incorporates the sounds and animals of the night. There is a bottom panel showing how children all over the world are connected.

good night like this

Good Night Like This by Mary Murphy.  Another hit from Murphy, author of A Kiss Like This!  Perfect for a pyjama storytime, different animals tuck their little ones in to bed.

rock a bye romp

Rock-A-Bye Romp by Linda Ashman; illustrated by Simona Mulazzani. Kirkus says, “A fine addition to the nursery bookshelf for baby and all” about this extension of the classic nursery rhyme Rock-a-Bye Baby. I’m excited to share it in baby storytime!

twenty yawnsTwenty Yawns by Jane Smiley; illustrated by Lauren Castillo.  An award winning duo created this bedtime tale with twenty yawns sprinkled in for children to discover and count.

Board Books

Beach babymaple-leafBeach Baby by Laurie Elmquist; illustrated by Elly MacKay. Elmquist is a fellow British Columbian and this is a sweet lullaby about the perfect day at the beach. MacKay’s beautiful paper cut collages caught my eye in Butterfly Park and she continues to dazzle.

cars go Cars Go by Steve Light.  I love Light’s other transportation books because of the sound effects – perfect for baby and toddler storytimes.  Pumped to add the newest addition to the shelves.

duck and goose let's danceDuck and Goose, Let’s Dance! by Tad Hills. Duck and Goose are back with a quack-filled song and dance. You can download the song on their website.

hamsters on the gomaple-leafHamsters on the Go by Kass Reich. Another book in the Hamsters series by Canadian author and illustrator Reich. In this board book, the hamsters show all the different ways they travel from here to there.

my heart fills with happinessmaple-leafMy Heart Fills with Happiness by Monique Gray Smith; illustrated by Julie Flett. Oh boy, am I excited for this one! Both Smith and Flett are from B.C. and I love everything Flett illustrates. This beauty of a board book is a wonderful reflection on the joyful moments of our lives.


Books That Didn’t Fit Into Any Of the Other Categories

a-hungry-lion-or-a-dwindling-assortment-of-animalsmaple-leafA Hungry Lion, Or a Dwindling Assortment of Animals by Lucy Ruth Cummins. This is a debut picture book that is reminiscent of I Want My Hat Back and other darkly funny tales. A hungry lion is ready for a fun day with friends until they all start disappearing.

Frank and LAvernemaple-leafFrank and Laverne by Dave Whamond. What caught me about this one was the interesting format. You can read the book from either end and get two perspectives – one from Frank and one from Laverne – about what really happened. A cat vs. dog tale with a twist.

peep and eggPeep and Egg: I’m Not Hatching by Laura Gehl; illustrated by Joyce Wan. A new series for toddlers that is cute and funny. Egg overcomes her fears and hatches just in time for the fun to start. I’m marking this as storytime potential. The second book is already set to come out in August and it’s about Halloween!

snappsy the alligatorSnappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to be in the Book) by Julie Falatko; illustrated by Tim J. Miller. Reminiscent of Mo Willems’ Pigeon, Snapsy is a funny story of an alligator whose day is interrupted by a pesky Narrator who tries to make the story more interesting by adding in some giggle worthy claims.

Community Celebrations

Malaikas costumemaple-leafMalaika’s Costume by Nadia Hohn; illustrated by Irene Luxbacher.  Malaika’s mother has moved to Canada to find a good job and provide for the family, but Carnival season is here and Malaika needs money for a new dress.  A story of family and the power of community.

maybe something beautifulMaybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood by F. Isabel Campoy; illustrated by Rafael Lopez. Gorgeous illustrations help tell this true story of the Urban Art Trail in San Diego, California. Inspiring and transformative.


duck duck dinosaurmaple-leafDuck, Duck, Dinosaur by Kallie George; illustrated by Oriol Vidal. George is a fellow Vancouverite so this one immediately caught my attention. Three eggs hatch revealing a duck, a duck, and a dinosaur! A cute story about sibling rivalry with a diverse animal family.

field guide to grumpasaurusField Guide to the Grumpasaurus by Edward Hemingway. Huge parent appeal in this field guide format picture book about dealing with the moodiest of little ones.

Exploration and Adventure

an armadillo in new yorkmaple-leafAn Armadillo in New York by Julie Kraulis.  A follow up to An Armadillo in Paris.  This time Arlo uses his grandfather’s travel journal to visit famous landmarks throughout the Big Apple.

buddy and earlmaple-leafBuddy and Earl Go Exploring by Maureen Fergus; illustrated by Carey Sookocheff.  This is a sequel to Buddy and Earl which earned a starred review from Kirkus in 2015.  Two unlikely friends show that you don’t have to go far to have an epic adventure.

scribblemaple-leafScribble by Ruth Ohi. Circle, Square, and Triangle always know which way to go.  But along comes Scribble who takes them on a new adventure!  Earmarking this one for storytime.

Friendship and Love

be a friendBe a Friend by Salina Yoon. Yoon is no stranger to friendship books, and this one features a unique character – a mime! It’s being praised for its acceptance of difference and expression of self-acceptance.

hoot and peepHoot and Peep by Lita Judge. A loving sibling relationship between two owls set against a Parisian background. The little sister, Peep, makes lots of funny sounds that remind me of the book Froodle.


worm loves wormWorm Loves Worm by J.J. Austrian; illustrated by Mike Curato. The only book I saw with any LGBTQ themes. Two worms defy tradition and what’s expected in their marriage ceremony. A celebration of love.


If I had a gryphon

maple-leafIf I Had a Gryphon by Vikki VanSickle; illustrated by Cale Atkinson. The brown skinned main character, Sam, yearns for an exciting pet like the ones in her book of mythological creatures. There’s a drooling hamster that sold me.

spare dog partsmaple-leafSpare Dog Parts by Alison Hughes; illustrated by Ashley Spires.  A Canadian duo bring us this story of a a dark-skinned child with dark, curly hair who wonders what odd collection of parts made her beloved canine companion.

violet and victormaple-leafViolet and Victor Write the Most Fabulous Fairy Tales by Alice Kuipers; illustrated by Bethanie Deeney.  A celebration of storytelling is the heart of this sibling story.  Kirkus says, ‘” jam-packed view of the creative process of two imaginative siblings.”

Libraries and Literacy

daniel finds a poemDaniel Finds a Poem by Micha Archer. If you follow me on Twitter you know how much I love poetry so I was ecstatic to see this story of a young African American boy who discovers poetry in nature. Kirkus agrees.

froggy goes to the library Froggy Goes to the Library by Jonathan London.  It’s the 28th Froggy title!  Froggy shows off his excitement to borrow books and learns a dance as well.

the lending zooThe Lending Zoo by Frank Asch. Known for his Moonbear series, Asch brings us a story about a zoo-brarian and the hunt for a missing tiger. A diverse cast of characters included.

library dayLibrary Day by Anne Rockwelll; illustrated by Lizzy Rockwell. Part of a series called My First Experience, this book shows an up-to-date visit to the library. There are male and female librarians and a child who uses a wheelchair using a computer. Score!

mom dad our books and memaple-leafMom, Dad, Our Books, and Me by Danielle Marcotte; illustrated by Josee Bisaillon. The love of reading is celebrated to the max in this book from Montrealers. A young boy encounters family and neighbours who all read what they like.

oops pounce quick runOops, Pounce, Quick, Run!: An Alphabet Caper by Mike Twohy.  What a unique alphabet book. Each letter stands for a word that helps the story of a mouse and a dog progress. Lot of opportunities for encouraging talking with children as you read.


yaks yakYaks Yak: Animal Word Pairs by Linda Sue Park; illustrated by Jennifer Black Reinhardt. I’ve loved Park since my niece was obsessed with Bee-Bim Bop! In this new one animals act out the verbs made from their names. Funny, clever, and I see teachers asking for this one a lot.

Loss and Leaving

always rememberAlways Remember by Cece Meng; illustrated by Jago. An elegant, for-sure-will-make-you-cry book about a group of ocean friends who remember Turtle after he dies. No religious messaging, just gorgeous illustrations and a lyrical story of death. See the Kirkus review.

before i leaveBefore I Leave by Jessixa Bagley. Bagley wrote the critically acclaimed Boats for Papa and is back with this tale of a hedgehog who has to move away from her anteater best friend. A friendship story that hits home.

harry and waltermaple-leafHarry and Walter by Kathy Stinson; illustrated by Qin Leng. Four-year-old Harry and ninety-two-year-old Walter are best friends, but can their friendship last when Harry has to move away? So happy to see more intergenerational stories being published!

how to mend a heartmaple-leafHow to Mend a Heart by Sara Gillingham. A diverse cast of characters lead us through many instances of a broken heart and how to heal in this beautifully illustrated book from a B.C. author.

ida alwaysIda, Always by Caron Levis; illustrated by Charles Santoso. Another tear jerker about a pair of polar bears who live in a zoo and what happens when one of them dies. I loved the large pages and bright colours used to depict a solemn topic.

mayamaple-leafMaya by Mahak Jain; illustrated by Elly MacKay. MacKay has been busy! But this is Toronto’s Mahak Jain’s first picture book about the power of story in helping a young girl deal with the death of her father.


bringing the outside inmaple-leafBringing the Outside In by Mary McKenna Siddals; illustrated by Patrice Barton. I’m not surprised the author is from B.C. because this book is all about getting outside! A celebration of dirt, nature, and play that gets kids up and moving featuring a diverse cast of children.

when spring comesWhen Spring Comes by Kevin Henkes; illustrated by Laura Dronzek. Big, bright pages showcase the joy and language associated with spring. Henkes and Dronzek deliver another nature title that would be great for storytime.


gator dadGator Dad by Brian Lies.  Author of the Bats series, Lies shows us how a gator dad and his kids have a fun-filled day doing every day things like grocery shopping and trip to the park.  Looks like a lovely male caregiver depiction.

mamasaurusMamasaurus by Stephan Lomp.  I’m eyeing this one for storytime. A baby dinosaur gets lost and has to find his mama with the help of his prehistoric friends. Reminiscent of Are You My Mother?

monster and sonMonster and Son by David LaRochelle; illustrated by Joey Chou. LaRochelle’s Moo! and It’s a Tiger! are storytime staples, so I’m excited to try out this new one featuring a slew of monsters and how they love their children.

my new mom and meMy New Mom and Me by Renata Galindo.  A picture book debut by Galindo who lives in Mexico City. Told from the perspective of a puppy adopted by a cat, this sweet story of adoption is an honest and heartwarming take on the topic.

tell me a tattoo storyTell Me a Tattoo Story by Alison McGhee; illustrated by Eliza Wheeler.  It’s about time someone wrote a picture book about tattoos! This one is framed as a modern father-son love story. “The father tells his little son the story behind each of his tattoos, and together they go on a beautiful journey through family history. ”

thunder boy jrThunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexi; illustrated by Yuyi Morales. An award-winning duo pair up in this touching father-son book that a young boy searching for a name of his own. So happy to see this book get published!



go little green truckGo, Little Green Truck! by Roni Schotter; illustrated by Julia Kuo.  This one was tagged with storytime potential. It stars Little Green Truck who loves to help out on the farm and deliver food to the farmer’s market.

josephs big ridemaple-leafJoseph’s Big Ride by Terry Farish; illustrated by Ken Daley.  Inspired by the author’s interviews with refugee children from Sudan, this story highlights one boy’s journey to finding a bike after moving to America.

maxi the little taxiMaxi the Little Taxi by Elizabeth Upton; illustrated by Henry Cole.  A sound effect infused ride through the city. Maxi gets all dirty riding through the city which leads to a tickly bath in the car wash. Cole illustrated And Tango Makes Three.

mighty truckMighty Truck by Chris Barton.  Author of Shark vs. Train brings this Cinderella tale of a truck who is transformed through a mysterious car wash.

the wheels on the tuk tukThe Wheels on the Tuk Tuk by Kabir Sehgal and Surishtha Sehgal, illustrated by Jess Golden. Roam through the streets of India in a three-wheeled taxi on this rendition of the popular children’s song. I can’t wait to sing this one in storytime.


Well-Known Authors and Illustrators (That Aren’t Already on this List)

frankencrayonFrankencrayon by Michael Hall.  Though it got a just okay Kirkus review, kids who liked Red will be drawn to another crayon saga this time about some mysterious scribbling that threatens to end the story.

hooray for kidsHooray for Kids! by Suzanne Lang; illustrated by Max Lang.  Described as an “ode to diversity” this book follows up the Lang’s 2015 Families, Families, Families!  A celebration of children at its best.

hopHop by Jorey Hurley.  Author Nest and Fetch brings us another one-word wonder that tells the story of a rabbit family.  Lots of great interactive verbs that would work well in a toddler storytime.

i want a monstermaple-leafI Want a Monster by Elise Gravel.  I love Gravel’s Disgusting Critters series and am glad to see her enter the picture book market. This story features a girl named Winnie who buys a baby Oogly Wump from the Monsterium and watches him grow.

let's playLet’s Play! by Herve Tullet.  Tullet is back with another interactive winner this time focused on emotions.  A book that supports social emotional learning in addition to covering topics such as colour, motion, and shape.

listen to our worldListen to our World by Bill Martin; illustrated by Melissa Sweet.  A variety of animals – whales, lions, kangaroos – are featured in this celebration of sound. Another great storytime choice illustrated by a Caldecott Honour illustrator.

maggie and michael get dressedMaggie and Michael Get Dressed by Denise Fleming. Fleming is back with a clothing themed story that introduces toddlers to colours as well. Based on the cover there’s a cute dog included.

my houseMy House by Byron Barton.  Toddlers rejoice! Barton has got another book filled with bold colours and simple sentences. Follow Jim the cat through all the rooms of a house.

a book of opppositesThe Opposite Zoo by Il Sung Na. I may be biased because Il Sung Na is one of my favourite writers and illustrators, but this opposite-filled book is going to be a great addition to storytime shelves. Monkey visits all the animals in the zoo describing them along the way.

rain fishRain Fish by Lois Ehlert.  Mixed media collage illustrations fill this story about the collections of materials that float on rain water during storms. There is an author’s note about recycling. A great jump off for creating art using found objects.

ten kisses for sophieTen Kisses for Sophie by Rosemary Wells.  Two-year-old Sophie gets ready for a party and practices her counting in this new book from Wells featuring her cute toddler.

you are onemaple-leafYou are One by Sara O’Leary; illustrated by Karen Klassen. O’Leary wrote This is Sadie, my favourite picture book of 2015, so I am looking forward to this new book series which speaks directly to the child. It showcases common milestones of a baby’s first year and includes a diverse cast of babies to boot.

Wordless Or Nearly Wordless

skunk on a stringmaple-leafSkunk on a String by Thao Lam.  In this wordless wonder, a skunk has been tied to the tail of a balloon.  As he soars, he takes in a diverse city and eventually figures out how to help himself.

spot the cat

Spot, the Cat by Henry Cole. Detailed and intricate illustrations. Follow Spot as he travels around the city while his owner tries to hunt him down.

treatTreat by Mary Sullivan. This is a companion book to Sullivan’s Ball. Using just one word, a little dog does everything in his power to find a delicious treat. An interesting picture book/graphic novel hybrid with a diverse family.

37 thoughts on “2016 Picture Books Preview!

  1. Thank you so much for this list!! Ordering all of these in January!!

    1. You’re so welcome! We can’t wait to order them too.

  2. Wow! I will take one of each please 🙂 Thanks for this great round-up! I hope all the Canadian titles make it into my library system.

    1. I hope so too! Thank you for your comment 🙂

  3. Thank you so much for including You Are One and for your very kind words about Sadie.
    The only thing is–and I hope this won’t get us dropped from your list–our You Are… Books are *not* board books. They are going to be little things of beauty, however. Karen Klassen’s work is amazing!

    1. Oh, my bad! I believe it was listed as a board book in the packet I got from Library Bound. You’ll definitely stay on the list – I’ll just move you to “Well-Known Authors.” And thank you so much for your comment – I’m definitely having a fangirl moment over here 🙂

  4. What an incredible list- thank you so much for including IF I HAD A GRYPHON, I’m honoured! Just a heads up that both Cale Atkinson and I both proud Canadian creators!

      1. haha, no worries! When you followed us on Twitter I noticed you were Canadian and quickly added the maple leaf. Not sure how I missed that! Can’t wait to read your book – thanks so much for your comment 🙂

  5. Thank you so much for sharing your annotated list; it’s a huge time-saver. We will order about 80% of the titles you highlighted.

  6. What a terrific round-up! Thank you so much for including my BRINGING THE OUTSIDE IN, and for so enthusiastically highlighting it as a Canadian title. Your kind words are greatly appreciated!

    1. You are so welcome, Mary! I can’t wait to share your book with my youngest library patrons. It looks absolutely delightful.

  7. Thank you so much for including SCRIBBLE, Jbrary! So happy it’ll be part of your Storytime!! <3 <3 <3

    1. I’m always on the hunt for good books that support the early literacy skill of writing and SCRIBBLE looks perfect. Can’t wait to share it with others!

  8. Hi Lindsey! I’m THRILLED that you liked Hungry Lion! I wanted to let you know that I, too, am a Canadian (born in Montreal/raised alongside a Newfoundland dog). May I have a leaf? I’m so fond of the leaves. 🙂 Thank you again for including me here!

    1. You may absolutely have a leaf! Sorry I missed you the first time. When your book was previewed at the event I attended ALL of the librarians were laughing and making a note to check it out. I think it’s going to get a great reception 🙂

      1. You don’t even know how nice that is to hear! Thank you for sharing.

  9. Thanks so much for including PEEP AND EGG: I’M NOT HATCHING on this list! I can’t wait to read all your other selections. I recently did an author visit to Toronto and look forward to connecting with more young Canadian readers in the future 🙂
    P.S. My dad’s mother was Canadian! Proud Canadian blood here!

    1. Peep and Egg looks so cute! Super excited there will be more than one title featuring the duo. If you ever get the chance to visit Vancouver, do let us know!

    1. I am a poetry lover at heart, so I am so excited for your book! The thanks is all mine 🙂

    1. You’re very welcome! I think parents are going to love it.

  10. The best new children’s book of 2016 is “Cooking With Mr. C.” by John Contratti. It has a wonderful message and is so well done. I would love to see it on your list. My kids love it.

    Wayne G.

  11. Hello, I’m an avid follower of your website and a new children’s librarian. How did you find the library bound book preview? Do you know if there is a US equivalent?

    1. Hi Becky, the Library Bound book preview event was payed for and put on by my specific library. So I attended as a staff member. I’m not sure if there is a U.S. equivalent. It would probably depend on where you live and your library’s budget. Another way to find out about new books is to follow book review blogs like 100 Scope Notes, Fuse 8, and School Library Journal. This was a really special presentation and my hunch is that most libraries don’t offer this kind of thing. Best of luck to you and thanks for stopping by!

      1. That is pretty cool of your library! Thank you for the blog ideas!

        1. I feel very fortunate to attend these kind of events 🙂

  12. Heck, can I just turn my book budget over to you and be done with it? I ordered nearly every title on this list.

    1. Haha, give me all the monies!! 🙂

  13. Thank you! We often use Jbrary for ideas here at the Bethel Park Public Library. Today I found this list extremely helpful because I was looking for children’s titles specifically by Canadian authors. We have a memorial request to fulfill and the honoree was a 1st grade teacher from Canada, so we wanted to find the most fitting book. Thank you for taking the time to post your awesome ideas and helpful resources!

    1. Thank you so much for your lovely comment, Elaine! I’m so glad we could point you towards some Canadian content. One of our favourite places to look for Canadian children’s books is CanLit for Little Canadians: http://canlitforlittlecanadians.blogspot.ca/

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