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2020 Picture Book Previews Part 13

Time for another round up! They’re coming in faster and faster as we roll forward into 2020…. I’m more and more encouraged about the great titles coming with each new post. Enjoy!


















Pitter Pattern: Interview with Joyce Hesselberth

Today I’m thrilled to welcome Joyce Hesselberth to my blog to talk about her upcoming release, Pitter Pattern. 

Hi Joyce! Thanks for stopping by my blog!

Hi Dylan! It’s so nice to be here. Thanks for inviting me!

Tell us a little bit about your new book, Pitter Pattern.   

Pitter Pattern is all about where you can find patterns: in nature, in music, in movement, in days of the week. Everywhere really! I love patterns, but I also find them incredibly useful. I noticed when my kids were little how important pattern recognition was. I wanted to make a book that went beyond ABABAB and ABCABC (although it covers that too). Once kids can recognize patterns, they start to understand what comes next and that gives them an incredible understanding of how to navigate through the world.


Tell us a little bit about your illustration process.

I always start with lots of sketching and then slowly refine them until I’m ready to start the final art. I like to work with a lot of textures and bold geometric shapes. My work is digital, but I mix traditional paint with it so when I’m starting a book I take some time to do some loose and messy painting first. For this book, I knew I wanted to work a lot of patterns in, so I created a little library of patterns by hand.


Have you always been into writing/illustrating?

I’ve always been making art. My mom was an art teacher and there were always projects going on at home. As a kid, my writing was mostly limited to journals, but I did write a lot. I don’t think I really combined the two until I decided to write my first picture book in my thirties. It didn’t get published (which may have been for the best) but it got me hooked on writing and illustrating more stories.


What’s the most exciting part of your job?

Oh! That’s hard. It’s a really great job. I think the best part might be when I figure out how to finish a story. It has to fit in this perfect little 32 or 40 page format, and when it all comes together it’s magical. It’s like solving a puzzle that you didn’t know you could figure out. That ‘aha’ moment is so satisfying. Of course, when a publisher makes an offer it’s also pretty exciting!

What inspires your creativity?

I draw a lot from nature – just being out in it sometimes is enough. I go for long(ish) runs on the trail near our home and soak it all in. I’m also surrounded by creative people every day, both at our studio and at the college where I teach (MICA).


What is one thing that readers don’t know about you, that only you could tell us?

Once upon a time, I had a chicken named Duck. Now, I have a chicken named Goose. My family and I are not very good at naming chickens.

If you weren’t writing/illustrating books, what do you think you’d be doing?

I’d like to travel more. Could I be an explorer? Of course, I’d probably draw some pictures and jot down a few notes about it and I’d end up right back where I started – writing/illustrating books.

What can readers expect from you in the future?

More books of course! Like any good author/illustrator, I have a few more books in the works. I’m working on one that should hit in 2021 and it’s about something I love dearly – trees!

Anything else you’d like to share with readers of this blog?

I love thinking about activities that can go with my books – easy art projects that can extend learning, but are also fun. You can look for projects to bring into the classroom or do at home on my website at

You can also enjoy this new video here. 


Cover Reveal: SANTA BABY by Jonathan Stutzman and Heather Fox

Hold it, stop right there. Did you hear Eartha Kitt’s voice begin singing Santa Baby…. when you saw the title of this post? If you didn’t, you did now… And you can get rid of that little ear worm because I’ve got something else I need you to see.


Oh, Santa…. We’ve been gifted with many tales and stories and books about the legend himself over the years. Sure, it’s true- there was a real St. Nicholas. Sure, Rankin/Bass shared the story of his birth and childhood and how he evolved into the legendary Santa Claus- the one who visits millions of children across the globe each Christmas Eve.

Poor guy, he’s been doing it for so long. I’m positive there aren’t enough plates of cookies and cups of milk to keep him young forever. So what happens when Santa’s taken one too many trips across the globe and feels his joints and strength just aren’t what they used to be?

Why, it takes the magic of Christmas to whip up a miracle and set things right again.

Sound like a good story to you?

I give you….. Santa Baby:

Front Cover FINAL - Santa Baby.jpg

Coming your way this fall (9/8/2020, to be exact) from Henry Holt/Macmillan Publishing.

Thanks to Jonathan and Heather for the opportunity for the reveal, and find your way over to your favorite bookseller and pre-order now!

Max & Ruby Are Back Again!

Max and Ruby have become timeless icons (along with their creator, Rosemary Wells), in children’s literature. We last saw them in 2016 when they were making preschool pranks.

Since then, Wells has kept us delighted with characters like Kit & Kaboodle, Sophie,  and Felix & Fiona. However, a noticeable gap has become apparent as children, teachers, and librarians have wondered where Max & Ruby went and whether we’d see them appear again in a book by Wells.

Never fear, they’re back! And they’ve got 2 new little bundles of joy. Coming this Tuesday, they’re hitting shelves again with Twin Trouble. And the 2-some year hiatus has been worth the wait as it is obvious this book took Ms. Wells some time to create their next adventure.


I read this book weeks ago and immediately knew it was Rosemary Wells at her best. Her ability to capture the emotions, expressions, and anxieties of children through Max & Ruby is as strong as ever. You need a well crafted story about what children are facing? Rosemary never disappoints.

I’d like to think I have read (and perhaps even own) every Max & Ruby ever created by Rosemary Wells. So I am pretty sure (correct me if I am wrong), this book is a first. Take a look at this spread and see if you can spot something we’ve never seen in a Max & Ruby book. 91+ajC4BxyL.jpg

That’s right- There they are. Max & Ruby’s parents. I don’t know if we’ve ever seen them appear in a book before. Grandma of course makes regular appearances, but, the parents have always remained off the pages- they’d distract the story.

It’s totally understandable, though, why they’ve shown up. They’re crucial to the plot of this one. You need Mom & Dad, as Mom is the one delivering the new babies. What has been a mystery is no longer a mystery. Mom & Dad have been introduced. Mind you, they’re minor characters in the story, but it was totally appropriate to introduce them given the plot.

Do yourself a favor- Go pick up a copy of Wells’ newest addition to the Max & Ruby collection on Tuesday. Pick up a few of the previous titles while you’re at it. We in the children’s literature world can only hope that Rosemary Wells has many, many more stories planned about Max, Ruby, and her many other characters. Our teachers, libraries, and homes need them now more than ever.