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2021 Picture Book Previews Part Two

Back again, with another great round up of picture book covers from 2021. By about parts 3/4, I can usually sense trends for the next year. Right now, I’m sensing a strong trend for biographies of individuals with empowering stories, and frankly, a trend for what look to be really incredible books. Enjoy, and more soon!



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Exclusive Cover Reveal: LITTLE BAT in NIGHT SCHOOL by Brian Lies

Today I’m thrilled to share with you the cover of a new book by the beloved Caldecott-Honor winning author/illustrator, Brian Lies! Brian most recently showed us how grief can be so tenderly explored through The Rough Patch, which won a Caldecott honor; and also shared a beautiful tale of determination of furry friends who would not let a blizzard stop their venture to Bear’s house in Got to Get To Bear’s! 

But today, Brian’s bats- well, specifically, one bat, is back and is headed to night school! Here’s a little bit more from Brian….

The book, LITTLE BAT in NIGHT SCHOOL, is a sort of spin-off of my bat books, featuring the small bat with yellow floaties / water wings who appeared in all four of them, almost as an Easter egg—never speaking, never mentioned in the text. He’s always been a sort of “innocent eye” to me, and it seemed he ought to come forward with a story of his own.  Called LITTLE BAT in NIGHT SCHOOL, it’s for a slightly younger audience than my bat books, and ties in with social and emotional learning practices (though I see that as a layer, not the focus of the thing—I’m not a fan of “theme first” stories).  
Little Bat is eager for school to start—but when he arrives, he doesn’t find the classroom packed with bats, as expected—it’s raccoons, owlets, and a ferret who’s really into cephalopods.  Little Bat is excluded by the only two other bats there, who tell him “we’re already playing . . . with each other.”  Flying into a coat cubby to hide, he discovers it’s already occupied by an opossum named Ophelia, who’s also hesitant to join the rest of the class.  
Discovering their common feelings, they turn the experience around together and dive into a nighttime of activities, from counting (Little Bat’s “6” on paper looks right to him, but not to those who aren’t upside down) to show-and-tell, sharing food (“ Ophelia held something out.  ‘This is delicious—my Mama found it on the road.  Want some?’ “) to making art (Little Bat is crushed that someone else seems to be better at it than he is, until he’s reminded that “Practice makes . . . better”),  to using their imagination and working cooperatively when faced with the boredom of unstructured recess time. 
Are you ready??? Here it is…..
thumbnail_Little Bat jacket
You’ll have to wait until about a year from now to see the book, but the good news? You can already order from your favorite independent bookseller here. 
Thanks, Brian, for the honor of sharing the cover! I can’t wait to see more!

2021 Picture Book Previews Part One

Growing up, the day after Memorial Day was usually the “first day of summer” for my sisters and me. Parents back to work, house to ourselves, pool open … The possibilities were endless. And now, an adult in a strange place this year because nothing has gone as it should, today feels like any other day. Why not make it a bit special by kicking off the 2021 Picture Book Preview posts? That’s right, back once again with a fresh new line up of what I’ve gathered so far… And this is just the start! The past two years there have been a total of 17 or 18 preview posts of the picture book covers I’ve rounded up. Take that times 50-80 titles per post and you wind up with a bounty of new titles on the horizon. Here we go! Enjoy!






2020 Picture Books Part 17

For many and various reasons, I haven’t been able to round them ALL up for 2020, but at some point a guy’s got to move on and divert his attention to the slew of 2021 covers popping up all over the place, right? So, without further ado, I present you the FINAL round up of 2020 Picture Books that I could find. Whew. The 2021 lists will begin in a few weeks. May looking through this list, and the 16 the preceded, present you with some sort of hope or joy that if anything, picture books will help ease the pains and uncertainties of this pandemic and this year.




















2020 Picture Book Previews Part 16

Well, friends, we’re starting to wind down… Part 17 will be the final installment of the 2020 picture book preview series, as I have already started a draft with about 25 covers from — 2021!!!— that I’ve come across in my sleuthing…. Meanwhile, enjoy all that is here for part 16 and I’ll be back soon with the final installment for 2020. It might be quite a year already with the pandemic, but it’s even more so quite a year for picture books! Enjoy!








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2020 Picture Book Previews Part 15

We could use a little pick me up, right? Well, I’ve waited far too long to release the next batch and so we’ve got quite a few titles below. Take your time scrolling and enjoy. Most, if not all, are available for pre-order from your favorite bookseller where you’ll probably be able to find release dates, blurbs, and more…. 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.