Picture Book Trends in 2013

Picture book trends 2013

Those of you who follow this blog know that I go to the big box bookstore every once in awhile to see what's featured on the main wall of the children's section as a quick check on what is trending in picture books (or at least what is being pushed for sale). For the last couple of years, I lamented the fact that an
author or illustrator had to be dead, a national award winner, or the owner of an unstoppable franchise to be featured (October 2011 post). Last summer, picture books were even briefly replaced by middle grade and illustrated Wimpy Kid-style chapter books (Summer 2012 post).

Last week I was delighted to see a wall of picture books with a good handful of new names among the usual suspects of Caldecott winners, large franchises, and celebrity authors. Some observations:

1.  Publishers Are Signing & Stores are Promoting New Authors

I saw at least three debut authors:

The Amazing Hamweenie, by Patty Bowman (Philomel Books, 2012), a very funny story told from the perspective of a cat who wants adventure, is misunderstood, and suffers untold indignities and injustices every day.

Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site, by Sherri Duskey RInker, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld (Chronicle Books, 2011), a cute and comforting bedtime story about trucks going to sleep at a construction site after a hard day's work.

Baby Penguins Everywhere, by Melissa Guion (Philomel Books, 2012), a sweet story about being alone and being with others, and the need to recharge every once in awhile, involving a multitude of baby penguins.

Do you see any other ones I missed, in the photo above, or below?

2.  Universal & Timeless Themes Sell

The featured theme, friends and family, will always resonate with kids and parents.

3. Picture Books Are Getting Shorter

Editors have been saying for awhile that they are looking for shorter picture books, because parents and kids have little patience to read long books. The newer picture books are indeed getting shorter.

4. The Art is Quirky yet Sophisticated

Very cute characters still abound, but I am also seeing more quirky and interesting art. The Amazing Hamweenie, for example, features a jaded and bored looking cat with a magician's top hat and cape and this very cool spread:

Spread from Patty Bowman's "The Amazing Hamweenie"

Check out author-illustrator Patty Bowman's blog that features more of her excellent art. And check out debut author-illustrator Melissa Guion's website, for really cute penguins.

And the Caldecott Goes To...

Speaking of great art in picture books, I'm so excited that the Caldecott Awards will be announced in a little over a week, on January 28. Each year, the New York Times publishes its list of best illustrated books, and often the Caldecott winners come from this list. I've borrowed almost all of these books and have loved looking at them. Which ones are your favorites?

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