Count the Monkeys
By Mac Barnett, illustrated by Kevin Cornell
Published 2013 by Disney-Hyperion
Barnett is definitely an author to watch. He writes both picture books and chapter books and seems to do well with both (although I haven't found time yet to read one of his chapter books, they're popular in my library). When I spotted his new picture book, I picked it up immediately. This is a storytime dream book - incredibly fun and interactive. It will definitely keep your audience's attention. The illustrations are perfect for the story, making this an even more awesome book. I definitely recommend this one and will be adding it to my storytime repertoire.
The Matchbox Diary
By Paul Fleischman, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline
Published 2013 by Candlewick Press
This is a quiet but lovely book for which some Caldecott buzz has been building. To be sure, the illustrations are absolutely gorgeous - detailed and longing to be explored in depth. The story is of a little girl who asks her great-grandfather to tell her the story of an old cigar box filled with matchboxes. This would be a great book for a kindergarten/early elementary storytime or program - extension activities are really easy and I seem to remember starting my interest in family history in early elementary school. Very lovely.
Otter and Odder: A Love Story
By James Howe, illustrated by Chris Raschka
Published 2012 by Candlewick Press
Odd is exactly the word I would use to describe this story of an otter who falls in love with a fish. I think it is supposed to be whimsical and heartening and probably have a big lesson in it, but mostly I found it strange. Additionally (and I still hate to admit this), I do not enjoy Raschka's illustration style. It makes me feel unsophisticated or something whenever I say that, but I just think it looks messy and irritating. This was not a book for me.