With a little help from our friends….

Something different today, audience participation required. (Well, not required. But very sincerely appreciated.)

Each summer, as we’ve been doing for many years, my friend Linda Skeers and I co-host a summer picture book writing retreat/workshop. 

Beautiful setting, yes?
Hello, friends!

Each summer, we raid our personal bookshelves and lug hundreds of picture books to the venue, then set them up all over the meeting room. They’re an integral part of the workshop, as we use them to illustrate certain points, and our campers are also free to read between sessions, before bedtime, or whenever they can sneak a peek.

Each summer we (separately) order 8-10 superlative books from the past calendar year or two, then send one another a list. It’s shocking how infrequently we duplicate titles!

Anyway, Linda and I have both been super-busy and, consequently, have only made a few purchases (thank you, fellow PBB bloggers!). With our July workshop right around the corner, it’s time to get on the stick. We’re compiling lists, of course, but neither of us would want to let a terrific book slip past.

That’s where you come in. Who better to consult than fellow picture book lovers? Our PEOPLE! Please leave a comment below, if so moved, with titles of 2022-2023 picture books you feel are noteworthy or outstanding in some way.

Thanks in advance. We appreciate it (and so will our campers).


Jill Esbaum

Jill Esbaum has been picture book crazy since her 3 kids were little, and especially so after her first was published in 2004 (Stink Soup). Recent titles: Stinkbird Has a Superpower, Jack Knight's Brave Flight, Where'd My Jo Go?, Frog Boots, How to Grow a Dinosaur, Frankenbunny, If a T. Rex Crashes Your Birthday Party, Elwood Bigfoot– Wanted: Birdie Friends!, Teeny Tiny Toady, I Am Cow, Hear Me Moo!, and more. Coming in 2024: Parrotfish Has a Superpower (a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection) and Bird Girl: Gene Stratton-Porter Shares Her Love of Nature with the World (another JLG Gold Standard Selection). She's also the author of many nonfiction books for young readers, as well as an early graphic reader series, Thunder & Cluck. Learn more at http://jillesbaum.com.


  1. ROAD TRIP by Claudia Friddell. The artwork is unique and stunning!

  2. Becky Scharnhorst

    The World’s Best Class Plant is my favorite book of 2023. It’s hilarious and heartwarming! I recently analyzed it for a retreat and there is lot you can learn from this one book. It is written by Audrey Vernick and Liz Garton Scanlon and illustrated by Lynnor Bontigao.

  3. TO THE OTHER SIDE by Erika Meza. (author/illustrator). I’ve gifted and “sold” many copies, and I’m not even a bookseller. 🙂

    Here’s the review that turned me onto this lovely, poignant book:

    Have a great workshop! (No doubt!)


  4. I have a few recent favorites to recommend. How Dinosaurs Went Extinct: A Safety Guide by Ame Dyckman and Jennifer Harney. This one is full of humor and makes a great read aloud. My recommendation for best pictures but also a great imaginative story is Jane Yolen’s latest, What To Do With a Stick. Happy Reading!

  5. What a wonderful idea! My favorite new PB is Sophie Blackall’s FARMHOUSE. I loved everything about it, from the way she made it, her focus on the 12 children’s lives on the farm, and the unexpected bittersweet ending, giving so much food for thought on memories and the stories we choose to tell (or not). Enjoy your retreat! I’ll want tidbits please 🙂 Thank you.

    • I love that one, too, Vijaya, and it’s one of the few that already has a place of honor on my shelves (farmer that I am). THANKS!

  6. My personal favorite is “Noticing” by Kobi Yamada. I read it every morning to jump start my writing.

  7. I smiled reading your post, Jill. For many years I co-taught a course titled Writing and Children’s Literature for the PA Writing Project. Like you, we lugged in hundreds of picture books each year to have on hand. Thanks for the memory! A couple of new favorites:
    Gustav Is Missing! A Tale of Friendship and Bravery by Andrea Zulli
    If You Wake a Skunk by Carol Doerringer and Florence Weiser
    How to Get Your Octopus to School by Becky Scharnhorst and Jaclyn Sinquett

  8. THANKS, Rose! Nice to know somebody else who knows the fun of lugging 8-12 heavy book bags into and out of someplace. In the heat. 🙂 But they’re such TREASURES.

  9. I loved attending your retreat! I really enjoyed reading all the picture books you had available!!!
    Finley A Moose on the Caboose by Candace Spizzirri.
    Library Girl How Nancy Pearl Became America’s Most Celebrated Librarian by Karen Henry Clark
    The Talk by Alicia D. Williams
    Kindergarten where kindness matters every day by Vera Ahiyya
    How To Haunt A House by Carolyn Crimi
    Love, Violet by Charlotte Sullivan Wild

    • THANKS, Mark, for this list!!! It was fun having you at the retreat. Hard to believe it was so long ago now. 🙂

  10. Hi, Jill,

    Thanks for this post. What a fun idea! For nonfiction, I really admire Hidden Hope by Elisa Boxer. Other books I’ve enjoyed so far this year are Hot Dog by Doug Salati, Frank and Bert by Chris Naylor-Ballesteros, There’s a Ghost in this House by Oliver Jeffers, and Sometimes it’s Nice to be Alone by Amy Hest.

    Enjoy your workshop!

  11. Great list, Tess. THANKS! Will check them out. 🙂

  12. I’m enjoying seeing all of the suggestions. Some hits with my year-old grandson & family include:

    The Crab Ballet, Renee LaTulippe, lyrical, lovely illustrations, & back matter
    Over Bear, Under Where?, Julie Hedlund, humorous
    Bravo, Avocado!, Chana Steifel, humor & food
    Luli & the Language of Tea, Andrea Wang, tea traditions, very international, great back matter
    Woven of the World, Katey Howes, lyrical & fascinating look into weaving around the world; gorgeous illustrations by Dinara Mirtalipova; great back matter

  13. The retreats you and Linda organize are so wonderful! Hope you have a great time!

    A PB I loved was The Surprise by Zadie Smith and Nick Laird.

  14. I’m An American By Darshana Khiani
    Mother of Sharks By Melissa Cristina Márquez
    Summer is for Cousins By Rajani LaRocca
    Glitter Everywhere! By Chris Barton
    That Flag By Tameka Fryer Brown

  15. THANKS, Jen! I’ve seen some of these titles (esp Chris’). Will have to check them out PRONTO.

  16. I love Simon and the Better Bone By Corey Tabor.
    Who doesn’t love a good dog? I love the vertical page spread.

  17. THANKS, Cindy! I don’t know that one, but I will. 🙂

  18. Oh, my. That picture from my one and only retreat with you and Linda! We learned so much and had such a great time! I suggest IN THE PALM OF MY HAND by Jennifer Raudenbusch illustrated by Isabella Conti. It is masterful!

  19. Heather Stigall

    Some have already mentioned books I’ve loved published 2022-23 but here are a few that I don’t think were mentioned yet:
    Simon and the Better Bone by Corey R. Tabor
    B is for Bananas (as good as its sequel Counting to Bananas) by Carrie Tillotson & Estrela Lorenço
    Some of These are Snails (as good as its companion book to Circle Under Berry) by Carter Higgins
    A Poem Grows Inside You by Katey Howes & Heather Brockman Lee
    So Much Snow by Kristen Schroeder & Sarah Jacoby

    I’m sure I could come up with many more, but I don’t want to make your bag even heavier this year!

  20. Yes! THANKS, Heather!

  21. There is one I rather liked coming out on August 15th called, Rosie Runs by Marika Maijala. It’s the kind of book kids will want to talk about and will think about it long after reading it.

  22. Sounds intriguing, Julie. Will make a note. THANKS!

  23. Hi Jill and Linda! Here are some of my recent favorites that haven’t been mentioned. Your retreat is fantastic, hope I can make it back one of these summers!

    NELL PLANTS A TREE by Anne Wynter and Daniel Miyares, absolutely brilliant, both text and illustrations.

    OUR DRAGON by Mem Fox and Linda Davick, deceptively simple and will be loved by kids and parents, too.

    THE YELLOW AO DAI by Hanh Bui and Minnie Phan, so much heart with such playful illustrations.

  24. Your retreat sounds wonderful, Jill!
    A couple recent ones I’ve enjoyed sharing with my PreK class:
    House Finds a Home by Katy Duffield
    No Bunnies Here! by Tammi Sauer
    (and, if I may?) My debut PB released Aug ’22:
    The Great Cookie Kerfuffle by Jessica Shaw

  25. Future releases welcome, Jessica. THANKS!!!

  26. Pat Zietlow Miller

    ENOUGH IS .. by Jessica Whipple and Nicole Wong.

    THE WORLD’S BEST CLASS PLANT by Liz Garton Scanlon, Audrey Vernick and Lynnor Bontgao

    THAT FLAG by Tameka Fryer Brown and Nikkolas Smith

  27. THANKS, pal!

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