Well, dear readers, this month’s many, many boxes of new picture books almost did me in. I read over 100 but am only sharing 27 — which even still was hours of work! It’s not a sustainable practice for me so as I continue forward, I am looking for a different approach. If you have any thoughts or suggestions, I’m open to them all!
New Picture Books
Time Flies Down to the Last Minute by Tara Lazar, illustrated by Ross MacDonald
MYSTERY / FUNNY
Punny, hilarious, and playful, it’s up to Private I to solve the latest mystery in Capital City — who is stealing the watches and clocks? When all the timepieces are totally gone, Private I thinks of the last timekeeper that no one can steal — the sundial. And that’s precisely where he catches the culprit! Can you deduce who it is? I actually laughed out loud at several parts — you won’t want to miss this exciting mystery adventure from my lovely friend, Tara.
A Penny’s Worth by Kimberly Wilson, illustrated by Mark Hoffmann
PUNNY / FINDING YOUR WORTH / MONEY
This is the endearing and punny story of a penny who thinks she’s worthless. She searches for how she might be valued but one cent isn’t worth much in the world. Then, in a beautiful, wishful moment, a child shows Penny that her worth is priceless.
Kick Push Be Your Epic Self by Frank Morrison
BEING YOURSELF / SKATEBOARDING
A young skateboarder learns to be himself and find his people in Frank Morrison’s first author/illustrator picture book. Punchy language syncopates through the story with a skateboarding kick-push vibe of energy! Ivan aka. Epic, rolls through his new neighborhood with a kick push but having no friends is getting him down and his attempts at more traditional sports aren’t working. His parents encourage him, his dad gives him back his skateboard, and with a kick, push, bounce, ka-clonk, zwoosh, Epic finds his crew. I’m captivated by how Morrison captures movement, emotion, and community in his illustrations– it’s moving, it’s powerful, it’s a vibe.
This Book is Not for You by Shannon Hale, illustrated by Tracy Subisak
At the bookmobile, the old man working won’t give Stanley the book he wants because it’s about a female main character. The old man insists that readers should only read books about main characters like themselves. Boys get boy books. Robots get robot books. Cats get cat books. But all that changes when an allosaurus wants about ponies. His size and ferociousness help teach the old man the lesson that anyone can read any book about anything. The old man learns, and so will readers, that any book is for anyone!
Out of a Jar by Deborah Marcero
Llewelyn puts his feelings in jars because he doesn’t like feeling them. And so, he stores them away so he doesn’t have to feel — even joy. But he adds one too many jars and they all explode out with colors and he discovered that he could feel more than one feeling at the same time–and he likes it — and then, lets the emotions go.
Take a Breath by Sujean Rim
Bob can’t fly quite yet. He tries and practices and NOTHING happens. He starts freaking out that he’ll never fly!!! Crow tells Bob he’s been there and knows what Bob needs to do…he needs to take a breath. In a funny conversation and practice session, Crow teaches Bob the basics of breathing — noticing your breath and filling your bellies, and so forth. And Bob feels so much better…and soon learns to fly! Because sometimes you have to be grounded before you can fly.
I Love Strawberries! by Shannon Anderson, illustrated by Jaclyn Sinquett
GARDENING / PERSUASION
A darling, entertaining gardening story about an enthusiastic girl who is determined to persuade her parents to let her grow strawberries. Told in diary entries, Jolie can’t wait to grow strawberries. After she’s successful in persuading her parents, she learns that it’s tricky to grow her favorite plants–they cost money, you have to watch out for bird attacks, and you need to pick the berries when they’re ripe. Soon, she’s eating all sorts of strawberry foods and selling the abundance of strawberries to her neighbors.
Mina by Matthew Forsythe
Practically perfect in every way, this is one of my favorite picture books ever — with a sweet father-daughter relationship and a daughter who knows the deal. Mina’s dad brings home a cat that he thinks is a squirrel. Mina, concerned, politely says she doesn’t think it’s a squirrel. Her dad reassures her, insisting the cat is a squirrel. When a doctor arrives to help the cat(s) eat, he takes one look and tells Mina’s dad that the so-called squirrels are indeed cats, cats who right then, decide to chase the little mice! In an unexpected turn of events, the cats are stopped by a stick insect who reads a story out loud, calming the cats into slumber and saving the mice.
Dress-Up Day by Blanca Gomez
A girl is sick on her school’s dress-up day. The next day, her mom encourages her to go to school in her rabbit costume but she feels uncomfortable that no one else is dressed up. Soon, another boy who was sick on dress-up day, arrives in a carrot costume. The two become friends and happily play together which all the other children want to join in as well. It’s a sweet story about friendship, pretend play, and being yourself. Also written in Spanish: Dia de disfraces.
Tiny Dino by Deborah Freedman
Alligator and bird debate about which animal friend is a dinosaur — and in doing so, describe different dinosaur-inherited parts. They end with the conclusion that they are cousins! Their banter shares a fun way to think about animal traits with children.
I’ll Go and Come Back by Rajani LaRocca, illustrated by Sara Palacios
Jyot visits her beloved Sita Pati in India. The language difference isn’t a problem; they play games, make art, buy food, and eat meals. Instead of goodbye, Jyoti says, “I’ll go and come back.” Later, Sita Pati visits Jyoti in the U.S. and they play games, make art, buy food, and eat meals. Filled with culture and love, this is a sweet story about a loving grandparent-grandchild relationship that bridges countries and languages.
This is a School by John Schu, illustrated by Veronica Miller Jamison
This Is A School sets the tone for a positive, dynamic, and welcoming community of learners in a school building. School is a community where questions are welcome, failures are expected, strengths are seen, growth is celebrated, and “we are all important.” Written by passionate educator, John Schu, he uses deliberate words carefully chosen to convey meaning and playfulness. Illustrated by Veronica Miller Jamison, the artwork excels in bringing the people and the building to life with vibrant, evocative illustrations.
Sherlock Chick and the Giant Egg Mystery by Robert Quackenbush
A big box with a HUMONGOUS egg arrives at the farm. Sherlock Chick and his farm animal friends excitedly look for clues and make guesses using the information they know. Will you guess it along with Sherlock Chick before it hatches? A fun, playful mystery.
The Boy with Flowers in His Hair by Jarvis
David is the boy with flowers in his hair. One day, David is quiet and his flowers are gone, and in their place are twigs. Some kids stay away but not his best friend. His best friend supports him with acceptance and an idea to help David flourish again, showing everyone that friends support friends when they’re struggling to thrive. My daughter loves how this book shows unconditional support for friends when they’re feeling quiet and facing challenges.
I Love You Like Yellow by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by Vashti Harrison
SIMILES / PARENT-CHILD LOVE
Beautiful, lyrical, and so very sweet, this love story to a child. It’s meant to be read aloud to the children in your life. “Like sunny. Like shady. Like gloomy. Like gray. From the breaking of dawn till the end of the day.”
All From a Walnut by Ammi-Joan Paquette, illustrated by Felicita Sala
HERITAGE / LOVE / LOSS
A gentle story of heritage, love, and loss… Grandpa shares the story of coming to America with a walnut from his home country then planting it and watching it grow from a tiny plant to a giant tree. The girl also plants a walnut that will grow into a big tree. And when her grandpa dies, the walnut tree connects Emilia to his memory, reminding her that they’ll always be a part of each other.
Bearnard Writes a Book by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Misa Saburi
WRITE A STORY
I love this darling mentor text story about how to write a story with characters, a problem, and excitement. Bearnard wants to write a story about his friend Gertie, a goose. The first draft isn’t very exciting so Bearnard takes a thinking walk. Then, he rewrites and the story gets more adventure and excitement with pirates, a shapeshifter Gertie, and a monster. Gertie is inspired to write her own…poems.
First Notes of Spring by Jessica Kulekjian, illustrated by Jennifer Bower
BEING YOURSELF / SPRING
Mr. Moose doesn’t like Juniper the badger’s percussion sounds or the booms, rings, hums, and whoos of other animals. Even so, Juniper discovers other animals who make music, too — a woodpecker’s tap-a-tap, a beaver’s clap-a-clap and a rabbit’s thumpity thump. Together, they welcome spring with a wildly exuberant musical celebration, surprising and delighting Mr. Moose who joins them, too.
Abdul’s Story by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, illustrated by Tiffany Rose
LEARNING DISABILITIES / WRITING
Abdul loves stories but struggles with getting the words down on paper. When a visiting writer helps teach the class, all the students learn that good writing is more than spelling and handwriting — it’s good ideas and the rest can come later. It’s an important lesson for ALL kids, parents, and teachers as it shows that learning disabilities don’t mean lacking ideas or intelligence.
Together We Ride by Valerie Bolling, illustrated by Kaylani Juanita
RIDING A BIKE
Simple text with strong verbs shows a little girl learning to ride a bike — from learning to falling and gaining confidence.
Mama and Mommy and Me in the Middle by Nina LaCour, illustrated by Kaylani Juanita
SEPARATION FROM A PARENT / LGBTQ+
In a loving family with two moms, Mommy takes a trip. Her daughter misses her so much. Each day, the girl keeps in touch and does things with Mama. When the week is over and they’re reunited, the little girl gathers a bouquet of flowers to welcome her Mommy home. I adore the illustrations.
Donut the Unicorn Who Wants to Fly by Laura Gehl, illustrated by Andrea Zuill
Simple rhyming noun-verb combos show a persistent unicorn who keeps trying to fly and eventually, DOES! “Donut sails! Donut flails.” Enchanting, expressive illustrations narrate much of this charming story. You can’t help but cheer Donut on!
Sometimes, All I Need is Me by Juliana Perdomo
A story that shows big and little readers alike that we can be what we need for ourselves; not that we don’t need others but that we have everything we need inside us–our imagination, our own magic, our hugs. “Sometimes, all I really need is me.” A little girl loves her cozy, cinnamon-spelling home, playing in the garden with her friend Mateo, and warm hugs from her Grandma. When she’s away from home, she becomes her own calm home. When she’s alone, she becomes her own company. When she needs a hug and no one is around, she can give herself one.
The Spring Rabbit by Angela McAllister, illustrated by Christopher Corr
The rabbit’s friends give him eggs and he makes a basket for them and gives the basket of eggs to Spring as a thank you. Springs suggests the give the eggs to the children in the area so they know that Spring has arrived. It’s a cute secular Easter origin story.
The Fairy Garden by Georgia Buckthorn, illustrated by Isabella Mazzanti
A little girl named Mimi wants to make a fairy garden and so she pulls the weeds and sprays bug spray. After days pass and no fairies come to her garden, they explain that the bug spray hurts them and they also prefer weeds and leaves. Mimi changes her approach and makes a welcoming, safe space for the fairies that they love, without sprays and with plenty of weeds.
Violet and the Crumbs: A Gluten-Free Adventure by Abigail Rayner, illustrated by Molly Ruttan
It’s hard for Violet to have Celiac disease and she stops going to parties. She researches other animals who also can’t have bread and after she speaks up for the animal, it helps her to speak up for herself, too. Her voice helps her classmates and friends understand how she must eat.
Earth Friend Forever by Molly Bloom, Marc Sanchez, and Sanden Totten, illustrated by Mike Orodan
The earth writes a friendly letter to humans filled with compliments and also asking that people stop covering the Earth with plastics. The gentle yet direct approach will make readers stop and think about plastics.
Acorn Was a Little Wild by Jen Arena, illustrated by Jessica Gibson
PLANT LIFE CYCLE
This clever story of a wild little acorn teaches kids about plants and their life cycle. The acorn’s adventures result in a squirrel burying him. There in the dirt, he stays still, grows roots down, and grows above the ground into a tree.
Books About Summer
Shapes for Kids
Days of the Week Book