Best Books for Babies & Toddlers 2019

ABC of Equality by Chana Ginelle Ewing

ABC of Equality by Chana Ginelle Ewing, illustrated by Paulina Morgan

From the very first page, this board book grapples with social justice issues and demands that even tiny children start to think about our world in a more open way.

B Is for Baby by Atinuke

B Is for Baby by Atinuke, illustrated by Angela Brooksbank

Once again, Atinuke shows the beauty of Africa through a small child’s eyes.

Baby Day by Jane Godwin and Davina Bell

Baby Day by Jane Godwin and Davina Bell, illustrated by Freya Blackwood

Godwin and Bell show exactly what happens when you get a group of toddlers together.

Hush Little Bunny by David Ezra Stein

Hush Little Bunny by David Ezra Stein

Caldecott Honor-winner Stein has rewritten the classic song of Hush Little Baby into a rabbit-filled delight.

Jump! by Tatsuhide Matsuoka

Jump! by Tatsuhide Matsuoka

A delight of a board book sure to get everyone jumping.

Love You Head to Toe by Ashley Barron

Love You Head to Toe by Ashley Barron

The book contains many similes and metaphors and even the smallest child will enjoy looking at the animals and the ways that they are just the same.

My Art Book of Sleep by Shana Gozansky

My Art Book of Sleep by Shana Gozansky

An intelligent look at art for the youngest of children.

Up, Up, Up, Down! by Kimberly Gee

Up, Up, Up, Down! by Kimberly Gee

A toddler’s day is filled with opposites in this adorable picture book.

Why by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

Why? by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

Simple and just right for toddlers and their questions.

Wild Baby by Cori Doerrfeld

Wild Baby by Cori Doerrfeld

The pacing is exciting and fast and the book is filled with just enough danger and plenty of love.

You Are Light by Aaron Becker

You Are Light by Aaron Becker

The poetry is effective and evocative, speaking to the power of light in our world. Still, it is the design and colors that truly make this book something particularly special.

Review: Jinxed by Amy McCulloch

Jinxed by Amy McCulloch

Jinxed by Amy McCulloch (9781492683742)

Set in a modern world where smartphones have been replaced by companion robots shaped like a variety of animals, this middle-grade novel is a dynamic mix of STEM, science fiction and robot battles. Lacey spends most of her time in her basement cave where she works on baku, the smart pets that accompany everyone around. Lacey longs to get into Profectus, the school that feeds people directly into Moncha, the company behind the bakus. She knows her grades are high enough and her test scores are strong, but she gets a rejection letter. It may be because of her mysterious father who left both their family and Moncha when Lacey was five. Then Lacey discovers a ruined baku in a ravine after saving her friend’s new baku from a fall. She works for months to restore the entire machine and when the cat baku finally comes online, Lacey receives an email that she has actually been accepted to Profectus. Jinx, the cat baku, and Lacey make their way into the elite school, but all is not what it seems both at Moncha and with Jinx. 

McCullough has written a middle grade novel that is perfect for devouring quickly. It offers a hint of middle grade romance along with the science fiction and STEM elements. The technology on display is enthralling, making sense as to why it took society by storm. Readers will long for their own baku too. Lacey’s skill with technology and her dedication to it is shown very clearly, honoring the time it takes to both learn and accomplish this high-level work. The baku battles are written with clarity that allows readers to follow them easily and with strong pacing that keeps the action quick and exciting. 

The relationship between Jinx and Lacey is key to the book. Using a cat form as the baku who is rather aloof and does what he wants to do, rather than being perfectly biddable and helpful, makes it really function. Elements in the novel that may not make sense early on, will by the end of the first novel, though many questions are left unanswered for future books in the series. 

A great first in a new series that may make middle graders look up from their phones. Appropriate for ages 10-13.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Sourcebooks.