13 July Picture Books to Wake Your Brain Cells

Here are 13 picture books coming out in July that have gotten starred reviews and attention. Enjoy!

Bird Boy by Matthew Burgess, illustrated by Shahrzad Maydani

Blueberry Cake by Sarah Dillard

The Caiman by Maria Eugenia Manrique, illustrated by Ramon Paris

Cat Wants Cuddles by P. Crumble, illustrated by Lucinda Gifford

Except Antarctica by Todd Sturgell

I Can Make a Train Noise by Michael Emberley and Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick

I Love Insects by Lizzy Rockwell

Lala’s Words by Gracey Zhang

A Life Electric: The Story of Nikola Tesla by Azadeh Westergaard, illustrated by Julia Sarda

Make Meatballs Sing: The Life and Art of Corita Kent by Matthew Burgess, illustrated by Kara Kramer

The Perfect Plan by Leah Gilbert

Sing with Me: The Story of Selena Quintanilla Cover

Sing with Me: The Story of Selena Quintanilla by Diana Lopez, illustrated by Teresa Martinez

Terrific! by Sophie Gilmore

Faraway Things by Dave Eggers

Faraway Things by Dave Eggers, illustrated by Kelly Murphy (9780316492195)

Lucian spent his time on the beach after storms, searching for “faraway things” that have been swept onto the shore. One day, he discovered a silver, gold and copper cutlass wrapped in seaweed. Lucian had never seen anything like it and hung it on the wall of his room. That night he dreamt of his father. The next day, he played with the sword on the beach, eventually turning one of his sleeves from long to short when he swung it. That afternoon, a great wooden ship appeared as the fog cleared and a rowboat came towards shore. The ship’s captain spoke with Lucian, explaining that not only was his ship caught on a sandbar due to the lighthouse being unlit, but he was missing his cutlass. Lucian tried to claim the cutlass was his, but the captain had the matching sheath on his belt. The captain offered a trade, and Lucian got to head to the ship and pick out anything he wanted from the captain’s stateroom. Out of all of the wonderful objects, Lucian picked out a lantern. When he returned home again, he took that lantern to the top of the lighthouse tower and once again the beam of light went out over the water.

Written in beautiful language and with sentences that sing with wind and saltwater, this picture book is one that should be shared out loud. The writing has a gorgeous cadence to it while it also has rich metaphors embedded in it. The story itself is well crafted with a lovely arc that begins with searching the beach and the discovery of the cutlass. That story is woven with the loss of Lucian’s father and the dimming of the lighthouse. When the captain arrives, the story takes a marvelous turn toward adventure and possibility.

Murphy’s art is a gorgeous study of foggy beaches, newly bright sun, and one great ship. She shares small details in her images, celebrating the crowded stateroom and the treasures of beachcombing in Lucian’s room. The illustrations play with sea and sky, each expansive and full of deftly applied color.

One to share aloud, this book is a treasure. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Little, Brown and Company.