Category: Picture Books

Write to Me by Cynthia Grady

Write to Me by Cynthia Grady

Write to Me: Letters from Japanese American Children to the Librarian They Left Behind by Cynthia Grady, illustrated by Amiko Hirao (9781580896887)

This nonfiction picture book tells the true story of a librarian who stayed in touch with the children she served even after they were moved forcibly away. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Japanese Americans were sent to prison camps. As a librarian in San Diego, Clara Breed served many children of Japanese descent. Before the children left, she gave them books and postcards to correspond with her. While they were gone, she continued to send them small things, even visiting once and delivering boxes of books. The children wrote to her during the three years they were gone as she offered them a way to stay connected to the outside world.

This book shows the Japanese internment in a way that children will understand. The letters shared in the book are excerpts from actual children’s letters written to Miss Breed during this time. They reflect the different ages of the children, their focus on everyday moments and their strong connection to books and their librarian. It is a book that shows how importance and life changing kindness is.

The illustrations  are done in pencil on paper and have a softness and glow to them. They do not shrink from showing the desolation of the internment camps and the sorrow and fear of those being placed in them.

A very timely nonfiction book that will show young readers a horrific point in American history and how just one person can make a difference. Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from digital galley received from Charlesbridge and Edelweiss.

2017 Top Picture Books

After the Fall by Dad Santat

After the Fall by Dan Santat

A traditional tale retold into something very special.

 

All Ears, All Eyes by Richard Jackson

All Ears, All Eyes by Richard Jackson, illustrated by Katherine Tillotson

A brilliant book to share aloud, this picture book is wild and free.

All the Way to Havana by Margarita Engle

 

All the Way to Havana by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Mike Curato

Engle’s skill with writing fills the page with the richness of Cuba and its cars.

Along the River by Vanina Starkoff

 

Along the River by Vanina Starkoff

An import from Brazil, this book has a low key vibe that is full of laid back joy.

Be Quiet! by Ryan T. Higgins

 

Be Quiet! by Ryan T. Higgins

This is a natural read aloud that will be a wild one to share with a preschool group. Brace yourself for lots of laughs.

Big Cat, Little Cat by Elisha Cooper

 

Big Cat, Little Cat by Elisha Cooper

Simple and insightful, this book is solid and true.

Blue Sky, White Stars by Sarvinder Naberhaus

Blue Sky, White Stars by Sarvinder Naberhaus, illustrated by Kadir Nelson

Awe inspiring, patriotic and grand, this picture book is superb.

The Book of Mistakes by Corinna Luyken

The Book of Mistakes by Corinna Luyken

Creative, inviting and a gorgeous book to explore, this picture book will have everyone trying art even if they make mistakes.

 

Crown An Ode to the Fresh Cut by Derrick Barnes

Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut by Derrick Barnes, illustrated by Gordon C. James

…exceptional, a book that belongs in every public library in every community.

 

A Different Pond by Bao Phi

A Different Pond by Bao Phi, illustrated by Thi Bui

Told with grace and strength, this picture book is wondrous.

Home in the Rain by Bob Graham

Home in the Rain by Bob Graham

A special book that looks at those delicate moments before the birth of a new baby, this picture book celebrates family and storms.

little-fox-in-the-forest-by-stephanie-graegin

Little Fox in the Forest by Stephanie Graegin

This genre bending graphic-novel picture book is beautiful, rich and worthy of journeying through time and again.

Little Wolf's First Howling by Laura McGee Kvasnosky

Little Wolf’s First Howling by Laura McGee Kvasnosky, illustrated by Kate Harvey McGee

 

Mama Lion Wins the Race by Jon J Muth

Mama Lion Wins the Race by Jon J. Muth

A truly special picture book, this one is for those kids who love racing and those who love toys and those who love a great read.

My Pictures After the Storm by Éric Veillé

My Pictures After the Storm by Éric Veillé

Much more than a concept book, this is a funny and wry look at the chaos of life before and after.

Now by Antoinette Portis

Now by Antoinette Portis

Perfect for those of us who love the book we are reading right now most of all, this picture book is about simple pleasures and enjoying the current moment fully.

On a Magical Do-Nothing Day by Beatrice Alemagna

On a Magical Do-Nothing Day by Beatrice Alemagna

A great book to read and then set off on outdoor adventures together on a rainy day.

The Only Fish in the Sea by Philip C. Stead

 

The Only Fish in the Sea by Philip C. Stead, illustrated by Matthew Cordell

A wet and rainy riot of a picture book that is sure to make even the dampest child smile.

The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet by Carmen Agra Deedy

 

The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet by Carmen Agra Deedy, illustrated by Eugene Yelchin

Strong, vital and important, this picture book is a great pick to read aloud and discuss.

Stack the Cats by Susie Ghahremani

Stack the Cats by Susie Ghahremani

A winning cat-filled counting book.

This House Once by Deborah Freedman

This House, Once by Deborah Freedman

 

Tony by Ed Galing

Tony by Ed Galing, illustrated by Erin E. Stead

A lovely poetic picture book that slows you down to another time and place.

Town Is by the Sea by Joanne Schwartz

Town Is by the Sea by Joanne Schwartz, illustrated by Sydney Smith

Even as the book shows a richness of a well-spent childhood, it is overshadowed by the presence of the coal mine in the boy’s life and how it impacted his family and his father in particular.

The Treasure Box by Margaret Wild

The Treasure Box by Margaret Wild, illustrated by Freya Blackwood

A war-torn book that speaks to the power of history and knowledge along with resistance and resilience.

 

When_s My Birthday by Julie Fogliano

When’s My Birthday by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Christian Robinson

Fogliano uses rhythm and internal rhymes to give the book a fast paced structure that almost sings. It is quick and funny and infectious.

 

Why Am I Me by Paige Britt

Why Am I Me? by Paige Britt, illustrated by Sean Qualls and Selina Aiko

This picture book is a great way to start a discussion with a class or single child. Perfect for public libraries in search for diverse picture books that invite children to think deeply about the subject.

Windows by Julia Denos

 

Windows by Julia Denos

There is a lovely quiet to this book, a pleasure in being outside at sunset, the sky lit with colors as the buildings turn dark with windows alight.

wolf-in-the-snow-by-matthew-cordell

 

Wolf in the Snow by Matthew Cordell

A beautiful look at nature and wolves and the way that kindness can build bridges without words.

The Wolf, the Duck & the Mouse by Mac Barnett

The Wolf, the Duck & the Mouse by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen

The story has a mix of fun and fate that will have readers guessing right up until the end.

Yo Soy, Muslim by Mark Gonzales

Yo Soy, Muslim: A Father’s Letter to His Daughter by Mark Gonzales, illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini

 

A great diverse picture book for all libraries.

2017 Top Nonfiction Books for Children and Teens

The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater 

The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater (9780374303235)

The skill evident in this book is remarkable. This is the nonfiction book that teen readers today need.

A Boy, A Mouse, and a Spider by Barbara Herkert

A Boy, A Mouse, and a Spider: The Story of E. B. White by Barbara Herkert, illustrated by Lauren Castillo (9781627792455)

The illustrations by Castillo are wonderful, creating moments of time and beautiful spaces that show White on his journey to becoming one of the most beloved children’s authors.

Bravo by Margarita Engle

Bravo!: Poems about Amazing Hispanics by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Rafael Lopez (9780805098761)

An important book for public libraries, this is a celebration of Latino impact on the world as a whole.

Creekfinding by Jacqueline Briggs Martin

Creekfinding: A True Story by Jacqueline Briggs Martin, illustrated by Claudia McGehee (9780816698028)

A fascinating topic that is just right for environmental units or Earth Day, this picture book is a celebration of nature and man working together.

Danza! by Duncan Tonatiuh

Danza!: Amalia Hernández and El Ballet Folklórico de México by Duncan Tonatiuh (9781419725326)

Tonatiuh uses his signature illustration style that is a delightful mix of folk images and modern edge. The illustrations are a match for the topic, each strengthening the other.

Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos by Monica Brown

Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos by Monica Brown, illustrated by John Parra (9780735842694)

An appealing and unique look at Frida Kahlo.

Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers

Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers (9781452162812)

Rumbles of awards surround this title. It deserves all of them. Unique and fabulous.

lets-clap-jump-sing-and-shout-by-patricia-c-mckissack

Let’s Clap, Jump, Sing & Shout; Dance, Spin & Turn It Out!: Games, Songs & Stories from an African American Childhood by Patricia C. McKissack, illustrated by Brian Pinkney (9780375870880)

This book is almost an encyclopedia of games and songs. Page after page will have readers humming along, singing aloud and looking for a partner to play a newfound or best-loved game.

Muddy the Story of Blues Legend Muddy Waters by Michael Mahin

Muddy: The Story of Blues Legend Muddy Waters by Michael Mahin, illustrated by Evan Turk (9781481443494)

A strong and special book about a musician who didn’t do what he was told and succeeded because of that.

A New School Year by Sally Derby

A New School Year: Poem Stories in Six Voices by Sally Derby, illustrated by Mika Song (9781580897303)

A great book to start the new school year with poetry.

Out of Wonder by Kwame Alexander

Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets by Kwame Alexander with Chris Colderley and Marjory Wentworth, illustrated by Ekua Holmes (9780763680947)

This book belongs in every elementary school collection and every public library. It is extraordinary.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Jonah Winter

Ruth Bader Ginsburg: The Case of R.B.G. vs. Inequality by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Stacy Innerst (9781419725593)

This is a strong biography of Ginsburg and her importance to the entire country.

Silent Days, Silent Dreams by Allen Say

Silent Days, Silent Dreams by Allen Say (9780545927611)

Filled with grace and a deep understanding, this picture book biography is truly exceptional work from a master.

This Is How We Do It by Matt Lamothe

This Is How We Do It by Matt Lamothe (9781452150185)

Wonderful for classrooms and libraries, this nonfiction picture book is exceptional.

The World Is Not a Rectangle by Jeanette Winter

The World Is Not a Rectangle: A Portrait of Architect Zaha Hadid by Jeanette Winter (9781481446693)

Winter has a gorgeous way with biographies, keeping them brief enough for even preschool audiences but detailed enough to intrigue and to speak to the individual and their life.

3 Silly Picture Books

Accident By Andrea Tsurumi

Accident! By Andrea Tsurumi (9780544944800)

Lola spills juice all over a chair and decides to run away and hide in the library until she’s a grownup. As she runs to the library, Lola meets a series of other animals having their own accidents and disasters. She takes them all with her to the library. But soon the disasters multiply as they run, turning the entire town into chaos. Even the library itself is soon a catastrophe. Then the little red bird explains that these are all just accidents and they should make it better. So each animal returns to the mess they have made and fixes things with apologies, help and towels. Throughout this picture book the pace gets faster and faster as the accidents build up and up. The illustrations are filled with small details and it’s worth slowing down and noticing all of the little touches of disaster as the pages get more chaotic. A book that celebrates taking responsibility even in the face of the ultimate mess. Appropriate for ages 3-6. (Reviewed from library copy.)

Read the Book Lemmings by Ame Dyckman

Read the Book Lemmings by Ame Dyckman, illustrated by Zachariah OHora (9780316343480)

Head out on an Arctic adventure aboard the S.S. Cliff with Foxy, Captain PB and three little lemmings. Foxy is trying to read a book about lemmings but the problem is that the lemmings themselves haven’t read it. As Foxy reads aloud that lemmings don’t actually jump off of cliffs, the three lemmings immediately jump overboard. Foxy tries again to show them the information, but still, the three lemmings jump overboard again. Eventually Foxy realizes why the lemmings won’t read the book, but they have one more trick for him! Dyckman has an impeccable sense of timing in this picture book, creating moments of true hilarity that are a pleasure to share aloud. The book is simply written which adds to its appeal. The illustrations have great sense of style to them with a pink sky, deep ocean-blue water, and lemmings that wear hats so you can tell them apart. Funny, deeply silly and heart warming, despite the cold water. Appropriate for ages 3-5. (Reviewed from library copy.)

Still Stuck by Shinsuke Yoshitake

Still Stuck by Shinsuke Yoshitake (9781419726996)

A little boy declares that he can get ready for the bath by himself, but gets himself stuck in his shirt. He thinks about what would happen if he was permanently stuck in his shirt. It might be alright sometimes, but what about when he gets thirsty or wants to play with his cat? He realizes he could figure out inventive ways to solve those problems. Unfortunately, then he tries to take off his pants and manages to get entirely stuck. Luckily his mom appears and rescues him. Every child has gotten stuck in their clothes and will enjoy laughing along as this child figures out clever ways to live in a shirt. The (literal)  twist of the pants at the end is cleverly done and offers just the right silly tone and a glimpse of a bare bottom too. Share this one after a bath. Appropriate for ages 2-4. (Reviewed from library copy.)

3 Seasonal Picture Books

Good Day, Good Night by Margaret Wise Brown

Good Day, Good Night by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Loren Long (9780062383105)

A little bunny wakes up in the morning and greets the day, saying goodbye to the night. Trees, birds, kittens and more come to life as the day dawns. The day continues and then in the evening, the moon rises. Night begins and the bees and birds and town settle down once more into a quiet night. The poetry here by Brown is ever so lovely, lulling and sweet. It invites both a warm look at waking up but also a snuggly look at night coming. The illustrations by Long create a world of rabbits, a village filled with activity and a glimpse of nature responding to day and night as well. This is a picture book just right for bedtime or morning. Appropriate for ages 2-4. (Reviewed from library copy.)

Small Walt by Elizabeth Verdick

Small Walt by Elizabeth Verdick, illustrated by Marc Rosenthal (9781481448451)

Walt is the smallest snowplow in the city’s fleet, so when the big storm arrives, no one wants to drive him. Soon the parking lot is empty with only Walt left behind. Then Gus arrives and merrily prepares to drive Walt into the storm. Walt works hard into the night to clear bridges and roads, trying to prove that he’s up to the big job. Then he reaches a big hill. They could leave it for a larger truck to handle, but Walt wants to try. He slips and slides all the way up, but getting down could be even worse! This picture book is a snowy riff on The Little Engine that Could, offering a bright red little hero willing to take on big challenges. The tone throughout is friendly and fun. Any little one who enjoys books about trucks will love curling up with this one during snow season. Appropriate for ages 3-6. (Reviewed from copy provided by Simon & Schuster.)

Snow Scene by Richard Jackson

Snow Scene by Richard Jackson, illustrated by Laura Vaccaro Seeger (9781626726802)

Explore a snowy area with this inviting and engaging picture book. With very simple text that asks readers to guess at what is coming next, this book has a freshness that is very appealing. The simple text focuses on speaking directly to the reader, showing different aspects of a snowy day that slowly transitions to spring and then summer, where snow is only on the far mountain top. The art by Seeger has a strong textural element that will have small children running their fingers over the smooth pages. It is rich and inviting, sometimes close up and other times just hinting at what is to come. This seasonal picture book celebrates snow in all of its forms, winter and summer. Appropriate for ages 2-4. (Reviewed from copy provided by Roaring Brook Press.)

3 Friendly Picture Books

Draw the Line by Kathryn Otoshi

Draw the Line by Kathryn Otoshi (9781626725638)

In this wordless picture book, two boys are drawing lines towards each other without realizing it. When they bump into each other, they join their lines together. But then with an accidental rude tug, the two of them begin a tug of war over their line. Soon an actual rift begins to form between them. The more they pull, the larger the rift grows. Is there a way for them to reach across the newly formed divide? Otoshi plays with the idea of art bringing people together and then introduces competition and a certain amount of tension into the story. The art is playful and uses colors to show the emotions the children are feeling in each scene. A strong picture book about art and friendship. Appropriate for ages 4-6. (Review copy provided by Roaring Brook Press.)

I Have a Balloon by Ariel Bernstein

I Have a Balloon by Ariel Bernstein, illustrated by Scott Magoon (9781481472500)

A blue owl has a big red balloon. When a monkey sees it, he wants it so badly. He offers several things in trade for it, but the owl doesn’t agree. Owl turns down a sunflower, a robot, a picture of balloons and a ball. In desperation, he offers a sock. Suddenly Owl perks up and starts to dream of all the things he can do with that sock with a red star on it and a perfect hole. But the deal is not so easily made! This clever and very funny picture book is written entirely in dialogue between the two animals. It has a vibrant and natural feel to it and is ideal for sharing aloud. The art by Magoon is also hilarious, offering ways to use socks, balloons and more. And the expressions on the animals faces are perfection. A fun pick for story times. Appropriate for ages 3-5. (Review copy provided by Simon & Schuster.)

La La La by Kate DiCamillo

La La La by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Jaime Kim (9780763658335)

Newbery Medalist DiCamillo has created a nearly wordless picture book. A little girl sings all on her own, heading outside to sing to the world. Exploring the pond and the plants, she continues to sing. She even heads out in the evening to try again, but nothing works. After she falls asleep, someone answers her after all. Kim’s illustrations offer a world that plays between blank white and a lush world of daylight greens and evening purples. Throughout the illustrations there is a sense of hope and wonder, of knowing that the world is listening. Gentle and thoughtful, this is one to share and then discuss together. Appropriate for ages 3-6. (Reviewed from library copy.)

3 Picture Books to Get You Outside

Flashlight Night by Matt Forrest Esenwine

Flashlight Night by Matt Forrest Esenwine, illustrated by Red Koehler
(9781629794938)

Three children are up in their treehouse in the dark with a flashlight. As the flashlight beam breaks the night, it reveals an adventure. The children head into a woods, through a tomb, on to a pirate shore. There are sword battles, a grabby giant squid, and finally an escape. Then they are back in their treehouse, sharing a good book by flashlight. The text quietly builds the space for the illustrations that fill the page with discoveries by the handheld light. Throughout, there is a feeling of wonder, of the light revealing things that may or may not be there. The illustrations are exceptional, showing the joy of flashlights in the dark and the power of imaginations at play. Perfect to read with flashlights and then head outside for your own adventures. Appropriate for ages 3-5. (Reviewed from library copy.)

Lines by Suzy Lee

Lines by Suzy Lee (9781452156651)

A lone ice skater skates past leaving swirling lines on the ice. There are curls and tight spirals and loose curves that feel like music on the page. In her red hat and mittens, the ice skater fills the page with her patterns. Then she falls to the ground and suddenly the page is crumpled up by the artist in frustration. Unfolded again, the page is wrinkled and smudged. But soon more skaters are joining in and the crumpled page becomes a pond filled with people enjoying the ice. Lee once again creates a beautifully simple book that speaks to nature, beauty and quiet. The use of the pulling back and having the artist crumple the page breaks the fourth wall and then turns the picture book into something even more interesting and fresh. This picture book is beautifully designed and very clever. Appropriate for ages 3-5. (Review copy supplied by Chronicle Books.)

Windows by Julia Denos

Windows by Julia Denos (9780763690359)

Windows light up as night falls in this picture book that takes readers outside to explore a neighborhood. A boy heads out to walk the dog as night falls, able to see into others’ homes as he passes by. He can see people eating, partying, watching TV. He glimpses a cat and a raccoon. Some windows are dark, some houses are entirely dark. Then those are left to his imagination. Soon he returns back home to his own glowing window where his mother waits for him. There is a lovely quiet to this book, a pleasure in being outside at sunset, the sky lit with colors as the buildings turn dark with windows alight. The illustrations are beautiful, lit by the reds of the sky and the darkness growing with each turn of the page. Time for a flashlight walk in your neighborhood! Appropriate for ages 4-6. (ARC provided by Candlewick Press.)