11 New Picture Books, July 2020
Your Name Is a Song by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, illustrated by Luisa Uribe
A beautiful, beautiful story that helps a little girl find the music in her own name. Kora-Jalimuso’s momma helps her feel the heart, the beat, the love, in all names, including her own. Even though it’s difficult for Kora-Jalimuso when her teacher can’t say her name, a boy looks scared when she says her name, or the kids at recess say her name sounds made up. Her wise momma encourages Kora-Jalimuso to see that names are the songs of dreamers. Names like Lamika, Ta’jae, and Ahlam. Kora-Jalimuso returns to school with bravery and understanding…then she shows everyone, including her teacher, how to sing her name…KO-raj DJAAAA-lee-MOOOO-so.
Don’t Wake the Dragon by Bianca Schulze, illustrated by Samara Hardy
Engage the readers on your lap with a playful, interactive romp around the castle. But be very careful…You don’t want to wake the dragon. Read about the castle’s noisy people like the knights and the cook, then check to see if the dragon is still sleeping. If she is, keep her asleep by stroking her back or rocking the book. What will you do when the dragon wakes up? (Sing her a lullaby, of course!) What a charming adventure with captivating illustrations, this is sure to capture young readers’ attention from beginning to end.
Catch That Chicken! by Atinuke, illustrated by Angela Brooksbank
AFRICAN CULTURE / GROWTH MINDSET
Another winning book from Atinuke filled with African culture, exquisite mixed-media art, and the perfect amount of text. While other kids might be speedy at spelling or braiding hair, Lami is the speediest, bravest chicken catcher. One day, she runs too fast up a baobab tree and falls down, spraining her ankle. Her Nana Nadie gives her some advice, “It’s not quick feet that catches chickens — it’s quick thinking.” Lami takes the advice and figures out how to catch chickens by making them come to her.
Over in the Woodland by Nicole Abreu and Shar Abreu, illustrated by Susanna Covelli
MYTHICAL CREATURES / COUNTING
Epically gorgeous artwork depicting mythical creatures with gentle photorealistic images. “Over in the Woodland” begins every page, then continues to describe the creatures that live there; creatures like the noble griffin pride or the strong father cyclops and his cyclops children three. Rhyming, sparse yet powerful text.
Speak Up by Miranda Paul, illustrated by Ebony Glenn
Kids of different skin colors and cultures show the myriad of examples in this book about speaking up when you’re lonely and need friends, when someone spreads an untrue rumor, when someone gets your name wrong, and many more realistic scenarios
Southwest Sunrise by Nikki Grimes, illustrated by Wendell Minor
MOVING TO A NEW HOME / NATURE
A little boy is sad to leave New York and move to New Mexico where he observes the beauty of the natural landscape in a multitude of sensory details that show the desert’s beauty. “Hot red firewheel flowers! Their tips flame yellow-orange across the canyon.” I absolutely ADORE Grimes’ writing and recommend it for any classroom as a mentor text. You’ll be transported to the boy’s new home and be glad you got to experience it.
Added to: Mentor Texts to Teach Descriptive, Sensory Writing
Bunnies on the Bus by Philip Ardagh, illustrated by Ben Mantle
A crazy, careening bus of bunnies drives through the town wreaking havoc. Rhyming, repetition, and silliness will crack up the readers on your lap.
Bedtime Bonnet by Nancy Redd, illustrated by Nneka Myers
Getting ready for bed means preparing hair and putting on her hair covering but it takes this little girl a lot of looking around the house to find her bonnet…and it’s on her grandpa’s head! Black culture, a loving family, and a sweet nighttime ritual combine into a winning storybook.
Choo-Choo School by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Mike Yamada
Filled with puns galore, readers will love the wordplay throughout this school day of a group of trains. What do they do all day? Math, teamwork, snack time, music, and much more.
Wombat Goes to School by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley
This wombat narrates all about his first day of school in simple text which is paired with simple yet illuminating illustrations. It’s so funny and you’ll love the wombat’s charming personality.
Wherever I Go by Mary Wagley Copp, illustrated by Munir D. Mohammed
REFUGEES / IMMIGRATION / IDENTITY
Meet a brave girl filled with imagination, hope, and stories who lives in a refugee camp. She shares about her in the camp, helping her family, and playing with cousins. When she leaves the camp and arrives at her new home, she is sad but also remembers that she brings with her the stories and memories of her life at the camp. Gorgeous, dramatic illustrations!