Talk about a noteworthy list of fall 2017 picture books for children! Teachers and parents, you’ll want to look through these new titles carefully. Many will be useful in the classroom while others are perfect for reading at home. As always, I’ve picked the best of the bunch to share with you today.
Noteworthy Fall 2017 Picture Books
Betty’s Burgled Bakery An Alliteration Adventure by Travis Nichols
It’s both hilarious and impressive to read a mystery adventure written in alliterative sentences. Betty has enlisted the help of the police to solve the crime of who burgled her bakery. And you’ll never believe who did it!! Sure to be a new read aloud favorite, especially for teachers to use in writing workshop.
Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers
I’m so impressed by Dave Eggers picture book, Her Right Foot, with gorgeous illustrations by Shawn Harris. As you might expect from Eggers, it’s FUNNY — I laughed out loud while reading. But, it’s more than that — it’s also interactive, informative, and insightful. In fact, this amazing book builds to a poignant and timely message about the meaning of the Statue of Liberty. Notice how her right foot is raised as if she’s stepping. Eggers wants us to notice that the Statue is moving. She is an immigrant, too. Her job of welcoming immigrants is active, never ending. Think about that for a moment. I think our country needs this book now more than ever. (*See ALL my recommended books about immigration including this one.)
Greatest Animal Stories chosen by Michael Morpurgo
ANIMALS / FABLES
This book is amazing — I love every bit of it from the chosen stories to the artwork to the texture of the pages. Another thing I LOVE about this book is that the text to picture ratio is absolutely perfect! Perfect for reading aloud and perfect for reading to yourself. The stories are about all animals, some from different cultural traditions; most of the stories contain a valuable lesson like “The Fox and the Crow” or explain a natural phenomena like “How the Bear Lost His Tail”. All stories are delightfully entertaining.
This Book is Full of Monsters by Guido Van Genechten
Not just for Halloween, but fun for anytime of year, you’ll be immersed in the stinky, loud, interactive world of monster-kind. Each page instructs kids to do something to prepare for the next page’s monster — hold their nose, be very quiet, plug their ears. And if they love that, and I think they will, they’ll love the ending! There are many interactive books on the market right now that feel contrived and predictable. Not this one. I’m very impressed. Favorite of 2017.
It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk by Josh Funk, illustrated by Edwardian Taylor
FAIRY TALE / FUNNY
On every page, the narrator of this hilarious story interrupts narration to boss Jack around. Which Jack isn’t a fan of — neither is Jack a fan of the whole story in general since he doesn’t really want to be a thief and murderer. His dialogue with the narrator will crack you up. Finally, at the giant’s house in the sky, Jack stops following the story. He befriends the giant, makes him a taco salad, and goes to Cinderella’s house for a party. It’s the perfect updated version of Jack and the Beanstalk with a take-charge hero and curmudgeonly narrator. (Writing teachers, use this book to teach voice and POV.)
Pigeon P.I. by Meg McLaren
What a unique and delightful mystery! A little canary asks Pigeon P.I. (private investigator) to help her find her missing friends but then the canary goes missing, too. It’s up to Pigeon to solve the missing birds mystery. The author writes in the style of the old detective shows– punchy and short. The illustrator captures the details, giving kids clues and details to look at as they follow along.
The Little Red Cat Who Ran Away and Learned His ABCs (the Hard Way) by Patrick McDonnell
WORDLESS / ALPHABET / FUNNY
You’ll love this terrific adventure! Look carefully as the cartoon cat in red runs through the pages and finds unexpected silliness with an alligator trying to eat him, a bear up a tree, a chicken squawking out of her coop, and so on with each page representing one letter of the alphabet. An uniquely imagined story in alphabetical order. (See all alphabet books for kids here.)
Tea with Oliver by Mika Song
Oliver, a large cat who wants to have tea with someone. Philbert, a small mouse under Oliver’s couch, wishes it could be him but he’s too shy to speak up. He tries delivering a letter with disastrous results. Until finally, he speaks up and the two new friends have tea. A sweet story that will encourage kids to be persistent when making new friendships. (Find more books about friendship here.)
Zoo Zen: A Yoga Story for Kids by Kristen Fischer, illustrated by Susi Schaefer
I love and highly recommend this gorgeous yoga picture book — it’s sure to support both parents and children in a beginning yoga routine. The zoo animal cues will make the poses stick for yoga practice with or without the book. Each pose is described in rhyming text, beautifully illustrated with helpful body positioning tips from the animals themselves. So for the camel pose, you’ll read, “Five camels with humps want her to bend back. She grips onto her heels, now she’s got the knack.” The camels on the opposite page say, “Relax your neck.” All the poses are shown in order at the end of the book. (Find MORE yoga for kids books and resources here.)
A Different Pond by Bao Phi, illustrated by Thi Bui
Step into the shoes of a young boy who wakes up early to go fishing with his dad. As they fish for their dinner that evening, Bao’s helps his dad build a fire and put the fish in a bucket. While they’re together, Bao’s dad remembers fishing in a pond in his home country of Vietnam. The illustrations and prose helps us feel the stillness of the early morning hours and the strong bond between father and son. At night, the entire family gathers together to eat the morning’s catch. This moving autobiographical picture book of an immigrant family gives us much to appreciate and ponder. (Added to my list of children’s books about immigration.)
Come With Me by Holly M. McGhee, illustrated by Pascal Lemaitre
KINDNESS / MAKING A DIFFERENCE
The little girl wants to make the world a better place. Her parents show her how they do by treating people with respect and kindness. The girl asks if she can do something herself like walking the dog. She invites a friend because two is better than one. The story encourages us to all be brave, gentle, strong, and kind. “Because as small as it may seem, your part matters to the world.“
Bear Make Den by Jane Godwin and Michael Wagner, illustrated by Andrew Joyner
FRIENDSHIP / EASY READER
Told in short, caveman type language, we see how happy Bear is to make his den, adding chairs, a table, a bed, and more to make it a cozy home. But it still needs something . . . it needs other bears for a fun den party. Charming illustrations and accessible text make this a picture book that could work well as an easy reader, too.
Rube Goldberg’s Simple Normal Humdrum School Day by Jennifer George, illustrated by Ed Steckley
Kids will pour over the pages in this book to read and see how Rube uses simple machines in a series of wacky and inventive steps to accomplish basic tasks — which ironically the book calls simple. 😃 From waking up in the morning to going to bed and lots of tasks in between (painting a picture, catching the school bus, avoiding baby brother’s flying food), kids and adults alike will be fascinated (and entertained) by Rube’s complicated contraptions to do simple things. A wildly imaginative book perfect for STEM enthusiasts and inventors.
The Pickwicks’ Picnic A Counting Adventure by Carol Brendler, illustrated by Renee Kurilla
Enticing cartoon-like illustrations invite you into this delightful counting adventure. The Pickwicks leave the city in their trusty pickup towards the shore. As they do, they’re passed by 2 blue scooters, 3 squeaky jeeps, and more vehicles until they all get to the box-girder bridge. Which is closed! But not to worry, the Pickwicks unload their picnic on the road and have a wonderful time. Fantastic gumption, counting, and storyline. (Check out this huge list of counting books here.)
William’s Winter Nap by Linda Ashman, illustrated by Chuck Groenink
This is a sharable, cozy story about a little boy named William who is tucked up snuggly in bed. As different forest animals arrive at his windows or door looking for shelter, he welcomes each of them. With comforting repetitive text, William agrees to scooch a bit so each animal can fit. Choose this picture book for reading together and snuggling in tight.
I’m No Good at Rhyming and Other Nonsense for Mischievous Kids and Immature Grown-Ups by Chris Harris, illustrated by Lane Smith
POETRY / FUNNY
If you like to laugh, run to buy this book. It’s wordplay at its silliest in the vein of Shel Silverstein with randomness that kids love (misnumbered pages and rivalry between Harris and Smith). I dare you not to laugh! Another best picture book contender for 2017!
Aunt Fanny’s Star by Brigitte Weninger Feridum Oral
AGING / DEATH (SECULAR)
Aunt Fanny comes to live with the Bunny family when she’s too ill to take care of herself. Even though it’s more crowded, Aunt Fanny makes things more fun for the Bunny children. She also prepares the children for when she flies to the stars. When she dies, the family is sad. They bury her and sing and cry together but know she’s in a better place. This sweet story will help make dying a bit more understandable for young readers. (Find more picture books about loss and grief.)
Applesauce Day by Lisa Amstutz, illustrated by Talitha Shipman
Jump into fall with this delicious story. Kids and parents pick apples to bring to grandma’s house to make into applesauce. It’s a special family tradition that uses the same cooking pot as grandma did with her mom, too. Maybe this will inspire your own applesauce making tradition after reading this sweet story. Yum! Get the applesauce recipe and directions from the author here.
Professional Crocodile by Giovanna Zoboli & Mariachiara di Giorgio
Watch the crocodile wake up in his bed, get smartly dressed, and embark out of the house for his job. Pay attention to the illustrations that narrate the story. Notice the details. Where is he going? The answer is a wonderful surprise!
Little i by Michael Hall
GROWING UP / PUNCTUATION
Teachers, this will make a fun read aloud! Little i journeys to find his missing dot and discovers punctuation: commas and a period as well as a delightful surprise at the end. He’s grown into a word: I.
Hooray for Books by Brian Won
Turtle can’t find his favorite book anywhere. He wonders if he shared it with a friend but Zebra, Owl, Giraffe, and Elephant don’t have it but Lion does. All the animals share about their favorite books, then decide to have story time to read each other’s favorites. Hooray for books indeed.
The Book of Gold by Bob Staake
BOOKS / READING
The Book of Gold shows readers that discovering books and curiosity is the best treasure one could have! When he’s out and about with his parents, an old lady asks a bored, non-reader boy if he’s heard of the Book of Gold, a book that when opened turns to solid gold. The boy finally becomes excited about something and starts opening every book he can. Eventually, when he opens the books, he asks questions. This turns him into a reader and world traveler. Having lived a rich life, he’s now slowing down at age 80. He sees a boy and guess what he asks him.
Bob’s Rock by Ann and John Hassett
PETS / EASY READER
This easy reader is about Bob, a young boy with a pet rock. His friend, Max, has a dog. The story compares the two pets. Rock can do tricks, sit and stay. Dog can’t. In a funny turn of events, we end up thinking Rock is a pretty amazing pet.
Franklin’s Flying Bookshop by Jen Campbell, illustrated by Katie Harnett
Franklin the dragon scares everyone he meets until he meets Luna, a girl who loves books and stories just as much as him. Together they decide to open a flying bookshop on Franklin’s back. They show people the wonder of stories as well as not to be afraid of Franklin.
Hog Wild: A Frenzy of Dance Music by Sandra Boynton
It’s hard to decide which song we like best– are all so fun and catchy! Right now I’m partial to “Dance It Out” because it seems like sage wisdom we all should follow in life. This songbook with CD is another win from the talented Sandra Boynton!
Noteworthy Picture Books From Earlier in 2017
Sometimes I miss reviewing amazing (noteworthy) picture books as they are published. 🙂 Here are those books. More from 2017 . . .
Claymates by Dev Petty, illustrated by Lauren Edlridge
CREATIVITY / DIVERGENT THINKING
Totally creative, playful, and fun! I LOVE this book. And I predict you’ll want to make your own clay story after reading this one. Two clay blobs, a gray and a brown, meet in an art room. A girl arrives to make the gray clay into a wolf and the brown clay into an owl. When she leaves, the two clays decide to play around. They transform themselves into many other creatures and objects (a peanut, an elephant, an alien, a narwhal) . . . Not only that, they use the objects they find lying around to help. They’re having a blast until they hear the artist return. Can they fix each other? You’ll love the results. Favorite of 2017.
On the Spot (A Book You Don’t Just Read, You Play) by Amy Krouse Rosenthal & Lea Redmond, illustrated by Sanne te Loo
Use the reusable stickers (or objects) to help narrate the story of a little girls day, what she does in her garden, the park, a storm, dinner, and bedtime. Does she have spaghetti with cupcakes or spaghetti with cows? Is her favorite song Twinkle, twinkle, little banana? It’s all up to you, the reader to tell this silly story.
Time Out by Ale Barba
FUNNY / IMAGINATION
For all those kids with big imaginations, this book is for you. Because a time out isn’t a punishment when you can draw a rocket and fly into outer space! It’s very funny to hear the mom yelling at the kid how many minutes left for the time out as we see the kid having a wonderful time in space.
Dear Dinosaur by Chae Strathie, illustrated by Nicola O’Byrne
FUNNY / DINOSAURS / WRITING
Max writes the museum’s T. Rex a letter — and he gets a slightly rude reply back. Not to worry, Max isn’t daunted. He writes back the T. Rex with more questions and the two begin a pen pal dialogue of funny and entertaining letters, some of which you can lift or open a flap to read. Dear Dinosaur is highly entertaining and engaging — don’t miss this gem of a book.
The Thank You Dish by Trace Balla
At dinnertime, Mama and Grace start with a prayer of thanks. Mama is surprised when Grace adds all sorts of unexpected things she’s thankful for to the prayer. Like the kangaroos, for not eating all the carrots. And road workers that fixed the path for her to ride her bike to the farmer’s stand for corn and kale. You’ll find yourself inspired by the Grace’s thoughtful gratitude. This warmly-illustrated picture book is sure to spark your own creative ways to be more thankful and kind.
Rosie & Crayon by Deborah Marcero
I like how this book shows a young girl’s grief for her dog’s death shifting after she helps another girl find her missing cat. There’s a good deal of color imagery, which may not appeal to readers, but the illustrations are quite lovely as is the author’s intent.
Marigold Bakes a Cake by Mike Malbrough
Marigold is very serious about his Monday of baking. So he get quite frazzled and frustrated when birds keep interrupting his process. Eventually, he just leaves the baking “to the birds” which turns out to be a very entertaining disaster. Lots of laughs for little ones throughout.
Lost and Found What’s That Sound? by Jonathan Ying, illustrations by Victoria Ying
SOUNDS / MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS
At the lost and found, things are found by the sounds they make. A mouse looks for something that goes “toot! toot! toot!” Is it a bike horn, a trumpet, or a train. It’s a trumpet! You’ll love the noisy noises as you help the animals find their lost things. Smart-looking illustrations.
Midnight at the Zoo by Faye Hanson
Mia and Max are at a field trip to the zoo where they don’t see too much, except when looking very closely. (You, too, young reader!) These lush illustrations beg to be poured over, especially when Max and Mia get left behind. Do you see them? But the siblings are fine. Then, when midnight strikes, the zoo comes alive with alliteration and a party of marvelous creatures (flouncing flamingos amid fabulous fountains).
Owl Bat Bat Owl by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick
A family of owls is resting comfortably on a tree branch. Much to the mama owl’s dismay, they’re joined by a family of bats who hangs upside down on their tree branch, mirroring their positions. It takes a wind storm and the mother’s love to bring these two nocturnal families together in friendship.
On Duck Pond by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Bob Marstall
Beautiful imagery captures the essence of a duck pond from a dog walker’s perspective. “The pond, now stilled, reflections grew, // Doubling creatures old and new.” The book ends with information about a pond habitat and the birds that live there. Sounds like a lovely place to be.
Benedict the bear loves the fresh honey the bees make. Unfortunately, the bees just went on strike and Benedict is missing his honey. What can he do to help them have better living and working conditions? Take care of the hive, pull the weeds, and plant flowers. He just had to learn not to take the bees for granted.
Someone Like Me by Patricia MacLachlan, illustrated by Chris Sheban
“If you were a little girl who listened to stories” this book begins. If you were a girl who read books every night, and climbed trees, and listened to people . . . then maybe you would grow up to be a writer who “writes about talking dogs” and “how the sky looks through the branches of trees“. Muted illustrations perfectly capture this enchanting view of a child who grows up to be a writer.
Take Ted Instead by Cassandra Webb, illustrated by Amanda Francey
BEDTIME / EASY READER
It’s time for bed but this sleepy boy doesn’t want to go. He inventively suggests his mom take others first — Red, the dog, Seb, his brother, Ted, his teddy bear, . . . but when everyone is going upstairs, will he want to come, too? Yes! Easy to read, great rhymes, and a relatable story is sure to make this a new bedtime story favorite.
Peace Is an Offering by Annette LeBox, illustrated by Stephanie Graegin
FRIENDSHIP / KINDNESS
Simple but powerful truths show children being kind to each other, listening, laughing, being together. . . “It’s a safe place to live. It’s the freedom from fear. // It’s a kiss or a hug When you’ve lost someone dear.“
The Treasure Box by Margaret Wild, illustrated by Freya Blackwood
MIGRATION / REFUGEE
Peter and his father flee their burning village carrying suitcases and a treasure box holding a precious book, the only one that wasn’t burned by the enemies. At the last village with mountains looming and his father gone, Peter buries the box. He returns later, when it’s safe, finding the box and the book which he takes to the city’s new library to share with others. Amazing artwork!
What Should Danny Do? by Adir Levy and Ganit Levy, illustrated by Mat Sadler
INTERACTIVE / GROWING UP
Kids get to help Danny use his superpower of choice to go through his day. As you help Danny make choices in this choose your own adventure, there is a clear cause and effect relationship shown between making good choices and maybe not to great choices. I really like the format and the message of this interactive book.