I had a bad fall on the ice three weeks ago that gave me a concussion, among other injuries. I mostly had these reviews done before the accident and my sweet kids helped me add links and book covers to this post.
This might be the longest period of time in MY LIFE (since I learned to read) that I’ve gone without reading a physical book. Audiobooks and podcasts are my jam at the moment. I had no idea concussions could be so life-alterning!
Well, I better get off the computer now.
26 New Picture Books, March 2021
The Little Butterfly That Could by Ross Burach
FUNNY / GROWTH MINDSET / DIALOGUE
A kind whale teaches a distressed butterfly to persevere when it gets lost from its migrating group. The whale encourages the reluctant, fearful butterfly to find its gumption and courage, kicking it out of his stomach, and reminding it to keep trying. Drawn and narrated in comic panels and dialogue bubbles, this wonderful new story is funny, emotional, and poignant.
Sam’s First Word by Bea Birdsong, illustrated by Holly Hatam
The grown-ups in Sam’s life have specific words they hope she’ll say first. But, as you can predict, she doesn’t comply. In fact, her first word describes something happening in her diaper. At first, the grown-ups don’t hear but when they do, they’re delighted.
Now That’s a Hat! by Heath McKenzie
FUNNY / ADJECTIVES
Preschoolers will love this silly rhyming story about a picky hat store customer who can’t find the perfect hat. As he tries on all the hats in the store, learn all about adjectives to describe the hats. “This hat is too lively. This hat is too dead. Are you sure this hat isn’t an old loaf of bread?” He finally finds the perfect hat, only to have it get blown away by the wind. The story ends with him returning to the hat store for another hat and we notice that the salesperson is hiding from him.
Pirates vs. Monsters by David Crosby, illustrated by Lee Cosgrove
Silly, rhyming pirates tell tall tales about brave feats defeating monsters. “The Crunk,” she spat, “was a two-headed beast. While one head would sleep, the other would feast. How did I beat it? With my sneaking skills. I sprinkled its grub, with crushed sleeping pills.” But when the monsters arrive, they all run away. Now it’s the monsters turn to tell tales that aren’t lies, about scaring pirates. Jaunty and funny!
P. Zonka Lays an Egg by Julie Paschkis
Colorful, eye-catching Ukrainian-inspired artwork bursts off the pages. P. Zonka is a hen who appreciates nature more than laying eggs. When she does lay an egg, its designs reflect the patterns and colors of the natural world. All the other hens agree that P.Zonka’s egg is marvelous and beautiful.
Laxmi’s Mooch by Shelly Anand, illustrated by Nabi H. Ali
BODY POSITIVITY / IDENTITY
Body positivity at its best! Laxmi’s friends at school tease her about the hair on her upper lip and suddenly she begins to notice all the hair everywhere on her body. Her mom helps her learn about her heritage of women with moochay (the Hindu word for mustache is mooch) from an empress to village girls. She shares how hair protects and warms the body. This helps Laxmi embrace her mooch so she can be a tiger at recess. She gets the other kids excited about their hair, too –even drawing on mustaches if the kids don’t have a mooch.
Wanda by Shile Nontshokweni and Mathabo Tlali, illustrated by Chantelle and Burgen Thorne
HAIR / IDENTITY
Wanda leaves home with one hairstyle but changes it before school so her teacher will think she’s tidy. Then, one day, she doesn’t have time to redo her hair and Wanda’s grandma helps her find pride in her hair, her her crown, and she stands up to the teacher and her classmates with new confidence and pride in her appearance. I love how it teaches kids that sometimes they have to stand up to authority figures.
Tyrone O’Saurus Dreams by James Howe, illustrated by Randy Cecil
The family of this young pleaser child is well-meaning with their expectations for his life but Tyrone dreams of dancing– not all the things his family wants him to do. It takes a new friend to help him follow his own dreams and his family supports wholeheartedly. Lovely illustrations and an empowering message.
Birds of a Feather by Sita Singh and Stephanie Fizer Coleman
Mo’s supportive peacock friends are the typical peacock colors but Mo is all white. He feels alone, different, and sad. But, one dark night, Mo sees that his white feathers are special and can help the other peacocks. It’s a bit too on the nose for me but showing how being different can be helpful is certainly a valuable message.
I’ll Meet You in Your Dreams by Jessica Young, illustrated by Rafael Lopez
A reassuring, loving bedtime reminder to a child showing that the mother will be with the child no matter what…“...you’ll be an eagle and I’ll be a hawk. When soft winds sing and treetops rock, we’ll spread our wings and soar until we reach the shore.” Beautiful illustrations and rich imagery.
Bird Show by Susan Stockdale
Watch a gorgeous fashion show of the birds’ beautiful plumage that looks like clothing. Various birds show their adornments that look like skirts, scarves, crowns, vests, and more. Rhythmic with vivid verbs and colorful with gorgeous illustrations, this is a delight to read.
Tani’s New Home by Tanitoluwa Adewumi
IMMIGRATION / GROWTH MINDSET / CHESS
In this true story, Tani Adewumi lives in Nigeria with his family. But one day, terrorists threaten his father so the family escapes to the U.S. where they live in a homeless shelter. Tani doesn’t love his new home but when he discovers chess, it helps everything. He dedicates himself to the game and goes on to win the New York State Chess Championships.
Zonia’s Rain Forest by Juana Martinez-Neal
Zonia loves her rainforest home and animal friends but one day she sees a tree cut down. How will she respond to this invasion of her home? The story ends abruptly without a solution which I found unusual. Upon reflection, I suspect the author wanted to leave room for discussion. (Also available in Spanish.)
Pippa’s Passover Plate by Vivian Kirkfield, illustrated by Jill Weber
Pippa is ready for Passover but she’s missing her special Seder plate decorated with six important symbolic items! She looks everywhere for her it, bravely asking neighbors the snake, owl, and cat. Will she find the plate in time? And who will she share Passover with? Rhyming text with repetitive phrases and fun-to-read onomatopoeia make this an absolute delight to read aloud. Happy Passover!
One-osaurus, Two-osaurus by Kim Norman, illustrated by Pierre Collet-Derby
COUNTING / RHYMING
Playful fun, these dinosaurs count and play hide-and-seek. The rhyming text and sound words make this a delightful book to read aloud.
Sunday Funday in Koreatown by Aram Kim
Yoomi’s disappointed with the reality of her day when her expectations are dashed. There’s no kimbop, no first choice book, and she spills on her shirt. Her discouragement shifts as her dad helps her find alternatives and with the arrival of her grandma.
Hooray, it’s Garbage Day! by Eric Ode, illustrated by Gareth Llewhellin
COUNTING / TRUCKS / RECYCLING
Cheerful kids watch for the garbage truck, then help clean up and recycle. “Three garbage cans sit side by side. Four bedroom windows open wide. Five children wave and give a cheer to say that Garbage Day is here!” Readers will enjoy the rhyming text and repetition of “Hooray, it’s garbage day!” as well as learn about counting and recycling.
It’s So Quiet: A Not-Quite-Going-to-Bed Book by Sherri Duskey Rinker, illustrated by Tony Fucile
Mouse can’t go to sleep because it’s too QUIET. His mom helps him listen to the many sounds of the night. “Crr-cak, crr-cak, bullfrog sings through the thickets. Chirp chirp, chirp chirp, chime in all the crickets,…” and when Mouse opens his window, it’s very loud…too loud. Three times the sounds repeat, each time getting louder (and bigger type size). Now, it’s too LOUD! An exasperated Mouse bellows for the night noises to be quiet so he can fall asleep…which he does when it’s back to quiet. Sure to be a new read-aloud bedtime favorite!
Mornings with Monet by Barb Rosenstock, illustrated by Mary Granpre
ARTIST / DESCRIPTION
Descriptive, sensory writing shows Money waking up early, getting in his boat, and traveling down the river. He waits for the light and then he paints. “A few rays breakthrough; wet leaves droop over winding water.” His efforts and process will show aspiring artists what goes into a master’s painting. Well-written and lovely. “More blue, less violet, some yellow. More reflections, less mist, some horizon. His brush moves back and forth, chasing sunlight.”
Not My Hats by Tracy Gunaratnam and Alea Marley
Playful rhymes plus entertaining repetition…this is a darling friendship and sharing story. Hettie will share many other things with Puffin but NOT her hats. (She has a hat collection and she says, “I’ll never, ever share my hats.“) Until…Puffin finally offers to trade Hettie a scarf! Then, between the two of them, they wear all their scarves and hats. Charming.
There Is a Rainbow by Theresa Trinder, illustrated by Grant Snider
NOTICING THE POSITIVE
During COVID times, this poetic reminder comforts readers with beginnings, endings, and middles.“On the other side of the screen // there is a school. // On the other side of a window // there is a neighbor…// On the other side of today // there is tomorrow.”
Baby Moses in a Blanket by Caryn Yacowitz, illustrated by Julia Downing
Baby Moses floats down the Nile. The animals protect him, keeping him safe and dry. “Curious Ibis, in the water, comes to take a closer peek, sees a baby, little baby, kicking tiny baby feet.” Rhyming with lovely, earth-toned illustrations give readers a glimpse of the setting of the Nile river and the dangers of a baby in a basket floating by himself. “Baby Moses in a basket floats among the reeds and flowers near the pharos’s daughter, bathing in the pale good-morning hours.” As the lady takes Baby Moses out of the basket, the animals (Mighty Crocodile, Mama Hippo, Ibis) watch.
Love by Corrinne Averiss, illustrated by Kirsti Beautyman
Literal strings of love connect the little girl named Tess to her mom as she starts school…then she’s amazed to see the new strings that connect her to new friends. Tess learns that her strings may stretch or tangle but it will never truly break.
We Became Jaguars by Dave Eggers, illustrated by Woodrow White
A very imaginative and unique grandma encourages her grandson to pretend that they are jaguars. They practice moving like jaguars then venture outside into the night and the woods where they prowl and hunt, jaguaring on. The boy worries he’s missing too much school so his jaguar grandma writes him a note– her pawprint, leaving readers to wonder if she’s really a jaguar and not just pretending.
The Best Place in the World by Petr Horacek
A sweet book about friendship and appreciation. Hare asks his friends where the best place in the world is. They think it’s the meadow. And after searching the wide world, Hare agrees…it’s the best place because that’s where the friends are.
The Smile Shop by Satoshi Kitamura
SHARING A SMILE
A young boy with a few coins can’t wait to browse the shops for something to buy. He loves the colors, smells, and wares for sale. But, then he drops most of his money. Sadly, he sees a Smile Shop and asks to buy a smile. But, the owner explains that they’re about sharing smiles, snaps his photo, and sends the boy back outside with a new perspective. Lovely, atmospheric illustrations.