42 New Picture Books, April and May 2021
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This Book Has Alpacas and Bears by Emma Perry and Rikin Parekh
STORY WRITING / FUNNY
A darling story about Alfonso Alpaca who wants to be in a story and tries to write a story but CAN’T because it’s tricky without opposable thumbs. So he sets out to convince his bear friend named Colin to help him, pitching him the marvelous idea of an alpaca story every day. Eventually, he realizes he must prove himself — dancing, standing on his head, gobbling grass, skateboarding, and it works! Together, they write down, share, rewrite, draw, and print out the story! It’s such a funny plot and Alfonso is totally endearing.
This Book Can Read Your Mind by Susannah Lloyd, illustrated by Jacob Grant
FUNNY / INTERACTIVE
Hilarious! The narrator explains that his book can READ YOUR MIND. And with the power of suggestion, it turns out to be true! And if you don’t stop the silliness, his mind-reading machine will blow up. Oh, no! You exploded the whole book!
Not Now Cow by Tammi Sauer, illustrated by Troy Cummings
SEASONS / FUNNY / PRESCHOOL
Perfect for preschoolers, this funny take on the seasons shows the farm animals celebrating each season…with a clueless Cow dressing in the wrong outfits for each season’s weather. It’s spring and Duck is helping things grow, Sheep is flying a kite, and Cow is wearing a hat, mittens, and scarf. “Oh, Cow. Not now,” Rooster tells him. Each season is the same — the playful animals do seasonal activities and Cow shows up wearing something not quite right…Kids will love this!
Oh Look, a Cake! by J.C. McKee
If your kids like subversive, darker humor — this book will be a new favorite. Sloth and Lemur find a cake and debate about sharing it with their friends, judging harshly each friend they think of. After cruelly commenting on everyone else and deciding not to share, they stuff themselves with the entire cake. And that’s when Tiger arrives. Ut-oh. The cake was Tigers? He’s not worried — because he can still get it back.
The Poop Song by Eric Litwin, illustrated by Claudia Boldt
FUNNY / POTTY TRAINING
Rhyming, adorable, and fun — especially for the potty training kiddos.
We Want a Dog by Lo Cole
FUNNY / DOGS
Readers will love the rhymes, playful descriptions of different dogs with unique personalities, and graphic illustrations. What kind of dog do they want? “One with hair? One that’s bare? One that likes to sit and stare?” What kind of dog will this narrator pick? Get ready for a surprise, funny ending!
A is for Apple Unless… by Tom Llewellyn, illustrated by Mark Hoffmann
FUNNY / ALPHABET
Laugh out loud funny, this is a clever alphabet book that twists the traditional alphabet books to a more entertaining end. “B is for Ball unless a ball just smashed me in the belly, then B is for barf.” or “K is for Kangaroos. Kangaroos are cute unless your kangaroos know karate, then K is for KA-POW!” Oh, and be prepared –there’s quite a bit of potty humor, too.
I’m Not Cute, I’m Dangerous by Bruna De Luca and Benedetta Capiotti
Use this for predictions and inferences! Fifi is born with a furry outside and because of that, everyone says she’s super cute and not a proper crocodile. She tries hard to be NOT fluffy but it doesn’t work. Exasperated, she leaves and wanders the world where she makes many new friends of every size, color, shape, and FLAVOR. Will Fifi use her cuteness to be dangerous?
Something’s Wrong! A Bear, a Hare, and Some Underwear by Jory John, illustrated by Erin Kraan
Hilarious! Kids will crack up watching a bewildered Jeff (the bear) wander around the woods wearing underwear and wondering why he’s feeling like something’s wrong. He overcompensates for this nagging sense of wrongness by talking TOO MUCH and talking LOUDLY. The other animals aren’t fooled and wonder, “Why is that bear wearing underwear?” Finally, his friend Andres bravely asks Jeff why he’s wearing underwear. And as the other animals look on, Anders supports his friend, joining him by wearing underwear, too.
Pizza with Everything on It by Kyle Scheele, illustrated by Andy J. Pizza
Wildly imaginative — this is the story of a pizza-loving boy who decides he should ad EVERYTHING on his pizza. Pickles and apples, books and pencils, the White House and a particle accelerator, so many toppings...Before the boy and his helpful dad knew it, the pizza begins to collapse in on itself and turns into a black hole and then into a pizza solar system and earth and town. Talk about one wild, imaginative ride! (Use this book to teach cause and effect!)
MORE FUNNY PICTURE BOOKS FOR KIDS HERE
Milo Imagines the World by Matt de la Pena, illustrated by Christian Robi
MOM IN JAIL / PRECONCEIVED JUDGEMENTS/ IMAGINATION / WRITING
A powerful story that takes of the boy’s present reality and his imagination… Milo travels on the subway with his sister, his anxiety making him feel like a shook-up soda, even though it’s a weekly ride. He observes the people around him and in his notebook, draws and writes stories about them. They arrive at their stop and he’s surprised to see a boy that he noticed before is there, also– a boy wearing a fancy suit who he had made assumptions about. Seeing him in the line, helps Milo realize that you can’t tell people’s stories just by their appearance. Then, he and his sister get to hug their mom and visit with her. Milos gives her a drawing of their family together eating ice cream on the front stoop.
Hair Twins by Raakhee Mirchandani, illustrated by Holly Hatam
SIKH CULTURE / HAIR
The loving little girl’s Papa combs her hair every morning. Sometimes he braids it. Sometimes he puts it in a top bun just like the joora he wears under his turban. “Hair cheers!” the little girl tells her Papa, her hair twin. After school, Papa takes her hair down. Then, they have dance parties and go to the park where they play with friends. A sweet father-daughter relationship story plus important Sikh representation.
My Day with the Panye by Tami Charles, illustrated by Sara Palacios
FAMILY / HAITIAN CULTURE
In Haiti, a little girl wants to carry the payne on her head just like her mother. Her mother tells her that little by little, she’ll get strong enough to carry it, too. And when they arrive home, the girl tells the same thing to her little sister. It’s a heartwarming story of family, culture, and perseverance.
10 Gulab Jamuns: Counting with an Indian Sweet Treat by Sandhya Acharya, illustrated by Vanessa Alexandre
STEM / ADDITION & SUBTRACTION / INDIAN CULTURE
A loving family shares a favorite cultural sweet treat and practices counting and subtracting in this beautifully written, Indian-flavored math story! Mama makes 10 gulab jamuns for guests. But, one child eats three. Now there are only 7 for the guests. And another child eats 3 more. Now there are only 4 left. Mamma wonders how she will have time to make more treats for her guests. The kids will help her make them! “That afternoon, Idu and Adu didn’t go to the backyard to play. They helped Mamma and Daddy make 10 more gulab jamuns instead.”
Kiyoshi’s Walk by Mark Karlins, illustrated by Nicole Wong
POETRY (HAIKU) / GRANDFATHER- GRANDSON RELATIONSHIP
Walk with Kiyoshi and his poet grandfather Eto through the town as his grandfather shows Kiyoshi where poems come from…When Eto stops to write a poem, Kiyoshi realizes that poems come from what you see, what you hear, what you imagine, and what you feel. “They passed by an old house with a tall wall around it. / They peeked through a crack, but could see only a stuffed bear on the ground. // Eto took out his pen and wrote: / His boy moved away. / Lying by the empty house. / A lonely bear waits.” Kiyoshi writes a poem, too. Then they walk home, seeing that in everything there is a poem. I LOVE this book so much!
The Great Whipplethorp Bug Collection by Ben Brashares and Elizabeth Bergeland
There’s a lot to love about this story — the loving father-son relationship and Chuck’s character arc from bored to engaged in pretend play. Chuck’s family tree has a lot of famous, daring explorers but he’s glad to his dad is at home willing to explore and imagine with Chuck. “Maybe the Whipplethorp men weren’t getting worse. Maybe they were just getting…different. And that’s how things change. That’s how they get better.”
Grandpa Across the Ocean by Hyewon Yum
GRANDPA / KOREA
A little boy initially only notices their differences when he visits his grandpa in Korea. He notices their different language and the different smells and foods. But when he makes a mistake, his grandpa kindly gives the boy a peach. That shifts the boy’s attention. Now the boy finds all the things that they have in common — laughter, singing, their appearance, chocolate. When it’s time to leave, the boy can’t wait to visit again.
Watercress by Andrea Wang, illustrated by Jason Chin
FAMILY HERITAGE / IMMIGRATION & AAPI HERITAGE MONTH
The girl’s family stops on the side of the road to gather watercress. She’s embarrassed and mad because she hates being poor. Later that night, while eating the watercress, her mom shares about her childhood in China and how her younger brother died from starvation. The girl feels bad for being embarrassed about her earlier perceptions. With a new understanding of her history and the value of having enough food, she eats the bitter, delicate watercress.
My Dad by Susan Quinn, illustrated by Marina Ruiz
A beautiful tribute to a special dad who is present, playful, and imaginative! “He gives me rides around the garden, he grows vegetables all in a row. And it’s fun to pull up carrots, shouting, “Ready! Set! Go!“” Soccer and picnics, baking and building snowmen, the boy and his dad love their days together.
The Electric Slide and Kai by Kelly J. Baptist, illustrated by Darnell Johnson
FAMILY / CONFIDENCE
Kai’s entire family dances — but not Kai. They try to help him with advice and videos so he can get ready for his aunt’s upcoming wedding. It doesn’t work. But, at the wedding, his aunt’s new husband helps Kai find his groove. This earns Kai a new dancing nickname — Lil’ Slide — and he feels so proud and accepted.
We All Play by Julie Flett
NATURE / VERBS / INDIGENOUS CULTURE (CREE)
See the similarities between humans and animals! Simple sentences show animals in playful action plus kids doing the same, showing the similarities between animals and humans. “Animals hide and hop // sniff and sneak // and peek and peep. // We play too! kimetawanaw mina.” Amazon Bookshop
Lobstah Gahden by Ali Brydon & EG Keller, illustrated by EG Keller
Puns galore plus Boston accents give this playful book plenty of character in addition to its valuable message about pollution. Two lobsters compete with each other to have the best garden but both gardens are ruined by trash. Instead of competing, they help each other out with the clean-up. Then the write the sailer a letter — “enuf wit’ tha GAHBAGE!” Back matter pages share information on Lobstahs and Undah-watah Life as well as how you can help the ocean.
One Springy, Singy Day by Renee Kurilla
“Stretchy yawny wide awake at dawn-y.” It’s a VERBY, action-filled day showing a diverse group of kids who play and read, eat and imagine until the end of the day which is “soapy scrubby bubbles in the tubby“. Charming.
More Than Sunny by Shelley Johannes
It’s sunny and…birdy, ducky, hot, buzzy, wishy,…Until it’s rainy and wormy. Travel through the playful days of these two siblings to experience weather and life in all sorts of fun-filled ways. Absolutely charming.
Bird House by Blanca Gomez
Simply told and illustrated, this is a warm-hearted grandmother-granddaughter relationship story showing how the abuela helps the little girl learn about caring for nature. A girl and her abuela rescue and nurse an injured bird. When the bird is healthy again, the abuela explains to the girl that they need to let it be free. Later in the spring, the bird visits but doesn’t stay because it’s not theirs to keep.
Perdu by Richard Jones
Perdu is a lonely, scared dog who is looking for a home. He searches through the country to the city with a rumbling tummy he persists. When he enters a cafe to steal food, people yell at him, and he runs away, worried he will never find a place to belong. But, someone noticed him running from the cafe…Kids will predict the ending of this story using the pictures — and it’s lovely.
Wishes by Muon Thi Van, illustrations by Victo Ngai
IMMIGRATION / VIETNAM
Gorgeous illustrations and lyrical, personifying text work together in beautiful harmony to narrate the bittersweet goodbye as a family leaves their Vietnamese village and travels by boat. They get picked up by a bigger boat and eventually arrive at a new city, a new home. It’s an important story arc of sad endings, challenging middles, and hopeful beginnings with room for inference and connection about the themes of family and feelings and the topic of immigration. “The light wished it was brighter. // The dream wished it was longer. //The clock wished it was slower.“
The Capybaras by Alfredo Soderguit
Simple enough for the youngest of readers, this sweet story show immigrant capybaras arriving at a yard full of chickens who firmly do not want them there. Eventually, the capybaras show their kindness by saving a chick and the two groups of animals become friends.
Let’s Tell a Story! Fairy Tale Adventure by Lily Murray, illustrated by Wesley Robins
FAIRY TALES / STORYTELLING
Pick the story elements and craft your own stories…Choose something on each page (using the pictures) and invent millions of different stories. Do you want to be a prince, a troll, a princess, a black cat, these are just some of the main characters you could be. Then choose your outfits and accessories, where you want to go, who you’ll take with you, how you’ll get there, which path you’ll take, and so on until you get to the end of your dangerous adventure. Then start over and tell a new story! Also read Let’s Tell a Story! Space Adventure by Lily Murray.
This is the Glade Where Jack Lives Or How a Unicorn Saved the Day by Carey F. Armstrong-Ellis
Fantasy creatures and all-white characters cleverly reenact the familiar poem, “This is the house that Jack built”, but in a fairy tale setting. “This is the mermaid, spritzing hair spray, that trips up the imp, all warty and gray, that stole the cake that fairies baked that was brought to the gnome that dwells in the tree that grows in the glad where Jack lives.” Jack is the unicorn — and he will fix everything when it’s all gone totally awry.
Identity / Social-Emotional Learning
More Than Fluff by Madeline Valentine
BODY BOUNDARIES / IDENTITY
This story reinforces that we shouldn’t let other people define who we are — and that it’s okay to set boundaries with other people for being touched. Daisy is annoyed that all anyone notices about her is that she’s fluffy. People squeeze, pet, and kiss her. And she doesn’t like it. “I’m not just. fluff…I have substance!” She tries new looks (mud) and finally, from the suggestion of her mom to tell people how she feels (nicely), Daisy communicates with others what she wants– sometimes she wants personal space and doesn’t want hugs. Instead of hugs, she suggests that her friends can give her wing bumps, tail bumps, super-secret handshakes. And her friends learned to give her some space when she wants it. And she learns to do the same for them. WONDERFUL!
How to Apologize by David LaRochelle, illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka
SEL (Social Emotional Learning)
Use this gentle, instructive guidebook to teach children about apologizing. It talks about how hard it can be but that it’s important because it makes both you and the other person feel better. It gives readers examples of what not to do (don’t make excuses) and what to do (be sincere). The examples show animals acting out apologies and because most of them aren’t good apologies, end up being quite funny. (One not-sincere example is, “Mom told me I had to apologize for putting your doll in the fishbowl or I can’t go outside and play baseball. So I’m sorry.“) Excellent.
The Worm Family Has Its Picture Taken by Jennifer Frank, illustrated by David Ezra Stein
BEING TRUE TO YOURSELF
Emma’s friends share why they loved their family photos; reasons like smiles colors, and outfits — none of which Emma’s worm family can do with no teeth, no poofy hair, nor colorful bodies… She becomes less excited until she thinks to dress her family in costumes, fake teeth, and hair. The photographer Mr. Muskrat doesn’t recognize them and it makes Emma realize that they’re not being themselves. They take off their costumes and find their own special worm family pose.
The Owl Who Asks Why by Michelle Garcia Andersen, illustrated by Ayesha L. Rubio
CURIOSITY / BEING TRUE TO YOURSELF
Little Owl has a lot of questions such as, “Why is a group of owls called a parliament? and Why do we regurgitate after eating?” The other owls laugh because he doesn’t ask “Who?” questions. The same thing happens to Little Wolf who asks “When?” questions not “How?” questions. Papa Wolf tells him that wolves are supposed to ask HOW and the other wolves laugh at him. Both Little Owl and Little Wolf run away together. But, they get lost and scared. The friends ask a variety of questions including when, who where, why, what, and how to help them find the way home. When they arrive home, Papa Wolf and Mama Owl ask their children new questions that start with different words, too. This is a wonderful celebration of being true to yourself, staying curious, and solving problems. Amazon Bookshop
What Would You Do in a Book About You? by Jean Reidy, illustrated by Joey Chou
Inspire your growing readers with a rhyming story bursting with magic and imagination that talks directly to the reader, aka. YOU. illustrated with gorgeous illustrations, Reidy asks you to imagine what would do in your own story. Maybe you’d take an adventure, rescue a king or queen, dance with a yak or ride on a dinosaur. Lovely.
What About x? An Alphabet Adventure by Anne Marie Houppert, illustrated by Daniel Wiseman
ALPHABET / SELF-CONFIDENCE
The alphabet friends are going camping — but X feels unworthy because he doesn’t have anything good to bring. Because who wants an x-ray machine on a camping trip and his xylophone is broken. He’s so sad that he doesn’t think he should go on the trip. But, the other letters search for him and remind him that he gets a most important job — x marks the spot for where they’ll be camping!
I Am Loved by Mary and Kevin Qamaniq-Mason, illustrated by Kwei-Lim
Pakak’s feeling lonely in his new foster home but he remembers what his anaanattiaq told him– that his anaana loves him even if she can’t take care of him and that he is always loved. She tells him that the moon loves him, the land loves him, and the sun loves him. And that even all his family that he doesn’t see, loves him, too. It’s a sweet, reassuring story filled with Inuktitut words and culture that the authors wrote specifically to support Inuit children in care but would be relatable for anyone in care, too.
The Thingity-Jig by Kathleen Doherty, illustrated by Kristyna Litten
GROWTH MINDSET / PROBLEM SOLVING / WORDPLAY INCLUDING ONOMONOPOEIA
Wordplay, problem-solving, and persistence! One day Bear finds a Thingity-Jig (aka. a couch) which he thinks is wonderful as a sit-on-it, jump-on-it thing. He asks his friends to help him carry it home but they’re too fast asleep so Bear figures out some ideas to do it himself. He makes a Rolly-Rumpity! Which is a pack-it-up, heap-it-up, load-it-up thing. That isn’t enough to move the Thingit-Jig so Bear makes something else — a Lifty-Uppity. And then, a Pushy-Poppity. And at daybreak, he arrives back at home where his friends are waking up, with his special Thingity-Jig. Bingity…Bing…Boing…Bear falls asleep.
Beatrice Bly’s Rules for Spies The Missing Hamster by Sue Fliess, illustrated by Beth Mills
Beatrice can’t wait to use her spy skills for A BIG MYSTERY outside of her home. When the class hamster goes missing, she gets her chance. She observes, writes down clues, and discusses the case with trusted friends. Her spy instincts lead her to…the teacher’s lounge where she finds Edgar the hamster eating a feast. Clever Beatrice!
Mindfulness & Kindness
A Year of Everyday Wonders by Cheryl B. Klein, illustrated by Qin Leng
Simple, nostalgic, this story marks the firsts in a little girl’s life — first cold, first family reunion, first sunburn, first new teacher…and a few seconds, too– second lost umbrella, second snow day…and then concludes with some lasts of the year — last waffles, last snowfall, last stories. The circular ending begins as it started, “First day of the new year.”
The Boy and the Sea by Camille Andros, illustrated by Amy Bates
Metaphorical and wise, the boy visits the sea and they share much in common. Sometimes the sea is dark and dangerous and so is the boy. As the boy grows, he asks the sea unanswerable questions to which the sea replies–to just BE. Repeated sentences give the story a comforting, wave-like structure.
The Little Things: A Story about Acts of Kindness by Christian Trimmer, illustrated by Kalani Juanita
Most of us know the familiar story about a girl who saves a starfish. This story takes it further. When the girl explains to an older man that her actions matter to that one starfish, it becomes a chain reaction of kind actions. On and on the kindness is shared with actions like rescuing a dog, fixing up a house, and cleaning up a yard.
60 Books for Kids to Celebrate Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month