Good picture books make you think deep thoughts, sigh with awe, and discover meaningful lessons.
As I previewed the latest picture books, I wanted to review picture books that meant something. See if you agree.
Quest by Aaron Becker
Quest is an enchanting and imaginative picture book written only in pictures that will transport you to a magical world. My kids and I poured over every beautiful detail in the pictures and so will you. You’ll follow a boy and girl with a purple (magical) bird on their quest to save the king and his kingdom. Awe-inspiring. What quest are we really on?
Give and Take by Chris Raschka
A new picture book fable about the balance of giving and taking. The farmer meets two strange little men – one is Take and one is Give. They both give him advice on what to do — take, take, take or give, give, give. A thoughtful story ripe for discussion! What is the balance of give and take?
Miss Brook’s Story Nook by Barbara Bottner, illustrated by Michael Emberley
In the story nook, Miss Brooks teaches the class and Missy about writing stories: plot, characters, action. Missy takes her real-life story of hat-stealing Billy, invents a satisfying ending, and solves her real-life problem in her written story. See how storytelling helps us after all?
Emily’s Blue Period by Cathleen Daly, illustrations by Lisa Brown
If your child is struggling with the big feelings that come from a divorce, you’ll want to read this good picture book with them. It’s about Emily who wants to be an artist. When she learns about Pablo Picasso’s blue period, she can relate because she’s also sad and going through her own blue period because of the divorce of her mom and dad. It’s such a thoughtful and relatable book, I highly recommend it. Do hard times make you want to express yourself with art?
The Rhino Who Swallowed a Storm by LeVar Burton & Susan Schaefer Bernardo, illustrated by Courtenay Fletcher
I love the intention of this book – to help kids see that swallowing your feelings without expressing them just makes you feel yucky and that you can get help from your friends. I can see this book being really helpful to a lot of children and their families. Do you bottle your feelings or express them?
Flora and the Penguin by Molly Idle
Beautiful periwinkle, white, and yellow illustrations show an ice skating Flora as she meets a penguin as he pokes his head up through the ice. She rudely tosses his fish back in the water but feels bad and helps him find it again by using the lace of her skate. No words are required because the evocative drawings tell the story perfectly. How do you apologize when we’ve messed up?
Ninja! by Arree Chung
Find out how to be a real ninja – this little boy will show you everything. Supplies: jump rope as ninja rope, slippers as silent footwear, pool stick as a ninja stick. Actions: sneak, creep, tumble, hide. Overcome obstacles, defeat angry beasts (sleeping dog). And above all, believe in your ability to overcome all challenges (like stealing your sister’s milk.) I loved the pacing, the illustrations, the comic style, and the passion for all things ninja. Do you teach your sibling(s) about your favorite things?
The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires
Ashley wants to make the most magnificent thing. But like sometimes happens, her thing doesn’t turn out like she wants. So she gets mad and gives up. After a short walk, she starts to feel better. And when she goes back to her thing, she sees it with new eyes and makes the magnificent thing after all. A great life lesson! What do you do when faced with challenges?
The Mermaid and the Shoe by K. G. Campbell
Minnow, the 50th daughter of Neptune, doesn’t think she’s remarkable like her talented sisters. She only knows she’s curious about everything. And by following her curiosity, she finds her talent — exploring! A lovely picture book story about following your heart and finding your purpose. Do you feel like you have a purpose?
Sparky! by Jenny Offill, illustrated by Chris Appelhans
When her mom tells her she can have any pet she wants as long as it doesn’t need to be walked or bathed or fed, the girl picks a sloth. She loves her sloth, plays with her sloth, and trains her sloth to do tricks. Well, she tries to train him anyway. Because in the end, it doesn’t matter that Sparky the sloth can’t do tricks, he’s still wonderful just the way he is.
Hi, Koo! by Jon Muth
Remember Zen Shorts by Jon Muth? Stillwater’s nephew explores the seasons captured in snapshot haikus. Muth explains, “. . . haiku is like an instant captured in words — using sensory images.” If you read closely you’ll see that the 26 poems follow the alphabet. Beautiful. Does this make you want to go outside?
a favorite book
an audience of sparrows
Go! Go! Go! Stop! by Charise Mericle Harper
Little Green helps the town build a bridge with “go” and “go” but everyone is moving fast and things get crazy. Luckily a stranger rolls into town. Little Red. Now he and Little Green work together to finish the bridge on time. Just as they finish, Little Yellow rolls into town. A great book for young readers who love vehicles. What would happen if we didn’t have both stop and go?
Uni the Unicorn by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
All the other unicorns laugh at Uni because Uni believes that little girls are REAL. Uni imagines all the fun she would have with a girl. What Uni didn’t know was that there was a real little girl who all the other kids laugh at because she believes that unicorns were real. Who is dreaming of a unicorn friend just like Uni. Do you believe in things that other people don’t? (added to: 22 Magical Children’s Books About Unicorns)