Spring Picture Books That Will Make You Laugh
Must-Read Spring 2018 Picture Books
Pillowland by Laurie Berkner, illustrated by Camille Garoche
I adore this book — the lyrical, soothing images of the text and the luminous collage-style, paper-cut illustrations. My kids would LOVE to live in this Pillowland. Especially my youngest who prefers to stay in her pajamas every day, all day if given the choice. In this Pillowland, you can “ride a pillow train, choo-choo! or drive a pillow car, beep beep!” Sail in your blanket boat on a feather ocean. Meet the king and queen and have a pillow fight. Pillowland is perfect to share with children when they’re tucked in tight, ready for bed and hugs and snuggles. (If you’re like us and think Laurie Berkner’s music is amazing, be sure to listen to this magical book as a song from The Laurie Berkner Band.)
Tiny, Perfect Things by M.H. Clark, illustrated by Madeline Kloepper
OBSERVATION OF THE ORDINARY
Celebrate the wonder of ordinary, small things! A girl and her grandfather take a walk to notice all the tiny, perfect things; things like a yellow leaf, a snail, a red bottle cap, a flower growing through a sidewalk crack… When they arrive home, the little girl excitedly shares about the wonders she saw. This story is sure to inspire your own neighborhood walks searching for tiny, perfect things. Warm, earthy illustrations throughout.
Stewie BOOM! and Princess Penelope: Handsprings, Snowflakes and Playdates by Christine Bronstein, illustrated by Karen L. Young
INCLUSION / SPECIAL NEEDS PLAY DATES
YES! This book introduces children to the important value of playing with children who might be different than they are. The mom in the story helps her daughter, Penelope, understand that her friend Eric’s brain has unique preferences. She helps Penelope practice using a quiet voice, listening with her eyes to body language, and being flexible. Back matter gives tips to welcome special needs families for a play date. I hope this story inspires more inclusion and many new playdates!
Neema’s Reason to Smile by Patricia Newman, illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini
KENYA / EDUCATION
Isn’t the art in this multicultural book gorgeous? The writing vividly transports readers into the sights and sounds of Neema’s world, paired perfectly with the illustrations. Neema is a girl in Kenya who wishes she could to go to school. But school supplies like uniforms, paper, and pencils cost money. She and her mama work to sell fruit, saving school money in a Dream Basket. One day, Neema finds a school that she can afford. Back matter shares real Jambo Jipya students’ dreams plus discussion questions and directions for making your own Dream Basket.
Play by Jez Alborough
Remember Jez Alborough’s book, Hug? Similar in style, this richly illustrated book with just a few words (most of them are “play“) captures Bobo’s enthusiasm for playing. He doesn’t want to go to bed, he wants to play. When he wanders off and gets lost, he is rescued by a pelican friend and returned to his mama. They snuggle in for bed but as soon as the sun rises the next day, Bobo points and says, “Play!” Enchanting!
Don’t Eat That! by Drew Sheneman
FRIENDSHIP / FUNNY
Gertie is a very talkative, punny, and enthusiastic scout with a BIG personality who is determined to get some merit badges in the woods. That’s probably why she can’t resist interrupting a brown bear when he tries to eat a rock. “Rocks are not food. What were you thinking?” she asks. She proceeds to announce that he cannot eat her but she’ll help him find lunch. This, of course, isn’t easy. Bear doesn’t like water, he tries to eat the wrong things, and their search is so frustrating that Gertie gets mad and gives up. Not to worry, the friends work it out in the end. Readers crack up at Gertie’s antics — and puns.
Moon by Alison Oliver
NATURE / PLAY
First of all, don’t you love this cover illustration? The interior artwork is just as rich with purples, whites, blacks, and greens. Moon is a little girl who, like many little girls, has an overwhelmingly busy life. She wonders what it would be like to be free, to run, to be wild. Venturing outside, she meets a wolf. He and his pack show Moon wolfy activities — how to pounce, play, howl, and be still. And she is changed. She takes her wolfy ways back to her life. Now she’s wild and free. I LOVE this story!!
Red by Jed Alexander
In a wordless picture book, this little Red travels through a forest on the way to her grandmother’s house. As she does, you’ll see animals carrying gifts. Can you predict why? It’s a party at grandmother’s house! With a friendly big bad wolf. Gorgeous illustrations.
How to Code a Sandcastle by Josh Funke with Reshma Saujani, illustrated by Sara Palacios
STEM – CODING
It’s Pearl’s last day at the beach and last chance to build a sandcastle. She’s brought her robot Pascal for help. In order to be successful, Pearl learns she has to be specific with her instructions to Pascal. She learns a lot of things — like how to loop sequences to make it easier. Kids will crack up at how some of her imprecise directions get messed up like bringing something small to decorate the sandcastle, Pascal brings a crab. Pearl adds that it needs to be not moving. She solves the many problems facing her through trial and error with success. And builds/codes an entire sandcastle kingdom! Get more coding ideas here.
The Little Red Fort by Brenda Maier, illustrated by Sonia Sanchez
STEM / ENGINEERING
Remember the story of The Little Red Hen? The Little Red Fort is the same set-up but with a girl-powered engineering twist. And it’s SO awesome — both the clever story and the fantastic illustrations!! Ruby asks her brothers to help her build something. They dismiss her idea. She isn’t daunted– she learns and does it herself. She invites them to help with all the steps in the process — making plans, gathering supplies, cutting the boards, hammering the nails — but they always decline. The illustrations show the boys playing outside, playing in the pool, playing on screen time. Of course, when Ruby is all done, the boys want to play in her fort but she says no. To apologize, the boys contribute to the fort — flowers, paint, and a mailbox — then they all have a fort-warming party. Added to: Engineering Picture Books for Kids
Off & Away by Cale Atkinson
The Treasure of Pirate Frank by Mal Peet and Elspeth Graham, illustrated by Jez Tuya
Greatest Magical Stories by Michael Morpurgo, illustrated by various
This collection of stories is like fairy tale’s greatest hits — with stories like Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella as well as some lesser-known stories such as Yoshi the Stonecutter and Tom Thumb. I like that the stories are so readable for beginning readers and contain plenty of picture support. Speaking of illustrations, each story is illustrated by someone different which adds bonus depth and uniqueness to each. I’m a fan of Michael Morpurgo — this newest book will be a good addition to any home library.
Play This Book by Jessica Young, illustrated by Daniel Wiseman
Interactive (do this, touch this, pretend this, . . .) books are increasingly flooding the marketplace. What I like about this book is that it also teaches children about instruments in a band — guitar, cymbals, drums, maracas … But, just so you know, it’s not a touch-and-feel book. Use your imagination and the illustrations to strum the guitar with your thumb, drum a beat, and tap the piano keys. Each instrument also includes onomatopoeia words, too: “tink! tink! tink!” or “chick-chick-chick“.
Sun by Sam Usher
On a very hot day, Sam and Grandad make a picnic and set off to find the perfect spot…The authors use of repeating language builds tension in the story. “So Granddad navigated and I looked out. / I said, “What about this way, Granddad?” // The sun beat down.” When they find the perfect spot — in a cave — it’s already taken by pirates. What will they do? Share their picnic, of course! “Back at home, once we’d cooled down, Granddad said, “If you keep looking, you never know what you might find.” What a great life lesson.
Cuddled and Carried / Consentido y cargado by Dia L. Michels, illustrated by Mike Speiser, translated by Victory Prd.
MOTHERS & BABIES
A dual language book that has English text on one side of the page and Spanish on the other. The pages are filled with gentle illustrations of animal mamas and their babies with the final images of human families.
“My mama grooms me. // Mi mamá me limpia.”
The Night Knights by Gideon Sterer, illustrated by Cory Godbey
Potty Music by Guido van Genechten
This book is too much fun! It’s a whimsical musical adventure about animals using the potty… with some very interesting song effects that are potty-like but actual musical instruments. Each page has a music note to press and music plays. The penguin director is also the narrator. He’s very encouraging. “Every musician has a unique sound. / Rafaella, for example, / can hold a verrry long note. // Save some for the grand finale, girl.” If you don’t like potty humor, this book is not for you. But if you do, this will crack your kids up! See a short video of the noises inside on my Instagram account.
Hazelnut Days by Emmanuel Bourdier, illustrated by ZAU
PARENT IN PRISON
The boy’s relationship with his dad who is in prison is complicated. His dad has a short temper but he’s also funny and strong. At school, he doesn’t know what to tell other kids about what his dad does — it’s complicated. He’s a void maker, a ghost king, a fog machine… He thinks, “Sometimes I hate Dad when I see Mom’s sad eyes.” A worthy addition to school libraries because it addresses important subjects that aren’t often discussed.
My Bed by Anita Bijsterbosch
The animal friends are ready to go to sleep. Reindeer wearily stumbles to the first bed he sees. But, it’s not his bed! Lift the page to see that it’s Raccoon’s bed. Excitedly, Reindeer finds another bed. But one bed after another is not his bed until finally, he finds his own bed. Kids will enjoy lifting the pages to see the animals in their unique beds.
A Mighty Bitey Creature by Ronda Armitage, illustrated by Nikki Dyson
Someone bites Frog on the bottom. He’s scared and runs to tell King Lion. Along the way, he meets Monkey who also gets a bit on the bottom. “Something’s bitten my hair bottom too. / It’s something mighty / and super-sharp bitey. Oh, please dear Frog, can I come with you?” Soon, they’re joined by other animal friends who are also bitten and scared. When they reach the lion, who also gets bit, they discover the culprit — a hungry bush baby so the animal friends share their food. Kids will love the silly adventure, parents you’ll like the lyrical text and evocative illustration.
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