Even More Must Read Picture Books from 2017
This Is Not a Normal Animal Book by Julie Segal-Walters, illustrated by Brian Biggs
HILARIOUS. Wacky humor (“if a cat laid an egg . . . it would be a HEN”) and a goofy conflict of ideas between the author and illustrator will crack kids up! (“If the FRUSTRATED-BY-LACK-OF-COOPERATION snake swam deep in the ocean . . . it would be a blog fish. Wait a second. Did you say, “Blobfish?” I don’t want to draw a BLOBFISH.”) Soon, the author taunts, you, the reader, won’t be able to think of anything besides a blobfish. No, this is not a normal animal book.
Sleep Well Siba and Saba Nansubuga Nagadya Isdahl and Sandra van Doorn
Siblings Siba and Saba dream of the things the lose, until one day they dream of the things they’ll see. Playful s-sound alliteration delightful the tongue as you read aloud the gentle story set in colorful, magical Africa. I’m in love with the appealing illustrations. This is a stunning picture book masterpiece. (Added to PICTURE BOOKS WITH DIVERSE MAIN CHARACTERS.)
Letters to a Prisoner by Jacques Goldstyn
Inspired by an Amnesty International Write for Rights letter-writing marathon, the author / illustrator created this meaningful wordless picture book story about a man who, after his arrest at a peaceful protest, grows more and more hopeless in prison. That is until letters begin arriving. The letters help the man find hope and freedom even within the confines of his cell. An inspirational story of how to make a difference in someone’s life.
Although there is no shortage of truck books, this rhyming truck extravaganza is sure to delight truck-loving readers. Fans of Staake’s illustrations will recognize (and love) his distinctive retro, graphic illustrations.
Sergeant Reckless: The True Story of the Little Horse Who Became a Hero by Patricia McCormick, illustrated by Iacopo Bruno
It’s the middle of the Korean War and the Marine soldiers needed help carrying heavy ammunition. They can’t find a donkey so they get a little horse who eats everything in sight — poker chips and coca-cola included. The soldiers train her to carry, backup, and duck fire, rewarding her with food. Her most dangerous assignment is the Battle of Outpost Vegas where her help changes the course of the war. When the war ends, her soldier friends make sure she come home with them. This is a true story of a horse who received 2 Purple Hearts and was the only animal to hold a military rank! Sepia toned illustrations make this story look like an old time photo album. What an interesting historical story exquisitely executed.
I Am Peace A Book of Mindfulness by Susan Verde, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds
This is the goal — to feel the ground, take a deep breath, to be still, to say what you feel, and so on. Reading this book shows kids what mindfulness is. It truly is peace. Reynolds’ whimsical watercolor illustrations make the concepts visually appealing and accessible. (Added to my BIG LIST OF MINDFULNESS BOOKS FOR KIDS.)
Mindful Kids: 50 Activities for Calm, Focus and Peace by Whitney Stewart and Mina Braun
Beautiful illustrations with diversity (!!) give kids 50 games, visualizations, and exercises to promote mindfulness in 5 categories: feeling grounded, finding calm, improving focus, practicing loving kindness, and relaxing. Easy step by step instructions make these accessible for kids and adults. I can’t wait to try these with my kids. (Added to my BIG LIST OF MINDFULNESS BOOKS FOR KIDS.)
Draw the Line by Kathryn Otoshi
Told entirely in pictures, two boys delight in the line that becomes a fun game until it doesn’t and the boys get mad, tugging at their sides of the line until the line cracks, creating a gigantic crevice in the ground between the two boys. Now what will they do? One of the boys finds a way to reconnect them. It’s a powerful metaphor illustrated so simply — you’ll want to use this in the classroom and at home to talk about feelings and behaviors and fixing things. Evocative, gorgeous artwork.
Little Fox in the Forest by Stephanie Graegin
A real fox takes a little girl’s stuffed fox from where she left it to play. The girl and her friend search in the woods for her beloved stuffed fox and the colors go from blue tones to multi-colors. A bear tells the children where to find the fox. When she does find him, the girl realizes how happy the stuffed fox makes him so she lets him keep it. In return, he gives the girl his stuffed unicorn. The story is wordless yet evokes emotions all children can relate to — worry, fear, empathy, and compassion.
Noah Webster’s Fighting Words by Tracy Nelson Maurer, illustrated by Mircea Catusanu
I love this book so much! The story is an important piece of American history that kids should know — I didn’t know all the things Webster tried to change and found it fascinating. (He even tried to get 6 new letters to be added to the alphabet!) The narrative includes “edits” from Noah Webster himself which make this lively story even more interesting. The illustrations are absolutely perfect — in style and in color. Bravo!
Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth by Oliver Jeffers
Written for his new son, this oversized picture book feels like a love poem to the reader and to our big amazing world. Read this to your little ones to help them know about our world and that they’re never alone.
Meow by Victoria Ying
This little kitty just wants someone to play with him. He offers up a ball of yarn and asks, “Meow?” When no one will, he gets into trouble and sent to time out. Later, he gardens with his mom (“meow.”), bakes cookies with his dad (“meow!”), reads a book with his sister (meow!”) and after family time and a bath, curls up with his yellow yarn to sleep (“purrrr…”). You’ll enjoy using many different voice inflections for the meows throughout this sweet story.
The Five Forms by Barbara McClintock
McClintock’s art dazzles with color and boldness showing what happens with a little girl copies the animal forms and they come to life. First a crane, then a leopard, snake, and dragon. The animals take over the pages and the girl’s room. Thankfully, the fifth form returns everything to normal before her mom returns home.
On a Magical Do-Nothing Day by Beatrice Alemagna
Alemanga captures so much emotion in her artwork — the boredom of playing on a device, the boredom of a rainy day which turns to curiosity, fear, awe, surprise and delight as the child discovers the wonders of nature. It becomes an epic unplugged day of imagination! And you’ll love the pop of neon orange in the child’s coat contrasted with the muted earthy tones. Gorgeous.