What are you reading this summer? Here are some newly published picture books that I think you’ll enjoy. (I put the latest funny picture books in a separate post here.)
New in Picture Books, Summer 2018
Grumpy Monkey by Suzanne Lang, illustrated by Max Lang
This is one of the best, most healthy emotional intelligence children’s books I’ve ever read about feeling your feelings — not stuffing nor trying to get rid of them, just feel them. Jim Panzee (chimpanzee, get it?) wakes up and nothing seems right. His jungle friends like Norman suggest that he might be grumpy. Yet Jim insists he’s NOT grumpy. As Jim stomps around, bunching his eyebrows, not swinging, he yells at the other animals that he is NOT grumpy. Later that day, Jim sits with Norman. “For now I need to be grumpy,” he explains finally. To which Norman responds, “It’s a wonderful day to be grumpy.” Added to Best 2018 Picture Books
Monster Boogie by Laurie Berkner, illustrated by Ben Clanton
JUST FOR FUN / MONSTERS
This big, purple monster with yellow eyes and green teeth likes to do the monster boogie! And you can, too! Happy kids and their monster friend boogie and wiggle together. This story totally invites you to join in the playful dancing with a not-too-scary monster. Clanton’s vibrant illustrations with brightly textured backgrounds capture the dancing fun of this Laurie Berkner song. Listen to the song here.
Twig by Aura Parker
My daughter and I absolutely adore this story about kindness. Bug school is starting and no one notices the new girl, Heidi, a stick insect, not even the teacher. Here’s where the brilliant artwork comes in because kids will have to look closely to see where Heidi is — can you notice where she is? You’ll feel so sad for Heidi who watches the other kids playing. Why won’t someone play with her? When Heidi is finally discovered (on accident by a ladybug), the teacher has a wonderful idea — all the students will knit a square for a scarf. The scarf will help everyone be able to see her. Now she always finds friends in the playground! Added to: Picture Books About Kindness.
Neon Leon by Britta Teckentrup
FINDING YOUR PLACE
I love the artwork in this interactive story about a neon orange colored chameleon looking for a friend. Leon is a chameleon. Can you find him? Probably because in each picture — leafy jungle, sandy desert, or gray rocky mountains, Leon is still orange. The other chameleons change colors. Interactive directions (say good-night, count to ten) ask you to help Leon who feels sad that he doesn’t fit in. Questions keep you engaged. (What’s that over there in the corner of the page?) Leon finds a friend. “Can you spot them both? / It’s the perfect match.“
Dear Dinosaur T.Rex on Tour by Nicola O’Byrne
FRIENDSHIP, LETTER WRITING
Max learns his T.Rex friend is traveling the world on a special exhibition. Where could he be? Max and Rex write letters back and forth about all the places Rex is traveling like the jungle, the cold north, and desert. Rex really wishes he were at home! Max sends Rex his favorite stuffed rabbit to make him less homesick. Lift the flaps to read many of the letters and postcards. I love how the story introduces that world travel means different weather, animals, and activities. It’s as charming as the first book!
Brick: Who Found Herself in Architecture by Joshua David Stein, illustrated by Julia Rothman
In a story based on real architecture (see the back matter for specifics) and a mindfulness philosophy, Brick’s mother tells her that great things begin with small bricks. Brick notices and wonders. When she grows up, she travels to see castles and synagogues, temples, and walls. She visits stacked-up apartments and look-alike houses but nothing calls to her. So she stops and sits down. Suddenly she realizes, that where she is, here, is the perfect place, on a brick path. “For not only do great things begin with small bricks, but great journeys do too.” What a perfect ending to prompt further discussion! Also, be sure to read more about the real brick buildings that Brick visited like the Great Mosque of Samarra, Saint Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow, Russia and Grosvenor Estate in London, England. Red- and pink-colors mixed with black and white line drawings.
Super Saurus and the Egg by Deborah Underwood by Ned Young
Who can’t relate to Super Saurus’ reluctance to get a baby brother or sister — whom he calls the Egg of Doom. What could be inside it he wonders? He imagines the worst — a vicious vampire-saurus or a rampaging robot. It’s up to him to save the world so he stays vigilant, taking the egg with him everywhere — on all his wildly imaginative adventures. Readers will love the juxtaposition between reality and his vivid imagination. When the egg cracks, it’s quite a surprise. Especially the crying. How will he cheer up his new baby sister — a cape, of course, for Super Baby aka. Goo. “The next time he went to the Forest of Frindore, Super Saurus brought a secret weapon. “You’re in trouble now, Zottlebots! he yelled. // Super Goo stunned the Zottlebots with her Super Goo yell.” They make a good team!
Enough is Enough! by Barey Saltzberg
SIBLINGS, TIME ALONE & TIME TOGETHER
Because we all need time together — and apart… Olive and Will are brother and sister. And Olive has had enough of Will at the moment. (Enough is enough!) She wants to be alone. So she leaves to give herself space and time and quiet. . . Then, enough is enough of that, too. She’s ready to play with Will again. This sweet story shows the value of listening to your inner knowing and that being alone is sometimes necessary. (For introverts like me!)
Melia and Jo by Billy Aronson and Jennifer Oxley
STEM / STEAM
Melia loved science and inventions. One day when she was working on an airplane that wouldn’t quite soar, she meets Jo, her new dancing, singing neighbor. Jo proceeds to mess up and mess with all of Melia’s stuff. However, Jo’s antics give Melia new ideas for her inventions. Maybe they can be a team? Even with their different ways of working, the two combine art and science to make more super-cool stuff. Directions in the back tell you how to make your own airplane that goes fast and far. What an engaging shout out to how working together makes everything better — and girls loving STEAM.
Cece Loves Science by Kimberly Derting and Shelli R. Johannes, illustrated by Vashi Harrison
Cece loves to ask questions — why, how, and what if. Her teacher at school, Ms. Curie, encourages her and teaches her about famous scientists and different science. Then, Cece and her best friend Isaac work on a science project using the scientific method. Their question is: Do dogs eat vegetables? They use Cece’s dog Einstein to observe, test, and draw conclusions. And it looks like Einstein doesn’t like vegetables AT ALL. But what if the friends mix vegetables with Einstein’s much-loved bananas? That works! She realizes, “Science isn’t just about asking questions . . . real scientists have fun finding answers, too.” This is a delightful STEM story that shows the creativity of scientists motivated by curiosity.
Peg & Cat The Eid al-Adha Adventure by Jennifer Oxley and Billy Aronson
STEM / ISLAM HOLIDAY
Peg and Cat visit their friends Yasmina and Amir to celebrate Eid al-Adha. And besides singing and dancing, they celebrate by giving to those with less. (Peg draws the math signs for less than and more than.) The friends work on how to divide their food of honey cakes and meatballs into thirds — keep one third, give one third to neighbors, and give one third to someone with less like at the soup kitchen. At the soup kitchen, the friends help solve another problem using math — counting which stack of crates is less and delivering food to injured Mac. I adore the illustrations, backgrounds, and fonts in Peg & Cat as well as the diversity and math within this story.
How to Knit a Monster by Annemarie van Haeringen
ADVENTURE / PROBLEM SOLVING
What a clever book that celebrates knitting, hand arts, and problem-solving! Greta (a goat) knits very well. When Mrs. Sheep says she’s a better knitter than Greta, Greta loses focus and instead of knitting goats, she accidentally knits a wolf — who chases her knit goats away and gobbles up Mrs. Sheep. What will Greta do? Knit a tiger to eat the wolf. But he wants to eat Greta, too. So she knits a monster. Who eats the tiger. This time, she’s thought ahead and unravels the knitted monster — riffle, raffle, riffle, raffle. Guess who she finds? Mrs. Sheep! Next, she thinks she’ll knit some fresh green grass for the little goats. But she forgets to watch her knitting. Is that an alligator?
Sorrel and the Sleepover by Corrinne Averiss, illustrated by Susan Varley
Sorrel invites her best friend Sage over for a sleepover. But Sage’s home is much bigger and filled with more people and things than Sorrel’s which makes her feel embarrassed to reciprocate. So she lies about why her friend can’t come over for a sleepover at her house. But it works out. Sage loves Sorrel’s house in a cherry tree with pink blossoms. Together they can share something different yet still be just the same — friends.
La Frontera El Viaje con papa My Journey with Papa by Debora Mills, ALfredo Alva, Claudia Navarro
Based on a true story, this bilingual story (written in both English and Spanish) is about Alfred and his papa who leave their Mexican village to find work. They meet a “coyote” who is supposed to take them to the United States but they’re abandoned and must cross by themselves. Their journey is hard. Eventually, they arrive in Texas. Alfred begins school and learns English but he still misses his mother and siblings very much. After many years, he is reunited with his whole family. I loved the folk-style illustrations but wished there was less text on each page with better writing that was filled with more description instead of a retelling of events. Added to: Books about Immigration.
We love dinosaurs — tall and small, with gigantic roars and snuffly snores — the book narrates. This is a charming introduction to the world of dinosaurs in gentle rhymes and colorful watercolor illustrations. “We love their spots and zigzags, too. Their colors — yellow, red, and blue.” Added to: Outstanding Books About Dinosaurs
Cat Wishes by Calista Brill, illustrated by Kenard Pak
Cat catches a snake who promises to give him three wishes for freeing him. Only Cat doesn’t believe in wishes. But if he did, he’d wish for a fish. He gets his first wish yet grumbles that there is no such thing. He wishes for a house and a friend, and even though he doesn’t believe in wishes, gets both. And, in a serendipitous ending, learns his new friend got three wishes from the snake, too.
When circle rolls, he pops on triangle’s point, exploding into tiny bits. This sets off a chain reaction of shapes colliding until Octagon stops them all. The shapes then work together to put the bits of circle back together. Circle is fixed!! And rolls again. I also love the (no pun intended) circular ending. Readers will become more familiar with the different shapes as well as working together to help a friend.
Niblet and Ralph by Zachariah OHora
Neighbors, Gemma and Dilla, have cats that look very much alike but aren’t alike at all. One day the two cat friends visit each other’s apartments and get stuck in the wrong homes. Of course the kids, their owners, can tell that they have “fake” pets and their real cat has gone missing. After a search of the neighborhood, the swap is discovered. Cats and owners are reunited in a very satisfactory ending of friendship and community. OHora’s artwork in bright aquas, yellows, reds, and black pops off the page in perfect harmony with this _ story.
Detailed illustrations of a little girl and her exuberant dog add depth to this book about loving your pet dog. “Greet your dog,” the book begins. Simple three-word sentences on each page make this a good choice for new readers as well as a read aloud. See what you do with your dog from the beginning of the day to the end. “Settle your dog. // Love your dog.”