So in ridiculous news, I’ve read way too many March picture books and finally decided to share reviews of 33 favorites. Because these picture books are my favorite. All 33. And yes, it took me forever to read, write, and post.
All for you, my friends. 🙂 Happy reading!
Favorite New Picture Books, March 2023
The Umbrella by Beth Ferry, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
Precise words in a simple rhyme scheme, this powerful story is about a little girl and her pup. It’s wet and gray so the girl and pup find shelter inside a store where they buy a tattered yellow umbrella. Unfortunately, it falls apart as they walk home. The next day, they go outside in the rain again and find a delightful surprise that will make you smile. Look for the yellow pops of color and the bright umbrellas everywhere.
Babajoon’s Treasure by Farnaz Esnaashari, illustrated by Nabi H. Ali
A little girl visiting her babajoon becomes convinced that he’s a pirate because he has a gold coin, speaks a different language, and sings magical bird songs. Her logic is charming and her babajoon shares with her bout his home country of Iran and then promises to share more stories. I love her surprise when she discovers her grandparent has his own life and history.
Just a Worm by Marie Boyd
Worm feels insulted when kids say he’s JUST a worm. So he asks his garden friends like Caterpillar, Dragonfly, and Spider what they can do. Worm can’t do what they do — but he can crawl, dig and hide, and clean the dirt. As you meet the garden animals, you’ll understand how each one has an important, different specialty. And Worm sees how important he is– he’s not just a worm, he’s A worm! I love the stunning three-dimensional colored paper quilling
Fish and Crab by Marianna Coppo
FUNNY / BEDTIME
Hilarious! It’s bedtime for friends Fish and Crab. But, Fish worries so much that he can’t sleep. He shares his worries with his supportive friend Crab; worries about Owls, alien abduction, raining frogs, black holes, and more! Crab listens to Fish and soon Fish feels better, but Crab doesn’t. Now Crab can’t sleep!
A Bucket of Questions by Tim Fita
Absurdly hilarious! Especially for your kids who love to be silly! Let me give you an example, “What is at the bottom of the ocean? a. Water b. More water c. Diamond Fish d. A Mermaid BBQ.” Why are the comic illustrations only in black and white? I’m guessing that b. because all the colors are sleeping. What will you guess? We love the illustrations in this story, too.
Ramen for Everyone by Patricia Tanumihardja, illustrated by Shiho Pate
Hiro loves his dad’s ramen. He wants to make his own ramen and share it with his family. But his attempts fail — and with anger, he throws it all in the trash. His dad reminds him that Hiro’s family appreciates his cooking and it doesn’t have to be perfect. So Hiro starts again and customizes his bowls of ramen noodles for each person with things that they like and that Hiro can cook.
Are You a Monster? by Guilherme Karsten
4TH WALL, FUNNY
This will be a new read aloud favorite — it’s a fun, funny, and interactive story! The monster hopes you are also a monster and that together, you can do scary things. He’s horrified to learn you don’t have a long pointy tail, or big yellow eyes — but you show him your big teeth and loud growls and he gets interested again. In fact, you’re so good at being scary, you might just scare away this monster!
Today I’m Strong by Nadiy Hussain, illustrated by Ella Bailey
FEELINGS / SEL
Most days after school, the girl talks to her lion friend at home. She tells her lion about how she feels badly at school when Molly is mean. Eventually, the girl realizes that her lion can come with her to school! And that her lion friend can help her when Molly is mean. I love this Internal Family Systems (IFS) perspective on our feelings as parts of us!
This is a Story by John Schu, illustrated by Lauren Castillo
BOOKS & READING
From the words on a page to the books on the shelf, when humans need help connecting, turn to books and libraries. Readers with questions, imaginations, and hearts that grow find connections and understanding in books at the library. “A story helps us understand everything,” explains the author. The warm illustrations show a sea horse-loving girl and other readers enjoying, learning, and wondering.
Butternut & Buttercup by Jill Dana, illustrated by Rachel Tan-Hwee
Butternut wants to get Buttercup a birthday gift. But what? With the help of Aged Green Tea, Butternut searches the grocery store for the perfect gift. In a darling story of friendship filled with punny wordplay and an important life lesson, Butternut finds the perfect gift isn’t something you can purchase in the store. This book is the second book in the Butternut series. It’s written by my friend from my critique group, Jill Dana.
Outside Amelia’s Window by Caroline Nastro, illustrated by Anca Sandu Budisan
Amelia doesn’t think she can go outside again. She’s not ready. Newly in a wheelchair, she stays inside and studies the birds outside her window called Redstarts. When they fly south for winter, she thinks that maybe she can be brave, too. Amelia thinks she can be brave like the birds, so she goes outside and plays with the new friends she meets. Beautiful watercolor illustrations.
Cooler Than Lemonade by Harshita Jerath, illustrated by Chlose Burgett
This story reminds me of why I love being an entrepreneur — because it pushes you creatively and is so much fun to think of better ways to serve your customers! Eva opens a lemonade stand. But so does Jake across the street and he is giving buyers free cookies. What can Eva do to get back her customers? Back and forth they go, improving their businesses with creativity and excitement. In the end, Eva’s brother reminds her that she loves kulfi and sells homemade kulfi ice cream. Recipe in the back.
The Tree and the River by Aaron Blecker
This is a wordless book that shows a time-lapse of the same stretch of land and river from early farming to industrialization to umber-modern future to decay and ruin, then back to budding growth without humans. The earthy-toned illustrations will make you ponder civilization and its relationship with and treatment of nature.
Big Truck Playdate by Laurie Carmody, illustrated by Jennnica Lounsbury
NEURODIVERSITY / TRUCKS
Corey is a boy on the autism spectrum who loves trucks! When his school hosts a semi-truck extravaganza, it is too noisy and Corey breaks down. But he really wants to play and see the truck. How will he navigate this road with so many warning signs? In this fun-to-read-aloud picture book filled with truck language that speeds, honks, and zooms, you will cheer on Corey as he finds the courage to connect with his classmates about his favorite thing: TRUCKS! Readers will love the heartwarming story, illustrations, and the big 2-page spread of a semi-truck with Corey’s favorite parts labeled.
The Fantastic Bureau of Imagination by Brad Montague, illustrated by Brad and Kristi Montague
You might not know it but there’s a secret company for imagination with workers called figments. This story is about one of those figments, Sparky, a mail deliverer and secret poet. When the Cave of Untold Stories almost explodes, Spark realizes he must share his stories and encourage children to share their stories, too!
Lia and Luis Puzzled by Ana Crespo, illustrated by Giovana Medeiros
Grandma gives the twins a puzzle they must complete to discover what the surprise is. What will it be? First, the twins will have to collaborate and use geometry and sorting to put the puzzle together. Lia and Luis are Brazilian American and the story includes words in Portuguese like the word for Grandma and yay.
My Baba’s Garden by Jordan Scott, illustrated by Sydney Smith
GRANDPARENT – GRANDCHILD RELATIONSHIP
Every morning, the child gets dropped off at Baba’s chicken coop cottage with a big garden full of worms and vegetables. Baba cooks the boy a big bowl of food and watches him eat. Then, she walks him to school. When the city tears down her house, Baba moves in with the child’s family. In a role reversal, every morning, the child brings Baba oatmeal and once sliced apple and watches her eat. Together they plant seeds for Baba’s small window pots and they look out at the rain and remember…Atmospheric and heartwarming with lovely art.
Connor Crowe Can’t Let Go by Howard Pearlstein, illustrated by Stefani Buijsman
SCREEN TIME CAUTIONARY TALE
When his tablet gets stuck to his hands, Connor thought it was AWESOME! Until he realized all the things he couldn’t do and wished it would just let go of his hands! That’s when he woke up to a new day, no stuck tablet, and a new outlook on the world of fun without tablets. The story is a bit on the nose but might be a fun read to help kids think about the consequences of too much of anything.
9 Kilometers by Claudio Aguilera, illustrated by Gabriela Lyon, translated by Lawrence Shimel
SCHOOL / NUMBERS / LATIN AMERICA
As the young boy walks to school through forests and on roads, over a river and by a soccer field, he muses about 9 kilometers…how big it is and how many steps it is. He counts butterflies, ponders how fast snails can travel, and reflects on slow walks and fast walks. Eventually, the boy arrives at school. The back matter shares 8 other countries where students walk to school and various birds that live in southern Chile. Exceptional!
Eco Girl by Ken Wilson-Max
CARING FOR THE EARTH / TREES
Eve loves the baobab trees. She tries to be as patient as the tree. Her parents call her a sprout. On her birthday, they say she’s as big as a sapling, reminding her of her own growth. For her birthday gift, Grandma helps Eve to plant a baobab tree of her own, one that will be part of the forest.
Wants Vs. Needs Vs. Robots by Michael Rex
WANTS VS. NEEDS
Once again, Michael Rex makes a tricky concept understandable for kids — in this case, wants vs. needs. What do robots need? Batteries, arms, legs, and oil. But, they want jelly-bean tacos, golden ukuleles, and unicorn hats. But what will happen when a robot decides he trades arms or legs for things he wants like a toy and a cake and a t-shirt. Hilarity ensues! But, the robots (and readers) learn valuable lessons about focusing on the wants most of all.
Long Goes to Dragon School by Helen H. Wu, illustrated by Mae Besom
APPRECIATING YOUR UNIQUE GIFTS
This fantasy story shows the importance of being yourself. Long is attending Dragon School and his class is cooking foods using their fire. But, there’s a problem. Long is a water dragon– and doesn’t have fire…no matter how hard he tries. He finally admits to his teacher that he is different, and that’s when he discovers his own path.
Ancient Night by David Bowles, illustrated by David Álvarez
Based on two Nahuatl traditional folktales, this story about the moon’s light features exquisite illustrations from David Álvarez and text from David Bowles. Rabbit travels down from the moon to gather glowing aguamiel to light the moon back up. But, Opossum steals the nectar and drinks it, not realizing that the moon’s darkness is his fault. Opossum travels below the earth to the fire below and uses that fire to light up the moon.
Palace of Books by Patricia Polacco
Fans of Polacco’s books will enjoy this story of her moving from the farm to a town where she starts school. She discovers the library and the library’s collection of bird artwork from John Audubon. Not only does she love the library but also draws her own bird pictures.
Mouseboat by Larissa Theule, illustrated by Abigail Halpin
The little girl talks to her mom directly (2nd person) in this story of grief. She misses her mom’s smell and her presence in her empty chair. Sad, she races outside to her boat during a storm and finds a connection to her mom in the windy storm. Feeling better, she returns to shore, to home.
Filled with science vocabulary words like concentric circles and phloem tubes, this haiku poetry book explores every aspect of trees, from their roots and their oxygen-giving properties to their shelter for playful kids and rainforest sloths.
brew sunlight, gas, and water:
My Mommy Marches by Samantha Hawkins, illustrated by Cory Reid
A young girl proudly shares how her mommy marches in all kinds of weather, alone and with others, and how she tells the girl that sometimes words aren’t enough — you need to move your feet. Inspiring and full of heart.
How to Talk Like a Bear by Charlie Grandy, illustrated by Alex G. Griffiths
4TH WALL, FUNNY
You might think you’re roaring like a bear but instead of saying, “Give me your ice cream sundaes,” you accidentally said, “Go get a haircut!” Clearly, there’s a lot involved with bear talk! But Bear will help you get into the bear head space with yoga visualization, and leaf and termite tea. Aren’t you lucky to have this helpful guide to talking like a bear and doing whatever you want 100% of the time? Just like Bear. (Or maybe, not!?)
A Crown for Corina by Laekan Zea Kemp, illustrated by Elisa Chavarri
On Corina’s birthday, she gets to pick out flowers from Abuela’s garden that tell her story– who she is and where she came from. Carina picks bluebonnets to remind her of her conejo’s tail, and a sunflower for Mama, coneflowers for her Abuela’s hat…then she puts them together into her crown, la corona. Exhuberant, color-filled illustrations!
Copycat: Nature Inspired Design Around the World by Christy Hale
POEMS — STEM & NATURE
No, it’s not a book about cats. These tanka poems are about the natural world like a terminate mound or a powerful jaw an octopus’s arm with suckers, honeycomb bee cells. With the natural word, the author includes photographs of inventions that mimic these natural world designs. Inventions like a robotic arm, space-efficient designs, and vertical gardens that collect rain and produce solar energy.
Still Dreaming Seguimos Soñando by Claudia Guadalupe Martinez, illustrated by Magdalena Mora
REVERSE IMMIGRATION / BILINGUAL SPANISH ENGLISH
A boy and his parents leave their home. He has never visited where they’re going, the home of his parents. They leave family and familiar places. When they camp, they listen to stories of Alaskan fishing, Kansas rail workers, farm workers in Michigan, and small LA shops. The next day, they arrive at the border, where they’ll cross into Mexico. The boy hopes to make new friends there in the country of his parents. It’s a beautiful, emotionally-weighty story about families forced to leave the U.S. to return to Mexico. But, the family keeps hope because this choice means they’ll be together and not forcefully separated.
The Knowing by Ani Di Franco, illustrated by Julia Mathew
So I like this picture book, but I don’t understand what the author means when she talks about “The Knowing.” A little girl says she has a color to her hair and skin and eyes and a name, a family and a favorite blanket, and a favorite song, (love this) but that is not all she is. She explains that underneath what is showing, the external things, is The Knowing. “This is not all of who I am underneath this is something more all of these things are just what’s showing // underneath all that I know is The Knowing.” Anyone want to help me out with this?
Making Happy by Sheetal Sheth, illustrated by Khoa Le
CANCER / FEELINGS
This is the gentle story of Leila who is feeling big feelings because her mom is sick with cancer. One day, she knocks over her glass of water and can’t stop crying. Her dad suggests they make some happy! They punch pillows, dance, twirl, make a mess, and talk. Leila makes a quilt for her mama while feeling an ocean of feelings with a brave heart ready to sing learning to see happy and sing even with the pain.
Big Dreams, Small Fish by Paula Cohen (2022)
ENTREPRENEUR / JEWISH
Shirley and her family are Jewish immigrants with a store. Shirley wants to sell gefilte fish but her parents don’t think anyone will want it — so when Shirley helps out, she thinks of an innovative idea! She gives it away so customers will see how yummy it is– and they do. they return for more the next day. I love all the Yiddish words in this story.