32 Picture Book Reviews for December 2019
This Is A Sea Cow by Cassandra Federman
What a giggle-worthy story! A little girl named Cassandra writes a report on sea cows that the Manatee (aka. Sea Cow in the report) comments on line by line, illustration by illustration, page by page. First, he takes issue with the term sea cow and that he is a lot like a land cow. (“Ummmm… I don’t think so.”) It’s totally funny — you’ll even learn some new facts about manatees.
Added to: Books for Kids About Ocean Animals
Saturday by Oge Mora
SLICE OF LIFE
Everything on their special day goes wrong but the mom and child acknowledge it’s all okay still because they’re together. What an important message about spending time with someone you love. Also, the ART — I can’t get enough of Mora’s collage artwork, it’s vibrant and beautiful.
You Love Ewe by Cece Bell
WORD PLAY, HOMONYMS
If you love words, wordplay, and silliness, this will be your new favorite picture book! An enthusiastic, loveable, and oblivious donkey misunderstands what Yam is telling him about Ewe and thing that Yam is talking about him. (“You”, in this case.) Eventually, Yam explains about homonyms but those make Donkey even more mixed-up. “Hummanums? I thought they was called critters!” I LOVE this book!
This is Baby by Jimmy Fallon, illustrated by Miguel Ordonez
Rhyming and cute, you’ll read about baby’s eyes and nose, fingers and toes. The illustrations are confusing to me. I think for young children, it would require parents to point to the body part in the illustration.
Two Tough Trucks by Corey Rosen Schwartz and Rebecca J. Gomez, illustrated by Hilary Leung
Some trucks at school are better at things than others. Like Mack. He’s good at everything and faster than his friend Rig. Except for going backward. That’s where Rig shines and can help Mack who realizes he can help Rig, too. Teamwork! The authors do a great job with the rhyming text which I’m super picky about.
Added to: Picture Book About Trucks
Nibbles The Monster Hunt by Emma Yarlett
BOOKS / INTERACTIVE
Nibbles is a book monster who makes a monstrous mess in the boy’s books. First, the boy chases Nibbles but then he joins him. Read the mini-books about colors and numbers and peek through the holes.
Superlative Birds by Leslie Bulion illustrated by Robert Meganck
Look at the illustration then read the lovely poem and science notes about each of the different birds. Birds that walk on water like the jacana marsh bird from Mexico or the peregrine falcon whose “bold spirit embodies the shape of speed.” If you’re studying nature or birds or poetry, this book will be a worthy addition.
Added to: Beautiful Bird Books for Kids
Sweet Dreamers by Isabelle Simler
Each evocative poem captures an animal sleeping and dreaming, giving us imagery that transports us to those sleepy moments. “The hedgehog dreams safely in his shelter. Under a pile of leaves, his spiky coat, he’s rolled up, wrapped up for a long rest.” The illustrations have so much movement — neon, black, white, red, and green with lots of lines. It’s fascinating to see the humpback whale sleeping underwater “the humpback whale dreams vertically with plankton at every level.”
Thunder Trucks by Cheryl Klein and Katy Beebe, illustrated by Mike Boldt
WEATHER / VEHICLES
Creative and fun! These Thunder trucks live in the clouds and make the storms: thunder, rain, hail, lightning, and big snow. Besides being an engaging story, it teaches personification! Read how the Dump Truck bustles in with a crash, tilting her dumpster bed up, up, up to pour the hailstones thump, thump, thump. “Thunder Trucks loud. Thunder Trucks strong. Thunder Trucks moving this storm along. The Firetruck makes lightning. The Big Rigs makes Thunder. They divvy it up and roll out so the whole sky rumbles with power and pride.”
Added to: Picture Book About Trucks
The Roots of Rap by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Frank Morrison
Amazing graffiti-style illustrations and a cool topic talk about the poets and soul and funk singers that made way for the 70s when writers threw graffiti on the subways and boom box performing B-boys break danced. DJs mixed beats of Sugarhill gan, Run-DMC, LL Cool J and more.
Between Us and Abulea A Family Story From the Border by Mitali Perkins illustrated by Sara Palacios
MEXICAN-AMERICAN BORDER / CULTURE
Introduce children to the separation of families at the Mexican American border as a family tries to reunite to spend time together for las posadas, See the fence, see the regular people, see the kids and their mama who are talking to abuela between the fence slats. In a sweet resolution, when the boy can’t give his abuela his drawing, the little girl helps make it into a kite to fly it over the fence.
Bad Dog by Mike Boldt
Kids love these kinds of books that are built on one giant misunderstanding. The little girl describes her new pet dog — and all the ways that it’s a bad dog. And that’s what’s funny because we can clearly see that it’s not a dog at all but a cat. Her dog, Rocky, doesn’t like to go on walks or sit or fetch. But Rocky does like the mailman and sleeping. Finally, the girl wonders if Rocky would make a good cat. What a crack up!
This is Not That Kind of Book by Christopher Healy, illustrated by Ben Mantle
Is this an alphabet book, a fairy tale, a first day of school book, or just what? The confused characters finally realize an important truth about stories –(and get meta)– that anyone can be in them, that the characters work together to solve problems, and they will learn a valuable life lesson.
Wintercake by Lynne Rae Perkins
Filled with rich, wonderful words, this is a sweet winter story that starts with a misunderstanding but shows the power of kindness and starting new traditions. Thomas loses his fruit basket and assumes someone stole it. But then a stranger returns the basket he found. Thomas and his friend Lucy chase after the stranger to include him in their Winter’s Eve plans.
Roar Like a Dandelion by Ruth Krauss, illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier
You can use this imaginative and unique alphabet book of actions to teach similies but also it can be interactive fun as you read and do what you read. For example, crow like a rooster or dance with a leaf. Or sit in the sun and shine then try to hug yourself in a puddle.
Something For You by Charlie Mylie
Mouse’s friend is sick. He searches for flowers for his friend and for him, then is sad when the wind blows them away. But it’s okay because they have each other.
Zombies Don’t Eat Veggies! by Megan Lacera and Jorge Lacera
BEING TRUE TO YOURSELF
A quirky twist on the storyline of being true to yourself, Mo Romer is a zombie who loves VEGETABLES. But his parents want him to eat zombie food NOT vegetables. Eventually, Mo stands up for himself and who he is and they learn to live in harmony. Playful illustrations!
Good Night, Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle, illustrated by Jill McElmurry
Excellent rhyming just like the entire series tells the sweet story of friends seeing shelter from a big storm — all with Blue Truck and Frog in the garage. After the storm passes, Frog and Blue Truck drive the animals home for bedtime.
A Day for Skating by Sarah Sullivan, illustrated by Madeline Valentine
A simple slice of life book about ice skating in the winter. The lyrical, rhyming text shows the experience of being on the ice, racing, playing hockey, falling down, and more.
Poop by Poppy Champignon, illustrated by Mark Hoffmann
RHYMING / POTTY HUMOR
Kids will probably love this book way more than adults because it’s all about words that rhyme with poop. The raccoon asks his friends if different thing are poop but no, they are hoop and soup and scoop and other rhyming words.
What’s Next? by Timothy Knapman, illustrated by Jane McGuinness
A lively celebration of exploration from a young badger’s perspective. He asks his mother what’s next and it leads to each next discovery including the night world and his brave attempts to learn about the day time world.
Trini’s Big Leap by Alexander de Wit & Beth Kephart, illustrated by William Sulit
Trini’s an independent and confident gymnastics-loving girl who says, “I can do that.” As she plays, she learns that some things that she can’t do on her own and it is fun to work with others.
Blue Cat by Charlie Eve Ryan
The textured artwork in this story is my favorite! It’s sweet and playful with simple text that describes the life of a cat. “Blue Cat swats…//Blue Cat purrs.”
Birthday on Mars! by Sara Schonfeld, illustrated by Andrew J. Ross
Introduce the Mars Rover to young readers with this simple story about a robot named Curiosity who lives on Mars. He tells readers how his friends sent him to Mars to explore. He sends pictures home and takes a selfie birthday photo.
Added to: Children’s Books on Space
Do Not Take Your Dragon on a Field Trip by Julie Gassman, illustrated by Andy Elkerton
Kids will love the silly scenarios that might happen if you take your dragon on a field trip. (As one does…) The chaperones will be scared. The dragon will fart on the bus. In general, it will be a disaster.
By the Light of the Moon by Frann Preston-Gannon
I rarely like rhyming books but I love both the rhyme and repetition of this story about a lonely frog who finds swamp friends to sing with her. When they all sing together, it’s a beautiful celebration of the swamp.
Pepper Zhang Artist Extraordinaire! by Jerry Zhang, illustrated by Trisha Hautea
Pepper is a girl who uses art to express her emotions. Which is a good thing. But, she becomes a famous artist and her ego gets inflated. So, she makes a change in her priorities and starts spending more time with her family.
The Traveler’s Gift by Danielle Davison, illustrated by Anne Lambelet
STORYTELLING / GRIEF
Wildly creative illustrations adorn this beautiful story of loss and possibilities. After Liam’s father dies, Liam journeys with the mysterious Traveler and learns the power of storytelling.
Little Red Rhyming Hood by Sue Fliess, illustrated by Petros Bouloubasis
POETRY / FAIRY TALE
In this clever retelling of the familiar fairy tale, a rhyming girl named Red is teased constantly by a boy she calls Wolf. When he unexpectedly gets Red’s ability to ONLY rhyme, they team up to compete in a poetry contest and soon become friends.
One More Hug by Megan Alexander, illustrated by Hiroe Nakata
GROWING UP / GIFT BOOK
I’m crying! And you will, too when you read this sweet story about the hugs and kisses we give our kids as they grow up. And then as our kids grow up and become independent, they still will ask for one more hug.
The Space Walk by Brian Biggs
Who knew being an astronaut would be so boring or would have so many rules? After Randolph does everything Ground Control wants, he finally gets to go out for a spacewalk where he has a blast and makes a new friend. Vibrant illustrations.
The Book Without a Story by Carolina Raberi
The books in this library help their friend Dusty who hasn’t had a reader in so long he’s well, dusty. They push him off a shelf and soon, a reader discovers him!
2019 CHILDREN’S BOOKS GIFT GUIDE: PICTURE BOOKS
Get ready to discover new picture books your kids will love. These are engaging, funny, and interesting, sure to be read and reread for months to come.
2019 CHILDREN’S BOOKS GIFT GUIDE: CHAPTER BOOKS & GRAPHIC NOVELS
Don’t miss these incredible middle-grade chapter books and graphic novels that tackle growing up, colorism, poverty, immigration, identity, and much more.
2019 NONFICTION CHILDREN’S BOOKS
Animal, biographies, memoirs and, more — these are the best nonfiction books of 2019 for children ages 4 to 18.