Ready for a new batch of picture books to share with kids? From skateboarding to unicorn support friends and Sensory Processing Disorder, I love the stories and topics in these new books.
New Picture Books, August 2023
Too Much: An Overwhelming Day written by Jolene Gutierrez, and illustrated by Angel Chang
SENSORY PROCESSING DISORDER
Illustrated with evocative, colorful illustrations, this beautiful rhyming first-person story about SPD shares a little girl’s feelings of overwhelm when the world gives her too much sensory input. Too much sound, light, and physical sensation on her skin. “TOO LOUD! TOO BRIGHT! TOO ITCHY! TOO TIGHT!” After school, the girl’s mom gives her a sheet-hug. Then, the girl spends quiet time in a dark place which calms her nervous system. Back matter shares information about sensory overload, sensory systems, and how to create a sensory diet. This is the BEST picture book about sensory issues I’ve ever read — probably because not only is Jolene a gifted writer, but she also has personal experience with it. (Check out my interview with Jolene here. Subscribe to my newsletter for a chance to win a copy of this book!)
Mine written by Candace Fleming, illustrated by Eric Rohmann
FRIENDSHIP – SHARING
When a shiny red apple appears on the tree, one animal after another waits for the juicy fruit to be theirs. Rhyming text, vivid verbs, and the animals’ inner dialogues have us on the edge of our seats about what will happen when the wind blows the apple down, down, down. They all dog-pile fight over while the apple rolls gently away to a new animal…who shares it with a friend! You’ll applaud this just ending and laugh at the silliness of the selfish fighters. As you can see from the cover, Eric Rohmann’s printmaking illustrations are bold, graphic, and visually striking. In other words, perfect.
My School Unicorn written by Willow Evans, illustrated by Tom Knight
BACK TO SCHOOL
Evie is feeling wobbly about going to school so at the school uniform store, the store clerk suggests Evie bring a school unicorn. The teeny-tiny unicorn named Bobby helps her whenever she feels worried. He gives her a nuzzle or hops up on her shoulder, and she feels better. With Bobby, all the new things at school didn’t feel so scary. By Saturday, Evie’s wobbles have gone away, so she gives Bobby back to the uniform store so he can help someone else. Your kids will love that the back page has a traceable picture of Bobby so you can make your own unicorn. (I also love the single dad vibe of this story!)
Girls on Wheels written by Srividhya Venkat, illustrated by Kate Wadsworth
INDIAN CULTURE / SPORTS
I love this energetic growth mindset story and the dynamic illustrations! Three friends meet in the morning at the skate park. But one friend, Anila, is worried about another broken bone, so she sits and watches her friends. Anila’s friends encourage her to try, even if she falls. “Skating is for anyone who wants to try,” says Damini. So Anila tries…and she flies! Three girls on wheels! Here they come!
Make Way for Butterfly written and illustrated by Ross Burach
POLLINATION / BEING YOURSELF
In this third book, our hilarious main character The Very Impatient Caterpillar, who is now Butterfly, questions a passing bee all about pollinating…and learns that he is a pollinator, too. As he learns about pollination and bees, Butterfly decides to be the BEST pollinator, just like a bee. His attempts don’t go well until Bee helps Butterfly see the important contributions of butterflies. So Butterfly decides to be himself and spread pollen far, far away. Something a bee can’t do. “Just be a butterfly. Just be a butterfly.” Sneakily educational about pollinators yet packed in a delightful story about being yourself.
The Book From Far Away written by Bruce Handy, illustrated by Julie Benbassat
Exquisite illustrations tell a story about a child who sees a family of aliens having a picnic. When the family leaves an object behind, the child picks it up. Then, he meets one of the aliens. The child plays with his new friend and shows him Earth objects, giving him a book. When it’s time to say goodbye, both the child and the alien go home with something from each other. Lovely.
Who Made This Mess? written by Laura Gehl, illustrated by Aleksandar Stojsic
In this silly story, solve the farm mysteries using misleading rhyming clues! For example, when the farmer is scared by a moo, he investigates and finds… a confused owl. Each mystery will be. ssurprise. Because it’s the monkeys who make the mess of wool in the barn and the clumsy giraffe who makes a muddy mess… Kids will beg for repeated readings of this funny picture book story!
I Am Dog! written by Peter Bently, illustrated by Chris Chatterton
Playful rhyming, simple text shares a day in the life from a dog’s perspective. “I am a dog. Dog is me. I like walkies. I like tree.” Dog likes to chase, splash, dig, and bark.. among other things like searching for the smell he sniffs which makes a big mess! The illustrations are essential to this story of the dog’s day — and what is really happening. This is the perfect read aloud for 2 – 5 year olds!
A Practical Present for Philippa Pheasant written and illustrated by Briony May Smith
Phillippa is unhappy about the fast-moving cars on the road she crosses to eat blackberries. When the mayor ignores her letter, she notices a school crossing guard who stops traffic. That gives her an idea! She makes her own crossing guard outfit and a stop sign. Now Philippa can help all the animals cross the street in safety. The grumpy mayor still isn’t happy until Philippa helps his cat return home. Readers will love this darling can-do, problem-solving pheasant!
I Can Be All Three written by Salima Alikhan, illustrated by Noor Sofi
The girl’s dad is from India, her mom is from Germany, and she is part of them and also American, too. When her teacher asks them to create something that represents their heritage, the girl wonders how to show all three cultures. After she watches and thinks, she finds a way with a box filled with her favorite things from all three cultures! With lovely sensory writing and vivid, beautiful illustrations, this is an important book to remind all students that we can belong to more than one culture.
The Baddies by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler
This story is about Baddies who like being bad and the little girl who doesn’t let them win.These three Baddies have a contest to see who is the worst of them all. Their goal is to steal a little girl’s hanky. The troll tries to scare the girl, but she’s not scared. The witch’s spell doesn’t work either. And the ghost gets a bedtime story. After their failures, the girl shares her hanky with a mouse who asks for help keeping her mouse babies warm. The frustrated Baddies move away forever.
Together We Swim written by Valerie Bolling, illustrated by Kaylani Juanita
Punchy, verb-filled, rhythmic text shows a mom and dad teaching a little boy how to swim. With fun and positive encouragement, the boy learns! “Arms flutter, Splash, Splutter, Legs kick, Swift, quick.”
Good Things written by Maryah Greene, illustrated by Alleanna Harris
Malcom loves his Pops, who loves people– he gives compliments and support to people, saying things like, “Good things take time.” Pops loves saying this when he takes care of all the plants, each one with its own name. When Pops dies, the plants become Malcolm’s. But Malcom’s watering doesn’t work. The plants get brown spots. He misses his Pops and wants to stop everything. Eventually, Malcolm starts to hang out with friends again and water the plants. He feels better, and his plants start to grow.
I Cannot Draw a Bicycle by Charise Mericle Harper
The narrator can’t draw a bicycle because the narrator has never seen a bicycle. Neither has the horse or the cat, but they have fun trying to put shapes together. And their attempts will crack you up! This is another delightful story in the I Cannot Draw series! Read this, then draw your own creations.
One LIttle Word written by Joseph Coelho, illustrated by Allison Colpoys
FRIENDSHIP – CONFLICT
The big personified ARGUMENT monster sits between the narrator and her best friend. The friends play apart. The Argument grows bigger with scales and spikes until one friend pushes the other. Tears start gushing out, and so does a little tiny little word: “Sorry.” The Sorries wiggle and dance; their light shines on The Argument, making it shrink and disappear. Then, the friends give each other the best hug ever.
Two New Years written by Richard Ho, illustrated by Lynn Scurfield
JEWISH NEW YEAR, LUNAR NEW YEAR
Simple first-person narration explains that the child celebrates two New Years — one for their Chinese heritage, Lunar New Year in the spring, and the other for their Jewish faith, Rosh Hashanah, in the fall. Both celebrations are filled with family and food, traditions, and good wishes. Bright, colorful illustrations dance across the pages in celebration.
Come Over to My House by Eliza Hull and Sally Rippen, illustrated by Daniel Gray-Barnett
DISABILITIES / INCLUSION
You’re invited to come to your friend’s house where they speak sign, need headphones to block out noise, read Braille with fingers, or pet a working dog on break. All the homes in this rhyming story have a family member with a disability. Normalizing disabilities, we see that friends love to spend time with friends, and they always have fun at their friends’ houses.
Hopefully the Scarecrow written by Michelle Houts, illustrated by Sara Palacios
The gorgeous illustrations by Sara Palacios feel as sweet as this friendship story about a hopeful scarecrow and the girl that reads him stories every summer. In the long winters, the stories sustain the scarecrow. Then one day, she fixes him up and brings him to the library, where she props him up next to her librarian chair and reads a story.
The Masjid Kamal Loves written by Ashley Franklin, and illustrated by Aaliya Jaleel
Written like “The House that Jack Built,” see how happy Kamal feels when he’s at the masjid. From his shoes to the friends, the rug, the imam, and prayers, he loves going to the masjid. I also love the illustrator’s use of vibrant blues.
Remembering written by Xelena Gonzalez, illustrated by Adriana M. Garcia
GRIEF / DIA DE LOS MUERTOS
Gorgeous blue illustrations that are full of moment and emotion guide us through this beautiful grief story! The girl remembers her beloved dog on Dia de los Muertos, making an ofrenda for him. She fills his water bowl. She whistles for a walk. She prepares his favorite meal and gathers all his treasured toys. The family feels gratitude for the ways the dog loved their family well.
My Bollywood Dream by Avani Dwivedi
The girl loves driving through Mumbai to the movie with her family on Friday nights. As she travels through the busy street, she imagines the police-uncle and crowd acting and dancing in the movies she makes. At the movies, the movie’s romance and adventure end with a fun dance that all the audience does, too.