Ready for a new batch of picture books to add to your library hold list–or bookshelf?
Memorable Picture Books, February 2021
Ten Beautiful Things by Molly Beth Griffin, illustrated by Maribel Lechuga
MOVING / FEELINGS / REFRAMING
A sad little girl sits in the back of her grandma’s car, traveling to her new home. As they drive, her grandma asks her to look for ten beautiful things along the way. She finds that even in her sorrow, there is beauty around her. Heartfelt and emotionally resonate.
Outside, Inside by LeUyen Pham
Absolutely lovely and reassuring about the situation we’re living in during the pandemic. “Outside, the sky was quiet, but the wind still blew and birds kept singing. Raccoons came out and squirrels played in the streets, but the cars stayed away. The world felt a little different.” This book simply shows that even though the world outside is different, and we’re all inside, we are all the same on the inside. “Inside, we baked and cooked, made music and watched TV. We read and played games. Some of us worked a little, some of us worked a lot…and some of us couldn’t work at all. We all felt a little different.”
My Very Favorite Book in the Whole Wide World by Malcolm Mitchell, illustrated by Michael Robertson
READING / WRITING / PERSONAL NARRATIVE
Henley finds reading hard — and when his teacher gives the class an assignment to find their favorite book in the whole wide world, he struggles to find anything that he doesn’t hate. After asking his librarian and bookstore owner for help unsuccessfully, his mom helps him realize that inside he has his own story. What he brings to school, his favorite book in the world–is a story that he writes about himself! Use this as an introduction to writing personal narrative.
Amy Wu and the Patchwork Dragon by Kat Zhang, illustrated by Charlene Chua
DRAGONS / ASIAN CULTURE
The kids at Amy’s school draw western-looking dragons and when they say her (Eastern-looking) dragon doesn’t look like a dragon. At home, her grandmother tells her stories about dragons that bring down the rain, that fly without wings, and are wise and just. Not only that, she lets Amy and her friends play with a dragon costume which they bring to school to show her classmates what Eastern dragons look like.
A House for Every Bird by Megan Maynor, illustrated by Kaylani Juanita
LISTENING TO UNDERSTAND
I love this book to teach kids the lesson of NOT judging others on our preconceived notions and appearances; instead, to get to know someone and listen to what they say. A young girl draws houses for birds that match the color of their feathers and their size. The birds ask the girl to listen to what they actually want and need. She doesn’t want to listen and at first, gets mad. After a while, the girl understands that all she needs to do is to ASK the birds what they want. Brilliant and beautiful.
Over the Shop by JonArno Lawson, illustrated by Qin Leng
WORDLESS / FRIENDS AS FAMILY
A wordless picture book about a little girl and her grumpy grandmother who rent out a spot above the grandma’s shop. It takes a while to find the right tenants who will fix up the place but they do and the tenants become like family. It shows readers that family looks like whoever you care for.
Sloth Wasn’t Sleepy by Kate Messner, illustrated by Valentina Toro
BEDTIME / MINDFULNESS
Sloth’s mom helps him with strategies to sleep and release the worries. They listen to the trees. “Shush-rush” and feel the wind in their fur…They close their eyes and count to four, the breath out for four. It makes Sloth feel quiet Mama shows Sloth how to imagine her worries and lay it gently on a leaf and set it free. Sloth eventually falls into a peaceful sleep.
Off to the Sea by Nikki Grimes, illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon
BATHTIME / IMAGINATION
A playful, exciting story of the wonderful possibilities in the bathtub–when you use your imagination! Watch out for the monster rubber ducky! Dive deep searching for treasure. Kick your legs and watch the tugboats crash against the waves. Like the previous story in the series, Bedtime for Sweet Creatures, this is a sweet story of a loving family and daily ritual illustrated in mixed-media collage.
Seeking an Aurora by Elizbeth Pulboard, illustrated by Anne Bannock
SMALL MOMENT / DESCRIPTION
This small moment story shows a little girl and her father in search of an Aurora one dark, still night. Lovely imagery and. details “warm, bitterly light spilling from the kitchen window and our footprints in the silvery frost” and gorgeous crayon? textured art. They see the wonder and say nothing at all.
Feliz New Year, Ava Gabriela! by Alexandra Alessandri, illustrated by Addy Rivera Sonda
SHY / COLUMBIAN CULTURE
Ava Gabriela’s shyness makes the words stick in her throat. Mama says, “What you’re ready, your voice will come out and play.” Her large extended family is welcoming and understanding that Ava Gabriel doesn’t speak much, they invite her to join them in preparing for the new year with decorations and food. At night, the family has a wonderful celebration of dancing, food, and fun. A perfect celebration of being yourself and of Latin culture.
Bicycle Bash by Alison Farrell
SEARCH AND FIND
Both a story and a search-and-find book, readers will follow along as Etta attends a special event in Cycle City.
Busy Spring Nature Wakes Up by Sean Taylor and Alex Morss, illustrated by Cinyee Chiu
I love this book! A sister and brother join their dad in the garden where they notice signs of spring –– the birds building nests, the bee flying by, the tadpoles swimming, and as they do, the kids pretend to play and sing like the birds and frogs. They notice the insects in the compost and talk about the new life and growing things. Six more pages of back-matter talk about spring in including the animals and growing things, ending with ideas for how you can help birds and other growing things.
In My Dreams I Can Fly by Eveline Hasler, illustrated by Kathi Bhend
A sweet story showing that even when things are disappointing, they also might turn out to be good…A group of five friends live underground (beetle, caterpillar, grub, two worms) and prepare for winter. But the beetle eats his friend’s saved onion which is sad but it grows into something bigger. Also, the caterpillar goes missing and the friends are worried until they see her again in spring in her new butterfly body.
The Snail with the Right Heart A True Story by Maria Popova, illustrated by Ping Zhu
SCIENCE / GENETICS
Read about Jeremy, a snail that has a highly unusual mirror-image lefty shell. The scientists are fascinated with him — and hope they can find another mirror image snail for a partner and buildings. You’ll learn about recessive genes and how snails are both boys and girls and can make babies without a mate. What’s more, I’m sure this story will inspire readers to research more about snails and genetics. Oversized, dramatic artwork, fascinating.
Ella’s Night Lights by Lucy Fleming
Ella brings bright night light to help others not be afraid. She befriends a fox and an owl and they play together but she always has to return home during the day to protect her wings. Then, her friends make her a den of darkness where she can see out and watch the sunrise. So sweet.
The Tale of the Valiant Ninja Frog by Alastair Chisholm, illustrated by Jez Tuya
STORYTELLING / NINJA
One evening at a campfire, a dad invents a goodnight story with his kids’ help. As Dad starts the story, the kids interrupt with anecdotes, questions, and suggestions. Hilarious adventures ensue and in the story, it’s the littlest one who saves everyone for a happy ending!
Hip, Hip…Beret by Malanie Ellsworth, illustrated by Morenza Forza
ADVENTURE IN PARIS
Feel the fuzzy, red beret on the cover and two interior pages. This is the lyrical adventure of a little girl’s beret traveling from one animal or person to another until…much later, the girl finds it again! Hip, hip, beret! What a delight!
Arithmechicks Take Away: A Math Story by Ann Marie Stephens, illustrated by Jia Liu
MATH: COUNTING / SUBTRACTING
It’s bedtime but the chicks and a mouse don’t want to go to sleep–so they hide. Can you subtract along with the story as they find hiding places? Then, help Mama count as she finds them all and puts them to bed. The back pages show the math strategies that the books use to subtract — decompose, ten frame, fingers, count back, number band, number line, equation, and draw a picture. This story is a darling, must-own book for primary classrooms, in particular kindergarten and first grade.
LillyBelle: A Damsel NOT in Distress by Joana Pastro, illustrated by Jhon Ortiz
Get ready for your new favorite updated fairy tale trope about a perfectly capable damsel who is NOT EVER in distress when she gets captured by a witch, a giant, and an ogre. She befriends them all and excuses herself for her school’s daily, delicious, delightful tea party. Back at school, her damsel-in-distress teacher doesn’t believe she could rescue herself…until LillyBelle’s new friends arrive, hoping to join the tea party. And they all have a marvelous time!
A Gift for Amma: Market Day in India by Meera Sriram, illustrated by Mariona Cabassa
COLORS / DESCRIPTION
Sensory descriptions show readers the array of colors in an Indian market as a little girl searches for a gift for her mother. “Peacock green dancing in the breeze…Tumeric yellow like sunshine dust, Plenty of powdery spice at home…Terracotta brown baked from clay. Cool water in delicate pots.” I love how many senses the author engages from sights to sounds and tastes and smells.
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