Well, I tried to keep this list under twenty because my brain gets fried reviewing so many books but I just couldn’t. There were just too many amazing September picture books. Get ready to add ALL the books to your library hold pile!
Stars indicate my very, very favorites…but, they all are excellent.
31 New Picture Books, September 2022
Like by Annie Barrows and Leo Espinosa
COMPARE & CONTRAST / HUMOR
Clever, surprising, delightful! Also, informative, playful, and funny! LIKE will be a new read-aloud favorite for its humor and thoughtful discussion-provoking text! Reading the first page, I thought I could predict the rest of the story. I was wrong. And I’m so glad! This silly book compares humans to other things. Can you guess what? TIN CANS! And SWIMMING POOLS and MUSHROOMS. That’s right, you will not be able to predict what the authors will come up with.
Fiona the Fruit Bat by Dan Riskin, illustrated by Rachel Qiuqi
BATS / GROWTH MINDSET
I love this mesmerizing story of a young fruit bat who is ready to take her first flight–and doesn’t understand why she needs to listen. Listen to what? As Fiona explores the world, she begins to understand how echolocation helps her hear where she is. I like the way the illustrations go from dark to light and the great example of growth mindset.
Big Bear and Little Fish by Sandra Nickel, illustrated by Il Sung Na
COMPARE & CONTRAST / PERSPECTIVE
Bear wants to get a teddy but gets a fish instead. He makes all sorts of assumptions about the fish and decides that he can’t keep it. But, the wise fish helps Bear see another perspective — and they become best friends.
We Are the Shapes by Kevin Jenner
CONFLICT & RESOLUTION
This is a punny story about conflict and resolution…Circle doesn’t take sides (haha) so he tries to help squares and triangles get along. Sometimes it doesn’t work, but he keeps trying new ideas.
The Forgettery by Rachel Ip, illustrated by Laura Hughes
AGING / MEMORY LOSS
This beautiful, well-crafted story sensitively addresses memory loss with lovely writing and shows Amelia and her granny finding a special place with all their forgotten memories. Granny’s room is large and filled with the things she forgot like the sound of autumn leaves and her favorite blue dress. Amelia’s room is small and cozy and filled with shoes and socks and couches and bumps. Then, they get directions on how to get home, and Amelia starts a book to help Granny remember her favorite memories. But the one thing she’ll never forget is her love for Amelia.
Finding Fire by Logan S. Kline
PREHISTORIC JOURNEY / WORDLESS
The caveboy takes a journey, evading dangerous wolves and rescuing a young woolly mammoth. They see a lightning strike, and they grab the fire on a big branch and bring it back to their home. Amazing artwork captures a brave, goofy-looking boy as well as the world in which he lives.
Anni Dreams of Biryani by Namita Moolani Mehra, illustrated by Chaaya Prabhat
INDIAN FOOD / GROWTH MINDSET
Anni enters a determined quest to find the ingredients to make the best biryani just like Uncle makes in the cafe across the street. This is a delicious story filled with dreams, culture, perseverance, and food.
One Thursday Afternoon by Barbara DiLorenzo
FEARS / SCHOOL LOCKDOWN
This is a beautiful story that honors the girl’s fears during and after a lockdown and gently contrasts them with the beauty of nature. She spends the afternoon with Granddad. He asks her to use her senses before she paints. And that helps her tell Granddad what happened. Granddad tells her about his Duck and Cover childhood drills and adds, “even though the world is scary, it’s also a beautiful place.” They paint and she realizes that talking, nature, and painting with all her senses help her not feel as scared.
Hello, Moon by Van Turk
Beautiful and philosophical. The story evokes the wonder of a child noticing the moon and the night sky as it changes. Sometimes the child and mother walk outside to look and say hello to the Moon in the cold and wind. And other times, they gaze through a window. The Moon is a good, comfortable friend, even when it’s not shining. Hello, Moon.
Mary Had a Little Plan by Tammi Sauer, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton
In rhyme, read an updated story of Mary, a girl with agency and plans. With help from others, Mary cleans up an abandoned lot and makes an inviting common space for the neighborhood.
Blue Baboon Finds Her Toon by Helen Docherty and Thomas Docherty
READ ALOUD / WORD PLAY
Rhyming and playful, this read-aloud story follows Blue Baboon, who finds a bassoon– but can’t play it very well. When it monsoons, he jumps into a balloon and lands on a dune where he meets a green baboon. The animals all make music– happy tune!
Bravo, Bucket Head! by Helen Lester, illustrated by Lynn Munsinger
Shy Mousetta doesn’t like meeting new people, so she goes to a shy workshop with a bucket on her head where she meets lampshade head and wastebasket head. But before long, foxes arrive in the area, and the three kids who can’t see anything crash around–which freaks out the foxes– and the foxes run away. The kids save the day! Mousetta feels validated when she learns that other kids sometimes feel shy and quiet, also.
Come On In by Jamie Michalak, illustrated by Sabine Timm
Rhyming text perfect for preschoolers and 3D miniature artwork tells the story of Lemon searching for a party. But where is the party? Since she can’t find it– she hosts her own party! Kids will love pouring over the details in the artwork.
Battle of the Books by Melanie Ellsworth, illustrated by James Rey Sanchez
BEDTIME BOOK CHOICE
The bookshelf books fight about who the boy will pick for his nighttime story. Each book is argumentative until the Pirate book gets knocked off. Then they need to work together to help him. And they all get a surprise at the end!
Hattie Harmony Worry Detective by Elizabeth Olsen & Robbie Arnett, illustrated by Marissa Valdez
So cute! As Hattie Harmony goes through the school day, she shares different strategies to help her worried friends. For example, she shares mindfulness, stress ball, affirmations, and deep breaths.
King Kong’s Cousin by Mark Teague
COMPARE & CONTRAST
Junior compares himself to his cousin Kong– and he doesn’t measure up in his size or his actions. For example, Kong climbs skyscrapers while Junior climbs the piano bench. But, when Junior saves his kitty stuck in a tree, Junior feels happy and a little bit bigger. Funny and sweet.
Goodnight, Butterfly by Ross Burach
BEDTIME / FUNNY / NOCTURNAL ANIMALS
Burach brings us a new hilarious story starring our favorite, very talkative, curious little butterfly! Butterfly meets a nocturnal animal and he has SO MANY questions...which are hilarious and annoying to his new porcupine friend who likes quiet. To help Butterfly sleep, Porcupine suggests a good book. It doesn’t work. Then, he recommends Butterfly think calming thoughts. Eventually, Butterfly goes to sleep but his snoring wakes up all the other butterflies. A delightful read-aloud for bedtime or anytime!
The Incredible Shrinking Lunchroom by Michal Baby, illustrated by Paula Cohen
FOLKTALE / PERSPECTIVE
Readers will love how the principal teaches the students a valuable lesson about perspective, without telling them what the lesson is. In this humorous modern update of a classic Yiddish folktale, the kids complain that their lunchroom is too crowded. So what do you expect the principal to do? Probably not what she does. She adds more to the lunchroom: science projects, a learning zoo, and sports teams. Now it’s really crowded! Then, she takes out the things she added, and the students love the not-crowded space. Because their perspective has changed! And now they see things with new eyes and with gratitude.
Farmhouse by Sophie Blackall
DETAILS THAT MATTER (mentor text!) / HISTORY OF A HOUSE
Written as one long sentence with a lyrical, song-like language and evocative illustrations, Blackall lovingly pays tribute to the family that lived in the farmhouse. She shares details of their life…sleeping in beds dreaming of Mars or cats or the distant sea, playing games of truth or dare, collecting tin toy cars, mucking out stalls, fishing for trout, sewing buttons made of shells from the sea, and eventually leaving the house empty to welcome the rain and the trees and the wild animals instead of people. One of my favorite picture books of 2022!
Valentine’s Guest House by Sam Sharland
Use this story to explain the difference between equity and equality. Valentine and her daughter Elisa allow a tiger to stay at their hotel. The human guests leave, and more animals come. So Valentine and Elisa accommodate each animal depending on their needs for climate and size and so forth.
Berry Song by Michaela Goade
A beautiful, sensory story about a girl and her grandmother fishing in the oceans and picking berries in the forest. They listen to the forest sing and sing, too, so the land knows they are grateful. They use the berries to make foods like pie and syrup. The story ends with the girl showing her little sister what her grandmother showed her. Stunning artwork compliments lyrical writing about this family’s connection and reverence for the land.
Read Island by Nicole Magistro, illustrated by Alice Feagan
In this rhyming story, see a welcoming island of stories. Animals from the Pacific Northwest area of British Columbia arrive to read and listen to stories.
Good Night Little Bookstore by Amy Cherrix, illustrated by E.B. Goodale
BEDTIME / BOOKSTORE
Sweet, rhyming, and gentle — say goodnight to the bookstore– to the door chime and picture books, the mysteries and recycling, the cat and the keys. This would make a lovely gift for any book-loving friend.
Punky Aloha by Shar Tuiasoa
KINDNESS / AAPI HERITAGE MONTH
Grandma sends Punky to get her butter for the banana bread. To help her be brave about going alone, Grandma gives her magical brave glasses. Grandma reminds her to share her aloha, “Be helpful. Be giving. Be brave.” On the way to the market, Punky uses that advice and helps a pig, a bee, and a little boy.
The Tunnel by Sarah Howden, illustrated by Erika Rodriguez Medina
A boy deep in grief digs a tunnel where he hides out from life. But his mom’s moonlit face draws him back home. Emotional and tender.
Tomatoes in My Lunchbox by Constantia Monoli, illustrated by Magdalena Mata
RESPECT FOR A CHILD’S NAME
The teacher doesn’t say the girl’s name correctly, and she doesn’t like how it sounds in her mouth. The girl wonders if she should be called a name in the stories that fit and that people know. At first, she tries to be like the other kids, but she realizes that it doesn’t fit her. When the girl is herself, she makes a new friend who likes her name and who she is. Soon, more kids help her feel welcome, and she feels like she’s home.
KINDergarten Where Kindness Matters Every Day by Vera Ahiyya, illustration by Joey Chou
KINDNESS / SCHOOL
Leo gets a letter from his new kindergarten teacher, Ms. Perry, but he’s still feeling unsure about school. When he goes to school, his teacher helps Leo and his classmates learn about kindness in action — like raising hands and saying nice words. During the school day, Ms. Perry reassures Leo and introduces him to new friends. At the end of the day, Leo and his classmates decorate those kindness pledges, and his classmates give Leo compliments about his kind behavior.
The Pigeon Will Ride the Roller Coater by Mo Wiillems
Pigeon ponders what to expect when he rides the rollar coaster plus the feelings he might feel (excited, proud, sad). He waits in line for a not-very-exciting ride on a slow car on a straight track without any loops. I loved the book up until this point, but when he wants to go again on the lame ride, it felt very unsatisfying and unbelievable. I wonder what you’ll think.
My Diwali Light by Raakhee Mirchandani, illustrated by Supriya Kelkar
A little girl shares how she celebrates Diwali starting with picking out her outfit and continuing with all the other festive activities such as visiting friends, eating good food, socializing with guests and neighbors, and saying prayers before bedtime. It’s a gentle, atmospheric look at the Diwali celebration.
Not All Sheep are Boring by Bobby Moynihan, illustrated by Julie Rowan-Zoen
FUNNY / BEDTIME
If kids understand the premise of counting sheep to fall asleep, they’ll find this story very funny. The narrator (who has a strong voice) is trying to prove that sheep aren’t boring (as you can guess from the title.) He introduces different sheep like Julie who loves dancing and coffee, Gary who doesn’t know what pasta is, and Quinn who wears large hats. Then he gets to Steve. Steve is a little boring–and that makes the narrator fall asleep.
I’m a Unicorn by Helen Yoon
FUNNY / COMPARE AND CONTRAST / UNICORNS!
Kids will crack up at this one-horned calf who uses logic to decide that one horn equals being a unicorn! The calf reads about unicorns and notices the similarities. But, there’s no rainbow poop! In distress, the calf apologizes to the unicorns who show the calf what to eat in order to poop rainbows — and it’s happily ever unicorn after that!