I’ve pulled out all the newly released picture books with these themes for their own lists:
What’s New in Picture Books (Spring 2019)
Being Edie Is Hard Today by Ben Brashares and Elizabeth Bergeland
EMOTIONS / BAD DAY
Edie is having a difficult day. Other kids pull her braids and pick on her for her. She imagines she’s a bat hiding upside down in her cubby or a fast and fierce cheetah or maybe a chameleon sitting so still no one can see her. Inside she feels like a naked mole rat. Black and white line drawings with musted splashes of color and lots of white space create a delicate atmosphere of Edie’s fragile emotions. Edie shares her tears and fears with her mom. And that makes everything feel better. Just like the clouds after a storm. Edie’s emotional journey feels familiar as we resonate with the truth of all the feelings and in the power of tears. Added to: Picture Books that Teach Similes and Metaphors
Priya Dreams of Marigolds and Masala by Meenal Patel
The author/illustrator creates an irresistible sensory experience so we feel transported to India. When Priya helps her Babi Ba cook rotli, her Babi Ba shares her memories of India… the smell of roasted cumin and masala, the sound of motorbikes whizzing by, the taste of a steaming cup of cha, the feel of the hot sun on your face, views of arches and domes of the buildings, rainbow of saris, and brightly colored marigolds. Later, Priya makes her Babi Ba paper orange marigolds for their doorway in the U.S. to remind her. I adore the writing, the illustrations, and the story that celebrates India’s culture as well as the close grandparent-grandchild relationship. Added to: Children’s Books about India and Children’s Books to Teach Vivid Description
When You Are Brave by Pat Zietlow Miller, illustrated by Eliza Wheeler
BRAVERY / MOVING HOUSES
What is being brave? “Brave is a bird that steps from its nest hoping to soar through the sky.” As the author shares what brave looks and feels like, a little girl and her family leave their house with boxes and suitcases and travel in the car through the city and country to a new home. “Because once you find your courage, it’s easy to use again and again. The next time life seems scary or you start something new, you can remember when you were brave.” Added to: Picture Books About Courage & Facing Fears
For All the Stars Across the Sky by Karl Newson, illustrated by Chiaki Okada
BEDTIME / IMAGINATION
Soothing cadence and muted illustrations set a bedtime mood as this little bear vividly imagines adventures with her mama. As a little bear goes to bed, she and her mama imagine that they can fly and swim and shrink. Then, it’s finally time to snuggle into bed and dream sweet dreams.
I Am a Wolf by Kelly Leigh Miller
She barks like a wolf, she’s alone like a wolf, she’s scary like a wolf. We get the sense that this rescue dog just wants to be loved and uses her wolfiness as a defense mechanism. Then, a little girl comes along and sees her, loves her, and names her Wolf. An appealing story with fun illustrations.
Dandy by Ame Dyckman, illustrated by Charles Santoso
Daddy wants to kill that pesky dandelion but before he can, his daughter Sweetie shares her excitement about her new best (dandelion) friend named Charlotte. The neighbors can’t believe it because lawns should not have dandelions. Daddy valiantly tries sneak attacks but Sweetie is there every time — happily spending time with her friend. Eventually, Daddy gives up on his perfect lawn and loves what his daughter loves. Talk about a great dad!
Here and There by Tamara Ellis Smith, illustrated by Evelyn Daviddi
This book shares a relatable, beautiful story about a boy adjusting to a divorce. It’s about Ivan, a bird lover, who wants to stay at his mama’s house, not go to his dad’s new house but finds his inner song at his dad’s house. I love how the author threads the birds throughout the story with bird seed, bird sounds, and bird imagery. The illustrations are gorgeous, inviting, textured masterpieces. Added to: Children’s Books About Divorce
Dear Ballerina by Monica Wellington
Calling all ballerinas! This book is a letter of admiration from a young ballerina to a professional one. She dreams of being a strong, beautiful ballerina. She’s excited when she wears a costume the bigger dancer used to wear and that they can be in a show together. I love the sweet, pink-flavored illustrations in Wellington’s signature style.
Welcome to Morningtown by Blake Liliane Hellman, illustrated by Steven Henry
Need to remind kiddos of all the rituals that get us ready for the day? Cheerful illustrations of animals show them leaving fluffy beds, hard beds, secret beds, and getting ready — brushing, flushing, washing, getting dressed, and more. Everyone is awake! Are you?
The Little Book of Big What-Ifs by Renata Liwska
I love the possibilities for discussion and writing in this little book that asks what if questions… “What if you get lost? // What if someone can help?” Gentle watercolor illustrations of bears and other animals throughout.
Up, Up, Up, Down! by Kimberly Gee
BUY THIS BOOK — it’s amazing. Lyrical, repetitive perfection captures talkative toddlers and their parents throughout the day with evocative, diverse illustrations. “No, no, no…” shows all the foods the toddler doesn’t want until “yes!” — he wants to eat blueberries. Or “Make, make, make,..” shows building sand castles at the playground then “break!” shows the little boy stomping on one. Parents and kids will totally relate to this delightful day-in-the-life of a stay-at-home dad of color and his adorable son.
Little Things by Nick Dyer, illustrated by Kelly Pousette
Captivating, unique collage artwork shows the small but important things in life like cats and flowers and footprints that a little girl notices.
Harbor Bound by Catherine Bailey, illustrated by Ellen Shi
Simple, rhyming text skillfully introduces ship and ocean vocabulary (squall, slip, port) as we follow a boy and his dad coming home after a day on the ocean even through a big storm and around other boats. “Foamy waves, Foghorns sound, Day is done, Harbor bound.”
This is the Construction Worker by Laura Godwin, illustrations by Julian Hector
The repetition of “this is the” creates a familiar, comforting feeling as we learn all about construction workers and their jobs featuring a main female character of color. Lyrical, rhyming text. “This is the truck that drives to the site. These are the machines that sat quiet all night.” Fabulous!
Dinosaur Farm by Penny Dale
FARMING / DINOSAURS
Preschoolers will love these busy, hard-working dinosaur farmers who do farming things like plow the stony soil, hammer the wooden posts, fertilize the fields,… all the things before they go to a farm show. What makes this book so wonderful is the repetitive phrases and onomatopoeia on each two-page spread filled with colorful, rich illustrations.”Hay-making dinosaurs rolling, rolling up the long grass. The long grass for the big hay bales! Whir! Whir! Whir!”
I Am Hermes! Mischief-Making Messenger of the Gods by Mordicai Gerstein
Hermes starts out as a trouble maker — as the author/illustrator says, “This baby was the sweetest, cleverest, sneakiest, most mischievous, and greediest baby ever born.” Story after story in cartoons depict the crazy antics of this Greek god with a big personality who was not always nice.
Bear’s Book by Claire Freedman, illustrated by Alison Friend
WRITING A STORY
So meta! This is a cute story about how to get ideas for writing a story. Bear looks in the forest for ideas then uses a fun day with friends as inspiration. Kids will like how Bear’s storybook folds out like a book within a book. (See MORE books about writing a story!)
Superbuns! by Diane Kredensor
Superbuns! shows the power of kindness towards all people, even your know-it-all sister or a fox. Because kindness is a superpower which helps out the bunnies when a fox follows them home… I also love the character development and illustrations.
Maya and the Lost Cat by Caroline Magerl
Rich in figurative language and imagery, Maya rescues a cat but then searches for its owners. Finally, she finds where the cat belongs. As a thank you, the cat gives her a gift — a kitten. Gorgeous word choice and illustrations! “Then, sly and gentle, Cat carried something… a small and cloudy gray bundle…and gave her kitten to Maya.” Added to: Favorite Children’s Books About Cats
Sign Off by Stephen Savage
What happens when the graphic figures on the signs leap off their signs? See the people walking, children at play, or the deer on the signs take part in their own nighttime activities. Playful and totally imaginative!
My Tree and Me by Jo Witek, illustrated by Christine Roussey
You will ADORE this book!! The tree is the girl’s best friend and confidante. She plays with the tree every season. Each page you turn reveals a new layer of the colorful die-cut oval shapes. Filled with ideas for nature play, a genuine love for the natural world, and rich sensory images. “I am a sorcerer in the forest, mixing together my potion of earthworms, moldy chestnuts, and rotten leaves.” Added to: Picture Books About the Seasons
Babymoon by Hayley Barrett, illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal
Give this book to your pregnant friends as a shower gift! This story celebrates that special time at home with a new baby written in gently rhyming text with gorgeous, diverse illustrations. “Endearing sneezes. Solemn eyes. Delighting in each small surprise.”
Daniel’s Good Day by Micha Archer
DAY IN THE LIFE
Run out and BUY this book — it’s a slice of happiness! This story is reminiscent of The Snowy Day for the collage artwork and day in the life plot but in the summer. Read about a boy walking through his neighborhood where he talks to neighbors about what makes a “good” day. From the neighbor painting to the nanny pushing a stroller to a gardener and even his Grandma, Daniel listens and observes. And he has a good day, too. The exquisite collage artwork and the beautiful message of the little things that make a good day make this a memorable story.
A New Home by Tania de Regil
Parallel stories show a little girl and a little boy who are nervous about moving cities, one is moving from Mexico City to New York City and the other is moving from New York City to Mexico City. They each share the fun things they’ll miss about their home. As they do, we notice how fun each city is and feel reassured that they’ll probably love their new, fun home. Simple, clear text such as “But what if there is nowhere for me to play in my new city?” accompanies charming illustrations that give voice to these children’s experiences.
How to Be on the Moon by Viviane Schwarz
A little girl and her crocodile prepare to go to the moon by counting backward, building a rocket, and making sandwiches. The spend their trip eating sandwiches and playing together before they head back.
Vamos! Let’s Go to the Market by Raul the Third
LATIN AMERICAN CULTURE
We like that this book is written in a mix of Spanish and English words and labels objects in Spanish. However, the pages are crowded with illustrations and smallish text, it’s very long, and the plot…well, there isn’t much of a plot really.
Leaf Man by Patricia J. Miranda and Chris O’Leary
SEASONS OF LIFE
Inspirational and a lovely choice for a graduation gift book, this story encourages readers to notice that even when life disappoints, it can be a time for ideas to grow and dreams to unfurl. Illustrations show a male character who shares his life journey with a leaf man who leaves in the fall and returns to him in the spring. Added to: Books to Give for Graduation Gifts
Grandpa’s Stories: A Book of Remembering by Joseph Coelho, illustrated by Allison Colpoys
Marked by each season, we see a grandpa sharing stories about India and spending playful time with his little granddaughter. When Grandpa dies, the girl holds on to her memories, writing and drawing them in the notebook her grandpa gave her. I love this idea to support children whose grandparents have died and the beautiful, bright illustrations that make this book less melancholy and more celebratory.
Oh, Bear by Melissa Nelson Greenberg, illustrated by Ruth Hengeveld
Bear’s kite adventure turns disastrous when it gets stuck in a tree. Or does it? Because it turns out the kite can help some birds for their nest! It’s a great message, too– sometimes what we think is something bad turns out to be a good thing.
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