The Best Picture Books, September 2012

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Are you ready for the best of the new picture books including the newest Mo Willems’ picture book? It’s laugh out-loud hysterical! And what are the odds that there’d be two funny Goldilocks picture books this fall?

But there’s more to tell you about so here they all are . . .

Best Funny Picture Books

best picture books
Goldilocks and Just One Bear
 by Leigh Hodgkinson
A new bedtime favorite — this is a whimsically illustrated picture book about a bear who gets lost in the city and stops to rest in an apartment. He really wants some porridge so he tries some that is too soggy (fish tank water), too crunchy (cat food), and too dry (toast).  Does this story sound vaguely familiar to you? After the bear tries some “chairs” and beds, he falls asleep. The perfect surprise ending makes this a new favorite fairy tale.

best picture books
Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs a
s retold by Mo Willems
Another new picture book favorite of ours is the unpredictable and side-splitting Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs. In this story, we have Dinosaurs, not bears: Papa Dinosaur, Mama Dinosaur, and some other Dinosaur who happened to be visiting from Norway.

And “one day, for no particular reason, the three Dinosaurs made up their beds, positioned their chairs just so, and cooked three bowls of delicious chocolate pudding at varying temperatures.

Also, in this story, the dinosaurs eat little succulent children. Oh, and there is some sarcasm. And by some, I mean a lot.

The three Dinosaurs went Someplace Else and were definitely not hiding in the woods waiting for an unsuspecting kid to come by.”

I won’t give away the rest — but you can be sure there is a silliness not to be missed. It’s one book you’ll want to read again and again.

best picture books
Cat Tale
 by Michael Hall
This picture book will crack you up! These silly cats start off on an adventure from word to word and it gets quite wacky . . .
They tail a bear.  // They bear some hail. // They hail a giant purple whale.”
If you like word play, and I do, you’ll love Cat Tale.

Life Lessons

best picture books
Up Above and Down Below
 by Paloma Valdivia
A thin red line separates the up above people and down below people – we can think of it as the equator or a metaphor for people who are yet unknown to us. Up on top and down below, the people live the same except in a few small ways — “If it’s planting time up above, it’s harvest time down below.”  I like this picture book’s simple message. It would be a good introduction to geography as well as not judging others.

best picture books
Mama, I Can’t Sleep
 by Brigitte Raab, illustrated by Manuela Olten
I know the kid who says, “Mama I can’t sleep. I just can’t.” (Do you know her, too?)

The mama tries, “Try again. Snuggle up in your blanket with your little leopard and close your eyes. All creatures sleep. Even the real leopards in Africa. // And they don’t have a bed to sleep in. They just lie on a branch in a tree, close their eyes, and sleep. Without a blanket, without a pillow, and without falling down.”

But a good sleep avoider can play this pretend game, too. “But here in the tree, it’s not comfortable at all. I’m freezing, and I have to be careful so that I don’t fall down. That’s why I can’t close my eyes. And my little leopard has already fallen down twice.”

You’ll love the sleepy animal stories and the precocious child who eventually can sleep. Adorable.

best picture books
Glamorous Glasses 
by Barbara Johansen Newman
Bobbie’s is so jealous of her cousin Joanie, who gets brand-new, super-cute, glamorous glasses. Bobbie pretends not to see well but the eye doctor isn’t fooled. Then Bobbie asks to wear Joanie’s glasses but that’s a shopping disaster. In the end, Bobbie accepts that she can’t have glasses. Or does she?

The Best Picture Book Folk Tales

best picture books
Miss Sally Ann and the Panther
retold by Bobbi Miller, illustrated by Megan Lloyd
Miss Sally Ann’s finest adventure (of many) was meeting the “hugeously smart” and mean Fireeyes, the panther, whose fine sleek coat she wanted. She and Fireeyes rassled, tussled, and wrestled all day and night. But, instead of killing, after all their shows of strength, Miss Sally Ann and Fireeyes decide to become the best of friends and live together happily. (Phew!) Any book with a strong female protagonist is good with me – and this is an especially fun folk tale!

best picture books
Ganesha’s Sweet Tooth
by Sanjay Patel and Emily Haynes
In this gorgeously illustrated Hindu myth, the elephant god Ganesha breaks his tusk eating candy. He’s so mad that he throws his tusk at the moon. But, it doesn’t land on the moon. It lands on the poet Vyasa who asks Ganesha to use his tusk to scribe an epic Sanskrit poem. I love the story but I really love the patterns, colors, and designs throughout. Incredible. ADDED TO: Children’s Books About India

best picture books
The Elephant’s Friend and Other Tales from Ancient India
retold by Marcia Williams
This collection of tales from India are depicted in cartoons of rich magenta, amethyst and reds. Animals talk and people learn valuable lessons in this Indian version of Aesop’s Fables. ADDED TO: Children’s Books About India

The Best Picture Books about Dementia

best picture books
Really and Truly
 by Emilie Rivard, illustrated by Anne-Claire Delisle
Charlie’s grandpa told him the BEST imaginative stories that he’d always end with “really and truly, Charlie.” But now, grandpa doesn’t remember. He sits and stares out the window without expression. Suddenly, Charlie knows he can be the storyteller now – and maybe make grandpa smile. I really like the approach this book takes on the reality of aging with a positive view. Recommended for children whose grandparents are losing memories.

best picture books
My New Granny
by Elisabeth Steinkellner, illustrated by Michael Roher
Illustrated in warm brown tones, we feel a melancholy when Fini’s granny returns from a hospital stay a “new granny” – one that doesn’t do the same things or tell the same stories. Then, Fini’s granny moves in with Fini’s family. They must help granny much more now – brush her hair, eat, get dressed. Fini decides she loves her new granny as much as the old one.

Did you read . . . 
The Best Picture Books of Summer 2012?


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Dog Man Books in Order

Books Like Dog Man

I Can Read Books

Books about Shapes for Kids

Ocean Animals for Kids

Books for Kids Who Like Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Bedtime Stories for Kids

The Best Coloring Books for Kids

Science Kits for Kids




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  1. Thanks so much for this list. I’ll check out the new Mo Willems – he’s a favorite of mine. Also, I appreciate hearing about the books that help children deal with aging grandparents. It is so important to have good resources to help tackle this issue.