It's time for a picture book roundup! Here are ten of my favorite recent picture books. Need more picture book recommendations? Check out my prior picture book roundups.
Are Your Stars Like My Stars? by Leslie Helakoski, illustrated by Heidi Woodward Sheffield. (Sterling, 2020). With gorgeous, rich illustrations, this book asks if the colors one person sees around them are like the colors another person in a different part of the world sees. Each spread or two features a different color and compares, for example, the gold in a bright field of sunflowers to the gold in a shining arrangement of candles or the pink of a sunset to the pink of cotton candy. This is a celebration of life and families around the world and could be used in storytimes about multiculturalism or colors.
The Brain is Kind of a Big Deal by Nick Seluk. (Orchard Books, 2019). Your brain is kind of a big deal. Not only does it control all the body stuff you never have to think about (like your heart beating or how to feel sad), it controls all your muscles, makes memories, and thinks! This hilarious, cartoony book will tell you all about it and give you plenty of laughs as you go along. Hand this to kids curious about the human body or young readers who are interested in science and biology.
Double Bass Blues by Andrea J. Loney, illustrated by Rudy Gutierrez (Knopf, 2019). Almost completely written in onomatopoeia, the surreal illustrations and sounds of the city tell a story of a boy playing an instrument bigger than himself. Nic plays the double bass, both in the school orchestra and jamming at his grandfather's apartment with his buddies. After an arduous trip through the city lugging his giant instrument, Nic finds the sounds of the city influencing his music. This is an ode to the lengths that young musicians will go to for their art and a great book for aspiring orchestra members.
Feast of Peas by Kashmira Sheth (Peachtree, March 2020). This is a super cute and funny story about a simple farmer named Jiva who is very much looking forward to eating the peas he is growing. Each day his friend Ruvji stops by to admire the peas and each time the peas are ripe, Jiva comes out to his garden to find all the pea pods picked! Could it be rabbits? Ghosts? Hmmm. With its repetitive refrain and silly situations and pictures, this is a book that begs to be read aloud and I would definitely try it on an elementary school audience.
Fix That Clock by Kurt Cyrus (HMH Books for Young Readers, 2019). Adorable! In fun, rhythmic rhyming text that partially matches the cadence of Hickory Dickory Dock, this picture book shows a crumbling old clock and the steps that a group of builders take to fix it. This is sure to be a hit with young construction fans, but also add it to units or storytimes on Mother Goose. My favorite part is at the end when the builders use their scraps to build houses for all the previous critter occupants of the clock (bats, swallows, mice).
Hosea Plays On by Kathleen M. Blasi, illustrated by Shane W. Evans (Sterling, 2020). A celebration of the power of music, this book is a tribute to a real street musician from Rochester, NY who used his talent to spread a love of music by playing and by encouraging other musicians. Playful, colorful illustrations set the scene for this joyous book as Hosea reaches the day he's earned enough money busking to purchase a trumpet for a neighbor who's been wanting to learn to play.
Magnificent Homespun Brown: A Celebration by Samara Cole Doyon, illustrated by Kaylani Juanita (Tilbury, 2020). This book is an encouraging and empowering love letter to many different shades of brown found on many different shades of people. The rich poetic text is powerful and I can see parents and teachers wanting a copy of this book on their shelves to impart a positive message to the kids in their lives. I don't know that it's a book I necessarily see kids reaching for themselves, but with the right adult to share it, I think it's an inspiring book.
Paper Son: The Inspiring Story of Tyrus Wong, Immigrant and Artist by Julie Leung, illustrated by Chris Sasaki (Schwartz & Wade, 2019). Here's an artist you didn't know you needed to know about. Tyrus Wong immigrated to the United States as a child, using forged documentation to get around the Chinese Exclusion Act. He went on to become an influential artist who revolutionized the art for Disney's Bambi but was only credited as a "background artist". This wonderful picture book biography is a sure bet for young artists.
Sulwe by Lupita Nyong'o, illustrated by Vashti Harrison (Simon & Schuster, 2019). Wow wowie wow! The illustrations in this book are simply stunning. Sulwe has always been self-conscious about the color of her skin - she's much darker than the rest of her family. After she prays to God to change her, she's visited by a night star who tells her a legend about day and night and why BOTH are important for the world. This is a powerful own-voices message of self-acceptance written by a woman who herself felt bad about having dark skin until she began to see dark skinned role models. Here's hoping that Sulwe may help more children who are feeling the same way.
Swim, Swim, Sink by Jenn Harney (Little, Brown, 2020). Storytime alert! This funny, rhyming book features a family of ducks who go out for a swim.... except one of them sinks. (I didn't know a duck COULD sink, did you?) Determined to join his family and to continue the sweetly rhyming story, this duckling tries many solutions to his problem. I love the rhythmic rhyming story that keeps getting interrupted, adding humor, and the funny things the duckling tries to join his family in the water. Use this for a storytime on sink or float or about ducks or swimming.