Monday, April 20, 2020

Picture Book Roundup #4

It's been a little bit, so it's time for a picture book roundup! Here are ten new picture books I have been reading and loving lately.


Bear Goes Sugaring by Maxwell Eaton III (Neal Porter Books, 2020). We're a bit past maple syrup season, but grab this one to be ready for next year. It's a fun, cartoony look at where maple syrup comes from. This nonfiction picture book goes through all the details, from how does the sap get into the trees to the finishing steps to creating perfect maple syrup. This would make a perfect book to read before visiting a maple syrup farm and purchasing your local maple syrup. Or just pair it with a stack of pancakes.

Being Frog by April Pulley Sayre (Beach Lane Books, 2020). This poetic rumination on frog life features stunning photos taken by the author and wonderful vocabulary words (spelunk, lunges, gaze, mossy) making this a great choice for early literacy storytimes. In her author's note, Sayre explains that she and her husband often observe the local frogs and have learned to tell some of them apart. She gives the differences between this type of anecdotal evidence and the broader evidence that scientists use to study frogs as a species. This is a great book to include in STEAM units (particularly about frogs) and I love the combination of poetry and science as the book considers frogs as living beings, as animals, not just as characters in a story. Hand to lovers of science and poetry alongside books by Joyce Sidman.


Child of the Universe by Ray Jayawardhana, illustrated by Raúl Colón (Make Me a World, 2020). This is an affirming book, perfect for bedtime, that describes all the beautiful ways a beloved child is like the wonders of the universe. The illustrations are muted but dazzling and absolutely gorgeous.

Help Wanted, Must Love Books by Janet Sumner Johnson, illustrated by Courtney Dawson (Capstone, 2020). This darling bedtime story is perfect for young kids who are big fairy tale fans and I think it can span a range of ages. Shailey has a good routine going with her dad and bedtime, but when he starts a new job, time for bedtime stories gets cut down and Shailey fires him. But as she starts interviewing new candidates, it's harder than she thought to find a good fit. The applicants are all fairy tale characters from the three little pigs (scared off by the fierce competition) to the gingerbread man (runs away with the book) to Captain Hook (hygiene lacking). The text is simple enough for a preschool readaloud, but older kids who are more familiar with traditional tales will really get the jokes in the illustrations. Super cute. Pick it up for bedtime reading and share widely.


Lilah Tov Good Night by Ben Gundersheimer (Mister G), illustrated by Noar Lee Naggan (Nancy Paulsen Books, 2020). In this beautiful lullaby, a young girl and her family wish lilah tov (good night) to everything around them as they leave their home and journey to make a new home by cover of darkness. This can definitely be read as a simple bedtime story, but it's also got another layer as the family are presumably refugees (packing their belongings and leaving by cover of night, undertaking a long and dangerous journey in which they sleep outside). It's a quietly stirring book that will work with different audiences who are ready to understand different parts of the story.

One Earth by Eileen Spinelli, illustrated by Rogélio Coelho (WorthyKids, 2020). Add this to your storytime shelves for Earth Day or any time that you're exploring the environment. In simple, bouncy rhyming text, this book counts up naming plants and animals that are part of our Earth ("One wide sweeping sky / Two honeybees / Three bunnies in a nest / Four redwood trees") and then counts back down with ways that kids and families can help save our Earth ("Ten scraps of litter? Toss them in the trash. / Nine empty bottles? Turn them in for cash."). Short and simple enough for preschoolers and the potential for some great conversation starters as you're talking about ways that kids can help the environment.

The Paper Kingdom by Helena Ku Rhee, illustrated by Pascal Campion (Random House, 2020). Tonight, Daniel has to tag along with his parents at work as they clean a giant office building. There they start to tell him about the Paper Kingdom and the King and Queen who rule over the building and the dragons that make messes. This is a moving story about a hardworking family and a clever look at a modern office all in one.

Snail Crossing by Corey R. Tabor (Balzer + Bray, 2020). Ahhh, adorable! When Snail spies a field of plump, crisp cabbage across the road, he sets off to get him some, but a journey for one small snail across a big, busy road is not as easy as it may seem. This is a fun and funny book about determination and kindness and bugs and it would make a great readaloud. Grab this one for your next bug-themed storytime.

The Society of Distinguished Lemmings by Julie Columbet (Peachtree, 2020). The Society of Distinguished Lemmings is very old-school and very rules-oriented. So when Bertie brings back a bear for induction to the society, it causes quite a stir. With hilarious, detailed illustrations, this is  a book that kids will enjoy poring over. I loved all the funny little speech bubble comments from the lemmings as they contemplate adding a newcomer to their distinguished society. Wacky and funny, hand this one to fans of Tacky the Penguin or Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed.

When My Brother Gets Home by Tom Lichtenheld (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2020). This is such a sweet and fun book about siblings eager to spend time playing together. A younger sister highly anticipates when her brother will get home from school, imagining all the fun things they will do together. This story perfectly captures that childlike excitement for after-school imaginative play and it celebrates a wonderful bond between sister and brother. If you're looking for books that model a positive sibling relationship, this is a great one.