With new picture books pouring into the library system every day, I can say that Americans are blessed with an embarrassment of riches. We can take our children to storytime every week and come home with an armload of books for free. Well, yes, it is taken out of your taxes, but wouldn’t you rather use your tax dollars this way than to make use of the fire department every week? Alright, then.
On the other hand, boatloads of books can make good choices difficult. Here are some of my favorite new books—“new” meaning within the past year or maybe two. I have left out anything that I’ve already mentioned in a previous part of this article and have loosely grouped them into similar styles or themes.
Self-Esteem and Individuality
David Milgrim- Some Monsters Are Different. Pastel, non-scary monsters turn out to have the same differences that human children do! Funny.
David Shannon- Bugs in My Hair. David Shannon writes many hilarious books about his less-than-sterling childhood. This icky title is full of puns and laughter.
Lita Judge– Flight School. A penguin story about a little water bird who will do anything to fly. He declares that he has “the soul of an eagle.” Fabulous writing.
Tori Corn- Dixie Wants an Allergy. Dixie is jealous of all the kids in her class who have allergies, and she wants to be special like them. An interesting way to teach about both allergies and contentment.
Jill Esbaum- I Hatched! A killdeer chick hatches and discovers the wonder of himself! Very enthusiastic and childlike, including matter-of-fact exploration of his whole body. Makes a great read-aloud.
Barney Saltzberg- Tea with Grandpa. Timeless sweetness with cutting-edge technology, a little girl has tea with her grandpa every Saturday. Only on the last page does the reader discover that it’s a Skype teatime.
Jean Reagan- How to Babysit a Grandma. A new sequel to the hilarious How to Babysit a Grandpa, this child teaches other kids how to keep Grandma busy, how to take her to the park, and other skills.
Fun Ways to Teach
Mac Barnett- President Taft Is Stuck in the Bath. Full-on comedy for this dubiously historical event.
Gloria Whelan- Queen Victoria’s Bathing Machine. How can Victoria be modest and queenly, yet still enjoy the ocean? Prince Albert to the rescue!
Brad Meltzer- I Am Rosa Parks. Meltzer has recently launched these picture book biographies that show famous individuals as children. See also I Am Abraham Lincoln and I Am Amelia Earhart. More to come!
Clotilde Perrin- At the Same Moment Around the World. Here’s an unusual topic for picture books: time zones. This tall, skinny book shows children pursuing activities in each time zone, with a map in the back to show them all at once.
Karen Kaufman Orloff and David Catrow- I Wanna Iguana. A little boy and his mom exchange messages about the pros and cons of buying an iguana. Might encourage writing; might discourage the gimmes. Features Catrow’s wildly energetic illustrations.
Katy Beebe- Brother Hugo and the Bear. A medieval take on “the dog ate my homework.” Brother Hugo says that Saint Augustine’s writings have been eaten by a bear, so he has to copy a new illuminated manuscript.
Kyo Maclear- Julia, Child. How Julia Child and her friend Simca learned to love French cooking as children. Encourage your little chef!
Joan Holub- Little Red Writing. A retelling of Little Red Riding Hood starring a red pencil who writes her own story, including facing down a pencil sharpener called the Wolf 3000.
For the Love of Books
Barbara Bottner- Miss Brooks’ Story Nook. Sequel to the fabulous Miss Brooks Loves Books (and I Don’t), this librarian heroine uses stories to deal with real-life problems.
Bonny Becker- A Library Book for Bear. The latest in the series that began with A Visitor for Bear, these humorous stories about a curmudgeonly bear and gregarious mouse are absolute favorites.
Carter Goodrich- Mister Bud Wears the Cone. Poor Mister Bud. He had a hot spot, and he worried it so much he had to wear the cone. If you’ve seen the movie Up, you know the shame involved. Hilarious and poignant tales of an old dog and the young upstart. The first in the series is Meet Zorro. This is probably my favorite picture book so far this year.
Stephen Huneck- Sally Goes to Heaven. The very last book in the “Sally” series about this beloved black Lab. Illustrated with distinctive woodcuts. We will miss Sally.
John Himmelman- Katie and the Puppy Next Door. Katie learns about friendship with other dogs. First in this series is the adorable Katie Loves the Kittens.
Tad Hills- Duck and Goose Go to the Beach. Duck thinks he wants to go the beach, but then doesn’t like it. Goose doesn’t want to go, but then loves it! Hills is the author of the How Rocket Learned to Read series.
Torben Kuhlmann- Lindbergh. A mouse decides to build a plane to escape the new mousetrap. Detailed artwork in saturated watercolors.
Olivier Dunrea- Jasper & Joop. Adorable, simple, little stories about ducks and geese who might remind you of your toddler. Lots of white space behind vividly colored waterfowl. The series begins with Gossie.
Just. So. Fun.
Sam Garten- I Am Otter. When a stuffed animal’s owner grows up, Otter decides to open a toast restaurant, but when nothing goes as planned, she blames Giraffe. Hilarious, with plenty of humor for the grown-up reading it aloud.
Alexander Steffensmeier- Millie and the Big Rescue. Millie is one mischievous cow. In this episode, she gets stuck in the top of a tree while playing a game of hide-and-seek. The series begins with Millie Waits for the Mail. Great artwork.
Alan Lawrence Sitomer- Daddy’s Zigzagging Bedtime Story. What’s a daddy to do when he has a girl and a boy who want stories? What about truck-driving aliens who burp fire with a purple unicorn who bakes cupcakes? A wild and rollicking bedtime for all.
Jennifer Gordon Sattler- Pig Kahuna Pirates! In this sequel to Pig Kahuna, pig brothers Dink and Fergus are excellent sibling role models as they play pirates on the beach. Picture book pigs rock.
Keiko Kasza- My Lucky Birthday. Another book about a terrific pig, although this one may end up as an alligator’s birthday dinner. Sequel to My Lucky Day.
Jeff Cohen- Eva and Sadie and the Worst Haircut Ever. As an older sister, I can attest that the desire to improve—and thereby totally wreck—your younger sister’s hair is universal.
Aaron Becker- Quest. Remember Harold and the Purple Crayon? Here is a girl with a red marker, but instead of line drawings, Becker uses beautiful, detailed paintings to take readers on a Journey (2013) and then a Quest (2014).
Jerry Pinkney- The Tortoise and Hare. Award-winning artist Pinkney fills the pages with paintings in this “retelling” of the Aesop’s Fable. Let your children tell the story as they drink in the artwork. See also the Caldecott-winning The Lion and the Mouse.
Well, That’s Different
Jon Scieszka- Battle Bunny. A deconstructionist take on Little Golden Book-type picture books. The artwork shows a sweet picture book scribbled in, erased, and defaced in order to tell a more exciting tale from a little boy’s perspective. Pictures by Mac Barnett. Between these two guys, you can’t expect anything traditional.
Molly Schaar Idle- Tea Rex. Cordelia is a no-nonsense little girl who sets out to domesticate a T-Rex by teaching him tea party manners.
Hervé Tullet- Press Here. An interactive book with no moving parts! This 2011 book started a trend of books that use digital concepts, but unplug kids from electronics. I handed these out to a room full of adults and watched them tapping the book, turning it upside down, and shaking it, totally engrossed. Coming in September: Mix It Up!
N.D. (Nathan) Wilson- Ninja Boy Goes to School. A little boy uses his ninja skills in order to succeed in—and escape from—school. Not quite socially acceptable. The author of 100 Cupboard’s first picture book.
Lemony Snicket and Jon Klassen-The Dark. Portrays “the dark” as an entity that lives in a boy’s house. He is afraid of it until they make friends. Can Lemony Snicket do anything ordinary? A bit frightening, so use discretion.
Alison Jackson- When the Wind Blew. Nursery rhyme characters and conventions get all mixed up when the wind blows, and it’s up to the Old Woman Who Lives in the Shoe and her many children to straighten everything out again. Great fun for children who know their nursery rhymes. Refreshing: a generously proportioned heroine and a happy home with more than 1.8 children.
Did I miss your favorite new finds? Please feel free to add them to the comments so that we can all enjoy them.
Disclaimer: This series of articles, as indeed all of my articles, are written entirely on my own and do not reflect the opinions of my employer or anyone else.