Perfect by Max AmatoStarring: an uptight eraser dedicated to keeping this book clean and pristine, and an impudent pencil determined to make a mark.
Why kids might like it: Mixed-media illustrations keep the tone light and playful as the characters’ conflict evolves into a creative partnership.
Try this next: Anna Kang’s Eraser, another tale of (eventual) teamwork between an anthropomorphic eraser and pencil.
What Is Given from the Heart by Patricia C. McKissack; illustrated by April HarrisonWhat it’s about: “What is given from the heart reaches the heart,” James Otis’s Mama reminds him after he wonders how his poor and struggling family can possibly help out a neighboring family in need.
Who it’s for: families and caregivers in search of a heartfelt, homespun story about compassion in action.
Look for: the wealth of color, texture, and detail shown in the collage illustrations.
There Are No Bears in This Bakery by Julia Sarcone-RoachWhat it’s about: Muffin the cat keeps a careful watch over his home, the Little Bear Bakery. That’s why he’s the first to investigate the strange noises in the bakery -- could there be an uninvited ursine visitor?
Is it for you? Adults will be amused by Muffin’s faux-noir narration, while kids will relish the messy mayhem of bears in a bakery.
Kids might also like: The Bear Ate Your Sandwich, another comical mystery from author/illustrator Julia Sarcone-Roach.
Crab Cake: Turning the Tide Together by Andrea TsurumiWhat it’s about: Octopus, Scallop, Lionfish, Lobster, and all the other undersea creatures are baffled by Crab’s devotion to baking beautifully decorated pastries…until a boat dumps garbage into their home and Crab’s creations provide a much-needed rallying point for the clean-up effort.
Read it for: serious messages about environmentalism and empathy folded into a frothy confection of colorful art and whimsy.
The Roots of Rap: 16 Bars on the 4 Pillars of Hip-Hop by Carole Boston Weatherford; illustrated by Frank MorrisonWhat it is: a rhythmic, free-flowing, free verse tribute to the origins of hip-hop, accompanied by smooth yet striking illustrations filled with famous faces.
Who it’s for: young fans who might not know the history of their favorite music, as well as caregivers eager to share their love of classic hip-hop.
Further reading: For a deeper dive into the life of a hip-hop innovator, pick up Laban Carrick Hill’s When the Beat Was Born.
Hug Me by Simona CiraoloStarring: Felipe, a short, round cactus with a tiny pink flower, a standoffish family, and an irrepressible desire for a hug, no matter how difficult it might be.
Why kids might like it: Felipe’s quest for a friendly embrace (which includes an unfortunate run-in with a balloon) will resonate with similarly affectionate young readers, as well as those who are amused by the droll cartoon art.
Who Wants a Hug? by Jeff MackWhat’s it’s about: Who doesn’t love a great big bear hug? Skunk, that’s who! All of the other forest animals eagerly accept Bear’s affection while grumpy, grouchy Skunk tries everything in his briefcase of “Super Stinky Tricks” to stop Bear’s relentlessly cheery hug-fest.
Read it for: read-aloud ready dialogue, a smelly yet sympathetic anti-hero, oodles of cartoony charm, and a twist ending.
Kids might also like: Scott Campbell’s Hug Machine, starring another exuberant hugger.
No Hugs for Porcupine by Zoe WaringFeaturing: Lonely Porcupine, who insists that he doesn’t need a goodnight hug like the ones exchanged by all of his neighbors; and kindly Armadillo, who offers a resolution to Porcupine’s predicament.
Who it’s for: anyone looking for a sweet story about inclusion (not to mention adorable woodland creatures).
Further reading: For further stories about prickly porcupines in search of a safe hug, try Aaron Blabey’s I Need a Hug or Lisa Wheeler’s Porcupining.
Slug Needs a Hug by Jeanne Willis; illustrated by Tony RossStarring: Sluggy, who longs for a hug from his mom and wonders: “Is she never snuggly because I am so ugly?”
What happens: Sluggy asks several other animals how he can look more huggable, but when he follows their advice, the results are delightfully ridiculous.
Why kids might like it: goofy, giggle-inducing rhymes and a reassuring conclusion.
Hedgehugs by Steve Wilson; illustrated by Lucy TapperWhat it’s about: Although hedgehog BFFs Horace and Hattie love doing activities together -- making daisy chains, having tea parties, jumping in puddles -- they’re too prickly to share a hug.
Why kids might like it: Kids can follow these cute characters though their seasonal (and comical) attempts to soften their spikes, all the way to the surprising solution.
Series alert: This 1st volume in the Hedgehugs series is followed by Hedgehugs and the Hattiepillar and Hedgehugs: Autumn Hide-and-Squeak.
Contact your librarian for more great books for ages 0-8!