Colette's Lost Pet by Isabelle ArsenaultA new arrival in the neighborhood, Colette doesn't let her parents' "no pet" edict stop her from inventing an imaginary animal companion. "I lost my pet," she tells the kids next door, who begin asking curious questions. Colette improvises (her pet is, um…a parakeet!) and then continues spinning her tale with each new neighbor she meets (her pet is a blue-and-yellow parakeet named Marie-Antoinette that makes a sound like "Prrrruiiiit"…). How will Colette's new friends feel when they discover that the bird is merely a flight of fancy? You'll have to read through to the unexpected ending of this charming, minimally colored picture book to find out.
Little Excavator by Anna DewdneyIt's tough being the smallest vehicle on the construction site, especially when you're as eager to help as Little Excavator. Tiny, yellow, and bursting with can-do spirit, Little Excavator keeps trying to join in the park-building process, but the bigger vehicles just keep telling him "not yet." Rhythmic and bursting with machine sound effects that are "just begging to be read aloud with dramatic effect" (Kirkus Reviews), this tale of a pint-sized helper in search of a job to match is a crowd-pleaser that may rival the late author's popular Llama Llama series. For another exuberant, anthropomorphic construction vehicle, try Candace Fleming's Bulldozer series.
Firefighter Duckies! by Frank W. DormerMeet the Firefighter Duckies: "They are brave. They are strong. They rescue…" anyone in need of help, no matter how outrageous the predicament. A gorilla with a flaming chef's hat? No problem! A whale stuck in a tree? All in a day's work! Dinosaurs who've lost control of their bikes? They've got a solution for that too, because the Firefighter Duckies aren't just brave and strong, they're also kind and helpful. With exaggerated illustrations, an over-the-top tone, and plenty of repetition to encourage child participation, Firefighter Duckies! is an upbeat and satisfyingly silly story.
A Place to Read by Leigh HodgkinsonIn this eye-catching picture book, a book-loving kid gets comfortable with reading -- literally. Depicted in multimedia collage art, the child's search for a comfy, cozy reading spot features everything from a floral chair (too many bees buzzing 'round) to a monster's lap (too itchy and growly) before the child finally realizes what many young readers already know: the best reading place is any place that you share. Those who relish this bookish twist on the Goldilocks story may also appreciate author/illustrator Leigh Hodgkinson's earlier (but very different) spin in Goldilocks and Just One Bear.
Can an Aardvark Bark? by Melissa Stewart; illustrated by Steve JenkinsBe careful where you read this book – it's sure to provoke a gleeful cacophony of animal sounds! Veteran animal book creators Melissa Stewart and Steve Jenkins join forces in this compendium of surprising animal noises. For instance, aardvarks can't bark, but they can grunt; a dingo can't bellow (though koalas and giraffes can!); and a porcupine can indeed whine. Large type plus crisp torn-paper collages make the book welcoming for younger kids, while older kids may be intrigued by the detailed animal information in the final pages, but readers of all ages will find it hard to resist Can an Aardvark Bark?.
Gaston by Kelly DiPucchio; illustrated by Christian RobinsonGaston the puppy lives with his poodle siblings Fi-Fi, Foo-Foo, and Ooh-La-La. Antoinette the puppy lives with her bulldog siblings Rocky, Ricky, and Bruno. Even though they don't look like their families, both Gaston and Antoinette are loved and happy in their homes. When their parents discover that the two puppies were switched at birth, they attempt to switch them back…only to realize that family is about much more than biology. Chunky, stylish illustrations pair perfectly with this sweet story that will resonate with anyone who's found comfort in a chosen family. If you love Gaston, don't miss the sequel, Antoinette.
Wolfie the Bunny by Ame Dyckman; illustrated by Zachariah OHoraNobody will listen to Dot. The little bunny warned her parents about adopting a wolf cub -- "HE'S GOING TO EAT US ALL UP!" -- but in their eyes, Wolfie can do no wrong. They let the drooling (yuck!) Wolfie follow Dot around and allow him to eat his way through their carrot supply. Dot, however, remains vigilant. Yet when Wolfie finally pounces, it's not for the reason Dot expected. While adults will appreciate Wolfie the Bunny's playfully modern details (the bunnies shop at a local co-op), kids will be drawn to its bold, colorful artwork and relatable family situations.
Bear Is Not Tired by Ciara GavinAfter being adopted by a family of ducks in Room for Bear, Bear is settling comfortably into his new life. Eating, sleeping, playing, swimming -- Bear does everything that his feathered brethren do. (Well, everything except flying.) Then the first winter air tickles Bear's nose; it's time to hibernate! Though he tries to resist, Bear starts falling asleep during family activities. Thankfully, Mama Duck has a smart solution that will allow Bear to snooze away the winter without missing out. Rounded shapes and pastel colors in the illustrations add a gentle, homey feel to this picture book that will be a hit with fans of Karma Wilson's Bear Snores On.
Mother Bruce by Ryan T. HigginsAn unexpected family forms after dinner plans go awry in this offbeat picture book. Grumpy, dumpy, and wearing a permanent scowl, Bruce the bear doesn't like anything -- except for eggs. After stealing -- er, collecting -- some "free-range organic" goose eggs from a nest, Bruce prepares to dine…only to discover that the eggs have hatched, and the goslings are convinced he's their mother! How does one crotchety bear cope with raising four stubborn goslings? Find out in this "visually beautiful, clever, edgy, and very funny" (Kirkus Reviews) book that's just right for reading out loud.
Quackers by Liz WongEveryone knows that Quackers is a duck. He lives with the ducks at the duck pond -- so what if he's scared of water, and has orange fur instead of white feathers? It's not until Quackers spends time with a "strange duck" (a cat) named Mittens that he understands why he feels different. But as much as Quackers enjoys fitting in with the cats, he misses his fowl family. What's a conflicted critter to do? Addressing issues of family and identity in a kid-friendly way, Quackers will appeal to young nonconformists, who might also enjoy Sharon G. Flake's You Are Not a Cat or Andrea J. Loney's Bunnybear.
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