Du Iz Tak? by Carson EllisDo you speak Bug? You will after meeting the curious, well-accessorized insects in Du Iz Tak? The titular question is posed by one bug to its friend when they discover a small green sprout. A confused "ma nazoot" is the answer, but as more bugs gather to build a "furt" in the growing plant's leaves, readers will spy some clues that this plant is actually "unk scrivadelly gladdenboot!" Though the plain backdrop hardly changes, the dainty, folk art-style illustrations contain charming cumulative details that will prompt close attention and repeat reads. For further witty wordplay, try Antoinette Portis' Best Frints in the Whole Universe.
A Small Thing ... But Big by Tony Johnston; illustrated by Hadley HooperTiny, pigtailed Lizzie is playing in the park with her mom when she suddenly comes face to face with a feared adversary: a dog. The dog's human, a dapper older gentleman, is friends with Lizzie's mom, and the dog is small and perky, but Lizzie's still skeptical. Yet after some gentle questions and reassuring answers (the dog's name is Cecile, and no, she doesn't bite), Lizzie's canine confidence begins to grow, and by the book's end, young readers will share in her triumph as she parades around the park with Cecile. Old-fashioned illustrations in light, cheerful hues strike just the right visual note for this celebration of small victories.
Rudas: Niño's Horrendous Hermanitas by Yuyi MoralesLittle luchador Niño just wants to draw his storybook, but his task is impossible with las hermanitas around. These itty-bitty "lucha queens" disturb their big brother with their loud, messy wrestling bouts against opponents from fiction and folklore, and they don't even play by the rules! Nope, they don't think twice about using Tag Team Teething or a super-stinky Poopy Bomb Blowout to win. Can such unrepentant rudas be stopped? Perhaps a story by their very own brother might tempt them into sitting still… Bold pops of neon-bright colors paired with splashy exclamations (in both Spanish and English) make this sequel to Niño Wrestles the World an attention-grabbing readaloud.
The Bear Who Wasn't There by LeUyen PhamThough there are big, muddy pawprints are all over the book jacket and pages, the bear referenced in this book's title is nowhere to be seen. There are, however, plenty of other animals around to offer bear-spotting advice: a group of birds that can form a "bear pyramid," a cryptic, note-writing "Anonymouse," and a self-important duck who suggests giving up on the bear and reading "The Duck Who Showed Up" instead. Similar to Mac Barnett's Count the Monkeys, this zany, energetic picture book offers enough sight gags and metafictional madness to provoke gales of giggles from young readers (and maybe some from adults, too).
Squirrels Leap, Squirrels Sleep by April Pulley Sayre; illustrated by Steve JenkinsA squirrel's tail can be used as a flag, a balancing tool, a hiding place, or an umbrella… and that's just one of many intriguing items you'll find in this introduction to the bright-eyed, bushy-tailed mammals. Though the story uses punchy poetry and crisp collage art to describe squirrel behavior, the book's final pages are packed with scientific facts, making Squirrels Leap, Squirrels Sleep valuable for pleasure reading as well as report writing. Those who appreciate the harmonious collaboration of author April Pulley Sayre and illustrator Steve Jenkins should be sure to check out their previous works in Vulture View, Woodpecker Wham!, and Eat Like a Bear.
Are We There, Yeti? by Ashlyn AnsteeAll aboard for a class trip with the big furry bus driver, Yeti! Rendered in rounded, cartoony illustrations, this yeti is more friendly than fearsome, and his name lends itself to goofy plays on the time-honored road-trip refrain. The students are just about ready to revolt with impatience (and complaints that they're hungry/thirsty/bored) when they finally arrive at...a cold, empty snowscape? It might not look like fun, but both the students and the readers are in for a surprise. For another punny picture book about a mythical creature, try author Ashlyn Anstee's No, No, Gnome!.
Elwood Bigfoot: Wanted: Birdie Friends! by Jill Esbaum; illustrated by Nate WraggCryptid life can be lonely, and in this quirky tale one isolated bigfoot named Elwood embarks on a campaign to befriend the birds whose chirping brings him so much joy. The birds, however, are reluctant to approach Elwood, even when he dresses like them, invites them to a party, and builds a birdie amusement park. Kids will quickly spot why Elwood's efforts go astray, but they'll also root for the kindly sasquatch as he bumbles his way toward success. Fans of Elwood and his (eventual) feathered pals may also want to pick up Nadia Shireen's The Yeti and the Bird for a different take on a similar friendship.
Dear Yeti by James Kwan"Dear Yeti, We're searching for you. Sincerely, Hikers." If you want to find the elusive yeti, it can't hurt to let him know, right? That's the logic employed by the two young hikers in this book, who venture out into a snowy landscape to look for the yeti, who shyly shadows their journey and reads each of the notes they leave behind. With sweet, stylized illustrations that portray the mythical beast as fuzzy and friendly-faced, this gently suspenseful story is sure to be a crowd-pleaser among kids who are fascinated by imaginary creatures. For another appealing pair of cryptid hunters, try Mary Ann Fraser's No Yeti Yet.
The Boy Who Cried Bigfoot! by Scott MagoonThis book begins with a little boy named Ben telling a big fat lie: “LOOK EVERYONE, IT’S BIGFOOT!” At first people believe Ben’s tall tale, but when no Bigfoot materializes, they start to get frustrated. Kids will chuckle as Ben (aided by his long-suffering dog) deploys increasingly outrageous tactics to get his skeptical family and friends to believe in his Bigfoot sightings. And when Bigfoot finally does appear…well, we don’t want to give away the surprise! Expressive, playfully retro pictures help to balance the underlying lesson about honesty in this lighthearted and quirky retelling of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.”
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