Nothing Stopped Sophie: The Story of Unshakable Mathematician Sophie Germain by Cheryl Bardoe; illustrated by Barbara McClintockStarring: brilliant Sophie Germain, an 18th-century mathematician who succeeded despite a society that tried to thwart her.
What's inside: Dynamic illustrations help to demonstrate key math concepts, while a refrain of "nothing stopped Sophie" underscores Sophie's tenacity (and encourages listener participation).
Who it's for: avowed math geeks and older picture book readers looking for an inspiring STEM biography.
Hawk Rising by Maria Gianferrari; illustrated by Brian FlocaWhat it is: a day in the life of a red-tailed hawk, as seen by two young birdwatchers.
Why kids might like it: Spare yet vivid second-person narration places readers right alongside the birdwatchers, while softly textured illustrations depict the hawk and his family in fine, feathery detail.
Try this next: Budding ornithologists may also enjoy the fascinating glimpse of medieval falconry in Danna Smith's The Hawk of the Castle.
Julián is a Mermaid by Jessica LoveWhat it's about: From the moment Julián sees three people in sea-green mermaid costumes, he's captivated. "I am also a mermaid," he tells his abuela, imagining himself with long hair and fins in a fantastical, brilliantly colored seascape. But what will Abuela think when Julián transforms himself with a mermaid costume of his own?
Read it for: a joyful affirmation of identity, self-expression, and imagination.
Don't miss: comparing the charming illustrations inside the front and back covers.
Little Robot Alone by Patricia MacLachlan and Emily MacLachlan Charest; illustrated by Matt PhelanWhat it's about: Winsome, toaster-headed Little Robot has an upbeat outlook and an idyllic countryside home, but he has no one to share them with. To banish his loneliness, Little Robot musters his creativity and builds himself a friend.
Who it's for: Gentle watercolor art and text that "practically screams to be read aloud" (Kirkus Reviews) make Little Robot Alone an inviting choice for sharing one-on-one or with a group.
Rock 'n' Roll Soul by Susan Verde; illustrated by Matthew CordellWhat it's about: The school talent show is coming up, and one aspiring rock star won't let the lack of an instrument stop her from expressing the music in her soul.
Art alert: Rendered in scribbly lines and washes of cheery color, Caldecott Medalist Matthew Cordell's illustrations vibrate with infectious energy.
Kids might also like: Connie Schofield-Morrison's I Got the Rhythm, another exuberant, onomatopoeic story about a girl who feels the beat.
Nana in the City by Lauren CastilloWhat it's about: The big city is busy, loud, and scary, and the star of this picture book can't understand why his beloved nana likes living there. Will the gift of a hand-knitted superhero cape help him to see the city as Nana sees it -- "bustling, booming, and extraordinary"?
Who it's for: timid kids in need of a confidence boost, as well as families looking for cozy intergenerational reads.
Jabari Jumps by Gaia CornwallStarring: Jabari, who's "not scared at all" to jump off a diving board for the first time.
What happens: Despite his declaration, Jabari lingers nervously over every step toward the board. Will he take the plunge? Some reassuring words from his dad help Jabari find the courage to make a big splash.
Art alert: Varying perspectives in the mixed-media illustrations heighten Jabari's anxiety and exhilaration.
Night Animals by Gianna MarinoWhat it's about: Why is Possum cowering inside a tree stump at twilight? He's hiding from night animals, of course! Possum's fear is contagious, and soon a whole crowd of fearsome-yet-frightened nocturnal creatures are jostling for space inside the stump.
Who it's for: anyone who's ever been afraid of the dark (and what might lurk within it).
Further reading: For another slapstick romp about misguided fears, check out Josh Schneider's Bedtime Monsters.
I Used to Be Afraid by Laura Vaccaro SeegerWhat it is: one girl's list of fears and how she got over them. "I used to be afraid of spiders," she begins, terror-struck by a dangling spider; "but not anymore," she continues, her terror turned to awe at the spider's intricate web.
Art alert: As each of the girl's fears are named and resolved, cleverly placed die-cuts transform the illustrations, demonstrating that scariness is often just a matter of perspective.
Stormy Night by Salina YoonWhat it's about: When the storm begins raging outside, little Bear soothes his stuffed bunny, Floppy: "I'll hold you tight. I'll keep you warm. My love will keep you safe from the storm." But who will comfort Bear as the thunder gets louder and louder?
Series alert: Sweet and reassuring, Stormy Night is the 2nd book in the Bear and Bunny series, which begins with Found and continues with Bear's Big Day.
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