Wolf in the Snow by Matthew CordellAfter losing her way in a snowstorm, a parka-clad girl comes face-to-face with a tiny wolf cub. Rather than being scared, the girl immediately recognizes the wolf as a fellow lost soul. Scooping it out of the snow, she follows the sound of howling, determined to reunite the furry wanderer with its pack. Can the girl deliver the cub to safety and find her own way home as well? You'll have to read it find out! Wordless except for huffs, howls, and other sound effects, Wolf in the Snow will immerse young readers in its stylized snowscapes and invite them to share in a cozy, satisfying conclusion.
Egg by Kevin HenkesPink, yellow, blue, and green, four candy-colored eggs wait on the cream-colored page. And then: CRACK! Pink, yellow, and blue, three chicks emerge -- but what about the green egg? Curiously, the new chicks peck away at the unhatched egg until the shell finally cracks, revealing…a crocodile?! The birds' uncertainty (and eventual acceptance) towards their reptile companion drives this minimal but carefully crafted story, illustrated in author/illustrator Kevin Henkes' distinctive ink-and-watercolor style. Those looking for a similar tale with a more humorous tone will enjoy Emily Gravett's The Odd Egg, while those who want another sweetly contemplative read may appreciate Waiting, also by Henkes.
A Greyhound, a Groundhog by Emily Jenkins; illustrated by Chris AppelhansThere aren't many words in this book, but you may still want to rehearse it a bit before sharing it with a child. Composed almost entirely of rhyming tongue-twisters, this charming look at the friendship between a dog and a groundhog can be dazzling when read aloud. Go ahead, try it as fast as you can: "A round hound, a grey dog, a round little hound dog…A greyhog, a ground dog, a hog little hound dog." Whew! The playful tone of the text is mirrored in the illustrations, which combine a soft watercolor palette with loose, lively brushstrokes, creating a captivating reading experience for adults and kids alike.
Let's Clap, Jump, Sing, and Shout; Dance, Spin, and Turn It Out! Games, Songs, and Stories... by Patricia C. McKissack; illustrated by Brian PinkneyAward-winning author Patricia McKissack draws on her own history, as well as extensive research, in this treasury of playtime activities from African American culture. Here you'll find songs, stories, poems, games, hand-claps, jump-rope rhymes, and even a collection of "Mama Sayings," each of them "bursting with energy tapped from joy and rich tradition" (Kirkus Reviews). As if that weren't tempting enough, attention-grabbing illustrations by Brian Pinkney add visual appeal to this interactive and educational volume, making it a versatile pick for families, libraries, or classrooms.
XO, Ox: A Love Story by Adam Rex; illustrated by Scott CampbellMiscommunication, that great driver of romantic drama, is at the heart of this unorthodox epistolary love story. Squarish and squat, Ox carefully pens a confession of his admiration for Gazelle: "You are so graceful and fine...you are like a ballerina who is running from tigers." Willowy Gazelle receives the missive with rather less care, sending back a form letter (she has so many admirers). Ox's starry-eyed misunderstanding of this brush-off leads to a continued correspondence that's equal parts silly and sweet, underscored by simply stylized illustrations. Even kids who are grossed out by romance will be charmed by XO, Ox.
Hug Machine by Scott CampbellWith his big eyes, striped shirt, and comically long arms, the human Hug Machine is an irresistible little guy -- both to readers and to the recipients of his embraces. Whether they need to be calmed down or cheered up, the Hug Machine is willing to hug anyone (including an unhappy baby, a spiky porcupine, and a giant whale) or anything (such as a rock, a mailbox, and an ice cream truck). But after a big day of hugging, the Hug Machine is tired…and ready to receive a loving squeeze from his mom. The Hug Machine's blend of sincerity and deadpan daffiness is perfect for cuddle-loving kids.
Time for a Hug by Phillis Gershator; illustrated by David WalkerIs there ever a bad time for a hug? Not for these two bunnies! One big and one small, they go through the day's activities -- from indoor tasks like washing up or baking a pie to outdoor fun like biking and tree-climbing -- and share a warm hug every hour, on the hour. Whether you want to teach a quiet lesson about time or share a reassuring readaloud, you can depend on the "pleasingly predictable rhyme" (Kirkus Reviews) and cheery pastel artwork in this upbeat concept book.
Catching Kisses by Amy Gibson; illustrated by Maria Van LieshoutEvery day, people express love by blowing kisses. But did you know that kisses look like dandelion fluff? And while some kisses "smell of ginger and cinnamon," some "SMACK! like bubblegum," and some are “velvet as peach fuzz,” all are meant to be caught. In crisp teal illustrations punctuated with splashes of glowing color, Catching Kisses shows the journeys of kisses as they fly from one person to another throughout the United States. You don't have to recognize the landmarks to be delighted by the gentle sweetness of this story, which (like Audrey Penn's classic The Kissing Hand) reassures children that love stays with them wherever they go.
Hug Time by Patrick McDonnell"There once was a kitten so filled with love he wanted to give the whole world a hug." No small ambitions for big-hearted Jules the kitten! He's got a long, double-checked "Hug To-Do List," and he's ready to go. Starting with his best friends, Jules embarks on a worldwide mission to hug pandas, elephants, wombats, and more before heading back home for the most important embrace of all. You don't need to have read creator Patrick McDonnell's Mutts comics to appreciate this affectionate feline (though fans will spot some familiar characters); the cuddly theme and tiny size of Hug Time make it ideal for a one-on-one sharing with all kinds of kids.
Dinosaur Kisses by David Ezra SteinBursting out of her egg with wide-eyed exuberance, yellow speckled baby dinosaur Dinah has a lot of love to give. She sees two smaller critters kissing and longs to give it a try, but each of her efforts at a gentle kiss turns into an overpowering STOMP, WHOMP, or CHOMP -- the latter involving the back end of a brontosaurus! Will Dinah ever find someone she can safely smooch? Kids will have to stick with Dinah throughout her goofy, giggle-worthy learning curve to find out. Pick up Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen's Tyrannosaurus Wrecks for another dinosaur-themed example of "preschool humor at its finest" (The Horn Book Magazine).
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