All the Way to Havana by Margarita Engle; illustrated by Mike CuratoFixing "Cara Cara" is a family tradition. When the bright blue vintage car breaks down on the way to a birthday party, its owners -- a Cuban boy and his family -- aren't even surprised. The boy and his father simply open up the hood and start tinkering until the car's pitiful "pio pio, pfffft" sound transforms back into a distinctive, rhythmic "cara cara, cluck cluck." And then they're off, zooming and gliding through the countryside and into the colorful bustle of modern Havana. Evocative onomatopoeia and true-to-life visual details make this lyrical journey "as striking as it is unforgettable" (Kirkus Reviews).
This Beautiful Day by Richard Jackson; illustrated by Suzy LeeA single blue note of music is all it takes to rally a glum group of kids into a rainy-day dance party, and that's just the first activity they've got in mind. Told through loose, lighthearted rhymes and joyfully dynamic art, this picture book follows the children outdoors, where no amount of rain can dampen their exuberance. New colors begin to appear as the clouds shift, until finally the children abandon their umbrellas to enjoy a popsicle in the brightly hued sunshine. Kids who relish the way This Beautiful Day's black-and-white illustrations gradually blossom into color may also want to check out Daniel Miyares' That Neighbor Kid.
Nothing Rhymes with Orange by Adam RexThe title of this latest offbeat read from Adam Rex clues you in to the conflict in progress: an orange feels left out as a cheery cavalcade of fruit proclaims their virtues in rhyme. Photographed and enhanced with drawn-on faces and stick limbs, the produce proffers rhymes that range from comically awkward (cabana with banana, antelope with cantaloupe) to esoteric (Nietzsche with lychee), prompting frustration from the neglected orange. Can some inventive wordplay sweeten the sour citrus? With a blend of absurdity and empathy, Nothing Rhymes with Orange is a laugh-out-loud-funny read-aloud that will resonate with anyone who's ever felt left out.
Creepy Pair of Underwear! by Aaron Reynolds; illustrated by Peter BrownAmong all of the plain white underpants, the neon green ones with the monster face on them seem to call out to little Jasper Rabbit. He's thrilled when his mom buys them, but his excitement shifts to dread when he sees how eerily they glower and glow in the dark. Determined to prove himself as a "big rabbit," Jasper bravely shoves the glowing underwear into the hamper…only to wake up wearing them again! Increasingly desperate (and hilarious) disposal methods follow in this sequel that reprises the kid-appropriate scares and playful faux-noir style of the award-winning Creepy Carrots.
The Only Fish in the Sea by Philip C. Stead; illustrated by Matthew CordellAfter careless birthday girl Amy rejects the gift of a pet goldfish by tossing it -- plastic bag and all -- into the sea, compassionate bystanders Sherman and Sadie mount a rescue expedition. They rustle up a boat, of course, along with fishing equipment, a cloud of pink balloons, and a crew of stylish monkeys…wait, what? Despite Sherman and Sadie's unorthodox methods, observant kids will relish the intriguing visual details of their quest to find Ellsworth the fish ("every fish deserves a proper name" declares Sadie). Ideal for one-on-one sharing, The Only Fish in the Sea is satisfying follow-up to Special Delivery.
Open Very Carefully: A Book With Bite by Nick Bromley; illustrated by Nicola O'ByrneThere's a reason that this book's title is a warning -- the story is being devoured from the inside! What was once a cozy rendition of The Ugly Duckling has become an all-you-can-eat buffet for a humongous green crocodile. As the croc greedily gulps down letters, words, and even whole sentences, the fluffy gray duckling pleads with the reader to intervene, beginning with a prompt to rock the book back and forth so that the crocodile might be soothed into sleepiness. Even sillier suggestions follow, providing kids with ample opportunities to join in the telling of this rambunctious tale.
Have You Seen My Monster? by Steve LightA little girl has lost her monster at the county fair, and she needs your help to find him! Can you see the monster riding the Ferris wheel? Is he playing in the funhouse? Or maybe that's him in the marching band… Locating the friendly monster against each spread of black-and-white illustrations presents a satisfying challenge for young readers, as does identifying the brightly colored shapes hidden on each page. Kids who like the busy artwork and math-based interactivity of Have You Seen My Monster? will also enjoy author/illustrator Steve Light's previous book, Have You Seen My Dragon?
Are We There Yet? by Dan SantatAs a family car trip begins to "feel like an eternity," the boy in the backseat gets bored. Really bored. SO BORED that time begins to spiral backwards around him (as do the words on the page, forcing readers to turn the book as they read). Though his parents are surprised to find themselves suddenly racing a steam locomotive, jousting with knights, or cruising past the brand-new Sphinx, the boy remains blasé -- at least until the Tyrannosaurus charges! Readers of all ages will love road-tripping through this "turbocharged adventure" (Publishers Weekly) by Caldecott Medalist Dan Santat.
The Happiest Book Ever! by Bob Shea"Whaddya say we make this the happiest book ever?" Assuming an affirmative answer from you, the reader, this book unleashes a barrage of cheer: anyone for dancing cake? A candy parade? A whale with good news?!?! This much boldly colored exuberance is irresistible…almost. Dour and unimpressed, a lone frog refuses to jump on the joy train. But maybe YOU can get him to crack a smile by giving a loud yell? Or telling one of the Sure Fire Frog Jokes from the back of the book? The key to the frog's good graces may not be what you expect... A gentle message of individuality and inclusion underscores this madcap, interactive romp.
Let's Play! by Hervé TulletAs he did in the popular Press Here, creator Hervé Tullet begins this book with a single yellow dot. This particular dot is fairly gregarious, eagerly instructing the reader on how to move it forward: "Just follow the line with your finger." A swoopy, scribbly line extends throughout the book, and the dot never lacks for commentary as it progresses: "Wow! That's really way up high…" "EEEEK! We better leave on tiptoe…" Tullet's uncluttered, minimalist style and primary-colored palette keep the focus on the interactivity of this whimsical read. For a similarly "hands-on" picture book experience, try Mies van Hout's Playground.
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