Time Out! by Ale Barba"Spoken by an unseen adult in response to a skateboard crash, these words begin the lecture that makes up the text of this picture book…though the dynamic, stylized illustrations tell another story. While stuck in time out, the pig protagonist needs only a pencil and a flash of ingenuity to draw up a grand space adventure, complete with in-flight milkshakes on a rocket ship to the moon. When "time in" is called, it's unclear whether this little piggy has learned anything about skateboard safety, but young readers will have no trouble understanding the limitless possibilities of imagination.
Super Manny Stands Up! by Kelly DiPucchio; illustrated by Stephanie GraeginManny the raccoon has a lot of different capes to play with, and each one gives him a specific superpower. The blue cape is for fearlessness, the red cape is for strength, and so on, each cape empowering Manny to battle cloud monsters, zombie bears, and other imaginary villains (all illustrated in colorful, nonthreatening detail). Then there's the invisible cape Manny wears to school -- can it give him enough power to defy a lunchroom bully?
Whether it's shared with a group or one-on-one, this "surprising and touching drama" (Publishers Weekly) will inspire children to find their own courage.
Mitzi Tulane, Preschool Detective in The Secret Ingredient by Lauren McLaughlin; illustrated by Debbie Ridpath OhiPint-sized sleuth Mitzi is enjoying a homemade muffin when her friend Max offers a disturbing fact: that parents sometimes sneak vegetables (yuck!) into kids' food. Sure enough, Mitzi finds an unidentified and possibly healthy ingredient in the muffin, prompting the two pals launch a spirited (and funny) scientific investigation to identify the unknown ingredient.
Young readers who relish the cheery cartoon illustrations and can-do attitude in this picture book mystery should be sure to check out Mitzi's first case in Mitzi Tulane, Preschool Detective: What's That Smell?.
Mama Lion Wins the Race by Jon J. MuthAll the toys in town have gathered to cheer for the contestants of the big race! In their gleaming vintage car, Mama Lion and Tigey take off alongside the Flying Pandinis, the Knitted Monkeys, and motorcycle-riding Bun Bun. Author and illustrator Jon Muth's smooth art style captures both the sweeping serenity of the countryside as well as the breathless excitement of the race. Some shady shenanigans from the Monkeys might slow Mama Lion and Tigey down, but they never lose sight of their real goal: friendship and enjoyment.
After reading this winning tale, kids will agree with Mama Lion that "the world is beautiful."
Life by Cynthia Rylant; illustrated by Brendan WenzelAlthough "life begins small," it isn't exactly a small topic, and this lavishly illustrated picture book encourages readers to consider it from differing perspectives. "Ask any animal on earth, what do you love about life?" The answer varies from animal to animal, and Cynthia Rylant's spare, lyrical text honestly addresses life's uncertainties as well as its joys.
Expansive and ultimately reassuring, Life will appeal to thoughtful readers of all ages, as well as those who simply want to savor the details in Caldecott Honoree Brendan Wenzel's lush, lively illustrations of wildlife.
Quest by Aaron BeckerIn this epic, action-packed follow-up to the Caldecott Honor-winning Journey, two friends are given an urgent mission: to rescue a fantastical realm from invaders by collecting a rainbow of magic crayons. Armed with their own red and purple crayons, the girl and the boy go searching through underwater cities, ruined temples, and soaring mountains, cleverly drawing themselves out of danger at every turn. Told entirely through pictures, Quest proves that quick wits and "a boundless love of fun are worth all the words in the world" (Booklist).
Readers looking for further wordless adventures with dreamy, intricate illustrations will enjoy the works of David Wiesner and Bill Thomson.
The White Book by Silvia BorandoA plain white wall becomes a young artist's canvas in this quirky, captivating picture book. No words are required for readers to understand that magic is at work: for each color the child rolls on to the wall, a different animal emerges. Deep pink, for instance, morphs into small birds that fly away, while green turns into a troublesome stegosaurus and purple produces a mischievous aardvark.
Scribbly, minimal illustrations make careful use of color and movement, drawing the reader's eye and tempting them to guess which animal might appear next. For another, more intricately illustrated take on the interplay between animals and art, pick up Raul Colón's Draw!.
The Monster Returns by Peter McCartyJeremy recognizes the monster's voice, even over the phone: "I'm coming back and I'm bored." Jeremy has a pen that can draw things into existence, and he's used it carefully ever since he drew (and sent away) a spiky, demanding blue monster -- the same monster who's now on his way to Jeremy's house. Whether or not they've read Jeremy Draws a Monster, children will sense Jeremy's apprehension about the monster's return, and will root for him as he enlists the neighborhood kids to craft an unorthodox response to his unwelcome visitor.
Interested in further exploration of creativity and consequences? Try Bill Thomson's Chalk.
Andrew Draws by David McPhailIf you had the power of creation, how would you use it? That's the question that kids are invited to ponder through Andrew, the dramatically coiffed hero of this picture book. Armed with a crayon and stack of paper, Andrew begins drawing nonstop, and as his artwork improves, it starts to become real. He begins by drawing gifts for his family, but as his reputation spreads, so does his altruistic ambition.
With a hopeful message and warm watercolor illustrations, Andrew Draws is a "small, cozy book for one-on-one sharing" (School Library Journal)
Dog Loves Drawing by Louise YatesIn this sequel to Dog Loves Books, Dog encounters a book he doesn't quite understand: a sketchbook. When he starts drawing in the sketchbook, Dog realizes that he can step inside the world he draws, and soon he's playing games and going on train trips with hand-drawn friends.