What Is Love? by Mac Barnett; illustrated by Carson EllisWhat it's about: A young boy asks his grandmother the titular question, and she sends him into the world to seek an answer.
What happens: As the boy grows up, he meets many people -- all illustrated in folksy watercolors -- with many answers about love, but he doesn't understand any of them. Is his own answer is closer to home?
Reviewers say: "sweet and timeless" (Kirkus Reviews).
Ready for the Spotlight! by Jaime KimWhat it's about: After a whole month of ballet class, Tessie is sure that she deserves to be lead ballerina in the recital. However, it's her more experienced big sister, Maya, who nabs the part. How is that fair?!
Why kids might like it: The honest, relatable exploration of jealousy gives Tessie space to feel her feelings, while also providing gentle humor and a positive (but not preachy) conclusion.
Group Hug by Jean Reidy; illustrated by Joey ChouStarring: a slug who offers an embrace to a lonesome beetle -- and then welcomes a mouse, a skunk, a goose, and many others into the comforting cuddle.
Read it for: goofy visuals (the bear provides a challenge for the hug-happy slug), playful rhymes, frequent repetition, and a kindhearted message.
Try this next: Brian Won's Hooray for Hat! or Richard T. Morris' Bear Came Along for further animal hijinks in a cumulative, comical style..
Dancing with Daddy by Anitra Rowe Schulte; illustrated by Ziyue ChenWhat it's about: With a new red dress all picked out, Elsie is over-the-moon excited to attend a father-daughter dance with her Daddy and sisters. But the snow outside just keeps coming down. What if the dance is canceled?
Why kids might like it: This charming slice of life offers matter-of-fact depictions of Elsie (who has Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome) using assistive devices, while keeping the focus on her anticipation for the dance and the love she shares with her family.
The Year We Learned to Fly by Jacqueline Woodson; illustrated by Rafael LópezWhat it's about: At the end of a difficult year, two siblings transcend everyday tedium by taking their grandmother's advice: "Lift your arms, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and believe in a thing."
Art alert: As the children fly in their imaginations, finding strength in themselves and their ancestors, the mixed-media illustrations reflect elements of fantasy among the beauty of nature.
For fans of: The Day You Begin, the beloved first collaboration by award-winning creators Jacqueline Woodson and Rafael López.
Louise Loves Bake Sales by Laura Driscoll; illustrated by Kelly LightThe recipe: one young artist named Louise, one robot-costumed little brother named Art, dozens of bake sale cupcakes, and three different colors of frosting.
The results: Louise's artistic, color-blended confections turn out beautifully...until a mishap from Art disrupts her plans, prompting a change in her perspective.
Read it for: an accessible primer on primary colors baked into a deliciously simple sibling story.
What About Worms!? by Ryan T. HigginsWhat it's about: Tiger is BIG, and BRAVE, and not scared of anything. He just worries about worms. Worms are slimy and wiggly and gross -- so why can't Tiger stop thinking about them?
Reviewers say: "an exclamation-point–packed, liberally uppercased rambunctious rollick" (Kirkus Reviews).
Series alert: This addition to the Elephant and Piggie Like to Read series uses familiar characters to introduce new characters and concepts.
Ty's Travels: All Aboard! by Kelly Starling Lyons; illustrated by Nina MataStarring: imaginative kid Ty, who turns the nobody-will-play-with-me blues into an adventurous make-believe train trip.
What's inside: lively, adorable illustrations and easy-to-read text packed with onomatopoeia.
Series alert: Like the other books in the Ty's Travels series, this one is suited for beginners who may prefer guided reading or read-alouds.
Flubby Is Not a Good Pet! by J.E. MorrisIntroducing: tubby, nap-loving feline Flubby, who disappoints his owner by refusing to do tricks like other pets. It's not until thunder rumbles that child and cat find common ground.
Series alert: This comically offbeat series opener is followed by Flubby Will Not Play With That!, Flubby Will Not Go to Sleep, and Flubby Will Not Take a Bath.
Kids might also like: Mike Boldt's Bad Dog or Emily Gravett's Matilda's Cat, two picture books that also feature expectation-defying cats.
Fox the Tiger by Corey R. TaborWhat it's about: Fox, convinced that "tigers are the best," paints stripes on his orange coat and "goes for a prowl" until a chance encounter helps him see that being himself is the best, with or without stripes.
Who it's for: With limited text, a friendly font, and an affirming spirit, Fox the Tiger is perfect for emerging readers.
Book buzz: This Geisel Award-winning read is Fox's 3rd outing, and his 1st in easy reader format.
Contact your librarian for more great books for ages 0-8!