Fire Truck vs. Dragon by Chris Barton; illustrated by Shanda McCloskeyDon’t let the title fool you: Fire Truck and Dragon are actually good buddies. Instead of the fire-versus-water battle the neighborhood kids hope for, the two friends camp together, bring food to a cookout, and help with party games.
Why kids might like it: Hilarious misdirection undercuts the frustration of readers' foiled expectations, and a twist ending provides surprising satisfaction.
Further reading: Kids who do want a showdown between rivals might enjoy author Chris Barton’s earlier book, Shark vs. Train.
The Three Billy Goats Buenos by Susan Middleton Elya; illustrated by Miguel OrdóñezWhat it is: a bilingual spin on The Three Billy Goats Gruff that asks readers to consider why the troll is so grumpy in the first place.
Why kids might like it: With bright, chunky art and appealing rhymes in a mix of English and Spanish, this empathy-building tale makes a crowd-pleasing read-aloud.
Want a taste? “There once were three goats, a brotherly trio. They needed to crisscross a fast-moving río. But under the bridge lived a grumpy gigante with tootsies as big as a small elefante.”
Hat Tricks by Satoshi KitamuraWhat it’s about: Hattie the magic rabbit emerges from her top hat and entreats readers to recite along with her: "Abracadabra, katakurico!" A cat pops out of the hat, and with every repeat of the magic words, Hattie conjures another creature, each one larger than the last.
Art alert: Bold, scribbly lines and cheery watercolors pop against a crisp white backdrop, although the pages become more crowded every time Hattie pulls a new friend from her hat.
We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom; illustrated by Michaela GoadeWhat it’s about: One brave Indigenous girl describes the sacredness of water, the way it unites nature and communities, and the importance of defending it against “the black snake” of an oil pipeline.
About the creators: Author Lindstrom (Metis/Ojibwe) and illustrator Goade (Tlingit/Haida) infuse the book’s powerful text and lavish, flowing illustrations with stories and symbols from their own rich heritages.
Reviewers say: “An inspiring call to action for all who care about our interconnected planet” (Kirkus Reviews).
Everyone's Awake by Colin Meloy; illustrated by Shawn HarrisFeaturing: the increasingly absurd nighttime antics of a wide-awake family living in a ramshackle lighthouse.
What they get up to: tap dancing, roof repairs, international intrigue, trapeze routines on the ceiling fan, and playing whist with a ghostly visitor.
Read it for: madcap energy; bouncy rhymes (author Meloy is the singer/songwriter for The Decemberists); and clever, adult-directed references to everything from the Pulitzers to Prince.
Pond by Jim LaMarcheWhat it is: the story of how three kids transform a trash-choked natural spring into a beautiful, thriving pond that can be enjoyed by animals and humans alike.
Why kids might like it: With a gentle, engaging style, Pond evokes the everyday wonders of nature, while true-to-life details in the mixed-media illustrations invite close attention.
Further reading: Similar to Pond, ecological rhythms shape the story in Miranda Paul’s Water is Water.
Earth! My First 4.54 Billion Years by Stacy McAnulty; illustrated by David LitchfieldStarring: the planet Earth (though you can call her Planet Awesome).
What’s inside: Earth herself – portrayed with warm eyes and a friendly smile – describes her childhood (“Explosive. Gassy! Very cranky.”), her solar system family (including pet Pluto), and her favorite activities (such as spinning).
Series alert: This whimsical yet fact-filled book is the 1st in an ongoing series that includes Sun! One in a Billion and Moon! Earth's Best Friend.
Life by Cynthia Rylant; illustrated by Brendan WenzelThe question: "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.
Who it’s for: 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.
Thank You, Earth: A Love Letter to Our Planet by April Pulley SayreWhat it is: a photo-illustrated thank-you note to the planet we call home.
What’s inside: lilting, poetic words of gratitude for Earth’s gifts, set in large text; and a stunning array of nature photographs, including vivid close-ups of animals and plants as well as sweeping natural vistas.
Don’t miss: the back page, which includes guidelines to help kids “turn a thank you into action.”
Tree by Britta TeckentrupWhat it’s about: a year in the life of a single tree and the owl that lives inside it.
Art alert: Kids can watch along with the owl as strategically placed die-cuts reveal seasonal surprises (such as migrating animals, shifting weather, and changing plant life) with each page turn.
Who it’s for: children and caregivers who can share the book one-on-one, taking the time to revel in the rhyming couplets and explore the intriguing die-cuts from both sides.
Contact your librarian for more great books for ages 0-8!