Hello Lighthouse by Sophie BlackallWhat it is: a loving, nostalgic portrait of a devoted lighthouse keeper and his family.
Read it for: fascinating details about lighthouse life (winding the clockwork, rescuing shipwrecked sailors) and awe-inspiring moments of natural beauty (spotting whales, watching the northern lights), all depicted in delicate ink-and-watercolor illustrations by Caldecott Medalist Sophie Blackall.
Rescue & Jessica: A Life-Changing Friendship by Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes; illustrated by Scott MagoonFeaturing: Rescue, a black Lab who's learning how to be a service dog; Jessica, a girl who's learning how to use her prosthetic legs; and the powerful connection between the two.
About the authors: Co-authors Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes write from their real-life experience of welcoming Rescue into their family.
Who it's for: kids and families looking for an authentic, uplifting portrayal of service dogs or living with disability.
Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-NealStarring: Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela, a little girl with a big name.
What happens: After Alma complains about her lengthy name, Daddy tells her about each of her storied namesakes, and reminds her that as the "first and only Alma" in their family, she gets to shape her own story.
Try this next: Laura Deal's How Nivi Got Her Names, another warm family story about naming traditions.
Dude! by Aaron Reynolds; illustrated by Dan SantatWhat it is: a clever, comical romp told through just one word: "Dude."
What happens: A platypus and a beaver on a surfing expedition encounter a humongous, toothy shark…who might not be as fearsome as he appears.
Why kids might like it: Readers of all ages will relish trying out endless variations on the sole word of dialogue in this exuberant, colorful, readaloud-ready story.
Mommy's Khimar by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow; illustrated by Ebony GlennWhat it's about: For one little girl, playing dress-up with her mommy's bright yellow headscarf provides a soothing reminder of maternal love, as well as a gateway to imaginary adventures as a superhero, a queen, or a shooting star.
Further reading: Want another lyrical, heartfelt picture book exploring Muslim faith and culture? Try Kelly Cunnane's Deep in the Sahara or Mark Gonzales' Yo Soy Muslim.
Trombone Shorty by Troy Andrews; illustrated by Bryan CollierWhat it is: an autobiography of Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews, in which atmospheric collage art enhances the story of how ambition and community support launched the New Orleans jazz prodigy into a successful music career.
Reviewers say: "If a fairy tale were set in New Orleans, this is how it would read" (Publishers Weekly).
Look for: The 5 O'Clock Band, a companion book by the same creators, due out this June.
Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl's Courage Changed Music by Margarita Engle; illustrated by Rafael López What it's about: In 1930s Cuba, a young girl is overflowing with rhythm. Despite her father's assertion that drums are only for boys, she keeps practicing on the conga, bongó, and timbales until she finally gets the chance she longs for.
Art alert: Drum Dream Girl's lively, poetic text is layered over surreal illustrations that glow with tropical color.
Did you know? Although it's fiction, this story is based on the real life of Chinese-African-Cuban drummer Millo Castro Zaldarriaga.
The Bear and the Piano by David LitchfieldWhat it's about: Readers will recognize the object in the forest clearing as a piano, but there's a steeper learning curve for the small bear who finds it. After painstakingly learning to play, he embarks on a journey of creativity and fame that leads him away from home and back again.
Why kids might like it: Fanciful, poignant, and ultimately reassuring, The Bear and the Piano offers a harmonious blend of relatable emotions and evocative mixed-media artwork.
Harlem's Little Blackbird by Renee Watson; illustrated by Christian RobinsonStarring: trailblazing 1920's entertainer Florence Mills, who was known for her on-stage presence, her generosity, and her opposition to widespread discrimination against African Americans.
What's inside: Author Renee Watson uses lyrics from Florence's songs to show readers how she used her voice "for more than entertainment," while Christian Robinson's illustrations create a "jazzy, geometric and lively" (Kirkus Reviews) portrait of the Harlem Renaissance.
Esquivel! Space-Age Sound Artist by Susan Wood; illustrated by Duncan TonatiuhWhat it's about: From the moment he started tinkering with his family's player piano, experimental musician Juan García Esquivel was dedicated to creating innovative sounds. Bursting with onomatopoeia and ultra-stylized illustrations, this biography celebrates Esquivel's outside-the-box attitude.
Who it's for: aspiring musicians and proud young eccentrics, who might also enjoy Chris Raschka's The Cosmobiography of Sun Ra.
Contact your librarian for more great books for ages 0-8!
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